Yonkers Power Station
|The Yonkers Power Station
of the New York Central & Hudson River Railroad was constructed between 1904 and 1906. It was built as part of
the electrification of the rail lines spurred in part by dangerous conditions
caused by steam engines and related smoke, and also by the need for a completely
new and larger Grand Central Terminal. The brick power house and two smokestacks
stand as a solitary beacon to Hudson
Valley Ruins as one heads north from New York City. To call this building a ruin, is really a bit unfair however.
For it is still structurally sound enough to accommodate some adaptive reuse
However, current residential development proposals threaten the architectural integrity of the power station. The power stations remains unprotected as local-landmark legislation has been pending since an application was filed in the spring of 2005. In January 2008, the Preservation League of New York State named the Yonkers Power Station as one of its Seven to Save Most Endangered properties in New York State.
Please refer to the bottom of this page for updates regarding the progress of development plans at the Yonkers Power Station.
UPDATED JUNE 12, 2012.
Generating Building. November 25, 2000
Glenwood must have been quite a sight at the turn of the last century. I wonder what Messrs. Walter G. Jones and Charles H. MacDonald, whose estates were adjacent to the east of the Power Station, thought of this edifice. The smokestacks surely made a mockery of the tallest of Mr. McDonald’s “Seven Pines,” as his estate was named. Their view of the Palisades was obstructed by progress. The Jones and McDonald mansions are now razed, replaced by apartment buildings, but not far north is the Glenview mansion, which is now the centerpiece of the Hudson River Museum. Even the combined wealth of Mr. John B. Trevor and his business associate and neighbor to the south, Mr. James. B. Colgate, wouldn’t have been enough to convince New York Central to build elsewhere.
In 1936 the plant was
sold to a subsidiary of Con Ed, and the railroad was given free electricity for
five years. New York Central then purchased the energy, finding it cheaper than
to make it for itself. The plant doubled as a source of energy for Yonkers and
the surrounding area. The Power Station had “capacity sufficient to
care for the needs of a considerable part of the county” in 1950. I was told a a longtime Yonkers resident that when the long freight trains came
through the neighborhood, TV sets and electric lights dimmed and flickered. The
Yonkers Power Station was put on standby in the 1950s, and closed in the 1960s. The turbines and boilers have all been removed along with all other major
machinery, though much remains to be seen inside. The building was sold to a private party in the
late 1970s and has sat idle and vacant since.
are two major buildings here; the smaller substation and transformer building on the north and the main
generating building, which was described as follows by Frank Sanchis, in American Architecture: Westchester County,
The...plant juts out onto the Hudson River on the west side of the Hudson Line railroad tracks. The handsome corbelled cornice accentuates the ponderousness of the building's brick exterior walls. The lower brick portion is played against a much lighter roof superstructure constructed of metal members, which are exposed on the facade, and create an unexpectedly intricate pattern. The power house is topped by two tall, brick stacks, ringed with circular, metal tie rods.
Ponderousness. The weight of it all makes one ponder many things. How? Why? What happened here? . How does a place like this become abandoned? What makes it happen and why?
The generating building is split into two
sections. The turbine room in the northern half is a cavernous hall, like a great arcade of sorts,
open in the middle, surrounded by walkways on the side, with light filtering
in from the monitor roof above. A giant metal hook emblazoned “1” hangs
above the entrance on the east end. The pit down below is gutted and filled with
pools of stagnant water.
The second floor
of this side of the building features the switchboard for the main generators,
behind an operating gallery from which a plant manager could supervise. Other odd remnants of
machinery lay about here and below. A staircase leads up to the third floor,
on which just a small walkway on the east end of the building connects
the two sides. An open-air walkway traverses the space between the generating building
and the substation.
The "Course of Empire : Desolation" view, as shown in "The Hudson : America's First River."
ROGER PANETTA: When I look at this scene, it reminds me of one of the last in the series of paintings by Thomas Cole in the Course of Empire. In the last one, there’s a single classical column in which a vine is beginning to grow back over what is essentially the ruins of the great city. And I look at this, and this tells me that we’re really at a junction, a transition, between the old industrial Hudson and a different kind of Hudson. The question is: What are we going to do with this site and many other sites like that along the Hudson?
The south side of the generating building contains the boiler chambers. The room is split into two halves, with an aisle leading to a view of the Hudson River, directly opposite the Palisades. On either side of the aisle are individual chambers, the walls of which have collapsed into large piles of brick. Small rooms at the east end were offices and bathrooms. The smokestacks and coal bins are supported well above the ground floor.
Crane inside the turbine hall.
I'd like to see this building live another life. In Baltimore, another power plant has been turned into a retail commercial complex. And in England, the Bankside Power Station has been turned into Tate Modern, Britain's new national museum of modern art in London. A monumental power station in Chester, PA, has been converted to offices. There are numerous possibilities for reuse that do not involve knocking down the smokestacks and chopping off the roof and dropping a 30-story glass tower on top.
Entrance to the generating building.
Photograph from the Seven Pines apartment building, courtesy of Kim Mason.
The Yonkers Power Station was sold in the spring of 2012 to a new owner who is inclined to reuse the buildings. Subsequently the site was cleared of its overgrowth, marking the first sign of any official work at this site since the substation closed in the mid-1980s. Ivy was carefully removed from the walls of the power station and the substation buildings so that the mortar would be protected from the invasive plant. In addition to the landscape clean-up and removal of vegetation, engineering studies are being conducted to determine the integrity of the building and what if nay repairs must be made. Currently (as of late June 2012) there are no plans on file at Yonkers City Hall regarding the future development of this site.
View of the site after the surrounding landscape was cleaned up. June 2012.
The railroad spur that ran to the edge of the turbine room has been removed. June 2012.
More Yonkers Power Station photographs:
A few evening photos - April 2007
Hudson Valley Ruins - Tom Rinaldi's page.
UPDATE: JUNE 12, 2012
Cleanup work is occurring in and around the buildings of the Yonkers Power Station. The property seems to be under contract for sale, and the word I have received is that plans call for adaptive reuse of the structures. I will post any details I can as I receive more information. Thanks to reader Mike A. for alerting me to the work at the site. Some photos of the present condition may be seen at Lost In Time UE.
UPDATE: JANUARY 30, 2008
The Preservation League of New York State named the Yonkers Power Station to its annual list of Seven to Save Most Endangered Places list. The full press release can be read here.
UPDATE: JANUARY 26, 2008
Please join us Wednesday January 30, 2008 at the JFK Marina Park Pavilion in Yonkers for an important announcement by the Preservation League of New York State and others regarding the Yonkers Power Station.
UPDATE: DECEMBER 27, 2007
The Yonkers Tribune announced last week that developer REMI Companies is withdrawing its development proposal for the Yonkers Power Station due to financial losses from the subprime mortgage crisis. Other developers, including Yonkers-based Homes For America Holdings, have expressed interest in the property.
Source Article: "Subprime Fiasco Claims Glenwood Power Station Developer." By Hezi Aris, The Yonkers Tribune, December 21, 2007. URL: http://yonkerstribune.typepad.com/yonkers_tribune/2007/12/subprime-fiasco.html#more
Note regarding our Local Landmark application for the power station: The matter is still sitting with the City Council, which can approve Landmark designation with a positive vote. The City Council has yet to put the matter to vote, even though the application was submitted two and a half years ago.
UPDATE: APRIL 7, 2007
Developer Erik Kaiser of Remi Companies and architect Will Alsop of SMC Alsop publicly unveiled their plans to develop the Yonkers Power Station site. Their plan to "preserve" what they acknowledged at the meeting to be a landmark includes the complete removal of two of the generating building's most iconic features, the smokestacks and the roof gables. The Yonkers Tribune reported on the meeting of March 30, 2007, at which the plan was announced. The article contains visual depictions for what is planned at the site.
Yonkers Tribune - "Metamorphoses of Glenwood Power Plant to BETTER at Glenwood By Hezi Aris." April 4, 2007.
Architectural Record News - "Alsop makes U.S. debut in Yonkers." April 3, 2007.
World Architecture News - "New Plans Revealed." April 4, 2007.
The Journal News - "Ideas sought for unusual Glenwood development." By Hannan Adely. March 30, 2007.
The Journal News - "Yonkers waterfront relic could be reborn." By Hannan Adely. April 8, 2007.
The Journal News - "'Green' future in store for Glenwood power plant site." By Hannan Adely. April 8, 2007.
The Journal News - "Glenwood project triggers skepticism, enthusiasm." By Hannan Adely. April 8, 2007.
The New York Times - "DEVELOPMENT; A New Proposal to Rescue Yonkers' Waterfront." By Diana Marszalek. April 8, 2007. (Pay for access, but copied here at a blog site.)
The New York Times - "Smoke (And Mirrors) On the Water." April 15, 2007. (Pay for access.)
UPDATE: FEBRUARY 17, 2007
"YONKERS POWER STATION: MONUMENTAL RUIN ON THE HUDSON"
Exhibit of Photography by Thomas Rinaldi and Robert Yasinsac
On Display March 3, 2007 to April 19, 2007
Beczak Environmental Education Center http://www.beczak.org/
35 Alexander Street
Yonkers, New York 10701
Gallery Hours: Monday - Friday, 9am - 5pm. The Beczak Center also serves as a classroom; call before you visit to make sure no activities are in session. Fridays are class-free days and a very good time to visit.
UPDATE JANUARY 3, 2007
The Yonkers Tribune reported today that REMI Companies hosted a public meeting with area residents to gain input regarding the future of the Yonkers Power Station property. The meeting was held December 14, 2006 and featured architect Will Alsop and Yonkers City Council Majority Leader Pat McDow. Supposedly this was the first step in the "process in which public input and dialogue would be promoted." Details can be found at the Yonkers Tribune website. I will however, excerpt, from the press release, by REMI Companies here: "The residents agreed with Alsop that the landmark building was worthy of preservation for residential and commercial uses." Here they refer to this building as a landmark but have thus far opposed having the building actually be declared a city landmark.
Yonkers Tribune - "Public Hearing Conducted over Future of Glenwood Power Station." January 3, 2007.
UPDATE: AUGUST 15, 2006 - Yonkers Power Station Exhibition Announcement
"YONKERS POWER STATION: MONUMENTAL RUIN ON THE HUDSON"
Photographs by Tom Rinaldi and Rob Yasinsac
The Municipal Art Society of New York http://www.mas.org/
September 7, 2006 through November 1, 2006
Opening Reception: Tuesday, September 12, 6:00pm – 8:00 pm.
The Gallery is open Monday through Saturday, 11:00 am to 5:00 pm.
Postcard can be downloaded here as a .pdf file.
Built to supply electricity to trains headed to Grand Central Terminal, Yonkers Power Station is a testament to the industrial heritage of the Hudson River and is a prime candidate for adaptive reuse. This exhibition of photographs is accompanied by a new book, Hudson Valley Ruins: Forgotten Landmarks of an American Landscape.
UPDATE: JULY 14, 2006
World Architecture News has reported that Remi Companies has commissioned SMC Alsop to design a residential and museum component to the Yonkers Power Station. The announced project completion date is 2008.
UPDATE: JANUARY 31, 2006
The LWRP public meeting schedule for February 2nd at 7pm has been cancelled and will be rescheduled. The Steering Committee meeting will still be held starting at 5pm and the public may attend as observers.
UPDATE: JANUARY 30, 2006
A public meeting on the proposed Yonkers Local Waterfront Revitalization Program (LWRP) will be held on Thursday, February 2nd at 7:00pm at the Yonkers Downtown Waterfront Library, 2nd Floor.
The LWRP is a key comprehensive "concept document" that outlines the City's vision for waterfront redevelopment. The draft document is 323 pages long and can be viewed at the City of Yonkers website: http://www.cityofyonkers.com/LWRP/lwrp%201-23-06.pdf. The document provides official recognition from the city that this building should be a part of Yonkers' future by touting the adaptive reuse potential of the Yonkers Power Station.
UPDATE: NOVEMBER 7, 2005
On November 2, 2005, the Yonkers Landmarks Preservation Board voted unanimously to recommend local Landmark status for the Yonkers Power Station. Previously the Yonkers Planning Board voted against recommending Landmark status. The Landmarks board voted on the technical merits of the application citing the history of the power station and its contribution to local and regional patterns of growth, that the architecture of the building is unique and distinct and is best protected through landmark status, and that adaptive reuse of similar power plants around the world have successfully transformed abandoned buildings which spurred local redevelopment. The City Council will next vote on official Landmark status.
UPDATE: AUGUST 11, 2005
Deirdre Hoare, Martin McGloin and myself presented our application for City Landmark Status for the power station to the Planning Board Wednesday night. They did not vote on the matter so that may happen at the September Planning Board meeting. Erik Kaiser of Remi Companies spoke against Landmark Status. Remi is under contract to purchase the site from K. Capolino Construction. While Kaiser seems to thoroughly enjoy and appreciate the architecture of the power station and other historic properties, he spoke of the (mistaken, in my opinion) belief that landmark status would interfere with a project that has been underway for some time, a belief also held by Yonkers City officials. (This project was not announced to the public until after our Landmark application was submitted to the City of Yonkers.) The Landmark Preservation Board has made it very clear to the Yonkers City Council that it is their intention to work with owners of historically significant properties to bring their sites back to life and become a vibrant part of the new communities that are being built or redeveloped, not to hinder redevelopment and make these sites stagnant. It is unfortunate that city officials do not recognize this, and continue to be detrimental of recent landmark efforts, as the mayor's spokesperson was quoted in the Sunday edition of the New York Times. Kaiser also made the surprise announcement that a demolition order for the building has been issued, with demo expected in September, but that he would like see what could be salvaged from the building and perhaps incorporate much of it into a new structure. I'll have updates on whether this demolition actually moves forward.
EDIT AUGUST 13, 2005: Apparently, from what we have been told by the Yonkers Building Department, there is *no* demolition order on file, and if the city did issue one, the city would have to pay for demolition - an unlikely scenario. There are violations on file, and what the city did do was ask for meeting (call to court?) the owner or developer to find out why the violations have not been corrected, including why building has not been secured against trespassing etc. So it looks like Glenwood is hanging on a while longer, though how long is anyone's guess.
The Yonkers Tribune - Hezi Aris' review of the August 10, 2005 Yonkers Planning Board meeting.
UPDATE: JULY 27, 2005
The Yonkers Planning Board will review the application to landmark the Yonkers Power Station at its next meeting, Wednesday August 10. The Journal News ran a story with positive quotes from two Yonkers' residents in its July 26, 2005 edition, entitled "Landmark Status Sought for Yonkers Power Plant," by Ernie Garcia.
UPDATE: JUNE 8, 2005
On Wednesday, June 1, the Yonkers Landmarks Preservation Board accepted our application to locally landmark the Yonkers/Glenwood Power Station as complete, starting the review process. Next, the Planning Board and Landmarks Board must make recommendations before the City Council votes on designation. At the meeting, Remi Companies of New Jersey announced that they are in contract to buy the building. Remi has stated their intention to demolish the power station, although no definitive plans have been presented to the public.
UPDATE: MAY 8, 2005
I have changed the references from "Glenwood Power Station" to "Yonkers Power Station." This more accurately reflects the New York Central history. The earliest references state simply the "Yonkers power station" or "power house at Yonkers." An early trade journal names the site the "Yonkers Power Station of the New York Central & Hudson River Railroad." The use of "Glenwood Power Station" does not appear to become common until the mid-20th century.
UPDATE: MAY 3, 2005:
On Wednesday April 20, I, along with two Yonkers residents, submitted an application for Landmark designation of the Yonkers Power Station to the City of Yonkers Planning Department. The first step in the landmarking process is for the Landmarks preservation Board to review the application for completeness and then move to accept it and set the process in motion. The Landmarks board review was scheduled to occur Wednesday May 4, 2005. It was pulled from the agenda on Monday May 2, by Lee Ellman, head of the Planning Department. Clearly, this was not supposed to happen. It seems that City Hall is not interested in community input for redevelopment projects. One of criticisms of the Boyce Thompson application was that it was preceded by development plans. That excuse (ridiculous as it is, since we were opposed to the demolition of the BTI complex, when all other proposals not selected called for reuse of the main building from the beginning) cannot be used this time, despite efforts by City Hall to delay our application.
An application was also submitted by another party, and withheld from review by the Planning Department, for the Yonkers Pier, which the City would like to see redeveloped as a restaurant. This is the last remaining Pier of its kind in the Hudson Valley.
Yonkers Ruins homepage
Yaz’ Hudson Valley Ruins and Abandoned Buildings, etc.
E-mail Rob Yasinsac