A collapsing ceiling—like a crumbling building facade, or a wind-tossed construction beam, or a falling crane—is an urban horror story. It's the sort of uncommon (but not quite uncommon enough) occurrence that falls—literally—on unsuspecting city dwellers. Still, it's pretty rare that a brave New Yorker has the wherewithal to document a structural collapse in real time.
In this case, a Queens resident managed to capture her ceiling's downfall, from the relative safety of an adjacent room.
"A crack appeared on the ceiling of my sister's apartment," uploader atmanz11 writes, cryptically. "Three days later, this happened."
The 13-second video opens on an innocuous-seeming living room, with pale yellow walls, shiny wooden floors and a navy couch that might be a futon. A faint cracking is audible, like a baby chick breaking out of its shell. Then the cracking sound gets louder, drawing eyes towards the ceiling, which has been—and is, increasingly—bulging downwards.
Suddenly, with a swoosh, it all comes crashing down—chunks of ceiling somehow missing the navy couch, an adjacent white couch, a coffee table, and a small bookshelf. A tablecloth flutters in the breeze.
After the sudden collapse the videographer says the only thing a person can say under such circumstances, quivering with pre-tears: "Are you fucking kidding me?"
We have yet to confirm the neighborhood, much less the address of the apartment shown above, but the Department of Buildings had some general words of caution on Monday.
"Always report any sort of water damage either to 311 or your building management, and immediately report any bulging or cracking," said Department of Buildings spokesman Alexander Schnell.
Schnell added that the crumbling material is likely sheetrock or plaster, though the difference is difficult to discern in this case. The ceiling may have sustained water damage over years, or become compromised under excessive weight or construction-related vibrations above. Both sheetrock and plaster are nailed to wooden beams for security, and in this case, the nails may have rusted over time.
"In general," Schnell said, "if there's bulging [in your ceiling], or any sizable cracking, it's best to not be in that area until it's been inspected."
We've reached out to the hard-on-her-luck videographer, and will update with any additional information.