Initially made to electrify trains, the Glenwood Power Plant has been haunting the Hudson Line for 50 years. Once a beacon of change, Glenwood's ghosts seem to have abandoned its hollow shell.
Located on the far side of a popular park, the only thing separating the plant from picnicking families is a 20 foot wrought iron fence and a dicey jump over the Hudson River. Past that, you're in. The space is completely open, the glass completely blown out of most windows. The doors are long gone, and rectangular holes in the walls remain. Last year, the power plant was filled with remnants of its past, rickety ladders and platforms set among the ashen remains of machinery. Just a few months later, it had all been gutted.
When I visited earlier this month, there were no floors, no ladders, just a single staircase in one corner promising a 110 foot view (or, for the clumsy or unlucky, a 110 foot drop). Had the graffiti on the sheer walls been painted before or after the floors were ripped out? A friend from the area had told me about parties they'd thrown there in high school just a few years prior, full of beer and Christmas lights.
Built in conjunction with Grand Central Terminal, this hulking structure has gone by the names Yonkers Power Station of the New York Central and Hudson River Railroad, Glenwood Power Station, and, locally, "The Gates of Hell".
Today the cavernous building is a far cry from the grandeur of its 1906 opening, when it was ready for a 30 year tenure serving the railroad that still passes by daily on the Metro-North tracks. Con Edison also used the building for a time, adopting the space in 1936, and using Glenwood's 30,000 kilowatt capacity to bring light to surrounding Yonkers. But by 1968, the place was defunct, its turbines outdated, its machinery archaic. The building was abandoned, and has been ever since.
In 2008, councilwoman Patricia McDown accused the powerhouse of being the site of mass gang initiations and violence, demanding it be bulldozed immediately to prevent future deviancy. Lacking evidence or support from the Yonkers Police Department, who had no knowledge of gang-related activities at the location, the building was spared the wrecking ball.
According to the Times, the next decade will see the Glenwood Power Plant transformed into a 22-slip marina and 90-room hotel with meeting rooms at the bases of the smokestacks. Goren Capital Group said they'd complete with reconstruction for $150 million, most of which they plan on obtaining through tax credits (they're currently seeking partners, if you're interested).
Hannah Frishberg is a 4th generation Brooklynite