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Three Views, Unchanging

The Empire Stores are a group of large connected warehouses in Brooklyn, constructed in 1869. They were built to serve the adjacent docks, and by accident of geography are now in the small triangle of land between the approaches to the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges. Because the buildings are so very solidly built, close to a half-century of abandonment in the late twentieth century didn’t destroy them, and they’ve been redeveloped as commercial and office space.

The picture above, taken by Berenice Abbott in 1936 for her “Changing New York” project shows the primitive but efficient method of loading and unloading: materials were simply hauled up the side of the building using a rope and pulley system, into the appropriate door. The big building in the background is a much more modern warehouse constructed about fifty years later.

The website for the current use shows those windows filled in with glass to create truly interior space, but otherwise looking much the same close to 90 years later.

Finally, another shot by Abbott, looking south along Water Street (Brooklyn’s Water Street, not Manhattan’s) to Manhattan. The steel frame is a city-owned building going up on the “free” land directly underneath the bridge.