Demolition Begins!

Non-historic Building 844, on the Island’s southern half, is being demolished to make way for the future park and public spaces.

Demolition has begun on Building 844!

The seven story building is the first of four high rise buildings which will be demolished over the next several months as a part of Governors Island’s major capital program that is improving Island infrastructure and building 30 new acres of park and public spaces.

The building is demolished with a long reach excavator that “munches” the building with a special claw attachment. In order to reach the highest point of the building, the excavator climbs “rubble ramps” which are created by large chunks of concrete from roadways removed to make way for the park. The concrete and brick from the demolished building, as well as the ramp material itself, will be stockpiled and used as fill for future phases of park construction.

Building 844 is located on the Island’s western shore on the southern half of Governors Island. This area is the site of the new park and future development. In May, Mayor Bloomberg and other elected officials broke ground on Phase 1 of the Island’s Park and Public Space Master Plan, which has been designed by acclaimed landscape architecture firm West 8. Phase 1 focuses on creating 30 new acres of park on the Island’s southern half and adding key visitor amenities throughout the Island’s Historic District.

Building 844 is one of three “dog bone” buildings on the Island’s western shore. The 80,000 square foot building is 70 feet high and was built in 1957 to house military personnel and their families. The buildings’ nickname comes from their unique dog-bone like shape.  In 2008, Building 844 was used by the New York City Fire Department to test high-rise firefighting apparatus and it was also previously used for scenes in the movie American Gangster.

A close up view of the excavator munching the building (photo by B. Killips)

While Building 844 is being demolished, abatement and demolition of the remaining three non-historic high-rise buildings on the Island’s western shore will begin. Demolition is scheduled to be complete by late next spring.

2 Responses

  1. I moved into this building in 1989 as a newlywed. We lived in 5F then moved into 2I when we had our second child. It wasn’t perfect, small and old, often a broken elevator, laundry room in the bottom floor with broken washers, but the views and experiences in NYC made our lives special. Our friends and family still talk about what a wonderful place it was. We made friends we still have to this day while living on GI. Now in Chesapeake, VA, we moved into a neighborhood with another GI family-on the same street! Our PA at the GI clinic sees us at a Patient First in VA. We were living in Liberty Village housing until the island closed in 1996. I still remember holding the ferry on MLK day to get to the hospital for my first born son, bowling on a league and having pizza from the Burger King, the EMWC throwing a talent show in the theater, and the haunted house at Castle Williams. GI truly changed our lives for the better. It’s so sad to see the building go.

  2. We moved from Bldg. 12G2 into 8663F in 1960. The view was amazing from the 3rd. floor. I would stare out of my window at Ellis Island and the light from the Statue of Liberty was my night-light. We were the first occupants in this brand new building. The heat didn’t work well and we were always freezing! That first winter my parakeet froze to death. When you stood in the shower you could hear everyone’s conversation from the floors above and below our bathroom.

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