Monday, April 22, 2013

Stalking Standard Oil

Yesterday, the Register-Star published its story about the controversy over the location of Standard Oil on the Hudson waterfront: "Standard Oil enters Holcim land deal debate." Today, Gossips offers some visual evidence, provided by a reader, of where on the waterfront Standard Oil was located. (Click on any of the images to enlarge it.)

The first image compares the outline of the Standard Oil facility that appears on the 1889 Sanborn map with a photograph that shows the facility. 

The photograph above is a detail from this photograph. The building at the center of the picture is the Clapp & Jones Manufacturing Company.

Clapp & Jones, founded by Mertilew R. Clapp and Edward D. Jones, built 500 steam fire engines in this building on Hudson's waterfront between 1862 and 1892. The 1884 Sanborn map below shows the location of Clapp & Jones in relation to the Hudson Iron Works--Clapp & Jones was farther south and Standard Oil was south of that.

The picture below, probably taken from the vantage point of Deer Alley, between Third and Second streets, shows the Hudson Iron Works at the right and Clapp & Jones at the far left. The railroad track that appears in the picture is what we now know as the ADM track. 

In the final picture, taken from Promenade Hill in the 1890s, the Standard Oil facility appears in the distance. The superimposed circle marks the site.


  1. All very well and good Gossips, except you forgot to mention that the entire South Bay was underwater at the time of the Indians and that the whole city was underwater during the Pleistocene.

    On a related topic, the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) is holding a public comment period on its plan to "streamline" the industry's standards for due diligence when it comes to Phase I Environmental Site Assessments.

    The new standards will likely make it even easier for companies like Crawford Associates to ignore the historical evidence of Sanborn maps in their recommendations for Phase II assessments.

    My plan is to present Crawford Associates as the worst-case evidence for why the ASTM cannot be living in the real world.

    (The campaign begins even now, since a Google search will turn up the words in this thread.)

  2. Sam Pratt submitted this comment:

    (A) If one walks Sandy Beach and East Jesus, one will often find very strangely-formed “rocks” which are in fact remnants of blast furnace slag dumped in the area for many years.

    (B) The records of the NiMo remediation done under DEC auspices at the former Dunn warehouse stated, per a DEC report, that pollutants remediated from the site such as creosole had also likely migrated into the River. Such pollution has no respect for property boundaries.

    (C) An engineering document discovered by The Valley Alliance (submitted to the State two years ago) shows that Atlas Cement had a plan to dump its wastewater—often full of pollutants such as mercury—in the South Bay. It is not clear whether this went into effect.

    (D) Whatever solid land one finds in the Bay is built on a combination of industrial fill and silt.

    In short, even without the evidence above—which appears to clearly show that Standard Oil was well south of the current park—it is reasonable to assume that the land to be acquired by the City may be contaminated. To move forward without real assurances based on thorough studies from a disinterested party (i.e. not Roberts) would be reckless.

    1. I would prefer also, it was from"a disinterested party"
      (i.e. not Crawford and Associates , along with City Attorney Roberts)

  3. Throughout the LWRP/GEIS process, the entire environmental analysis of "the 7 Acres" proposal was handled exclusively by Cheryl Roberts, who claims no special knowledge of hydrology.

    If during the planning of the LWRP/GEIS the expertise at the county, state or federal levels had been sought, ignored public comments about the area's unique hydrology might have been corroborated.

    It's no secret that the water table beneath the entire South Bay landmass is tidal. Such observations about the South Bay's subterranean hydrology were later confirmed by the city's Chief Operator of the Waste Water Treatment Plant.

    Seconding these observations, the Columbia County Soil & Water Division noted that “if fluctuations in the water level of a test hole correlate with the tide, one must assume a multi-directional hydrology.”

    It was specifically these tidal fluctuations in the water levels of excavation ditches which were reported in the GEIS public comments, and were subsequently and artfully ignored by Cheryl Roberts in her official responses to the comments.

    Rather than investigate the multiple requests to address the hydrology of the South Bay area, Roberts spent years ignoring them. In this way, wittingly or unwittingly, she facilitated the future goals of all of the city's intended actions by avoiding any mention of the area-wide hydrological phenomenon in the GEIS - her GEIS!

    Nor did her SEQRA Findings Statement for the GEIS acknowledge what the public had consistently reported, and thus no SEQR "thresholds and criteria for supplemental EISs" were offered to help guide future actions, some of which she herself characterized would be "necessary."

    Instead of a sincere effort in her SEQRA Findings, Roberts merely recapitulated the simplistic assertions of the 2009 draft GEIS to conclude that "[t]he LWRP and proposed zoning amendments will have a beneficial impact on the surface water and hydrology ... [and] will not result in any significant adverse area-wide impacts to the surface waters and hydrology within the LWRP area" (Draft GEIS, p. 3.4-5; SEQRA Findings, p. 9).

    The specious presuppositions of the draft GEIS were unchanged after years of subsequent of public testimony.

    It's all so appalling.

    1. I left something out.

      The public could not have known during the public comment period that the Holcim land transfer was a prerequisite for the state and federal authorizations of the LWRP.

      That meant that Roberts' subsequent and oft-repeated explanation that a "generic" EIS didn't have to address the potentially adverse effects of specific actions on issues such as hydrology was untrue:

      In retrospect we see that the early conclusion that the LWRP would have a whole host of "beneficial impacts" on any number of environmental subjects like hydrology was a fib, inasmuch as the land transfer was necessary and the reasons given for the land transfer were telegraphed beforehand as actions that would become "necessary."

      The disaster that Crawford provides is an inadequate environmental assessment which will perpetually service all of the city's needs at the site, beginning with the necessary ones.

      Such are the makings of "beneficial impacts," a Robertian prevarication of the first order.

  4. I will ask again, why is Cheryl Roberts still employed as Corporation Counsel?

  5. Robertian prevarication? Wow! Wish I thaught of that...Roberts is needed to tell the right hand what the left hand must not know.

    1. Pretty terrible, huh? But wait, did I steal that from you?

      If you didn't think of it Joe, you eventually would have.

  6. Very interesting photographs, thank you, Carole.