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Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Typology Near the Municipal Building

  In an article about the Chambers Street Station in the New York Division of the Electric Railroaders Association by David E. Rogoff ( Vol. 2, No. 3, July-August 1959, p. 5 ),  Rogoff  wrote that work on the Municipal Building began on January 27, 1907.  Soon construction crews ran into problems with the soil.   The site of the future Municipal Building was the site of a "Little Collect Pond" that was 60 feet deep and surrounded by a 100 foot hill.  This hill was leveled off between 1803 and 1811 but the bed of the pond remained and caused construction problems.  South of the site was a swamp and in order to construct a large office building, piers had to be sunk 130 feet below the street surface.  Let us see how a map  shows the typology of the area from surveys taken during early New York.  These features are shown on a map with a street grid of the late 19th Century.  A great resource is the University of Texas map room at Austin that has a great deal of "cool stuff ", on history and transportation from all over the  world.  This map was taken from their cool website.

Here is one map showing entire Manhattan Island.


The area around the Municipal Building is circled in red.  You can see the swamp area leading to the East River and what appears to be hill several blocks north of the site.  A closer look shows a small hill just one block north of City Hall.

  In the ARCGIS map above, I brought in a shape file of subway routes. It is not the most recent shape file.  I also added ADA station exits and entrances which has x and y coordinates.  The blue squares are the locations of the two stations in the area, namely Brooklyn Bridge and Chambers Street.  The Municipal Building is shaped like this "]" and notice that the J and Z routes run underneath it.  Several feet away, under Centre Street is the IRT Lexington Avenue Line.  It is interesting to note that there is no north entrance to the BMT Chambers Street Station in the Municipal Building, despite having a blue square at that location.  The north entrance was closed decades ago and a new passageway and entrance was built at Foley Square at Reade Street.  I also brought in the elevation in feet.  Though not clear, Park Row is in the back of the Municipal Building and it is depressed and it is not at the exact location when the Third Avenue El had a station over it.
The area is relatively flat except towards the south as you go towards the Brooklyn Bridge and the East River.

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