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A look back in Gramercy Park History:

1989 Con Edison Steam pipe explosion on Gramercy Park 

In response to last week's steam pipe explosion in the Flatiron District,  many Gramercy Park neighbors contacted us recalling the steam pipe explosion that occurred  on Gramercy Park on August 19, 1989. 

Please see below report on the 1989 explosion by Arlene Harrison, who served as the Gramercy Park community leader and liaison to the Con Edison Command Post on Gramercy Park East (20th to 21st St) during the 8 month cleanup process.


August 19, 1989
Steam pipe explodes  sending a plume of steam, mud, and debris more than 18 stories into the air.  The explosion and plume of steam and mud killed two Con Edison workers, scalded to death a 28-year-old mother who had been taking a nap in her apartment, and injured 24 others.
 
"There was a roaring sound that went on for hours and hours and hours that nobody knew what it was or what it was going to result in," recalled Harrison. "We thought that all the buildings in the area were going to explode."   
The scene on Aug. 20, 1989, the day after a Consolidated Edison manhole exploded at 32 Gramercy Park South. (Photo: Marilynn K. Yee/The New York Times)

August 23, 1989
 
Two hundred residents of 32 Gramercy Park South were ordered out of their homes after tests - initiated by the tenants' council - showed extremely high levels of microscopic asbestos fibers in the building, following the explosion.
 
Many residents were housed in the Gramercy Park Hotel.
 
"They did over this whole building from start to finish," said Harrison. "We had men in, like, space suits here for eight months doing the cleanup. They cleaned every tree and every leaf on every tree."  
 

The final remediation and cleanup cost totaled approximately $90 million, making this one of the most expensive asbestos cleanup projects in history.


Asbestos cleanup at Gramercy Park


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