If Columbia Can’t Come To Your Warehouse, Then Your Warehouse Must Come To Columbia

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Hudson BuildingThe signs of spring are everywhere on campus: two students sitting on the lawn listening to a radio, absolutely no frisbees whatsoever, and the season’s first whiff of insanity wafting up from Manhattanville. This afternoon’s distinctive smell is caused by Anne Whitman, the owner of the former Sheffield Farms stable building. The University is still negotiating the terms of a purchase deal with Whitman, which Bwog supposes is why Ms. Whitman is now asking the university to move the building four blocks. [Emphasis added.]

Insanity! Back-of-the-envelope engineering! Poorly Photoshopped site maps! All after the jump.  

The attractive seven-story building, now the home of Hudson Moving & Storage, is built of solid masonry construction, weighing… oh, we don’t know. A billion pounds? While other buildings in the city have been moved (City College negotiations are ongoing on the matter of moving Hamilton Grange into nearby Saint Nicholas Park), something with this much sheer bulk seems a little exceptional. For example, the Sheffield building is fifty feet wide and ninety-five feet deep, according to city records. Bwog is not a civil engineer, but since that stretch of Broadway has an elevated train over it and just three twelve-foot lanes, it seems unlikely that the street can accommodate more than forty-two feet worth of building. Is it still a historic structure if you scrape the sides off when you pull it by the McDonalds?

But wait, there’s more! The lot that Whitman is “eyeing”, according to AM New York, is the parcel on the southwest corner of 125th and Broadway. You might remember this plot of land, as it caused a furor this year.  Columbia is building a new science and math magnet school at this site, which was the subject of a minor dust-up this year when its students were being temporarily housed at a crowded public school on Morningside Drive. Apparently this project would be nixed.

Site Plan

An unnamed Columbia official described the plan to amNY as being “dreamland stuff.” Sounds like somebody doesn’t want their kids to go to school in a warehouse that’s been rolled down Broadway on flatbed trucks (or, hell, helicopters), at tremendous expense. You’ve got to learn to think big.


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  1. Eddie Izzard

    The Sheffield building is FIFTY foot high! THIRTY foot long! TWENTY foot deep! And other measurements as well!

  2. lol  

    "Bwog is not a civil engineer". What is Bwog eh?

  3. Alum

    I agree that moving the building is impractical due to its size and bulk. It may not be structurally sound enough to survive being lifted and moved even if doing so were practical. But impractical and impossible are not the same thing. If the building were really worth saving, it probably could be moved a couple of blocks -- at great cost. As the amNY article points out, the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse (which is much larger) was moved more than half a mile.

    Such a move would not require squeezing the building into three lanes of Broadway as Bwog says. If the buildings on the two blocks to its south are demolished first, the Sheffield Farms building would have a clear path across the vacant lots.

    The building does have historic value. It also has character and visual appeal. I just don't think it has enough going for it to merit the kind of heroics Ms. Whitman has in mind.

  4. Eddie Izzard

    Why this building was standing over 50 years ago.

  5. Alum

    Also, the building can't possibly weigh "a billion pounds". IIRC, the entire WTC weighed less than two million tons, which is four billion pounds. There's no way this building weighs half as much as one of the twin towers. I realize Bwog wasn't going for accuracy, but its figure is probably off by a factor of almost 100.

    • Also non-civil engr  

      I think that part was a joke. Although masonry framing would suggest a higher weight than steel, in my highly uninformed opinion, and the building is only 14 times shorter than the WTC (although a much smaller base, sure), so I'd actually say 100 is aiming high.

      Similarly, the two building lots below it would have to be cleared, filled, _and_ flattened, both at the same time, and construction suspended while the building was moved across those lots. Probably not reasonable on this (or any) project's timetable.

      The Cape Hatteras lighthouse is also not in the middle of Manhattan. Just sayin'.

  6. Annoyed  

    fuck hudson moving and storage. there were a shitload of us who had to wait 12+ hours to get our storage boxes picked up by them (There's nothing like waiting until 3 AM for a phone call!). and whitman (despite many phone calls and letters) didn't do shit about it because she probably feels that she can take advantage of college students. if this had happened to anyone else, there'd be hell to pay.

    just tear down the building.

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