As the global climate crisis grabs more attention and the need to shift from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources grows more urgent, cities are grappling with what to do with the industrial artifacts of our petroleum-based past. In New York, the demolition earlier this month of 10 abandoned oil tanks along the East River in Brooklyn points to the tension between building on these relics and expunging them from modern view.
In 2016, the city purchased a seven-acre plot (complete with tanks) from Bayside Fuel Oil Depot Corporation, intending to add the tract to a 28-acre waterfront park that has been in the works since 2005. But what to do with the tanks proved contentious: some viewed them as a stinging reminder of the waterfront’s toxic past, while others saw historic structures with contemporary potential.
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