The Iron TrianglePosted on Jan 31, 2011 by Carlito Brigante |
This is where you go if you need to get your car fixed, get shiny rims or change your windscreen. Also known locally as the Iron Triangle, it is the largest single stretch of junkyards in New York, with hundreds of auto salvage yards, repair garages, waste facilities, warehouses, chop shops and auto parts stores.
The Bloomberg administration identified the Triangle as an area with tremendous growth potential and is planning to fabricate New York city’s next great neighborhood. The plan includes a luxurious hotel, a convention center and exciting new retail and entertainment amenities.
After more than fifty years of covetousness and unfulfilled redevelopment plans, the Iron Triangle’s days may soon be over.
More images on Carlito’s Flickr page
Images by Charles le Brigand
All rights reserved. Une production de Brigand © 2011
I visited the Triangle with my friend Vinny and I’ve asked him to compile his impressions and share his photographic take on Willets Point. This is what Vinny has to say:
Like many of us that live within the five boroughs of New York City, we tend to get lost in our respective pockets on or around the island. And the longer we’re here, our surroundings become more familiar, and the city itself seems smaller, and more manageable. Regardless of demographic, or socio-economic demeanor, many of us subscribe to living within the confines of the most “comfortable” neighborhood we can afford for ourselves and our families…to a degree, it’s human nature.
And while that’s all well and good, in the process of growth and development (whether it be the expansion of a real estate cartel, or human progress, in general), some smaller, culturally enriched neighborhoods are almost forgotten and become certainly neglected.
This does not only speak to smaller niche communities, but it also extends to an aged culture that immigrated to America (think: grandma; think: grandpa). A specific ‘old-world’ warmth is fading, and at our expense.
Neighborhoods, like the Iron Triangle, have shrunk, and become few and far between. The Iron Triangle is a very special nook of NYC, otherwise known as Willets Point, Queens. It is a haven for car garages, body shops, detailing, and anything else that goes along servicing and enhancing cars, trucks and buses. It is literally next door to the new home of the Met’s – Citi Field. Citigroup, a bank receiving 45 billion dollars of TARP funds in 2008, is the face of this new neighborhood. And while Citigroup did not use TARP funds in building the stadium, during the time of this loan, ~$600 million dollars of Citi’s funds were being put to work elsewhere. Across the street from the Iron Triangle, a shiny new stadium was built for a baseball team that cannot manage to win more games than they lose. As it towers over the auto/industrial hot-spot, it just seems to serve as a constant reminder to the locals of what big business has in store for their land.
Aside from the fact that It’s a bit insulting, a once thriving, warm and welcoming community is now in the throws of a 3-termed Mayor Michael Bloomberg. How lucky are we to have a self-elected mayor? Regardless of my feelings of the founding member of the monopolistic market-data provider, we have a very real situation of a very real community that’s getting pushed out of their livelihood. They hustle. Define it as you will, but they’re working hard.
While this meltdown was happening a year and a half ago, I was somewhat optimistic that we would be blanketed with a more humble demeanor. I thought that we would look forward toward a more traditional sense of community. I thought the playing field would be leveled out some, and it would be a little less about ‘me,’ and more about ‘we.’ That hasn’t really happened yet.
Big business will always argue the benefits of gentrification before dumping millions of dollars in ‘developing’ a more rigid community. Their logic is that new lofty condo’s, restaurants, facilities, and Duane Reade’s will ultimately lift the standard of living within it’s pre-existing members. But this is not the case in many regards, if at all.
The Iron Triangle is a blaring example of such. When visiting the Triangle, Carlito Brigante and I spoke one-on-one to a few shop/garage owners. We made a point to ask each of them – what is the future of the neighborhood? Some smiling, some sensitive, they all spoke of Bloomberg, Citi Field, and ultimately getting pushed out of the area. There is no intention of building up a community that still is lacking in sidewalks or sewers. Was there any negotiation between the City and Citi to spread some of that $600 million across to the neighboring businesses? Is it not a slap in the face to those income taxpayers who are contributing to this bank’s bail out? …only so ‘other bank resources’ can be put to use to install a new stadium that would eventually push this community off the map?
It’s rough and somewhat chaotic exterior is a bit misleading to the warmth of the people who operate these garages. We were greeted with handshakes, smiles, and funny photo poses. This is somewhat unassuming while walking through the unpaved dirt roads that are basically outlined only by cars, trucks and buses parked outside of their garages.
Even still, the area was colorful and dynamic. And despite local politics lurking about, the energy within the Iron Triangle was positive, and authentic. There’s not enough said about that these days.