Thursday, December 3, 2009

Willy's Peak

Some of you may have noticed the lack of updates around here, but rest assured it is not for lack of motivation, but rather from an excess. I've been so busy running around and shooting the past few months that I've hardly had a moment to sit down and look through my images. Now that the weather is winding down a bit, you'll be seeing just what I've been up to.

To start it off we'll take a visit to what was (at the time of my visit) the tallest building in Brooklyn. The Williamsburg Savings Bank:

I had just gotten back from a ridiculous trip (that you'll hear about in due time) when I got a message about a secret party on the abandoned observation deck of old Willy. I was feeling a little under the weather and not quite up for it, but I figured this might be my only chance to see it before it becomes part of someones condo. I chugged some Nyquil, packed my camera and headed out.

Upon arriving, I discovered that apparently the party had been kept a little too secret and wasn't quite as lively as it should have been. That was fine with me as I was there with ulterior motives. The roof deck was definitely neat to see, but that wore off pretty quickly and I headed off in search of the real grand prize, the gilded copper dome at the summit.

I rounded up a couple intrepid friends and we made our way upwards. Once into the mechanical rooms, it's only a few ladders up to the top of the AC units. After navigating a few I-beams, you make your way to a ladder that takes you up into the highest catwalk level of the dome. It turns out, the dome is actually made of some relatively thin flaps of metal that are attached like ladder rungs between huge ribs that are all attached to a central smokestack for the building.

Upon reaching the catwalk, I was fairly content with having reached the top until someone noticed another set of stairs that seemingly terminated at a dead end with the smokestack at the top of the dome. Some less curious folk might ignore such a thing, but surely we could not. We climbed up the ladder and through the slats in the dome we could see that there was actually a small platform on the exterior of the dome that surrounded the smokestack! One of the slimmer in our group went up first and said it was fine to come up. I didn't quite fit through the opening he had gone through, so I moved one opening further down the dome that was wide enough for my shoulders and awkwardly started climbing it. I could feel the metal of the slats flex as I pulled myself up through it and wondered if they would be able to support my full weight as I planted my foot on it and leaned forward to get onto the platform around the smokestack. Finally we were there! This was it!

There wasn't alot of room to move around once up there, so we sat and took in the view for a while. It really was quite a perfect night, very little wind, and the skys were so clear that we could practically see the entire city end to end. All in all, a great way to be welcomed back to the city after a long and exhausting week away.

We made our way back down safely and reunited with the hosts of the party and helped clean up a little bit before making our way out of the building.

Sometime in the next week I made it back to the building to go get some daylight shots of things that were too hard to shoot at night. Here you can see the interior of the dome, including the tallest catwalk above:
Here's another shot showing the way out onto the smokestack platform, while obviously not for the timid or faint of heart, it was definitely easier the second time around. The key thing to remember with all of these things, especially when there are ladders and stairs present is that fundamentally these things were built to be climbed by workers.

That's all for now! As always, click on images for larger versions. Time to get back to more editing.


  1. You are the perfect blend of brave and crazy. I love it. All I've been exploring is a swamp near my house. Not much there except beavers, geese and lots of thorns. Someday I'll get the nerve to wade through that creek and explore the other side. Someday...

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