Gigantic Hahne Crane
On Sunday, June 22nd, I ventured Downtown (in Newark, not Manhattan) to take some progress pix of NuPru (the annex to Prudential Financial's World Headquarters) in the new superblock Broad Street at New Street to Halsey Street to Cedar Street and back to Broad (going counterclockwise; West Park Street has apparently been closed permanently). I parked, as usual, at New Street and Halsey, which turned out to be right alongside an enormous crane in use on a Sunday in the construction site at the former Hahne & Co. department store building. (Old-time Newarkers will know that despite the AH in that store's name, the pronunciation of the department store, "Hahne's", is, bizarrely, exactly like "Hanes", the underwear people.)
The sky was gorgeous, and hugely prominent, as it often is in Newark but rarely is, for most people of low and moderate income, in Manhattan, from a ground-floor apartment in which I escaped in June 2000. The rich have apartments in the sky, but ordinary people are in the shadows not just of the skyscrapers of the rich, but even of low-rise buildings of humble purpose and rent.
A number of the pictures I use today look very similar. Permit me to point out how they differ.
I didn't think to take a closeup picture of the bottom of the crane to see if there were outlying legs to stabilize the enormous height and weight of the crane and its various loads, or if the control cab and (caterpillar-tread? tire?) locomotion mechanism were heavy enuf to keep the superstructure from falling over. (Note that "height" and "weight" are exactly parallel in spelling but very different in pronunciation — hiet vs. waet. Yet we still don't demand an end to such madness. Well, I do, but not most people in the English-speaking world, nor even the hundreds of millions of people outside the traditionally English-speaking countries who suffer enormous difficulty in mastering this most useful of all international languages in the history of languages.)
Construction workers were using the crane to move things between the ground and roof, in this case, from the roof to the ground. You might wonder, as have I, why things that would be needed on the ground were ever put on the roof to begin with, but that is not the issue right now.
In the foto below, you can see how large the hook that looks so small in other pictures actually is, as compared to a full-grown man. The support for the hook might be 2 or 2½ feet tall. With its hook hanging below, the assemblage is probably on the order of 3½ feet high. Now, look at the other pictures with greater appreciation of how large the crane and its cable-and-hook assembly are.
I don't know if workers were advised as to how much weight was safe to have the crane lift, but I did not hear of any accident involving a tipped-over crane, so assume that everyone knew what could and could not be supported.
Curiously, the next time I was in that vicinity, the crane was no longer there, even tho there are plainly months of work still to be done to reconfigure and renovate the Hahne's building. I'm very glad I got to see the crane when it was there.
I love construction, and if I were a young man, I would probably like to work in some form of construction, be it of frame houses or skyscrapers, which would be a strikingly different kind of activity from the mental, Internet activity that occupies the bulk of my time and energy. But only in warm weather. My father was a carpenter and builder of frame houses at one point in my youth. I recall visiting one of his worksites, which I loved. My (older) brother Alan recounted how he saw my father (who was almost 6'4" tall; I am the usual 5'10" of my generation) drive a nail its entire length (perhaps 3" or even more) into a wooden beam with a single blow of the hammer. This is the kind of thing that the children of working people are proud of — not how much money their father makes, but the kind of work he does and how well he does it.
In The Olden Days (of my youth, the 1950s and 60s), the construction trades in New Jersey were, or at least were represented as being, closed shops for people who had 'connections', sometimes to The Mob. I hope this doesn't shock you, the idea that the state that was the subject of the HBO series The Sopranos might once have been affected by unions infiltrated or influenced by organized crime. Naa! That's all fiction, right?
I will be checking the progress of the reconstruction/renovation of the Hahne's building from time to time, and am (happily) amazed that a building so long vacant (since 1988) is still so structurally sound as to permit renovation. Contrast the Klein's-on-the Square building that had to be torn down to make way for NuPru. I trust that the project managers did extensive testing and evaluation as to the structural strength of that building before they committed the owners to renovating it rather than tearing it down and building new on that site.
Newark is, in U.S. terms, a very old city (1666), third oldest in the Nation, after only NYC and Boston, so it is gratifying that some (re)developers honor our history by respectfully recycling distinguished old buildings. You just want to be very certain that an old building repurposed today won't collapse tomorrow.