A History of Inwood’s 215th Street Incinerator Smokestacks | My Inwood

by Cole Thompson

Inwood’s 215th Street Incinerator Smokestacks

On 215th Street, near Tenth Avenue, sit three massive smokestacks, which have towered over the Inwood skyline, east of Broadway, since 1934.

The smokestacks, part of a decommissioned Department of Sanitation “destructor plant”, once incinerated some 7,500 tons of New York City garbage daily. The fires of the incinerator burned trash round-the-clock and coughed up so much smoke, soot and other horrifying vapors that residents of one apartment building on nearby Park Terrace East felt compelled to file a lawsuit against the city just years after the $1.5 million facility went on-line.

The June 28, 1934 opening of the plant represented an historic day for the city. From that day forward, under court order, New York would begin burning its garbage, ending a long-standing practice of dumping refuse at sea.

The Inwood plant, and three others that would go on-line the following day, had been constructed after the Supreme Court imposed a deadline after which the city was forbidden to dump trash offshore. The deadline, which also imposed a $5,000 a day penalty for non-compliance, was the result a lawsuit filed by the State of New Jersey. According to the suit, New York’s waste disposal practices had left the Jersey Shore so polluted that its once beautiful beaches were no longer fit for bathing. The practice, they argued, must end—and the Supreme Court agreed.

Read more: A History of Inwood’s 215th Street Incinerator Smokestacks.


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