The Ugly Racial Backstory of Harlem’s Sewage Plant Explosion
(News One) — In 1962, when New York city planners first proposed a sewage treatment plant for the residents and businesses of Manhattan’s West Side, they picked a spot on the Hudson River around 72nd Street. The neighborhood, however, was well on its way to becoming what it is today — the white, upper middle class district of stylish brownstones, grand co-ops and newfangled condominiums known to most Americans as the backdrop for the TV sitcom, Seinfeld. Neighborhood resistance to the plant forced the city to select an alternate location. The plant site was then moved up the Hudson River to a plot between 137th and 145th Streets in the Black neighborhood of Harlem. It was just another story in a long-standing American narrative of environmental injustice against communities of color; white politicians and planners shifting the noxious, the unpleasant, and the dirty public and private works of our cities onto neighborhoods with minimal political influence.