News & Politics

Villagers Get the Shaft


Clip Job: an excerpt every day from the Voice archives.

August 23, 1962, Vol. VII, No. 44

Man-Made Thunder

This is the anniversary of the Sixth Avenue shaft.

For a year now, the composite monster you see here has been digging up rocks and dumping them down again with crashing consistency on the corner of West 13th.

It gets its rocks from 90 feet under ground, where the Transit Authority is blasting and burrowing out a new subway tunnel to commemorate the next World’s Fair. Then it takes them up 90 feet in the air, aims at a truck on the street, and lets go. “This is a very balanced operation,” says Joe Bench, oiler in charge, second shift.

The people on West 13th Street are losing sleep. They are reported to have become neurotic, accident prone, grouchy, and generally miserable.

“That’s progress. What are ya gonna do?” Joe Bench says.

Last week, a tired 13th Street found its champion — Greenwich Towers, Inc., which owns the apartment house beside the shaft. Greenwich Towers filed suit to halt the round-the-clock dump and on Tuesday was granted a temporary injunction by the State Supreme Court. Trial is set for the first week in September.

The contractors — McLean, Grove and Company and Grove, Shepherd, Wilson and Krugh, Inc. — claim that any let-up in their busy schedule will mean another 18 months on the digging job. They promise, however, to finish in 1964 if the Court gives them 24 hours a day.

There is a law against night construction work, but “the City can break its own laws,” Joe Bench says. Thirteenth Street may lose the trial, but until then, there will be a moratorium on dumping rocks from 11 at night to 6 a.m.

[Each weekday morning, we post an excerpt from another issue of the Voice, going in order from our oldest archives. Visit our Clip Job archive page to see excerpts back to 1956.]


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