Scouting The Gates of Hell: A Visit To The Abandoned Glenwood Power Plant

For years, I’ve been interested in scouting the Gates of Hell. Which, oddly enough, happens to be in Yonkers.

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Located on the shores of the Hudson, this is the local nickname for the Glenwood Power Plant, built from 1904 – 1906 and in operation until 1963. It has been abandoned ever since.

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For most of my time as a scout, it’s been off-limits due to safety issues. However, in the past few years, its new owners have been working hard to stabilize it for its eventual rebirth as an arts-centered events complex, and I finally had a chance to visit this past week.

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The Glenwood Power plant was originally built by the New York Central Railroad to provide electricity for its tracks heading north from Grand Central. It was later sold to Edison Light & Electric in 1936 and converted from coal to oil.

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Today, walking amongst its buildings is like exploring a post-apocalyptic ghost town.

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Though much has been cleared away (most of its machinery was sold for scrap in 1965), there are still some fantastic original elements, like this electrical pole visible from the Glenwood train stop:

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I love this boarded-up doorway…

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…which still has an ENTRANCE sign written across the top:

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Piles of bricks are everywhere, some with really intricate patterns:

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Hanging a left through two buildings near the river…

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…we passed through a door…

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…and arrived in the grandest of the four buildings on the complex: the gorgeous, cathedral-like turbine hall:

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This atrium space was originally home to the plant’s turbines, long since removed:

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I love the latticework leading up to the ceiling – would be amazing if the glass was one day restored.

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The floors on the northern end are slowly being reinstalled – watch your step…

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Meanwhile, the southern wall has become a canvas of sorts:

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The turbine hall’s overhead crane is still in place…

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…hook still ready for work:

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Here’s a look at the crane’s machinery up top…

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…a pretty impressive assembly of cogs, courtesy of Philadelphia’s Alfred Box & Co:

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View from one of the side floors:

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Looking north:

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Scouting NY readers know I’m a big fan of skybridges

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…and man do I love the bridge connecting Glenwood’s turbine hall to the neighboring substation building…

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…with gorgeous views of the Hudson:

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What makes it especially distinctive are the two beautiful light stanchions…

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…which just scream the era they hail from:

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Really hoping to see these working again someday:

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The substation building is dominated by four enormous floor-mounted rotary converters, used to convert alternating current to direct current for third rail power:

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Each unit has its own distinct character…

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A second for comparison. Amazing how industrial symmetry can be so gorgeous:

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A peek below reveals quite a drop:

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Next time you see it, this might be a restaurant:

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A bit of floor tile work that has managed to survive:

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The western end of the floor:

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There’s no shortage of great industrial staircases:

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The rest of the floors in the substation are pretty barren…

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But you can always count on an impressive view:

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I took a quick peek in this smaller building on the southwestern end of the property…

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Here, the floor has completely caved in…

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…and as water from the Hudson surges against the shore below, the sound of waves crashing explodes through the room like an echo chamber.

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Some of the most interesting spaces can be found just walking between the buildings.

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Love this passageway at the eastern end…

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…strewn with all sorts of industrial bits that I assume once did something vital:

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There’s quite a lot of interesting salvage spread about the grounds…

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…which hopefully will be reintegrated back into the complex:

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One particularly haunting ruin: the skeletal remains of the docks at the southern end of the property. In 1929, a worker at the plant drowned here after being pinned underwater by a concrete bucket. These may someday be rebuilt to allow boat access from New York City:

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And finally, the view from the roof:

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It’s nothing short of tragic that Glenwood’s grandeur was allowed to rot for decades, and I’m very much hoping it finds a new, assured existence as an arts/events space ala Dia:Beacon in the coming years. In the meantime, they’re willing to consider paying film/photo shoots, which will obviously help fund the restoration. Blade Runner 2, I’m looking in your direction…

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As it turns out, the Gates of Hell are a lot more beautiful than you might have thought.

-SCOUT

Filming/rental availability: If interested, you can get in touch with the venue managers directly at joan@theplantmanor.com. Please be sure to mention you got the info from my site!

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21 comments

  1. Thanks for this update on the Yonkers Power Station (which seems to have been the NYCRR’s preferred name). Some friends and I applied to have the power station be declared a city landmark, before any redevelopment plans were announced. The City Council never voted against (or for) landmarking, they’ve just never brought it to vote. I’m not sure why the Gates of Hell moniker is so popular; it seems to have spread like wildfire by some neighbors who were against the landmarking process.
    I’ll believe it when I see it, but it would be great if and when the Yonkers Power Station joins other successfully rejuvenated power plants around the world. There are obstacles above and beyond the building and its condition however.

    Rob
    http://www.hudsonvalleyruins.org

  2. I’ve been commuting past this structure for the past year, wondering what it looked like inside. Thanks for the tour!

  3. Great article. I grew up very close to this monstrosity and it would be wonderful to see them rejuvenate and repurpose this old landmark. It would make a great art center, event venue etc. Keep revitalizing the Yonkers waterfront.

  4. It’s very much like a mini Tate Modern. Here’s hoping for a similar resurrection.

  5. I often wondered what those buildings were. I went passed them daily from 1981 to 1984 on Metro North going from GCT to Tarrytown and they look today pretty much the same as they did then.

  6. Sooooo perfect for my film – I hope we finance while this is still around!

  7. You hit the jackpot. The place oozes mystery. (Better get that cleaned up. Ooze can damage wooden surfaces if left to sit).

  8. Thanks for this update on the Yonkers Power Station. Some friends and I applied for local landmark status ten years ago, before redevelopment plans were announced, to bring attention to the building. The Yonkers City Council never took the matter to vote. It would be great to see the site repurposed as has been done at many other power plants around the world, but there are issues here beyond the building and its condition (access, parking, neighbors). Odd too that the “Gates of Hell” name has stuck – it seems it was spread around in the media by opponents of the landmark process.

    Nice photos too.

    Rob
    http://www.hudsonvalleyruins.org/

  9. As always, excellent post!

    Here’s a 1906 photograph of its sister power station’s turbine room, which has since been demolished:

    http://opacity.us/images/db/supplement/power_plant_1906.jpg

    More pix from that same site:

    http://opacity.us/gallery46_industrial_strength.htm

  10. Towards the end of the first season of Girls (HBO), they go to a warehouse party in “Bed Sty”. I am convinced that it was actually shot here.

  11. Great coverage Nick as usual! This place hopefully will have life sturring in it once again sooner rather than later as many people spent their entire careers working in this building along the Hudson. Happy trails brother!

    –Josh

  12. Our local power company is currently renovating a similar structure in downtown Birmingham, Alabama, and it’s exciting to see it come back to life. I hope your building will soon see the same! It has beautiful bones and is in a great location. Thanks for sharing!

  13. I feel like I saw something recently that was shot here. Mozart in the Jungle? Broad City? Fantastic location.

  14. olympiasepiriot

    Great photos.

    We do NOT need a Blade Runner 2!

  15. I want to say for the record…and anyone else who grew up in this neighborhood in the sixties and seventies would agree with me…if these walls could talk!

    • 1950’s born and brought up down the block…we called it the POWER HOUSE about 20 electric poles to the north pole #371 swam in the river at what was table rock and whale rock. whew stories galore…..

  16. The 1920’s generating equipment and fired boilers that were surplus from the switch, after Edison Power merged with the plants original United Electric Power Co., from coal to oil were shipped to Freeport, Texas in 1943 and repurposed for use during WW2 at a defense plant producing magnesium metal from seawater. The old boilers were converted to operate on natural gas instead of coal. After WW2 in the 1950’s the old 1920’s Westinghouse generators were replaced with more modern units but the old steam turbines and boilers continued to be used by The Dow Chemical Company which bought the facility in the 1950’s. Additional GE turbines and high pressure Riley steam boilers were added and the whole plant operated until around 1985 or so. Magnesium was still produced there until about 1990. A new modern power substation and utilities for a Korean built membrane cell chlorine plant now sit on that site alongside the Brazos River in Freeport, Texas. I worked at the power plant in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s.

  17. Andy Subbiondo

    There was another Glenwood Power Plant in the New York area, located at the end of Glenwood Avenue in the L.I. hamlet of Glenwood Landing near Glen Cove. I used to be able to see it from our house in Port Washington and it was clearly visible from Bar Beach or anywhere on Hempstead Harbor.

    According to Wikipedia it was slated to be razed in 2014.

    Your headline rally threw me as I thought it was a reference to that once familiar sight.

  18. Jonah Shortall

    So I’m a year late commenting on this but would I be able to get in without running in to any trouble? This seems like a great spot for a YouTube series I’m doing and I really want to check it out

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