One of the worst kept secrets in New York is the phony townhouse at 58 Joralemon Street.
Once an actual residence, it now hides a subway ventilator and emergency exit for the subway tunnel running directly below (the blacked-out windows should be your first clue that something odd is going on here).
Anyway, last weekend, I was walking back to my car along Bruckner Boulevard in the Bronx when I happened to notice something odd…
A row of townhouses running along one side of the street behind a high fence.
Was this some kind of weird new Bronx gated community?
The more I stared, the more the whole thing kept throwing me off. It almost looked like a Hollywood backlot version of New York.
Each brick townhouse was equipped with globe lights, nice bushes and pathways out front.
Then I noticed the blacked out windows.
As you keep going around the structure, industrial portions start appearing, and my first guess was that it was another in the MTA’s long line of townhouse-related deceptions.
Nope – this is actually Coned’s Mott Haven Electric Substation, built in 2008 to help meet the city’s growing power needs.
The substation was given a “classic New York rowhouse” look to appease locals, who were not happy with its construction.
I’m not sure what was torn down to make way for this, so correct me if some beautiful bit of New York history was lost forever due to its construction, but if it had to be built, and considering how ugly electrical substations can look, I actually really like it!
Having just gone on the Warner Bros. backlot tour for the first time last year, the similarities were extremely eerie.
I should mention the design won an award from the Precast/Prestressed Concrete Institute of Northeast, who commended the architects for creating a “believable residential presence” (er, we might disagree on the believable part).
But the weirdest part? I swear, I’ve driven down this portion of Bruckner Blvd. a million times since it was built in 2008, and while I knew there was a large structure here, I never noticed the townhouses (I think I’ve always thought it was a self-storage center).
Just another reminder that you can never trust a New York City townhouse.
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