366.8°F, the Melting Point of table sugar.
I live up the street from the old Domino Sugar Refinery in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. The factory and its iconic yellow sign (which, I guess is 40 feet tall) have become a bit of landmark in my trek home from Manhattan. I often bike to home from work, and just as I cross the mid-way point on the Williamsburg Bridge heading into Brooklyn, I look up and think, “almost home”. I realize that the old abandoned factory symbolizes much beyond my selfish desire to return home after a long day, but I mention it because it is part of my life. Simple and subtle, but it is there.
It has been known for a few years now that the old Refinery was nearing its end – slowly hitting its melting point, its point of decomposition. Sadly, in gentrifying neighborhoods, large useless (albeit historic) structures scream “monetize me”. The city has great plans to place a high-rise building with 2,200 apartments right in its slot, rising over 50 stories high. The waterfront and skyline of Brooklyn will forever be changed.
There is a live exhibit going on inside the desolate structure this summer, Kara Walker’s “A Subtlety”. I made the time to go. An exclusive entrance into this massive structure I have gazed at and beyond so many times is impossible to pass up. All of her art is formed out of sugar. You step into the building and are instantly hit with the scent of sweet molasses, a wave of boiling sugar.
“…an Homage to the unpaid and overworked Artisans who have refined our Sweet tastes from the cane fields to the Kitchens of the New World on the Occasion of the demolition of the Domino Sugar Refining Plant.“
The colossal Sugar Baby structure is mesmerizing, clearly larger than life. The contrast of her white figure with the black and rotted wooden walls of the structure is breathtaking. This baby is not melting.
I feel lucky to have lived in Williamsburg during the time of Domino.