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Building Collapse at E 108th Street

By Jose B. Rivera

Photo of the empty space where 1723 Lexington Avenue use to exist.East Harlem, Wednesday, November 10, 2004. A vacant building at 1723 Lexington Avenue, between East 108th and East 107th Street began to fall apart and on the verge of falling apart.  The building began to literally crumple from behind the structure.  The side facing Third Avenue. People who live on the block felt a rumple and noticed that bricks were falling from the back of the building.  A seven foot hole opened in the rear of the building from which one could look into a bed room.

The New York City Fire Department was called and the whole block was sealed off.  Train service was stopped along the Lexington Avenue line due to fear that vibrations from running trains could hasten a collapse.

Residents in adjoining buildings were evacuated. Those residents did not get back into their homes until the next day.  And not before 1723 Lexington Avenue was demolished to ensure that it did not pose a danger to anyone.  The demolitions was done over night and by morning an empty space was all that was left where once stood a proud old tenement.

It’s sad to see a piece of history go down like that.  And it gets harder to maintain older structures, due to their age.  One wonders just how much history that old building saw.  It walls could talk what would that building have said about the numerous families who occupied that space.  About their struggles and victories?  We don’t hold memorial services for building, but I for one would like to say, ‘Thank You 1723 Lexington Avenue’ for all that you gave.

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