The 250-foot crane on Saturday, before its collapse and after. (Adam B./Courtesy Gothamist)
It may have been a jarring reminder of the two deadly crane accidents two springs before, but fortunately little more. A smaller mobile crane toppled onto 80 Maiden Lane in the Financial District on Saturday evening, but it caused little damage and no fatalities, unlike the collapse of two tower cranes in March and May 2008, which claimed seven and two lives, respectively. The exact cause of this latest accident remains unknown, but it was believed to be a combination of human error (the boom was not sufficiently lowered) and mechanical failure (bad hydraulics). In a twist of fate, the crane fell onto the building occupied by the city’s Department of Inspections, which is charged with routing out the corrupt inspectors who let the prior accidents happen, though there appears to be no malfeasance in this incident. Two days later, two Brooklyn condos under construction collapsed, one injuring two four workers. This reminds us that last year there were but three construction fatalities in the city, down from 19 in 2008, partly because of stricter safety standards but also less work. While such construction accidents are unacceptable, they are also, as the mayor has said, the cost of doing business. The good news, then, appears to be that the city may finally be back in business.
The collapsed building in Williamsburg, on Consylea Street. (Brooklyn365 via Curbed)