Photo by Joanne Ambia

Many of you might be familiar with the nearby Huxley Envelope building, a fixture sight on the waterfront and an identifier of Greenpoint across the soiled waters of the East River.

Remediation Site Map

But what you might not know is that the entire building and surrounding land could be demolished, as a result of a major brownfield cleanup run by the New York State Dept. of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC), which will purge the area of what they refer to as “hazardous waste and/or petrolium.” An official report found that the cleanup will not post a significant threat to public health …but more on that later. Basically the remediation is going to detox the shitty/toxic soil embedded on our deceivingly pretty waterfront, which I’m sure we can all agree, is a good thing. I mean, this soil has to get clean at some point; that’s the whole idea of a Superfund site.

Land surrounding the Huxley building, Photo by Joanne Ambia

But the question that remains is about the preservation of this historic, hand-painted sign. Will it simply be torn down or will the soil be dug up around it? I’ve contacted two reps from the remediation department and am awaiting response, but won’t that fading, red white and blue “BUY IN AMERICA” be missed?

The building was constructed in approximately 1970 for Huxley Envelope, an envelope manufacturing company. It’s completely vacant now and has been since 2006.

Photo by JoanneAmbia

The other issue is the possible airborne threat of remediating a toxic site in a residential neighborhood. Look at this statement from the official cleanup decision.


This human exposure assessment identifies ways in which people may be exposed to site-related contaminants. Chemicals can enter the body through three major pathways (breathing, touching or swallowing). This is referred to as exposure.

Direct contact with contaminants in the soil is unlikely because the majority of the site is covered with buildings and pavement. Contaminated groundwater at the site is not used for drinking or other purposes and the site is served by a public water supply that obtains water from a different source not affected by this contamination. 

While contact with soil and drinking of contaminated water is eliminated as a possible danger to public health, there is no mention of exposure through BREATHING. This is a might bit troubling, if you ask me.

Debris still sits in the water in front of the building, © Joanne Ambia

Anyone with a knowledge of environmental public health want to weigh in? Comment below.

In the meantime, if you haven’t seen the sign up close, now is the time to check it out. It might not be around for much longer.


Join the Conversation


  1. I may have missed this, but what are the proposed plans for the space once it’s torn down and dug up? Will there be another park similar to Transmitter park, or am I being far too hopeful?

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