Underexposed | 10

The Learning Center, Con Edison Ravenswood Station, Queens, 2015. Photo by Stanley Greenberg

In one corner of a lot on the East River’s edge, clapboard buildings recall classic single-family houses — but too narrow to turn around in, let alone make a home. Nearby, stunted electrical poles dot the asphalt, surrounded by blue gym mats to soften falls. Power lines seemingly go nowhere, since there are no nearby buildings to supply; unmanned utility trucks cluster, but not enough to make a storage lot.

The narrow shacks and abbreviated poles stage hands-on learning for would-be electricians: Con Edison’s Learning Center has administered classes and certification exams on the Long Island City waterfront since 1993. But with enviable transit access and views of Manhattan, these eleven acres have also become some of the city’s most contested real estate. In 2008, former Queens City Council member Eric Gioia accused Con Ed of passing on escalating property taxes to consumers as rate hikes. Glass high rises continue to crop up nearby, casting the shadow of development over this peculiar facility.

Stanley Greenberg is the author of Time Machines (2011), Under Construction (2010), Waterworks: A Photographic Journey Through New York’s Hidden Water System (2003), and Invisible New York: The Hidden Infrastructure of the City (1998). Greenberg was born in Brooklyn, New York, and lives there now.

Series

Underexposed

Photographer Stanley Greenberg’s monthly dispatches trace the myriad paths of the city’s infrastructural networks in great breadth and close detail.