Broken Angel Burns


This is really too bad: Broken Angel a…building transformed into uninhibited personal expression?…burned on Tuesday. It’s two blocks away from my home in Brooklyn, visible as I walk home every evening. Artist Arthur Wood has owned, lived in, and been adding to the building — the former Brooklyn Trolley headquarters — since 1979.

Searching the Web for more information, I found this incredible flickr set of the building and its contents, taken by Wood’s son, who grew up in Broken Angel. Growing up in this building, on the edge of bed-stuy in the 1980s no less, must have been quite an experience.

Wood is apparently accepting contributions to subsidize rebuilding, and I really hope that he can restore it, but I have my doubts about that happening: one of the side effects of the fire has been official notice by NYC that Wood has gone 25 years without ever discussing topics such as permits, building codes, or inspections with the powers that be.

Brooklyn Angel in Better Days

Brooklyn Angel on Fire

  • Update Broken Angel 10/29/06
    On 10/10/06 Broken Angel suffered minimal damage from a fire at the top of the structure. The cause of the fire is unknown and still under investigation. Broken Angel has been an active project of construction by my family beginning in 1979. Major construction was finished in 2002, and all work done thereafter has been for the purpose of maintaining the building. The fire brought the attention of the Department of Buildings (DOB), previous interactions had occurred in 1986, and 2002 with no action taken against the building. During the course of building and maintaining the structure there have been no accidents or complaints. Compared with most modern construction projects, such as the Time Warner building in NYC, this is an excellent record. It raises questions as to why large developers are allowed to continue construction when they pose a risk to the community, whereas Broken Angel, which has no history of construction problems, has been singled out as a danger. My mother and father, the legal guardians and owners of Broken Angel were threatened with eviction for 6 days. On the 7th day they were vacated by the police without a court order or engineer’s report. We question the necessity and the humanity of this action. They were told that this was done for their safety; however action was taken prior to any inspection of the interior of the building by an engineer. Furthermore, we were told that the building would be demolished in 3 weeks if an architect did not submit plans to bring it to code. We have been compliant with this request. We are thankful to the firm of Jordan Parnass Digital Architecture for all of their help and support. On Thursday (10/26/06) an engineer from the DOB toured the structure, and the next day the DOB released a different story. A DOB spokesperson recently commented to the Daily News (10/27/06) that any demolition orders, if warranted will take approximately 3 months to begin.