Abandoned places 

Domino Sugar Factory

The Domino Sugar factory is situated in the neighborhood of Williamsburg in New York (USA). Today it is one the most important architectural icons of the city. The factory occupies a large area in front of the Williamsburg Bridge.

In the past this neighborhood was characterized by hipster culture, but in recent years it has become a more and more fashionable quarter of New York because of its “urban brand” that attracts artists and creative, but especially young professionals and families wishing to start a new life, different from the one in Manhattan.

The Domino Sugar Factory for several years was the most important sugar factory in the world, and for almost 150 years the most important refinery of the Domino Company.

The factory was built in 1856, but the current building, that still stays today, in 1882, because it was completely rebuilt after a fire destroyed everything. The owner, decided to combine 17 other sugar refineries and give life to one big company; this one was called Domino Sugar in 1902.

In 1870s the factory was refining more than half of the sugar consumed in the USA.

In its heyday, there were more than 5,000 employees working in the refinery, and the company produced 1.4 million kilos of sugar a day.

With fructose corn syrup and artificial sweeteners entering the market, the demand for cane sugar dropped. Because of this, processing of sugar in this factory ended in 2004.


In 1917 there was an explosion that destroyed part of the building and killed a lot of employees of the factory. Nobody knows what caused the explosion, but there is a rumor that German agents were to be blamed because the refinery was processing sugar for Allies. In this occasion, more than 15,000 people went to watch the factory burning.

In 2000 because of low wages and bad working conditions 250 workers started a strike that lasted 20 months. This was one of the longest strikes in the history New York.

The main building received a status of a “landmark” in 2007. There are plans for demolishing part of the plant. In place of this, several flats and public spaces for less well-off classes will be built. The community is against the demolitions because the factory is considered a piece of history.

Contributed by Artturi Hämäläinen from Finland


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