Before / After: Atom Smasher Photos

Westinghouse atom smasher, August 2013. © Marni Blake Walter.

Westinghouse atom smasher, 2013. © MB Walter.

Noting the upcoming anniversary of the day the Westinghouse atom smasher was torn down (20 January 2015), below are links to two sets of photos I’ve taken, before and after.

Photos Before / August 2013:

Back in August 2013, I had the great fortune to tour the atom smasher up close with Mr. Barry Cassidy (who at the time was managing what we thought would be an exciting preservation/reuse project) and others in preservation and education. There was a lot of enthusiasm for all the possibilities in STEM education, and community and science history, that the atom smasher could offer, and admiration for this offbeat landmark. (And yes for its being a really cool relic to have in your neighborhood… How many people can say they have an ancient atom smasher in their town?!*)

Photos After / April and July 2015:

Despite all that enthusiasm, we are faced with a different reality since 2015. During 2015 I took a few sets of updated photos in the process or aftermath of site demolition. As a neighbor who saw me there said, better get all the photos you can now…

Westinghouse atom smasher, July 2015. © Marni Blake Walter.

Westinghouse atom smasher detail, 2015. © MB Walter.

I like to document change and record the artifacts around us, so I check on the site whenever I get the chance. Obviously change over the last two years has been dramatic here. I hope readers will find these views of current conditions useful.

For anyone not familiar with Westinghouse in Forest Hills, the photos show what remains of the atom smasher—the very origin of Westinghouse Nuclear—and the pioneering Westinghouse Research Laboratories.

* Ps. If you happen to be someone who does live near another old atom smasher, please leave a comment— we’d love to hear from you too!

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  1. Marnie, So sorry to see this result, after your very interesting and positive presentation at SIA in Portland. It is discouraging to see yet another short-sighted response to the potential for preservation of these kinds of technological artifacts.

    • Nice to hear from you, Patrick. Yes, it’s been very disappointing to watch that turn of events. There is a new plan recently put out that proposes to move what’s left of the atom smasher up the street to the site of a new municipal building (pending a “feasibility study,” of course). The proposal gives us a bit of hope, although with the damage done, and with most of its external features ripped off by the bulldozers, it won’t be quite its same old self again. Much better than the scrap yard, but we’ll see how things develop.

  2. Gloria Rogulin Blake

    As a huge supporter of the Atom Smasher and all it stands for, yes I’m concerned about the feasibility study. What will it bring? Happy celebration or another disappointment? Surely if the rusted hulk of the Carrie Furnace Site could be worth money from governmental sources — aren’t we here in Forest Hills worthy of such help? I’m hopeful that our local politicians and leaders have the power and knowledge as to how to move forward within the legal process and give Forest Hills and the Atom Smasher and all that it represents the honored place in history that it deserves. Gloria Rogulin Blake

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