A huge crane used to move data center equipment at a New York carrier hotel collapsed into the streets of Manhattan Friday morning, killing one pedestrian and injuring several others. The base of the crane was parked outside 60 Hudson Street, which houses dozens of data center and telecom clients, and was being used to move generators and air conditioning units on the upper floors of the building. At the time of the collapse, the crane was being moved into a secure position because of high winds.
David Wichs, a 38-year-old employee of Towers Financial, was sitting in his car when it was was struck by the crane, and was killed. Three other pedestrians were injured.
“The crane began operations in the area on January 30, 2016 on 60 Hudson Street to replace generators and air conditioners on the building roof,” the Mayor’s office said in a statement. “The crane in question was being moved into a secure position because winds were approaching 25 MPH. The crane was inspected at 6:20 AM yesterday by the Department of Buildings in preparation for its next phase of work and found to be in full compliance.”
The crane was positioned on Worth Street on the north side of 60 Hudson, and fell down the center of Worth Street. Several buildings had minor damage, but none experienced any structural damage, according to the city Department of Buildings.
The impact of the collapse damaged a 12-inch water main, which needed to be shut down and left 100 people without water service. It also caused gas leaksGas service to the area was suspended while Con Ed Emergency Management and Con Ed Electric and Gas assessed their equipment in the area. Subway service was also routed around the area.
60 Hudson Street is an art-deco landmark which has been a cornerstone in the development of America’s communications infrastructure. uBuilt in 1929 as the headquarters for Western Union, the building powered the growth of the nation’s telegraph system and then evolved into a key telecom hub for AT&T and others. As the Internet emerged as an economic force, 60 Hudson became a key meeting place for networks, with fiber optic cable filling conduits that once delivered telegrams in pneumatic tubes.
Like many urban carrier hotels, 60 Hudson has telecom and data center tenants on the upper floors that require large generators and air conditioning units to provide cooling and backup power to their data center and network operations. Large industrial cranes are used to lift the equipment to upper floors and move them into place.
The collapse was the city’s first fatal crane collapse since 2008. “Out of an abundance of caution, the City is instructing all 376 crawler cranes and 53 tower cranes to be secured immediately,” the Mayor’s office said.
The crane is owned by Bay Crane and operated by Galasso Trucking and Rigging Inc., according to New York City officials. The crane, which had reportedly had a 565-foot boom, is a type known as a crawler, which is mounted on an undercarriage with a set of tracks (crawlers) that provide stability and mobility.
The term “carrier hotel” dates to the Telecommunications Act of 1996, which cleared the way for competition in the telephone and Internet business. The act cleared the way for competitors to access the network by colocating infrastructure within the Bell companies’ facilities. Shortages of access and trust prompted the newcomers to a new strategy: leasing space in buildings adjacent to the incumbents’ central offices in major cities. Dozens of carriers and network operators soon bought up space inside buildings like 60 Hudson Street and One Wilshire in Los Angeles.