New York Daily Photo Analytics

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

The Watchtower

The Watchtower sign on the Brooklyn waterfront is a site nearly every New Yorker knows has seen - it's visible from many vantage points. And most of us know that this is headquarters for the Jehovah's Witnesses and their publication - Watchtower Magazine. The term Watchtower is a shortened version of the official name of the corporate entity in use by the religious organization and publishing division: The Watchtower Bible and Tract Society. The offices at 25 Columbia Street (where the sign is located) is not only the New York bethel, but world headquarters. The corporate entity is one of the 40 largest companies in NYC with annual revenues of nearly 1 billion dollars. New Yorkers have also heard over the years that the religious organization owns much property in Brooklyn Heights - the subject of much controversy and covered in many articles over the years. As it turns out, this is true - they have been in the neighborhood since 1909 and own 18 properties there. They also own 12 properties in nearby Dumbo - click here for a posting on Dumbo and links to several others. In 2004, they started divesting and selling off properties (they are selling 6 of the 18) including the Standish Arms Hotel on Columbia Heights and 360 Furman St., a former Bible shipping facility (sold for $205 million) and being developed into luxury condos, One Brooklyn Bridge Park. The printing business has been consolidated to their Walkill, NY facility. Click here for a photo tour through the properties showing their printing facilities, residences (members live in a number of corporate owned buildings), the laundry building, etc. The religious beliefs of Jehovah's Witnesses are quite a unique departure from mainstream Christianity. Only 144,000 will be chosen for immortal life. The wicked will be destroyed; the rest of mankind will live in earthly paradise during the Millennium ...

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

Just a theological thought: When the wicked are destroyed, wouldn't it also be a good time for God to remove ugly buildings like the watchtower that obstructs the divine beauty of the Brooklyn Bridge?

Brian said...

Well, I'll try to stay neutral on this one, but perhaps a very large sign and billboard removal campaign could improve the landscape:)

Lucy said...

Fascinating story, I'd be interested in finding out how so much money is being made, especially if it is other than real estate appreciation -- I know JW is now building in other parts the the country, where never used to see them ...

Anonymous said...

I live in Brooklyn and the JWs are always ringing my bell on Sundays. No wonder!

• Eliane • said...

The first year I was in NYC, I went to explore Brooklyn Heights and got lost in complete JW territory. A bit "surreal", to remain PC. ;)

Sacchiel said...

Headquarters! Thanks

Anonymous said...

People may hate them coming to the door, but Brooklyn Heights should thank God for those JW's! They MADE that place worth something like everything else they touch. Perhaps their God is stronger then yours. Hmm maybe they should inherit the Earth, just imagine the equity. . .perhaps the WT will be the only thing left standing after God destroys the wicked.


Nice writeup BTW, I admire the tolerant. After all someone has to tolerate you ; )

Anonymous said...

For the comment about "billboard removal" I was informed once that the Watchtower wanted to remove the sign in order to save costs on electricity from powering it but the city of New York stopped them from doing it because of it's historical significance to the waterfront landscape. I heard that the city now subsidizes it being there and lighting up at night...

Anonymous said...

Interesting it was used on I am legend poster! We are enjoying the irony!

tom sheepandgoats said...

When their buildings were unconnected, they might walk down sidewalks ten-abreast at "shift changes" and sweep passerby aside. So they connected buildings via underground tunnel, but this made them a "secretive cult," attempting to isolate their folk from the real world.

It's a challenge for any neighborhood to bear that much tax-exempt property, even if the tax-exempt organization was responsible for keeping the area respectable during harsher times. So phasing out operations there in favor of more rural settings is probably a win-win.

I'm told that a ploy for them regarding neighbor relations came with their restoration of one of the hotels they own (was it the Towers?) The top floor is a grand ballroom at which everyone celebrated many years ago when the Brooklyn Dodgers won the pennant. More folks claim to have been at that event than the ballroom could have held. Bethel workers meticulously restored the room to it's original condition (with old photos and memorabilia?) and invited all in the area to open house. No witnessing of any sort. Just reminiscing. It improved community relations a lot.