Another obscure 1950s Brooklyn explosion

Continuing the theme of “things that go boom”, I came across this Times headline from January 13, 1957 – just a month after the huge blast at Industry City.


According to the article, a pair of Navy reservists were flying a jet from Niagara Falls to Floyd Bennett Field. On final approach, the left wing-tip fuel tank fell off. The system had been siphoning fuel from right side only, resulting in a serious weight imbalance.

The projectile landed in front of 2606 East 12th Street in Sheepshead Bay, leading some residents to report to police that a bomb had fallen in their neighborhood.

The pilot then had to jettison the empty right tank to maintain balance. It landed in front of 164 Bay 37th Street in Bensonhurst, two miles away.

The empty tank did no damage; the full tank, however, blew a hole in the street three feet deep, ten feet long, and four feet wide. Unlike the Industry City incident, in which ten persons died and 270 more suffered injuries, no one was hurt.


Surely Brooklynites considered themselves cursed because some divine force had it out for them, right?

I asked my friend Michael to interview his mother-in-law, Arlene, about her memories of the Sheepshead Bay blast.

At the time, Arlene lived on Ocean Parkway near Neptune, an area she referred to as a “Jewish ghetto“. (Across the street were some bungalows, which were “for the Italians”; she herself is Jewish.)

Although Arlene was less than a mile from the explosion, she said it might as well have been across the country. “Nobody had a car back then,” she said. “I would have known nothing that happened that far away.”

Brooklyn is big, but at one time, it was a hell of a lot bigger.

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One Response to Another obscure 1950s Brooklyn explosion

  1. Harley N says:

    Too close for comfort! I lived at 1982 East 17th Street, but it was 27 years after this incident…

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