Ithaca, N.Y. — A controlled demolition took down a water tower on Cornell’s campus Thursday afternoon.

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Cornell posted an emergency notice on its Special Conditions Information website alerting people that the arboretum — which is part of the Cornell plantations — would be closed to both vehicle and pedestrian traffic “while work is performed on the water tower.”

This turned out to be a bit of an understatement, according to Ithaca Voice photographer Zac Peterson, whoo was at the scene to record the event.

Here’s his video:

A photographer’s adventure

Peterson wrote an email to describe the demolition — and why he almost missed it:

“The felling of the water tower, which had outlived its use, was scheduled for between 1:00pm and 1:30pm today, but actually took place around 3:15 pm.”

“For safety reasons, Cornell police blocked both ends of Triticum Drive, which leads up to the tower, along with both ends of Arboretum Road.  However, this didn’t stop several cars, which pulled over on the side of Dryden Road from watching the event.”

“One man kept his phone up at the ready for over an hour and a half, not wanting to miss filming the spectacle.”

“I, the photographer, stood by the side of the road for an hour and a half in the 15 degree whether.”

“Just when I thought I couldn’t stand the freezing wind any longer, a horn went off, and several seconds later the massive structure collapsed towards the Newman Arboretum with a crash. ”

“Afterward, as one car pulled off the side of the road and drove by me, the driver gave me a thumbs up, which I returned.”

“It had definitely been worth the wait.”

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Jeff Stein

Jeff Stein is the founder and former editor of the Ithaca Voice.