Image: Crane in New York
Seth Wenig  /  AP
A crane that had been resting against a building is lowered to the street in New York on Sunday. 
updated 3/28/2010 10:34:47 AM ET 2010-03-28T14:34:47

Mechanics and engineers on Sunday lowered a crane that had been poised precariously after it tilted and hit a 25-story building near Wall Street the day before, showering debris to the ground, rerouting traffic and causing evacuations.

There were no injuries reported Saturday after the crane hit a ledge near the top of the mixed-use building on Maiden Lane, three blocks from Wall Street, the Fire Department of New York said. Part of the lower Manhattan building's facade broke off and fell into the street, police Lt. John Grimpel said.

The crane was in a plaza about half a block from the struck building. The base of the crane was on the other side of the street from the building, and the crane was leaning diagonally across the street onto the building. The crane was removed from the building early Sunday morning, and its neck, called a boom, was lowered.

Neighboring buildings had been evacuated as a precaution, but residents were allowed to return to their homes on Sunday morning.

A neighboring building's porter, Jose Hernandez, said he heard a crashing sound around 7 p.m.

"When the crane fell, it went 'Boom!' and rocks fell," he said.

At least six fire trucks responded to the area. Some traffic was diverted, and streets were closed.

The crane had been authorized to lift mechanical equipment, such as large cooling units, to the roof of the building that was struck, but it was unclear what it was doing at the time because it was likely workers had already gone home for the day, Department of Buildings Commissioner Robert LiMandri said.

Buildings investigators were interviewing the crane operator and assessing the damage to the building, which appeared to be minor, LiMandri said.

Mechanics and engineers that were brought in to help remove the crane had hoped to complete their work by Sunday afternoon, he said.

Area resident Michael Britto said he was leaving his building with a friend Saturday night when police told them to get out of the area because the crane was falling.

"The crane was swaying," he said.

Maiden Lane runs east to west, parallel to Wall Street, from near the South Street Seaport to lower Broadway near the World Trade Center site.

One of the evacuated buildings is an art deco residential tower in the heart of the Seaport area with views of landmark buildings and the East and Hudson rivers. It's not far from the New York Stock Exchange and the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

Firefighters go door to door
A resident there, Erica Scheisawa, said she was at home when firefighters banged on her door and told her a crane had hit a building next door and she had to get out.

"They said that the building that got hit by the crane might collapse into our building," she said.

New York has been blighted by crane accidents the last few years. On Tuesday, the city's former chief crane inspector admitted taking more than $10,000 in payoffs to fake inspection and crane operator licensing exam results over nearly a decade.

The inspector, James Delayo, was arrested days after the second of two huge cranes collapsed, killing nine people, in 2008. The charges against him weren't tied to the collapses, but authorities portrayed the case as one in a series to go after builders and inspectors accused of shortchanging safety for profit.

The Department of Buildings has said that it has increased training requirements for crane operators and inspectors and taken other safety steps since the collapses.

Police and buildings officials said they didn't know what caused the crane to tilt on Saturday. Some area residents said they had seen a type of wrecking ball swinging from the crane under windy conditions, but the National Weather Service said winds in the area were only about 8 mph at the time.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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