Astral Oil Works

Pratt's Astral Oil Works, Brooklyn, E. D.

A bird's eye view of Charles Pratt's Astral Oil Works, located at the mouth of Bushwick Creek on the East River, taken from a 1872 supplement to Scientific American. This site is now the location of the Bayside Fuel Oil depot at Bushwick Inlet (the creek, which can be seen extending inland in this engraving, was filled in long ago). The Bayside site is slated to become part of the proposed Bushwick Inlet Park, a 28-acres city park that could include a U.S.S. Monitor Museum across the inlet to the left. The street to the right is North 12th Street, and to the right of that is the site of the recent (January 2015) CitiStorage fire.

Pratt's Astral Oil was a clean burning kerosene that was distilled at this site and shipped far and wide. Pratt got his start in the whale oil business, but saw the advantages of using petroleum distillates for lamp oil, and in the 1860s started to refine kerosene in Williamsburg using crude oil imported from Pennsylvania. In 1874, Astral was acquired by John D. Rockefeller’s Standard Oil.

The immense wealth from Astral and later Standard Oil enabled Pratt to establish and endow the Pratt Institute in Fort Greene and the Astral apartments in Greenpoint.