The Newtown Pentacle

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DUPBO… or Down Under The Pulaski Bridge Onramp

with 23 comments

IMG_9827_newtowncreek.jpg by you.

Pulaski Bridge from Newtown Creek – photo by Mitch Waxman

Context:
The Polish Lithuanian Commonwealth was a superpower in the 18th century world. From our post 20th century perspective, it is hard to conceive of Poland as being the strongman of Europe, but in land warfare they were as feared as the Tsarist Cossacks or Turk Janissaries- professional warriors- shock troops-who always got the job done.

Know that scene in the “return of the king” movie when Gandalf comes riding down leading the Rohan horsemen- Its Tolkien’s fantasy metaphor for what happened when the Poles arrived at the Siege of Vienna in 1683 under the leadership of John III Sobieski.  

Pulaski upshot by you.

Looking up at the Pulaski Bridge from Long Island City – photo by Mitch Waxman

The formal and hereditary noble class of this military juggernaut was called the “szlachta“. Kasimierz Pulaski was a “szlachta“. His father was Starost (elder) of the area of Warka, and Kasimierz was sent to Warsaw at an early age for formal schooling and military training. He began his career as Page to the Duke of Courland, Carl Christian Joseph (of Saxony). The neighboring Russian empire dominated the Commonwealth and used its muscle to force the Polish Parliament to pass anything that the Tsar demanded.  Pulaski, with others, formed a rebel group called the Bar Confederation which fought and won against the Russians- even succeeding in drawing them into a protracted war with the Ottoman Empire in 1768.

illustration from wikipedia

Pulaski Bridge surroundings- Queens side by you.

Pulaski Bridge and Newtown Creek – photo by Mitch Waxman

This strategy backfired as victory in the conflict allowed Russia to assume control over Ukraine, the Crimean Khanate, and the Caucasus from the already deteriorating power of Istanbul. The Turks allied themselves with the Bar Federation, and Russia with Great Britain. Pulsaki’s rebellion was broken by the betrayal of the King of Poland in the end, and Pulaski developed an enmity toward the English crown for its role in his country’s destruction and subjugation. 

Pulaski Bridge surroundings- Queens side by you.

Looking north at Pulaski Bridge Tower over Newtown Creek, Queens side – photo by Mitch Waxman

The term for their cause that the Bar Federation coined was the “Golden Liberty“. Exiled from Poland with a charge of attempted Regicide, no country in Europe would accept Pulaski as a citizen. Until word of his plight reached a certain printer from Philadelphia who was living in Paris.

IMG_9830_newtowncreek.jpg by you.

Looking north at Pulaski Bridge Tower from Newtown Creek, Queens side – photo by Mitch Waxman

History:
Over in North America a letter arrived from the Continent addressed to General Washington, one sent by his longtime colleague, the printer turned diplomat named Benjamin Franklin. In it Pulaski is introduced “as renowned throughout Europe for the courage and bravery he displayed in defense of his country’s freedom”. Accepting the recommendations of Franklin, the American Augustus invited Pulaski to join the cause, and offered him a chance at vengeance upon the British allies of his mortal enemies- the Russians.

Pulaski declard “I came here, where freedom is being defended, to serve it, and to live or die for it.”.

The Jaws of the Newtown Creek by you.

Jaws of Newtown Creek, Pulaski Bridge - photo by Mitch Waxman

At the Battle of Brandywine, Pulaski’s quick thinking and battlefield hardened experience saved Washington from defeat and death. Elevated to Brigadier General of the Cavalry, Pulaski used his own fortune to arm his men when Congress was slow in funding them. He is credited as being the father of the American Cavalry, and was instrumental in creating the system of practice drilling, training disciplines, and martial customs which have long been a distinction of the American Cavalry ever since. 

IMG_9831_newtowncreek.jpg by you.

Looking north at Pulaski Bridge Tower from Newtown Creek, Queens side – photo by Mitch Waxman

At the Siege of Savannah in 1779, Pulaski was hit by grapeshot and died of his wounds. There is debate over his resting place, but I favor the notion that he was buried at sea (just for the romance), but those in the know believe him to lie in Savannah, Georgia. In 2007, the US Senate got around to declaring Kasimierz Pulaski a citizen of the United States, but the bill still needs to pass the in House of Representatives and be signed by the President to become official.

IMG_0356_newtowncreek.jpg by you.

Looking north at Pulaski Bridge Tower from Newtown Creek, Queens side – photo by Mitch Waxman

So, to celebrate this swashbuckling prince of Poland, who was instrumental in the transformation of the Colonial Army from a peasant brigade to an army that could fight the British, New York City named a bridge over Newtown Creek after him.

Just The Facts:
A bascule drawbridge of paralell counterweight design, the Pulaski Bridge was overseen by New York City Commissioner of Public Works Frederick Zurmuhlen, and the general contractor was the Horn Construction Company, with steel and expertise supplied by Bethlehem Steel. It opened in September of 1954 at a cost of $9,664,446.25- a reconstruction of the bridge in 1994 cost $40 million. It carries six lanes of vehicular traffic, and is a primary link between north Brooklyn and western Queens.

Pulaski Bridge surroundings- Queens side by you.

Looking west at Pulaski Bridge Tower from Newtown Creek, Queens side – photo by Mitch Waxman

It is the first bridge one encounters when entering the Newtown Creek, and it is oriented on a north south vector over the aqueous surface. It connects fabled Greenpoint in Brooklyn to the tangle and enigma of Long Island City in Queens. McGuinness Boulevard approaches the bridge from the south and Eleventh Street from the north. It has two 10.5m roadways divided by a concrete median barrier. It also carries a 2.7m pedestrian sidewalk. The bridge provides a channel with a horizontal clearance of 45.7m and a vertical clearance of 11.9m in the closed position at MHW and 13m MLW.

In this late 1940′s map at trainsarefun.com, the old Vernon Avenue Bridge is still in place, and the Pulaski is still under construction.

also-found this for sale on ebay, no affiliation

ad for Bethlehem Steel, 1953

Pulaski Bridge Firebox by you.

Looking south at Pulaski Bridge Tower from Borden Avenue, Queens side – photo by Mitch Waxman

On the Queens side, approach from Borden Avenue. In previous posts, I might admonish that you will be crossing the very active grade level LIRR rail tracks leading to the Hunters Point station, warn you that you are walking by a group of very paranoid Port Authority cops working security at the Midtown Tunnel, or mention that it’s a busy truck route with multiple blind corners and virtually no sidewalk…

But- I wouldn’t want anyone to think that Long Island City’s industrial quarters are dangerous or anything…

Pulaski Bridge Stairway by you.

Pulaski Bridge staircase – photo by Mitch Waxman

There are only seven available colors approved for bridges to be painted with in the City of New York, which are defined by the Public Design Commission as Deep Cool Red, Federal Blue, George Washington Bridge Gray, Aluminum Green, Pulaski Red, Munsell Gray or Dark Green. 

Its sort of obvious what color Pulaski Red is.

Pulaski Bridge Stairway by you.

Pulaski Bridge staircase – photo by Mitch Waxman

An Opinion:
I make it a point of not touching the Pulaski Bridge with anything other than the soles of my shoes. There is a thriving colony of pestilential fowl living in its rafters, and they delight in painting the bridge according to their own fecund taste. I also make it a point of walking through wet grass and puddles on my way back home to the noble hills of Astoria.

Looking to Big Allis across LIC by you.

Looking north at Pulaski Bridge Tower from Newtown Creek, Queens side – photo by Mitch Waxman

Observations:

The Bridge has similar staircases at either side of the Newtown Creek, which allow access to the combined pedestrian walkway and bicycle lane. Looking due north, one sees Big Allis, The Queensboro bridge, and the toll plaza of the Midtown Tunnel. This pathway also offers commanding views of Manhattan due west.

“Stitched” Panorama of New York CIty from Pulaski Bridge over Newtown Creek, Queens side – photo by Mitch Waxman

Problematic encounters between speeding bicyclists and pedestrians have become a common experience for Newtownicans on this walkway. The visible affair is obviously in need of remedy, before a collision results in tragedy.

NYC Marathon leaving Pulaski Bridge by you.

Pulaski Bridge, NYC Marathon 2009, corner of Jackson ave. and 49th ave.  -photo by Mitch Waxman

Incidentally, the Pulaski Bridge is the 13.1 mile point in the New York Marathon, for which it is closed to vehicular traffic annually. This shot is from 2008.

from Pulaski Stairs by you.

Looking north from Pulaski Bridge, Queens side – photo by Mitch Waxman

Looking down, on the Queens side. The area under the bridge is used as a parking lot by the employees of area businesses, like FreshDIrect on Borden Avenue- whose operation is located directly eastward on the shore of the Newtown Creek. 

Pulaski Bridge surroundings- Queens side by you.

Looking southeast from Pulaski Bridge, Queens side – photo by Mitch Waxman

There are always a heterogeneous collection of vehicles here, most simply parked- but some occupied by sleepers, others with romantic pairings of.. short acquaintance… ahem…

For an undetermined period of time, a man with no legs lived out of a van parked here, grilling his meals on a portable BBQ made from a steel can. I have to say that this area always fills me with an odd disquiet, a mocking feeling of being watched. Were I only to have some evidence to confirm these intuitions of my timorous nature…

Pulaski Bridge surroundings- Queens side by you.

Looking southwest from Pulaski Bridge, Queens side – photo by Mitch Waxman

To the West, an open air warehouse directly on the Newtown Creek bulkheads. 

Pulaski Bridge surroundings- Queens side by you.

Looking west from Down Under the Pulaski Bridge Onramp, Queens side – photo by Mitch Waxman

At the water’s edge, one can gain a unique vantage point looking west toward Hunters Point.

Pulaski Bridge Gears by you.

Pulaski Bridge mooring, Queens side – photo by Mitch Waxman

The bridge’s works, from the Queens side. Notice the high tide sludge line on the moorings.

Pulaski Bridge Gears by you.

Pulaski Bridge mooring, Queens side – photo by Mitch Waxman

From this vantage, you can visualize the catwalks and ladders hidden within the superstructure of the bridge.

Pulaski Bridge surroundings- Brooklyn side by you.

McGuinness Boulevard from Pulaski Bridge – photo by Mitch Waxman

On the Brooklyn side, the bridge offers a gentle slope on the pedestrian pathway, which leads down to McGuinness Blvd. and into Greenpont proper. But if you take the stairs…
Pulaski Bridge surroundings- Brooklyn side by you.

Looking east from Down Under the Pulaski Bridge Onramp, Brooklyn side – photo by Mitch Waxman

The first thing you’ll notice is that this is where the DOT parks part of their truck fleet.
(the blown out section of the above photo is actually Paidge avenue, a left on which will carry you to the Newtown Creek Wastewater Treatment Facility Nature Walk) 

newtwn_HDR_IMG_9744_46.jpg by you.

Looking northwest from Down Under the Pulaski Bridge Onramp, Brooklyn side – photo by Mitch Waxman

Don’t forget to look the other way though, the view is a stunner.

Lords and ladies of Newtown, this has been the Newtown Pentacle introduction to DUPBO.

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Written by Mitch Waxman

August 13, 2009 at 4:29 am

23 Responses

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  1. In previous posts, I might admonish that you will be crossing the very active grade level LIRR rail tracks leading to the Hunters Point station, warn you that you are walking by a group of very paranoid Port Authority cops working security at the Midtown Tunnel, or mention that it’s a busy truck route with multiple blind corners and virtually no sidewalk…

    But- I wouldn’t want anyone to think that Long Island City’s industrial quarters are dangerous or anything…

    Additionally, the DEP has warned of high levels of sarcasm in the area… :)

    Jason

    August 13, 2009 at 8:35 am

  2. [...] DUPBO- Down under the Pulaski Bridge Onramp [...]

  3. [...] Pulaski Bridge is the 13.1 mile point in the New York Marathon, for which it is closed to vehicular traffic [...]

  4. [...] climbing away from the terrors of Laurel Hill and leaving the malefic secrets of Maspeth and the Newtown Creek behind, the intrepid pedestrian will pass under and above an arcade of highways and find second [...]

  5. [...] Newtown Pentacle did a fairly thorough posting on the Pulaski Bridge a while back called DUPBO, check it out here. [...]

  6. [...] Newtown Pentacle did a fairly thorough posting on the Pulaski Bridge a while back called DUPBO, check it out here. [...]

  7. [...] a conspiritor and I nonchalantly greeted the small army of affable NYPD personnel, and mounted the Pulaski Bridge. At around 9am, the disabled competitors came barreling through. I can’t really think of what [...]

  8. [...] climbing away from the terrors of Laurel Hill and leaving the malefic secrets of Maspeth and the Newtown Creek behind, the intrepid pedestrian will pass under and above an arcade of highways and find second [...]

  9. [...] of fortress walled warehouses which passes by the Queens Midtown Tunnel, the LIRR tracks, the Pulaski Bridge- and all the while following the bulkheaded course of a certain body of water. The Newtown Creek is [...]

  10. [...] as soon as one leaves the East River. The first of the drawbridges which cross it- known as the Pulaski Bridge, is the borderline beyond which immersion in this water is worthy of full HAZMAT gear and first [...]

  11. [...] leave a comment » CREEK WEEK continues… for the first installment, from the mouth at the East River to the Pulaski Bridge, click here. For more on just the Pulaski Bridge, click here. [...]

  12. [...] For the first installment, from the mouth of the Newtown Creek at the East River to the Pulaski Bridge, click here. For more on just the Pulaski Bridge, click here. [...]

  13. [...] to life, allowing egress to the Newtown Creek for shipping. The first watchtower on the Creek, the Pulaski is also the busiest of its bridges. While traffic on the Newtown Creek is a shadow of what it once [...]

  14. [...] is against Newtown Pentacle policy to actually touch any of the odd things I come across, like the Pulaski Bridge, with bare skin. This whole neighborhood could use a good scrub, if you ask [...]

  15. FYI, Port Authority police does not patrol the Queens – Midtown Tunnel, those are TBTA Peace Officers, MTA cops patrol the LIRR tracks you were referring to.

    A T

    April 10, 2010 at 10:49 pm

  16. [...] as soon as one leaves the East River. The first of the drawbridges which cross it- known as the Pulaski Bridge, is the borderline beyond which immersion in this water is worthy of full HAZMAT gear and first [...]

  17. [...] through the first 20 songs, and hit the Mountain Goats song “Lovecraft in Brooklyn“, I was in DUPBO (Down Under the Pulaski Bridge [...]

  18. [...] little ensemble of camera bag and headphones and set off for the Newtown Creek. When I got to the Pulaski Bridge, it was open and I realized that I had just missed a Tugboat passing through. [...]

  19. [...] Always fascinated by minutia, your humble narrator wonders if this barge is a “leave behind” from the construction of the Pulaski Bridge by the self same Bethlehem Steel in 1953. [...]

  20. [...] coastline of the Newtown Creek, it was nevertheless captured from the water- that’s the Pulaski Bridge dividing the horizon, with Empire State and Chrysler Buildings framing the sky in the manner of [...]

  21. [...] May 21 Hidden Harbor tour did), as we are limited by time and schedule, but will definitely include DUPBO, DUGABO, DUKBO, and approach the 3.1 mile mark at the Grand Street Bridge [...]

  22. [...] (via source) [...]

  23. […] accustomed to these appellations… hosts DUKBO (Down Under the Kosciuszko Bridge Onramp), DUPBO (Pulaski), DUGABO (Greenpoint Avenue), even DUMABO (Metropolitan Avenue) to describe various […]


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