The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

time convulsed

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- photo by Mitch Waxman

As mentioned in yesterday’s posting, I spend an atrocious amount of time studying century old publications and journals found on google books. These periodicals, both trade and municipal in nature, often discuss the origins of the Newtown Creek as it exists today. At the beginning of the 20th century, when the Creek was at its arguable worst (environmentally speaking), there was a popular sentiment that engineering could fix all of its problems.

Hindsight suggests that they just made things worse, of course, but there’s the human condition for you. Pictured above is the Greenpoint Avenue Bridge in modernity, while below is the 1910 version.

- photo from Engineering magazine, Volume 38, 1910- courtesy google books

This is the bridge that burned away in the 1919 Locust Hill Oil Refinery disaster, a swing bridge not unlike the relict Grand Street Bridge found further up the Creek. Whenever such “Now and then” shots come into my hands, especially images considered to be in the public domain- they will be eagerly shared at this- your Newtown Pentacle.

For more on the history of the Greenpoint Avenue Bridge and its environs, which I call DUGABO- Down Under the Greenpoint Avenue Bridge Onramp- click here

Also:

- photo by Mitch Waxman

An NCA event, which I for one am pretty stoked about:

April NCA meeting hosts Dr. Eric Sanderson

Thursday, April 26, 2012 at 6pm


Ridgewood Democratic Club, 
6070 Putnam Avenue, 
Ridgewood, NY 11385

In addition to important updates from our members – in particular the Bioremedition Workgroup has been very busy! – we will be hosting a special presentation on the “Historical Ecology of Newtown Creek”.

Dr. Eric Sanderson, senior conservation ecologist at the Wildlife Conservation Society and author of “Mannahatta: A Natural History of New York City” (Abrams, 2009), will describe recent studies of the historical ecology of Newtown Creek, describing the original wetlands, creek channels, topography and vegetation of the area. He will show a series of 18th and 19th century maps of the watershed of the creek and discuss the process of synthesizing them into an integrated ecological picture that can be used to inform and inspire natural restoration and cultural appreciation of the Newtown Creek watershed. This work is part of the Welikia Project (welikia.org), an investigation into the historical ecology of the five boroughs of New York City and surrounding waters.

And this Saturday,

Obscura Day 2012, Thirteen Steps around Dutch Kills

Saturday April 28th, 10 a.m.

Your humble narrator will be narrating humbly at this year’s Obscura Day event on April 28th, leading a walking tour of Dutch Kills. There are a few tickets left, so grab them while you can.

“Found less than one mile from the East River, Dutch Kills is home to four movable (and one fixed span) bridges, including one of only two retractible bridges remaining in New York City. Dutch Kills is considered to be the central artery of industrial Long Island City and is ringed with enormous factory buildings, titan rail yards — it’s where the industrial revolution actually happened. Bring your camera, as the tour will be revealing an incredible landscape along this section of the troubled Newtown Creek Watershed.”

For tickets and full details, click here :

obscuraday.com/events/thirteen-steps-dutch-kills-newtown-creek-exploration

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