The Newtown Pentacle

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- photo by Mitch Waxman

Memorial Day weekend, despite the swelter, found me down and around Dutch Kills.

Just passing through, I was on my way to a holiday party in Greenpoint, and decided to take advantage of the deserted industrial center and get a little “artsy-fartsy” with the camera. The rainy interval recently experienced in the watershed has swollen the Dutch Kills tributary of the Newtown Creek- indeed, the entire waterway is supercharged with contaminants- due to the action of the loathsome Combined Sewer Outfalls which feed directly into the water during storm events.

from dec.ny.gov

Combined sewer systems (CSS) are sewers that are designed to collect storm water runoff, domestic sewage, and industrial wastewater in the same pipe. During rain events, when storm water enters the sewers, the capacity of the sewer system may be exceeded and the excess effluent will be discharged directly to the receiving water. A combined sewer overflow (CSO) is the discharge from a combined sewer system that is caused by snow melt or storm water runoff.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The water had a large amount of floatable materials in it, and there were eddy patterns around the banks that sported pools of congealed fats and cooking oils, but that wasn’t what I was going for in these shots. Instead, I was fascinated by the shapes of the grottoes produced by the rotting bulkheads of the red white and blue structure pictured above.

Satisfied, I resumed my course toward Greenpoint.

from nyc.gov

DEP has a broad citywide effort to better manage stormwater using a variety of innovative, sustainable green infrastructure. Improved stormwater management is an important component of Mayor Bloomberg’s PlaNYC initiative and Sustainable Stormwater Management Plan. Green infrastructure, or source controls, are a set of techniques that detain or retain stormwater runoff through capture and controlled release, infiltration into the ground, vegetative uptake and evapotranspiration thereby reducing the need for end-of-pipe stormwater storage and treatment systems.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

As I moved past a weed choked lot, whose every vegetative inhabitant was stained with the irrepressible “colour”, a sudden flash of motion drew my eye. Unbelievable, a monarch(?) butterfly alighted on one of the stalks and posed for a moment. Butterflies, you see, are the “canary in the coal mine” of the insect world- highly sensitive to environmental conditions and here was one right in the middle of Queens’ industrial heartlands.

from wikipedia

The Monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus) is a milkweed butterfly (subfamily Danainae), in the family Nymphalidae. It is perhaps the best known of all North American butterflies. Since the 19th century, it has been found in New Zealand, and in Australia since 1871 where it is called the Wanderer.It is resident in the Canary Islands, the Azores, and Madeira, and is found as an occasional migrant in Western Europe and a rare migrant in the United Kingdom.

Also:

June 16th, 2012- Newtown Creek Alliance Dutch Kills walk

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The Newtown Creek Alliance has asked that, in my official capacity as group historian, a tour be conducted on the 16th of June- a Saturday. This walk will follow the Dutch Kills tributary, and will include a couple of guest speakers from the Alliance itself, which will provide welcome relief for tour goers from listening to me rattle on about Michael Degnon, Patrick “Battle Ax” Gleason, and a bunch of bridges that no one has ever heard of.

for June 16th tickets, click here for the Newtown Creek Alliance ticketing page

June 23rd, 2012- Atlas Obscura Thirteen Steps around Dutch Kills walk

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Additionally- the “Obscura Day” Thirteen Steps around Dutch Kills tour proved that the efficacy and charms of the Newtown Creek’s least known tributary, with its myriad points of interest, could cause a large group to overlook my various inadequacies and failings. The folks at Atlas Obscura, which is a fantastic website worthy of your attentions (btw), have asked me to repeat the tour on the 23rd of June- also a Saturday.

for June 23rd tickets, click here for the Atlas Obscura ticketing page

June 30th, 2012- Working Harbor Committee Kill Van Kull walk

- photo by Mitch Waxman

My various interests out on the sixth borough, NY Harbor, have brought me into association with the Working Harbor Committee. A member of the group’s Steering Committee- I also serve as the “official” group photographer, am chairman and principal narrator of their annual Newtown Creek Boat Tour, and occasionally speak on the microphone during other tours (mainly the Brooklyn one). This year, the group has branched out into terrestrial explorations to compliment the intense and extant schedule of boat tours, and I’m going to be leading a Kill Van Kull walking tour that should be a lot of fun.

The Kill Van Kull, or tugboat alley as its known to we harbor rats, is a tidal strait that defines the border of Staten Island and New Jersey. A busy and highly industrialized waterfront, Working Harbor’s popular “Hidden Harbor – Newark Bay” boat tours provide water access to the Kill, but what is it like on the landward side?

Starting at the St. George Staten Island Ferry terminal, join WHC Steering Committee member Mitch Waxman for a walk up the Kill Van Kull via Staten Islands Richmond Terrace. You’ll encounter unrivaled views of the maritime traffic on the Kill itself, as well as the hidden past of the maritime communities which line it’s shores. Surprising and historic neighborhoods, an abandoned railway, and tales of prohibition era bootleggers await.

The tour will start at 11, sharp, and you must be on (at least) the 10:30 AM Staten Island Ferry to meet the group at St. George. Again, plan for transportation changes and unexpected weirdness to be revealed to you at MTA.info.

For June 30th tickets, click here for the Working Harbor Committee ticketing page

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