The Newtown Pentacle

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Upcoming Walking Tour- the Parks and Petroleum tour- May 12, next Sunday

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Meetup at the corner of Kingsland and Norman Avenues in Greenpoint.

We will be exploring the petroleum and waste transfer districts of the Newtown Creek watershed in North Brooklyn. Heavily industrialized, the area we will be walking through is the heart of the Greenpoint Oil Spill and home to scores of waste transfer stations and other heavy industries. We will be heading for the thrice damned Kosciuszko Bridge, which is scheduled for a demolition and replacement project which will be starting this year.

Photographers, in particular, will find this an interesting walk through of a little known and quite obscure section of New York City.

Be prepared: We’ll be encountering broken pavement, sometimes heavy truck traffic, and experiencing a virtual urban desert as we move through the concrete devastations of North Brooklyn. Dress and pack appropriately for hiking, closed toe shoes are highly recommended- as are a hat or parasol to shield you from the sun.

Bathroom opportunities will be found only at the start of the walk, which will be around three hours long and cover approximately three miles of ground.

Drivers, it would be wise to leave your cars in the vicinity of McGolrick Park in Greenpoint.

Click here for tickets to the Newtown Creek Alliance Parks and Petroleum walking tour with Mitch Waxman,
Sunday, May 12, 2013 at 11 am.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Down Under the Kosciuszko Bridge Onramp, or DUKBO, is the name I’ve assigned to this lunar landscape of industrial mills and waste transfer stations which lines the Brooklyn side of the Creek. This year is functionally the last time you will be able to witness this place, as the Kosciuszko Bridge replacement project will be kicking into high gear in the fall of 2013.

For the urban explorer and photographer crowd, this is a wonderland of shattered streets and rusted infrastructure which will soon be eradicated from all but living memory.

Tickets are available, should you care to witness the place prior to its forthcoming demolition.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The tour will tell the story of Standard Oil at its start and cross over the Greenpoint Oil Spill’s heart, revealing that lost world of industrial aspiration and 20th century dissolution which lies less than a mile from the geographic and population centers of New York City.

In the past, I’ve described the area as “Mordor” at this, your Newtown Pentacle, and the Tolkien analogy is apt. The very air you breathe is a poisonous fume, the water is hopelessly tainted with bizarre combinations and millions of gallons of petroleum and industrial chemicals, the soil is impregnated with heavy metals, asbestos, and truly- who can guess all there is that might be buried down there?

An odd concentration of food distribution, waste transfer and garbage handling facilities, and energy industry plants make the area remarkable, and everywhere you look will be a “colour“- a bizarrely iridescent sheen which resembles no wholesome nor familiar earthly color but is instead like something from out of space- coating every bit of broken masonry and the sweat slicked skin of laborer and passerby alike.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Other upcoming tours:

The Insalubrious Valley- Saturday, May 25, 2013
Newtown Creek walking tour with Mitch Waxman and Atlas Obscura, tickets now on sale.

Hidden Harbor: Newtown Creek tour with Mitch Waxman – Sunday, May 26,2013
Boat tour presented by the Working Harbor Committee,
Limited seating available, order advance tickets now. Group rates available.

for a full listing and schedule of tours and events, click here

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2 Responses

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  1. Mitch, since “bathroom opportunities” are only available at the outset, do you think it would be possible to tinkle in the Creek if Nature calls?

    georgetheatheist...ya gottago-ya gotta go

    May 6, 2013 at 12:04 pm


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