The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

especial region

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Walking over rivers, that’s me.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Recent occasion found me with several appointments in rapid succession, one of which carried me to the shining city of Manhattan. Having accomplished the pedantry which this obligation required a bit quicker than anticipated, a longer interval of time became available to me than originally planned, and it was decided to walk to my next appointment instead of using the subway. Off to Brooklyn went I, a scuttling over the venerable Manhattan Bridge.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

There’s a visceral sense of menace to the pedestrian walkway on this bridge, unlike the other east river spans- you feel isolated and quite far from the ever watchful NYPD up here. The graffito covered cement confirms the availability of time and opportunity, and were there Nosferatu operating in the megalopolis, this surely would make an excellent hunting ground (in the evenings at least).

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The views of lower Manhattan, specifically that ancient section called Chinatown, are quite breathtaking from up here. Breathtaking in the sense that amongst the buildings closest to the bridge, one can observe a relict stock of 19th and 20th century buildings whose only commonality is that they were thrown against the sky in as inexpensive a manner as possible.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

I’m always fascinated while observing these open and undraped windows visible only from the bridge. Questions arise in me, such as “if your window is so incredibly wide open to all of NY, wouldn’t you hang a curtain?”. Its weird though, peering in through the window of something that might accurately be described as a tenement window, like seeing a sociological ghost.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

There’s the longest possible history in this Manhattan neighborhood, which sits nearby the fabled five points at the edge of the so called Bloody Sixth Ward. There’s a series of apartments in New York City which I always wonder about, these that run alongside the Manhattan Bridge on the Chinatown side are amongst them, which I think must be the most onerous rentals available. Who lives here, with the subway and a possibly vampire infested pedestrian walkway right outside their window? What path has life carried the lessee to the wrong side of this window?

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Brutal reality is best defined by the sweeping movements of a ticking clock, however, and despite having had a surprisingly long interval open up that allowed me the caprice of walking to Brooklyn- it was time to lean into it and get moving. Flatbush Avenue was awaiting, as was a meeting at the fabled Juniors, and it was time to kick my heels and get to DUMBO and infinite Brooklyn.

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Written by Mitch Waxman

December 18, 2013 at 12:46 pm

3 Responses

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  1. Dear Humble Narrator: I look forward to your posts. Indeed you have a most unique perspective of our fair Metropolis. Taking note of today’s missive, and as a native Manhannite (late of Greenpoint) I’ve never invited myself to traverse the Manhattan Bridge pedestrian walkway; you’ve inspired me to do so if for no other reason than an aerial perspective of a very enchanting, in my humble opinion, quarter of Manhattan. I have always adored the granite gateway to the Manhattan Bridge with its outstreched colonnade arms; truly a magnificant civic work originally intended to embrace motorist and pedestrian alike, but now reduced to a menacing portal. Next time, you find your way on this path to Manhattan I suggest you explore the environment and streets below for you will (with your keen senses) be quick to note a Chinatown that will vanish, a Chinatown that is slowly being colonized by, how shall I say it, an upscale population. Mostly 30-somethings. Wayne.

    Wayne Burkey

    December 18, 2013 at 1:37 pm

    • Read Riis before going out for an explore down here, many of the locations in “How the Other Half Lives” carry actual street addresses- many of which still host the structures discussed in the book. As an example-http://newtownpentacle.com/2010/07/20/bandits-roost-2010/

      Mitch Waxman

      December 18, 2013 at 1:47 pm

      • Thank you. Am aware of Riis and surprisingly there are many extant buildings from that era. There’s also a shard of byway called Cardinal Hayes Place (formerly City Hall Place / Augustus Street) that was truncated, er, obliterated in the late 1960s to construct the prison, the Chatham Green housing complex, and later on courthouse expansion. The winding street then still contained many ancient buildings; in fact, I had a childhood friend on that street who resided in one of the remaining Federal-era houses. How I bemoan the ongoing erasure of New York’s history whether sordid or glorious.

        Wayne Burkey

        December 19, 2013 at 11:25 am


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