The Newtown Pentacle

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Archive for the ‘Steinway Street’ Category

drifting sand

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Sigh… the Steinway Mansion, in today’s post.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

On the subject of controversies I generally stay away from, the Steinway Mansion is one.

My plate is full, frankly. I’ve got Sunnyside Yards, Newtown Creek, and a good stretch of the East River to worry about – which virtually no one else pays any attention to. The Steinway Mansion is found on the forbidden north coast of Queens, in an off putting industrial zone which isn’t exactly a visually stunning spot.

Frequent Newtown Pentacle commenter George the Atheist has been paying close attention to the controversial sale and development of the Steinway Mansion property, as has the Greater Astoria Historic Society. As I said, my plate is full, but last week I decided to scuttle over and take a gander at what’s going on.

If this mansion was in Brooklyn, or Manhattan, it would have long ago been landmarked and protected – but as you know the borough motto is “Welcome to Queens, now go fuck yourself.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The neighborhood surrounding the former home of William Steinway, who is the actual father of Astoria (William Hallett and or Stephen Halsey usually get the credit, but Steinway created the modern shape of things in the same way that Neziah Bliss did in Greenpoint), is less than inspirational but it is highly useful. The good news is that this section hosts a blue collar “M1” zone that employs thousands, but its mills and warehouses are mostly products of the 20th century – which means not terribly interesting to look at, and ugly as sin.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The mansion itself survives simply because it was used as a private home, but the fellow who owned it died of a heart attack during a snow storm while waiting for EMT’s to cross unplowed streets – which is where I refer you back to the borough motto offered in the first paragraph of this post.

His family offered the property for sale, which was snapped up by some developer. Said developer carved up the expansive properties surrounding the mansion, and is erecting a series of sure to be hideous warehouse buildings upon it. My understanding is that the mansion itself will survive, but it’s going to be hemmed in and shadowed by said warehouses.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The Steinway Mansion is, as mentioned, found on the forbidden north coast of Queens.

The NYC DEP maintains the 1939 vintage Bowery Bay sewage treatment plant there, and there’s a host of industrial businesses and energy infrastructure in the area. About a half mile east, the Rikers Island bridge is found, which offers access to the massive jail complex maintained by the City of New York.

Berrian’s Island used to be out in the bay – a bit to the north and east – but the water between it and Astoria was landfilled in and connected. That’s why the street intersection which serves as Steinway Street’s terminus is shared with a road called Berrian Boulevard, a street which I think used to be called “Winthrop.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The north side of Steinway and Berrian is home to a power plant, called Astoria Energy. It’s still under construction, and will use a combination of oil and natural gas turbines to generate electricity. The elected officials of Astoria take great pride in the fact that they were able to close the fabulously filthy Pollitti (thx Gary) Poletti Power Plant over on the East River side of the neighborhood, but seldom mention that they bent over backwards to allow Astoria Energy to come into being.

Welcome to Queens. Now, go fuck yourself.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Upcoming Tours –

September 3rd, 2015
Newtown Creek Boat Tour
with Open House NY, click here for details and tickets.

September 20th, 2015
Glittering Realms Walking Tour
with Brooklyn Brainery, click here for details and tickets

Written by Mitch Waxman

September 1, 2015 at 11:00 am

only crawl

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Astoria, in today’s post.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Just the other night, while hanging out at my local pub here in the southern end of Astoria, some rough fellow accosted one with the usual “hey, what are taking pictures of?” thing. Bellicose, the gentleman began to advise me that I should spend my time photographing the skyline of Manhattan because “no one cares about Queens.”

He was rather insistent about this.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

This is kind of rallying cry for me, this “no one cares about Queens” thing, and it’s bothersome to have to argue about it with some guy who – as it later turned out – had a largish back tattoo whose motif included a shoulder to shoulder swastika.

I’m all for political expression of course, but a Nazi in Astoria?

Conversation with amiable bartenders over the weekend revealed that there seems to be a small population of like minded individuals in the neighborhood. They’ve actually had to reprimand one fellow who liked to read passages from “Mein Kampf” out loud at the bar.

“Really?” was all I could say.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

It’s not strange that racists and other adherents to rather ugly philosophies can be found in Astoria. We’ve got Jihadi sympathizers on the ass end of Steinway Street, and those Greek “National Front” guys are here as well -heck- a few years ago I even ran into a small group of actual card carrying Bolsheviks who opined that the revolution was nigh. “Diversity” includes nut jobs and jerks too, it would seem.

Thing is – If you’re a racist, “politically” a racist that is, Astoria probably ain’t the sort of place you’re going to want to live in. It will be exhausting for you to merely identify or classify the human infestation hereabouts, let alone espouse a specific grievance about all the groups who are living and working here. We have everybody from Egyptians to Eskimos, Thai to Tibetan, Irish to Indian. There’s normal human prejudice and frictions encountered occasionally when these wildly different cultures rub up against each other, but Nazi’s?

How retro.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Historically speaking, Queens has a rather checkered past on this subject. Members of what we would call the American Nazi party – the so called German American Bund – were rather active in the years leading up to the Second World War here in Queens (and especially so in Ridgewood and Bushwick).

These neighborhoods hosted a rather large German population back then, who referred to their communities in New York City as “Kleine Deutschland” and the “bund” was usually in tune – politically speaking – with their distant homeland. All of that fell apart during the Second World War and the American Nazi’s became associated with extreme elements of the Ku Klux Klan, and prison gangs like the Aryan Nation.

Hey, when you grow up Jewish, you develop a certain sensitivity to this sort of thing. Swastika bad.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Upcoming Tours –

July 12th, 2015
Glittering Realms Walking Tour
with Newtown Creek Alliance, click here for details and tickets.

Written by Mitch Waxman

June 22, 2015 at 11:00 am

richly draped

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A few random shots from around Queens, in today’s post.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Over on Steinway Street, here in almond eyed Astoria, these iconic representations of the Disney corporation seemed to just be chilling out in front of the Salvation Army thrift store the other day. Not sure what the story is with the ghostly one on the right, maybe it’s the “Mickey of Christmas Past” or some other Dickensian (Mickensian, perhaps) meme.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I was heading into the City one day last week, performing my usual exercises with exposure and camera settings while waiting on the Subway platform when I got this shot. Don’t know why, by I just kind of like it. I do wonder what the fellow on the left was listening to on those headphones.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The angle between Woodside and Sunnyside, as well as the convergence of Greenpoint and Roosevelt Avenues with Queens Blvd., there’s something about this paritcular intersection that one such as myself finds visually interesting. A point is made to pop off a few exposures whenever I’m passing by, which in this case was on my way to visit Second Calvary over in Woodside.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Upcoming Tours –

May 16, 2015 –
13 Steps Around Dutch Kills with Atlas Obscura

with Newtown Creek Alliance Historian Mitch Waxman, click here for details and tickets.

May 31, 2015 –
Newtown Creek Boat Tour
with Working Harbor Committee and Newtown Creek Alliance Historian Mitch Waxman, click here for tickets.

Written by Mitch Waxman

May 6, 2015 at 11:00 am

nearby where

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This one just makes me angry.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

So, the other day I’m walking up Steinway Street towards the Museum of the Moving Image to go shoot some party for my Brownstoner column. It’s not the sort of thing I’d EVER cover for your Newtown Pentacle, of course, but there you go. As I’m walking along, what seemed at first to be some sort of weird statuette in a store window began to move, and that’s when I noticed that this particular shop had a live and quite exotic bird living in its front window.

An extremely ill one, at that.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Awww, hell. Cue the Sarah McLachlan music.

This poor thing had pecked and scratched itself bald. Our Lady of the Pentacle, upon examining these rather ugly photographs, offered that the bird likely has untreated mites or some other parasitic infection. It chest was quivering, and the beating of the heart and action of respiration was quite visible.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

When I see a bloodied drunk laying face down in the street, I know what to do. Same thing with a fire, or car accident, or even who to complain to about excessive noise emanating from a commercial business. Smell the sewer? Spilt some oil? Yup, I can tell you whom to call and what to tell them. A sick bird?

Is it even my business, this? Who do you call? Sure doesn’t seem to be Police business. Am I meant to storm into the store and demand to speak to their Vet?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Let’s just presume that this particular blog post is merely intended to point out that there seems to be a pretty sick bird, in a shop window on the west side of Steinway Street in Astoria, between 35th and 36th avenues. That bird… well, there might be certain signs that someone versed in handling this sort of situation could observe to find and help it.

I’m truly ignorant on the subject of avian veterinary health, perhaps that shivering miserable looking creature isn’t as bad off as it looked to me, and I’m simply over reacting.

Just saying.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Upcoming Tours –

May 3, 2015 –
DUBPO, Down Under the Pulaski Bridge Onramp
with Newtown Creek Alliance Historian Mitch Waxman, a free tour offered as part of Janeswalk 2015, click here for tickets.

May 31, 2015 –
Newtown Creek Boat Tour
with Working Harbor Committee and Newtown Creek Alliance Historian Mitch Waxman, click here for tickets.

Written by Mitch Waxman

April 8, 2015 at 11:00 am

canopic jars

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A short one today

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As mentioned yesterday, I’m a bit buried at the moment in work.

Accordingly, a single image greets you today, depicting my favorite Halal Meats food cart here in almond eyed Astoria. These cats, and their thriving enterprise, are found at 34th avenue and Steinway Street. As you can see, even well into the evening – there’s always a lineup of people waiting for chow. If you’re in the neighborhood – I recommend their two kabab hero sandwich, which is stuffed with eggplant, onions, and drowned in both yogurt and hot sauce.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

April 2, 2015 at 12:09 pm

leers down

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A short one today, from the frozen zone.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Spotted this bicycle frozen to its pole mount on Steinway Street the other day, the presence of the Ambulance was coincidental. The FDNY personnel were headed down into the Subway station with their bags of kit – the oxygen bottles and all that other gear. Didn’t stick around long enough to find out what was doing, as a humble narrator had places to go.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

This shot was also captured in Astoria, on Broadway, at one of the heaviest moments of precipitant snowfall last week. Ughhh. I’ll be back next week with some hopefully sunnier shots at this, your Newtown Pentacle.

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Written by Mitch Waxman

February 6, 2015 at 11:00 am

once noble

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An archive shot from 2007.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

We call them “Shwarma Joe” but that’s not their name. This food cart has been operating at the corner of 34th Avenue and Steinway Street in Astoria for as long as I’ve lived here. They do a Halal menu, and offer one of the more affordable lunch options in the neighborhood. I favor the Chicken Kabob wrap myself, sans white sauce. This is an archive shot, as mentioned, captured during the heady days of the second Bush administration. Shwarma Joe never called their offerings “freedom fries,” however.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

November 7, 2013 at 9:43 am

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