The Newtown Pentacle

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Archive for the ‘East River’ Category

stress and hardships

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For a while there, I used to chew a lot of gum. These days, not so much.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

As you may have guessed by this point, your humble narrator was all over Brooklyn in the last week. Pictured above is the view from (literally) DUMBO – Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Onramp. You may want to tell me that this drippy warren of pigeon shit stained and ankle turning cobbles is the very model of a modern major city if you like, but you can have it. It’s always dark down here and that’s precisely how you get a vampire infestation started. How’s that for a rumor – Did you know that there’s a Vampire problem in DUMBO? That would suck.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Vampires are silly, of course, and kind of passé. All the cool kids are into Lich’s these days, or so I’m told by the Moroccan kid downstairs. I did spot a tugboat floating by, but didn’t head down toward the ConEd substation at the waterfront to follow it. My path was not one of exploration, as mentioned earlier in the week, rather I was just walking from Red Hook to Astoria and keeping the river in sight the whole way. Next time, I’ll pick around the side streets and see what wishes to noticed.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

One thing that I couldn’t help but notice was this CitiBike rack across the street from the Navy Yard, frozen in a three foot block of plow shaped ice. For some reason, this crystallized the period of turnover from Bloomberg to the current Mayor for me. Nothing cutting offered there, it just seems to be kind of emblematic. Good luck with the cold and snow today. Your humble narrator unhappily offers that a return to Red Hook, despite the blistering cold, is on his schedule for today – but I most assuredly will not be walking home.

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Written by Mitch Waxman

February 28, 2014 at 9:30 am

tone and tenor

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Gear envy in today’s post, and the joy of photographing photographers as they photograph.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Funny thing about the part of Brooklyn wherein one finds the modern day Brooklyn Bridge Park is that, within my lifetime mind you, it has become a relatively safe place. I’ve been told tales of photography people hiring toughs and ruffians to guard their equipment around these parts to scare away trouble “back in the day,” lest the baser elements of the NY streets be allowed to pilfer expensive equipment.

People walk around like they’re safe or something these days.

Last week, your humble narrator wandered through, on a terror filled walk from venerable Red Hook to an end destination in reliable Astoria.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Observed were two photographers, but one was presumptively an assistant.

One of my smaller joys is photographing photographers as they photograph, as it satisfies some urge in me to document everything I see. Also, those of us who brandish cameras about constantly are ridiculous and are seldom ridiculed because we are out of frame when a photo is captured. I find these shots fascinating, and there are all these dramatic postures which are spontaneously displayed when photographers photograph, so whenever I can photograph photographers as they photograph, I do. I like to shoot shoots, as it were.

These guys though (I don’t mean the kid with the iPhone), profit greatly from the fact that no one is going to come and take away their stuff in modern day Brooklyn. They had something like 70 grand worth of equipment out there for all to admire. This was me, I’d have Hank the Elevator Guy and a couple of the stoutly built Croatians that populate my neighborhood in Astoria along to keep things nice and even.

Look at that lens, just look at it.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

My educated guess as to the identity of the lens this fellow is using, with my conjecture based purely on its physical appearance, is that it’s either a more than $10,000 Canon EF 500mm f/4L (an actual model number or variant is difficult to distinguish) or the top of the line $13,000 plus Canon EF 800mm f/5.6L. The cameras being bandied about were Canon EOS-1D X‘s, which will set you back around $7k a unit. The small black lens on the guy in the foreground’s camera costs about $2,300, and in just a few minutes, I saw about $20,000 worth of glass swapped in and out of that suitcase – the sort of lenses I dream about using let alone owning. Those tripod legs alone are about $1,500 to $3,000 each, and those tripod heads ain’t cheap either – so tack on another few thousand bucks.

Wow. All this gear for a mid-day, winter sun, outing. Me, I’m going to be there early and late, not the afternoon. The sun is at a bad angle to the City from December to Mid March, it’s the worst time of year.

These guys must have been on their way back from the Olympics in Sochi or something and had some time alone with the gear before their kit had to be returned to AP or the Times.

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Written by Mitch Waxman

February 25, 2014 at 9:30 am

approaching triumph

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Infrastructure pornography, gratuitous and forbidding, in today’s post.

Also, I’ll be at Brooklyn Brainery on February 27th presenting “the Newtown Creek Magic Lantern Show.”

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Gaze upon the terrible scale of the Verrazano Narrows Bridge, connecting Brooklyn with… Staten Island… Bridges are on my mind today, especially the ones that connect Long Island with other extant land masses scattered about the archipelago.

Today will be just a lot of photos, and your humble narrator will be taking advantage of the short interval of warmth offered today. Out and about, looking at things- that’s me.

from wikipedia

The bridge is owned by the City of New York and operated by MTA Bridges and Tunnels, an affiliate agency of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. Interstate 278 passes over the bridge, connecting the Staten Island Expressway with the Gowanus Expressway and the Belt Parkway. The Verrazano, along with the other three major Staten Island bridges, created a new way for commuters and travelers to reach Brooklyn, Long Island, and Manhattan by car from New Jersey.

The bridge was the last great public works project in New York City overseen by Robert Moses, the New York State Parks Commissioner and head of the Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority, who had long desired the bridge as a means of completing the expressway system which was itself largely the result of his efforts. The bridge was also the last project designed by Chief Engineer Othmar Ammann…

- photo by Mitch Waxman

East River Bridge #1, or East River Suspension Bridge #1, or Brooklyn Bridge from Brooklyn.

from nyc.gov

The Brooklyn Bridge opened in 1883. At the time, it was the longest suspension bridge. It has been designated a National Historic Landmark by the National Park Service, and a New York City Landmark by the Landmarks Preservation Commission.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

East River Bridge #3, or Manhattan Bridge, from the water.

from nyc.gov

The youngest of the three DOT East River suspension bridges, construction began on October 1, 1901. The bridge opened to traffic on December 31, 1909 and completed in 1910. The Bridge’s total length is 5,780 feet from abutment to abutment at the lower level; and 6,090 feet on the upper roadways from portal to portal. Its main span length is 1,470 feet long and each of its four cables is 3,224 feet long. The Bridge was designed by Leon Moisseiff (1872-1943)…

- photo by Mitch Waxman

East River Bridge #2, Williamsburg Bridge, from Manhattan.

from nyc.gov

When it opened in 1903, the Williamsburg Bridge was the longest suspension bridge in the world, with a span of 1600 feet and a total length of 7308 feet and the first with all-steel towers. The 310-foot steel towers support four cables, each measuring 18_ inches in diameter and weighing 4,344 tons. In all, nearly 17,500 miles of wire are used in the cables that suspend the bridge 135 feet above the East River. The massive stiffening trusses were designed not only to withstand high winds, but also to support rail traffic on the deck.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

East River Bridge #4, Queensboro Bridge, from Long Island City.

from nyc.gov

The bridge was constructed between 1901 and 1909 and was opened to the traffic on June 18, 1909. A collaboration between the bridge engineer Gustav Lindenthal (1850-1935) and architect Henry Hornbostel, the main bridge is 3,725 feet long, the longest of the East River Bridges. The overall length of the bridge including the Manhattan and Queens approaches is 7,449 feet.

The site is an ideal location for a bridge as Roosevelt Island provides a convenient footing for the piers. Seventy-five thousand tons of steel went into the original bridge and its approaches. Its original cost was about $18 million, including $4.6 million for land. At the time of completion, it was not only the longest cantilever bridge in the United States, but also was designed for heavier loads than any other bridges.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Welfare Island, aka Roosevelt Island Bridge, from Roosevelt Island looking towards Queens.

from nyc.gov

The Roosevelt Island Bridge is a tower drive, vertical lift, movable bridge across the East Channel of the East River between the borough of Queens and Roosevelt Island, New York City. The span length is 418 feet. It was known as the Welfare Island Bridge when it was first opened to traffic in 1955.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Triborough Bridge, aka Robert F Kennedy Bridge, from Astoria, Queens.

from wikipedia

Construction began on Black Friday in 1929, but soon the Triborough project’s outlook began to look bleak. Othmar Ammann, who had collapsed the original design’s two-deck roadway into one, requiring lighter towers, and thus, lighter piers, saving $10 million on the towers alone, was enlisted again to help guide the project. Using New Deal money, it was resurrected in the early 1930s by Robert Moses, who created the Triborough Bridge Authority to fund, build and operate it. The completed structure was opened to traffic on July 11, 1936.

The total cost of the bridge was more than $60 million, one of the largest public works projects of the Great Depression, more expensive even than the Hoover Dam. The structure used concrete from factories from Maine to Mississippi. To make the formwork for pouring the concrete, a whole forest on the Pacific Coast was cut down.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Hell Gate Bridge, also from Astoria, Queens.

from wikipedia

The Hell Gate Bridge (originally the New York Connecting Railroad Bridge or The East River Arch Bridge) is a 1,017-foot (310 m)[3] steel through arch railroad bridge in New York City. The bridge crosses the Hell Gate, a strait of the East River, between Astoria, Queens and Wards Island in Manhattan.

The bridge is the largest of three bridges that form the Hell Gate complex. An inverted bowstring truss bridge with four 300-foot (91.4 m) spans crosses the Little Hell Gate (now filled in); and a 350-foot (106.7 m) fixed truss bridge crosses the Bronx Kill (now narrowed by fill). Together with approaches, the bridges are more than 17,000 feet (3.2 mi; 5.2 km) long.

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marching things

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Infrastructure geekery today.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The center of the Williamsburg Bridge span offers a clearance to river going vessels of about 135 feet.

A building story is conventionally calculated as being around 10-12 feet, so that makes the Williamsburg Bridge tall enough to fit a roughly 11-12 story building under the apogee of its arc, water towers notwithstanding. That gives us a bit of an idea about the sort and size of maritime vessels which used the mercantile river during the late 19th and early 20th century. Remember that engineers always work around restrictions, and inadvertently create standards when they do.

from wikipedia

Construction on the bridge, the second to cross this river, began in 1896, with Leffert L. Buck as chief engineer, Henry Hornbostel as architect and Holton D. Robinson as assistant engineer, and the bridge opened on December 19, 1903 at a cost of $24,200,000

- photo by Mitch Waxman

A 75,000 ton pile of steel, we call it Queensboro, and this deck is around 130 feet over the water. When it went up in 1909, there were still concerns about navigability for warships and other large ocean going vessels moving between the Navy Yard in Williamsburg and Long Island Sound (via Hells Gate). This has never been the front door for NY Harbor though, most mariners prefer the shallow but safer route which carries them through Gerritsen Bay and the Narrows, which we call the Ambrose Channel, to Jamaica Bay and the open ocean.

from wikipedia

Serious proposals for a bridge linking Manhattan to Long Island City were first made as early as 1838 and attempts to finance such a bridge were made by a private company beginning in 1867. Its efforts never came to fruition and the company went bankrupt in the 1890s. Successful plans finally came about in 1903 under the city’s new Department of Bridges, led by Gustav Lindenthal (who was appointed to the new position of Commissioner of Bridges in 1902), in collaboration with Leffert L. Buck and Henry Hornbostel, designers of the Williamsburg Bridge.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

149 feet over the water, Manhattan Bridge offers a significant amount of clearance to shipping, nearly 20 feet more than its northern brethren. Admittedly, this has always been a busier part of the river than that spanned by Queensboro and Williamsburg, but I’ve always wondered why East River Bridge 2 (MB) was built higher than 3 (WB) and 4 (QB). I’m sure the answer is pedantic, and will likely be depressing.

from wikipedia

The bridge was opened to traffic on December 31, 1909 and was designed by Leon Moisseiff, who later designed the infamous original Tacoma Narrows Bridge that opened and collapsed in 1940. It has four vehicle lanes on the upper level (split between two roadways). The lower level has three lanes, four subway tracks, a walkway and a bikeway. The upper level, originally used for streetcars, has two lanes in each direction, and the lower level is one-way and has three lanes in peak direction. It once carried New York State Route 27 and later was planned to carry Interstate 478. No tolls are charged for motor vehicles to use the Manhattan Bridge.

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vital organs

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A boid at da Navy Yerd.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Happy Martin Luther King Jr. birthday day, a holiday officially observed on the third Monday in January, in compliance with the Federal “Uniform Monday Holiday Act.” King’s actual birthday was January 15th. As it’s a holiday, a single shot is offered today, captured at the Brooklyn Navy Yard just last week. This is looking southwest, towards lower Manhattan, depicting a seagull photo bombing my shot. I’ve got a couple of other interesting scenes which were observed at the Navy Yard, which will be examined at this – your Newtown Pentacle – in the coming week.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

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