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Over in DUGABO…

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Last Saturday, whilst wandering about in between snow storms, this outfall was spotted pouring into Newtown Creek. This is the terminus of Greenpoint Avenue alongside the Bridge, a lane which was coincidentally the path of an earlier Greenpoint Avenue Bridge – one that allowed rail to cross over from the LIRR tracks in Queens – which is today a fairly abandoned spot. The water is snow melt, incidentally.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

There’s street drains all over the place which bear the screed “drains directly into waterways” and this is what it looks like when they do. The drain in question is actually visible, as is the melting snow pack which is feeding it. Along with the melt water, it’s carrying road salt and as well as all the litter and junk which line the curbs. The frustrating part of this scene is that the brand spanking new Newtown Creek Waste Water Treatment plant is just a block away and that this drain isn’t connected to it.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Amongst the many interesting people I’ve met along the Newtown Creek, some of them work for the so called “potentially responsible parties” named as being responsible for the cleanup in the Superfund agreement. Over and over, these folks have pointed out that the ongoing “point source” situation that these outfalls maintained by the City DEP present makes their court mandated mission a fools errand. You can remove the Black Mayonnaise, which is the colloquial term for the historic pollution that forms the sediment bed of the Creek, but without addressing the antiquated sewer system it won’t be twenty years before the Newtown Creek is again lined with toxic junk.

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Written by Mitch Waxman

March 3, 2015 at 11:00 am

intelligent response

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My beloved Creek, in today’s post.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Taking advantage of the positively balmy weather on Sunday, one soon found himself at the loquacious Newtown Creek. My beloved Creek was choked with ice floe, and the atmosphere was misty. All that ice in the ground was releasing moisture into the considerably warmer air, after all.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Icy times like this are excellent for being able to visualize the currents, and the underwater features that shape them, along my beloved Newtown Creek. One was content in his communion, happily snapping away at the feature rich environment, when something was noticed.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

A fairly substantial load of oil was moving along the water, heading towards the East River with what passes for the tide on my beloved Creek. These shots were captured from the Pulaski Bridge, btw, and the oil was traveling along the Brooklyn coastline. This was about 3:45 p.m.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The oil was fairly fresh stuff, with its vintage betrayed by the rainbow sheen that it was displaying. I’ve been lucky enough to receive a bit of training on discerning the different types and nature of petroleum spills over the years, and in accordance with that training – made a call to NYS DEC Spill response hotline at 1 (800) 457-7362 to report it.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

While clicking the shutter, a second phone call was made to my pal Laura Hoffman over in Greenpoint, a local activist and a Newtown Creek Alliance board member that lives nearby the Manhattan Avenue Street end. Laura captured a series of shots from that perspective and location, and called the DEC as well.

If you see something, say something.

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Written by Mitch Waxman

February 23, 2015 at 11:00 am

in confirmation

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Break time.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

A single image greets you this morning, as will be the case through the Thanksgiving holiday.

A humble narrator requires a break periodically, to recharge and reinvent. Worry not, however, for pithy commentary and puckish intent returns on the Monday following Thanksgiving – the first of December.

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Written by Mitch Waxman

November 27, 2014 at 11:00 am

rather small

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Creekerie, in today’s post.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

From Greenpoint’s Apollo Street, which is the dead bang omphalos of the Greenpoint Oil Spill, this construction barge was spotted operating on the Queens side. It seemed to be involved in a bulkhead replacement or repair operation at what would likely be the Waste Management facility in Blissville that sits astride the western fringe of a property once known as the Queens County Oil works of Charles Pratt. A humble narrator is not “in the know” on the project, and mainly stopped off at Apollo Street for the most urgent and personal of reasons (the overgrown street end with it’s attendant vegetation is a wonderful spot for urinating).

Interestingly, after zipping up my own tackle and heading back up the sloped dead end street, I passed a fellow who was heading for the street end with a fishing pole and a tackle box.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

It’s hard to for most listeners to believe me when mention is made of the quite active fishing community in Greenpoint (and LIC/Blissville for that matter) that exploits the biota of Newtown Creek. In the environmental community, much mention is made of this pursuit, and the problematic concept of cautionary signage often comes up. Officialdom, when confronted with the idea that people fish here, will tell you that licensed fishermen are instructed against such practices and offered guide lines about the consumption of creatures caught in places like Newtown Creek.

When the idea that zero percent of the people who fish here are licensed, NYS officialdom returns with “it’s illegal to fish without a license.” One understands that it is also illegal to double park, smoke marijuana, or to illegally dump garbage in the street.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The reason that placing any sort of signage along the Newtown Creek is a difficult topic can be best defined by the polyglot nature of the neighborhoods surrounding it. Obivously, the signs would need to be in English and Spanish – the two predominant tongues. You’d also need to do French, Polish, Chinese, Korean, Arabic, and some combination of the several Indian languages as well. Couldn’t hurt to throw in Phillipino, and whatever the hell it is they speak in Africa.

Signs would need to compensate for translation errors, to avoid linguistic traps and transliterations that would render “do not fish here” as a “devil fish kill children quick with oil and fire poisons” sort of thing.

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Written by Mitch Waxman

November 13, 2014 at 11:00 am

equal and largest

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More scenery from DUKBO, in today’s post.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Brooklyn’s DUKBO, or Down Under the Kosciuszko Bridge Onramp, is an agglutination of waste transfer stations, trucking companies, and the heaviest of industries. It sits beyond the Meeker Avenue Plumes, just east of the Newtown Creek Petroleum district and the Greenpoint Oil Spill. It is bisected and defined by the Brooklyn Queens Expressway. The very air you breathe is a poisonous fume, and the dust carried upon the breeze is rife with volatile organic compounds and asbestos.

Other than that, it’s very nice, and totally “metal.”

- photo by Mitch Waxman

As mentioned yesterday, DUKBO is the site of a huge infrastructure project which is just beginning – the replacement of the 1939 vintage Kosciuszko Bridge. The path of the new bridge will carry it through what used to be Cherry Street. The factories and industrial buildings which line Cherry Street are in the process of being demolished, and the rubble carted away. Who will miss the live poultry warehouse that once stood here, and the streams of chicken feces which once pooled laconically in the street, other than me?

One decided to have one last look at the place, in anticipation of last week’s “Poison Cauldron with Atlas Obscura” walk, before the Skanska Kiewit team kick into high gear in the coming months and this part of Brooklyn becomes a no-go zone due to the construction.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

One will miss these concrete devastations, along with that old blue beast of a bridge. As I understand the plan, the new bridge will stand on Cherry Street itself, span Newtown Creek albeit at a far lower altitude than the current structure, and enter Queens at about 43rd street. On the Maspeth side, no where near this level of activity has started yet, by the way. There’s a bunch of what seem to be union carpenters at work in the former NYPD tow yard, but I haven’t seen any demolition work going on.

Yet.

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Written by Mitch Waxman

November 12, 2014 at 11:00 am

good sized

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DUKBO, Down Under the Kosciuszko Bridge Onramp.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

I can tell you many things about DUKBO in Greenpoint without ever mentioning an acid factory or a night soil dock. Just last week, one was compelled for professional reasons to enter the area during business hours. For those of you not in the know, the New York State Department of Transportation has engaged the Skanska Kiewit company to demolish an existing 1939 model Kosciuszko Bridge shortly after building the first half of a replacement span.

A massive undertaking, the DOT has bought up the easements and buildings that stand in the path of the project on both sides of the Newtown Creek. Cherry Street in Greenpoint no longer functionally exists, accordingly.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Demolition projects generate a lot of dust, which is kept under control via the usage of water. Unfortunately, an enormous pile of water has accumulated at Gardner Avenue and used to be Cherry Street. It makes for a nice photo, if I say so myself, but winter is coming and this is a neighborhood of trucks which are doing truckish things.

One would offer and infer that this pond in DUKBO might become known to the children of North Brooklyn as Lake Skanska.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

One also envisions certain nightmarish winter scenarios wherein a speeding packer truck might suddenly encounter a frozen Lake Skanska, the water caught in the grip of some sort of environmental vortex. Whether polar, equatorial, antipodal, paranormal, or temporal – a vortex of any kind is never a good thing when heavy machinery is involved. The truck loses traction on the icy surface of Lake Skanska and careens through the nearby fence line of National Grid, impacting one of the LNG tanks, and… well, we’d see the flash, but the blast wave would certainly remove Western Queens and North Brooklyn from all but the most cautionary of conversations.

Down Under the Kosciuszko Bridge Onramp, lords and ladies, DUKBO.

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Open House NY: DUPBO

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Open House New York 2014 – Down Under the Pulaski Bridge Onramp

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Join Newtown Creek Alliance Historian Mitch Waxman for an intense exploration of Brooklyn’s Greenpoint and Queens’s Hunters Point neighborhoods, walking along the East River and over the Newtown Creek.

A colonial center and 19th century industrial powerhouse, Greenpoint is a thriving neighborhood cursed by environmental catastrophe. Explore this ancient North Brooklyn neighborhood, and learn its incredible industrial history, while moving inexorably toward the Newtown Creek.

The tour will cross Newtown Creek via the Pulaski Bridge and head into the brave new world and Modern Corridor of Long Island City’s Hunters Point. There will be spectacular waterfront vistas to enjoy, maritime industrial and rail infrastructure to marvel at, and along the way – a few surprises will be encountered. 

- photo by Mitch Waxman

By walking tour standards, this one is pretty low core. The only major physical obstacle we will encounter are the flights of stairs on the Pulaski Bridge. Unlike many of the other walks which explore the industrial zone hinterlands of the Newtown Creek, the DUPBO walk moves through well populated neighborhood streets in Greenpoint and LIC.

Bring your camera! Everywhere we go, just about, you’re going to see postcard panoramas of NYC’s spectacular East River coastline.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Be prepared for rough terrain and possible heavy truck traffic. Dress and pack appropriately for hiking and for weather. Closed-toe shoes are highly recommended. Bathroom opportunities will be found only at the start of the walk. We will be ending in LIC, nearby several mass transit hubs.

This is a free walking tour, part of the 2014 Open House NY weekend, but registration is required. Click here for tix

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