The Newtown Pentacle

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Archive for the ‘Hunters Point’ Category

this splendor

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If these guys go out, what in the name of god itself will I take pictures of?

- photo by Mitch Waxman

One isn’t too sure about the details of the current beef between the LIRR unions and the State of New York’s MTA – but my concerns about an impending strike have little to do with the crippling effect it will have on NYC and all of Nassau and Suffolk counties, nor the living hell which commuters will endure getting too and from their Manhattan jobs, or the financial consequences to both organized labor and state officials. Purely selfish motivations rule, as your humble narrator is overly concerned about the lack of photographic opportunity which a cessation of locomotive service in LIC will cause. Hey! This one affects me personally, what am I supposed to take pictures of without any trains?

- photo by Mitch Waxman

There’s always tugboats, I guess, although I’ve been shooting less and less maritime in 2014. No particular reason, it’s just that life have led me away from the harbor in the first half of this year, and I’ve been busy upland. Nice thing about industrial Maspeth, I always say, is the random movement when a train suddenly busts through the scene. If there is a LIRR strike… let’s just say that it diminishes us all, and industrial Maspeth most of all.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

One wonders if freight operations will be suspended as well? I’d imagine so, but I’m a stranger to the world of organized labor except by neighborly osmosis. The industries I’ve worked in – Advertising and Comics – eschew organized labor. The excesses of both are legendary, but you’ve probably watched “Madmen” so I don’t have to discuss Madison Avenue. As an example for the comics industry, the guy who created Superman ended up walking into DC Comics one day while working as a delivery man. The guy who created all those characters in the Marvel movies – Hulk, Captain America, etc. – was Jack Kirby, whose heirs get ugatz from Marvel. Either way, I’ve got to find something else to take pictures of, somewhere in the Newtown Pentacle.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

There are two Newtown Creek walking tours coming up.

Saturday, July 26th, The Insalubrious Valley of the Newtown Creek
With Atlas Obscura, lunch included, click here for tickets and more info.

Sunday, July 27th, Glittering Realms
With Brooklyn Brainery, lunch included, click here for tickets and more info.

brief space

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An interesting effect observed.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

By this stage of the game, lords and ladies, the shot above must depict a scene quite familiar to your eyes. The waterway is the Dutch Kills tributary of the fabled Newtown Creek, and the industrial buildings framing it part of the Degnon Terminal here in Long Island City, Queens. The water is frozen, as would be expected in this frigid month.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Hanging around with the Newtown Creek Alliance folks, one of the terms I’ve learned which cannot be expunged from active memory is “sediment mound.” That’s when an open sewer deposits layer after layer of its cargo, over the course of decades, and piles up a mound. These mounds are normally indistinct to the eye, sitting hidden in the turbid water.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

What’s interesting in these shots, to me at least, is that the sediment mounds and other features of the bed which Dutch Kills flows through, are visible in the melting edges of the ice. It appeared that the ice didn’t form as solidly at the shorelines as it did in the center of the water. The center was, in fact, a solid plate of ice which had garbage rolling around on it.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

These were captured on January the 11th, a very foggy day. The shot above is a stitched panorama, which depicts the entire water way while facing roughly southwards.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

poppied silks

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Sweeping, ever sweeping.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The loudest of all municipal vehicles, other than certain members of the NYC Congressional delegation, has to be the street sweeping trucks operated by the DSNY. Heard this one coming from blocks away, spinning its steel brushes and singing its song of internal combustion.

Ever get hit with the pebbles, detritus, and other shrapnel these things spin off? Ow.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

December 28, 2013 at 7:30 am

refractive power

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Adrift on seasonal ennui, that’s me.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

T’is not a kind month, December.

Memories of childhood disappointment and debasements, diminished expectations, and dire existential crises are those anniversaries celebrated concurrently with December by one such as myself. Nevertheless, despite the short intervals of daylight, and lowered frequencies of natural ambience, your humble narrator stumbles forth to record the audient void of Queens.

Mainly, I’m looking for rusty stuff like the sign above, which is increasingly hard to find in Long Island City.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Occasion carried me to Hunters Point recently, and specifically that section of the ancient Dutch village which I refer to as Tower Town. Observed, extant, was an installation of some of that “green infrastructure” that area wags and the municipal princeps have been discussing and presenting to the general public as a prophylactic measure against the return of Hurricane Sandy to the Metropolitan area.

It was a tree pit, stoutly fortified against canine degradations, which hosted a plethora of ornamental cabbages.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

I noticed cabbage in a Manhattan tree pit recently, and when I saw this installation of leafy plants one began to wonder if ornamental cabbage was “a thing.” My pal Gil over at the Smiling Hogshead Ranch, and the folks at Brooklyn Grange, tell me that we should be growing food everywhere we possibly can, literally every nook and cranny that light and water can reach. But ornamental cabbages? Why not try growing some kale or carrots, here in Tower Town?

I jest, of course, as in city wide aggregate the thousands of tree pits will add up to a significant acreage and offer a not insignificant amount of storm water someplace to go other than into the combined sewer system.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

December 16, 2013 at 8:30 am

dromedary men

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A ladder to heaven in Hunters Point.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

As mentioned in the past, the East River ferry is a boon to one such as myself, as it allows for the preclusion of entering the subway system. As much as I enjoy entering a sweltering concrete bunker and being painted with pneumatically driven clouds of dried sewage and powderized rodent dung, a humble narrator will literally find any other possible way of getting around than the using the underground.

Seriously, who can guess- all there is- that might be buried down there?

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Arriving in ancient Hunters Point one recent day, I was greeted with the tableau depicted in today’s shots. It would seem that yet another bit of construction equipment is being prepared for duty, this time in front of the LIC Crab House on Borden Avenue at the corner of 2nd street. The new school, which is the gray wall you’ll notice in some of these shots, is nearly complete. The Hunters Point South project, on the other hand, is just getting started, as evinced by the looming construct being assembled.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Personally, I’ve always preferred deeply buried bunkers for their stolidity and dank charm, but it seems to be a deeply ingrained desire of city dwellers to achieve some sort of altitude over the hive. Taken to extremes, this results in twenty and thirty story residential buildings which house hundreds. One is reminded of the dystopia depicted in the “Judge Dredd” comics wherein whole neighborhoods are housed beneath one roof in a building 2-300 stories tall, one of millions of such structures found in “Mega City One.”

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The crane constructing the crane was enormous, incidentally, towering over the former Miller Hotel (nowadays the LIC Crab House) where Battle Axe Gleason would sit in a barber chair and greet those who debarked from the LIRR ferry. Gleason was the last mayor of Long Island City, a reputed scoundrel, and his private offices were just around the corner.

Just for the sake of pedantry, the self propelled yellow crane is of the “telescopic” variety and the unit being assembled is a tower crane.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Want to see something cool? Summer 2013 Walking Tours-

Glittering Realms- Saturday, August 3rd, 2013
Newtown Creek walking tour with Mitch Waxman and Atlas Obscura, tickets now on sale.

Kill Van Kull- Saturday, August 10, 2013
Staten Island walking tour with Mitch Waxman and Working Harbor Committee, tickets now on sale.

13 Steps around Dutch Kills- Saturday, August 17, 2013
Newtown Creek walking tour with Mitch Waxman and Newtown Creek Alliance, tickets now on sale.

Written by Mitch Waxman

July 30, 2013 at 7:30 am

vivid melange

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A rapidly cooling post today

- photo by Mitch Waxman

This last weekend, your humble narrator led a short boat tour up a long Creek for Metropolitan Waterfront Alliances’ City of Water Day festival, despite the Bataan Death March atmospherics. Upon returning to Astoria and after inhaling approximately 40 gallons of water, one went out in search of Mr. Softee. The mister is no good, as Mrs. Softee spends every night alone during the summer, and has no idea where he spends his time or for whom his bells toll.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Time spent in the ancient village of Astoria is often revelatory, as many of the neighbors speak English not just as a second, but in many cases as a third language. This will often result in unintentionally meaningful signage, as with this sign board found on Broadway nearby the elevated N and Q lines which succinctly describes United States foreign policy.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Finally, a quick peek at Hunters Point, where construction seems to be gearing up and the brave new world is forming. Ten years from now, this same POV will portray the entrance to a grand tower building of the “happy shiny” sort which will be part of the new Hunters Point South community. I’ll miss the view, myself, but I like muddy puddles.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Want to see something cool? Summer 2013 Walking Tours-

Kill Van Kull- Saturday, August 10, 2013
Staten Island walking tour with Mitch Waxman and Working Harbor Committee, tickets now on sale.

13 Steps around Dutch Kills- Saturday, August 17, 2013
Newtown Creek walking tour with Mitch Waxman and Newtown Creek Alliance, tickets now on sale.

Written by Mitch Waxman

July 22, 2013 at 11:18 am

Modern Corridor

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Want to see something cool? Bring a camera, and follow me.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

When I decided to start doing walking tours of the Newtown Creek watershed a few years ago, I found myself presented with a significant organizational issue. There’s a different story to be told about Maspeth than there is about Greenpoint (also, there are arguably two Greenpoints), yet… the two communities are inextricably linked up. Same thing with Bushwick and Ridgewood, or the residential centers at the Creek’s intersection with the East River. 3.8 miles long by around a mile wide, the Creeklands are vast when on foot. There is also SO much information to pass along, not just about the Creek’s past, but about all the stuff that’s going on right now- EPA, Superfund, the cool things my pals in NCA are doing with Green Infrastructure and Citizen Science…

- photo by Mitch Waxman

My solution was to simply to connect the stories of these places up along the ancient roads or paths along which they grew, and follow the water from one borough to another. “Poison Cauldron” does the Greenpoint to Bushwick route, “Insalubrious Valley” follows a colonial era turnpike path, “Glittering Realms” moves from residential East River Greenpoint back to the industrial zone along another colonial pathway, and “13 Steps around Dutch Kills” traces the Queens tributary back to the Creek and ends at its smaller counterpart Whale Creek in Brooklyn.

The new one- “Modern Corridor”- is all about Hunters Point, one of the least known sections of New York City, which sits directly opposite the Shining City of midtown Manhattan.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

This “Modern Corridor” walking tour starts at the old city center, nearby Jackson Avenue and Court Square, and explores the brave new world rising from the ashes of a 19th century industrial titan- the independent municipality of Long Island City. Writ large, the growing community of the titan real estate development which has reshaped the colonial vintage section of Queens called Hunters Point will be encountered, and one of the finest parks in the entire city visited. This park is built upon a significant piece of rail infrastructure which once allowed train cars to be loaded onto barges for maritime transport to Manhattan and points west.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Then we walk through to the proverbial wrong side of the tracks, and to the industrial machine surrounding the infamous Newtown Creek. Former home to sugar refineries and cargo docks, rail yards and powerhouses, this will be the future home of thousands who will live in the forthcoming Hunters Point South development which has already begun construction. See it as it is, before the towers rise and the land is reshaped to modern wants and desires.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Skirting along the Creek, you’ll see vast infrastructure, visit DUPBO (Down under the Pulaski Bridge Onramp), and walk over railroad tracks as we head back to the modern incarnation of Long Island City. Bring your cameras, as your friends won’t believe you when you try to describe the places you’ve witnessed. Closed toe shoes are also highly recommended, as is a hat or parasol as there will be little to no shelter from the burning thermonuclear eye of god itself. The walk will be approximately 2 hours in length and will cross all sorts of ground. There will be one flight of stairs involved.

paddy

- photo by Mitch Waxman

We’ll be passing from the 21st century all the way back to the 1600’s with particular emphasis on the late 19th century, when the fellow pictured above- the notorious Patrick “Battle-Ax” Gleason, served as the last Mayor of Long Island City. Gleason was personally responsible for the construction of the exquisite PS1 schoolhouse pictured in the second shot above, which nearly bankrupted LIC- amongst other imbroglios. Dogged by claims and accusations (and at least one conviction) of corruption- Gleason used to sit in a barber chair outside the Miller Hotel- which is today the LIC Crab House- and hold court with constituent and passerby alike. This was his favorite spot, directly across the street from the LIRR train and ferry terminal. He told those he met to avoid addressing him as “Mayor”, instructing them instead to “Just call me Paddy.”

Hope you can come along, this Saturday at 10- meetup at Court Square Station on Jackson Avenue.

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