The Newtown Pentacle

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Just a short one today.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Recently captured, and one of the first shots acquired with my replacement camera, the John J. Harvey Fireboat upon the Hudson River. The Harvey was saluting the memory of Working Harbor Committee’s own Capt. John Doswell with a water monitor display.

Also, to all of you who offered to help me with the crushing financial burden of replacing the destroyed camera and lens, I’ll have some sort of avenue set up by tomorrow’s post for you to do so. Cannot begin to tell you how much these offers mean to one such as myself.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Upcoming Tours –

July 26th, 2015
Modern Corridor – LIC, Queens Walking Tour
with Brooklyn Brainery, click here for details and tickets.

Written by Mitch Waxman

July 13, 2015 at 11:00 am

… down there?

with 3 comments

Second Avenue Subway, 72nd to 86th street, in today’s post.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As detailed in several posts last week, with today’s offering as capstone, I was invited to join with a group of photographers and reporters on a walk through of Phase One of th Second Avenue Subway project with MTA President of Capital Construction Michael Horodniceanu. We entered the project at 63rd street, and walked all the way to 86th street, experiencing differing levels of “finish” as we went.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A constant issue encountered was the presence of other people, which bedevils me wherever I go, and efforts were made to move slowly and find myself at the rear of the group in order to attain “clean shots” of the project.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

86th street was far and away the least developed section we encountered, and work on the actual tracked hadn’t progressed much past foundations. Platforms were still under construction as well. When invited to come along, MTA personnel had warned that at the end of the trip, we would have to “climb a 130 step staircase.” One was a bit worried about the “climb” designation.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As it turns out, I was right to worry about that word “climb.” Some anonymous laborer had scrawled the graffito “heart attack ridge” on the temporary landing and by the time a humble narrator had achieved that height, a heart attack felt like it was a real possibility. As my grandmother would have said – I couldn’t stop shvitzing.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Nevertheless, I plodded up the steps with camera gear in tow, while wearing my heavy steel toe boots and “PPE.” At the landing, all of us old guys decided to take a breather.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A construction worker in his mid twenties admonished us that he did this flight of stairs several times a day, which tells you about the sort of fortitude it takes to wear a hard hat. Insult to injury was added when Donna Hanover came bounding up the stairs like a mountain goat.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Back at the surface, one avoided the Q&A section of the trip, and a hasty retreat back to Queens and my beloved Astoria was enacted. I had a speaking engagement on for the evening, discussing the Sunnyside Yards development plans with the United Forties Civic over on the Woodside/Sunnyside border, and needed to get home and shower off all the concrete dust and “shvitz.”

Tomorrow, something completely different, at this – your Newtown Pentacle.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Upcoming Tours –

June 7th, 2015
13 Steps Around Dutch Kills Walking Tour
with Newtown Creek Alliance, click here for details and tickets.

June 11th, 2015
MADE IN BROOKLYN Hidden Harbor Boat Tour
with Working Harbor Committee, click here for details and tickets.

June 13th, 2015
The Insalubrious Valley of the Newtown Creek Walking Tour
with Atlas Obscura, click here for details and tickets.

June 20th, 2015
Kill Van Kull Walking Tour
with Brooklyn Brainery, click here for details and tickets.

Written by Mitch Waxman

June 1, 2015 at 11:00 am

… buried…

with 3 comments

Second Avenue Subway, beyond 72nd street.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Continuing with the image rich posts detailing a recent visit to the MTA’s audacious Second Avenue Subway construction project in today’s post, the shot above depicts a group of laborers installing rebar in a side chamber.  Everywhere you looked, there were crews of union guys busily doing this and that.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

We visited the switch and signal room, where vast banks of electronic controls were in varying stages of completion.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

An enormous antechamber, of cyclopean scale, was encountered. This section was open to the sky, and that giant blue thing at the right hand corner of the shot was a crane which transports materials from the surface to the chasm below.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

At the north end of the 72nd street station, we encountered actual customer facing areas, where commuters will be found in a few years. This was also where we began to fully appreciate the monumental scale of all this.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

MTA’s Michael Horodniceanu, who was our guide, assured the group that we wouldn’t have to climb the temporary wooden staircase he was posing against. A collective sigh of relief rose audibly from the group of photographers.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The construction guys were running up and down the breastworks, which I believe were the place where long escalators would be installed to ferry passengers to and from the station.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Northward, we continued moving through the construction site, and one paused for a moment to grab a shot of the chamber we had just exited.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Around 73rd or 74th street, the group was brought back together (we were all sort of trailing out by this point) and informed that we would be walking the final section of tracks – from 72nd to 86th – and then a Q&A session would be occurring once we regained the surface.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

This section was still very much under construction, and both temperature and humidity had risen a bit – no doubt due to the curing of freshly poured concrete all around us.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

We were directed towards the uptown tube.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

In Monday’s post, we’ll finish out what I saw and experienced down in the guts of Manhattan at this – your Newtown Pentacle.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Upcoming Tours –

May 30, 2015 –
The Skillman Corridor with Atlas Obscura

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

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

June 7th, 2015
13 Steps Around Dutch Kills Walking Tour
with Newtown Creek Alliance, click here for details and tickets.

June 11th, 2015
MADE IN BROOKLYN Hidden Harbor Boat Tour
with Working Harbor Committee, click here for details and tickets.

June 13th, 2015
The Insalubrious Valley of the Newtown Creek Walking Tour
with Atlas Obscura, click here for details and tickets.

June 20th, 2015
Kill Van Kull Walking Tour
with Brooklyn Brainery, click here for details and tickets.

Written by Mitch Waxman

May 29, 2015 at 11:00 am

…that might be…

leave a comment »

From somewhere under Manhattan, the Second Avenue Subway Series continues.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There were work lights arrayed within the deep, pushing back against the enveloping darkness. Happily, they were polychromatic, and provided one with an interesting series of contrasts. Additionally, a flash gun was employed in the capture of some of these images, an evil necessitated by lighting conditions.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

This section of track, which had been continuously installed in the tunnels from our starting point at 63rd street, led into a complex of chambers which will one day be the 72nd street station. One noticed that electrical equipment was already installed. This spot would likely be around 70th street.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The design of the Second Avenue Subway passenger stations is distinct from the older sections of the system, there were no steel beams hanging down from the ceiling for instance. The stations take the shape of a series of flattened cylinders with cathedral like interiors.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The gaggle of photographers and press people whom one had joined were directed to follow the tracks as we walked north, more than 100 feet below the surface of the Shining City.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

In this section, the roadbed hadn’t been installed yet, and prefabricated sections of the tracks were simply placed. Notice the rebar nest underlying the sections, into which concrete will be pumped, which will provide the firm footing for the river of trains which will flow through here.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

My strategy of staying at the back of the group paid off several times, this shot is looking southward towards the section we had just traversed.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The actual 72nd street, lower level, station appeared. There’s that rack thingamabob pointed out at the 63rd street station, which is designed to allow water to flow without destroying the “finish” tiles which will be attached to it.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The group was directed to climb the stairs up to the upper level.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

This is where the scale of this project really began to come into view.

More Second Avenue Subway walk through shots in tomorrow’s post at this – your Newtown Pentacle.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Upcoming Tours –

May 30, 2015 –
The Skillman Corridor with Atlas Obscura

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

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

June 7th, 2015
13 Steps Around Dutch Kills Walking Tour
with Newtown Creek Alliance, click here for details and tickets.

June 11th, 2015
MADE IN BROOKLYN Hidden Harbor Boat Tour
with Working Harbor Committee, click here for details and tickets.

June 13th, 2015
The Insalubrious Valley of the Newtown Creek Walking Tour
with Atlas Obscura, click here for details and tickets.

June 20th, 2015
Kill Van Kull Walking Tour
with Brooklyn Brainery, click here for details and tickets.

Written by Mitch Waxman

May 28, 2015 at 11:00 am

…all that there is…

with 2 comments

Second Avenue Subway, continues in today’s post.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As mentioned yesterday, one managed to attach himself to the press tour offered by the estimable MTA Press Office of its under construction facilities of the Second Avenue Subway project.

Part of largish band of reporters and photographers, one grew increasingly annoyed at the inability to capture a shot of the tunnels sans evidence of humans.

Bother.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The atmosphere in this newly carven intestine of the Megalopolis was actually a bit on the warm side, but not uncomfortably so, and no unpleasant nor mephitic odors were encountered in any abundance. Curing concrete coupled with a somewhat static and dusty air mass contributed to bodily perspiration, however, a process exacerbated by the requirements for wearing “PPE” or “Personal Protective Equipment” insisted on by the work site management.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Vests and construction hats, as well as safety glasses, were gladly offered by our hosts on this trip to the underground world. Required dress code also included long pants, and sleeves, as well as heavy boots.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Such precautions are standard going when visiting active industrial sites, in ones’ own experience, and a sturdy pair of steel toe boots are part of my personal arsenal of equipment. These are not the most comfortable shoes in the world, but the so called “steel toes” did provide me with a bit of prevaricating logic that explained to the MTA handlers why I seemed to be lagging along at the rear end of the group.

“Still breaking them in” uttered a humble narrator.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A fascinating ideation was rattling about in my thoughts, namely that after a lifetime of avoiding a situation wherein I would find myself standing on the tracks of some Subway, here I was.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One other fellow seemed to be thinking like me, hanging a little further back than me. He didn’t seem to be feigning a slight limp as I was, but there you go. The head of this press snake was pretty far ahead of us by this point, and we were asked to “catch up.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

For my part at least, the request was answered, and soon I was back in a crowd of reflective vests, hard hats, and flashing cameras.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One bent over to retie the laces of the “steel toe” boots, which allowed a plausible reason for dallying. I found myself at the end of the line, walking along with the tour’s “sweeper.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One decided to retie the other boot as well, out of an abundance of caution.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

It’s the little things which make me happy. 

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Upcoming Tours –

May 30, 2015 –
The Skillman Corridor with Atlas Obscura

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

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

June 7th, 2015
13 Steps Around Dutch Kills Walking Tour
with Newtown Creek Alliance, click here for details and tickets.

June 11th, 2015
MADE IN BROOKLYN Hidden Harbor Boat Tour
with Working Harbor Committee, click here for details and tickets.

June 13th, 2015
The Insalubrious Valley of the Newtown Creek Walking Tour
with Atlas Obscura, click here for details and tickets.

June 20th, 2015
Kill Van Kull Walking Tour
with Brooklyn Brainery, click here for details and tickets.

Written by Mitch Waxman

May 27, 2015 at 11:00 am

Who can guess…

with one comment

Lords and Ladies, the Second Avenue Subway project…

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Lucky, that’s me.

Persistent, that’s me as well, and I’ve been bugging/begging the MTA to allow me to wave the camera around at the Second Avenue Subway project for quite a little while now. Graciously, they invited me along for a press excursion that occurred on May 21 of this year. The fellow pictured above is Michael Horodniceanu, and he’s the President of Capital Construction for the MTA – the boss.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There were a sizable number of sharp elbowed reporters in the group, including the former First Lady of NYC, Donna Hanover. She seemed nice.

One made an early decision, based on a hunch that since the presence of my fellow photographers was going to be an integral part of this experience, that I’d make sure to photograph the photographers while they photographed.

from wikipedia

The Second Avenue Subway (officially the IND Second Avenue Line; abbreviated to SAS) is a long-envisioned rapid transit subway line, part of the New York City Subway system. As of 2014, Phase I, a new line between the existing BMT 63rd Street Line and 96th Street and Second Avenue, is under construction beneath Second Avenue in the borough of Manhattan.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The whole mob of us followed Michael Horodniceanu deep into the F station at 63rd street, and proceeded down to the lowest of platforms. The MTA folks opened the gates for us, so there was no need to swipe my Metrocard. Score!

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The Second Avenue Subway project entrance was along the F platform, where commuters encounter a plywood partition separating them from the show. A door was opened, and the gaggle of reporters followed Michael Horodniceanu and his cohort of contractors (and assorted MTA folks) through it.

from wikipedia

Lexington Avenue – 63rd Street is a two-level station shared by the IND and BMT 63rd Street Lines of the New York City Subway. Located at the intersection of Lexington Avenue and 63rd Street, it is served by the F train at all times. Downtown and Brooklyn-bound trains use the upper level, and Queens-bound trains use the lower level. The original wall tiles installed in this station were red-orange; currently, there are beige-white wall tiles, which replaced the orange wall tiles because of the construction for the Second Avenue Subway. There are a total of ten escalators, six staircases and two elevators. Two additional staircases between the platform levels are at the eastern end of platforms, past the elevator.

The station’s upper level is 140 feet (43 m) deep, making the station among the system’s deepest. This depth is because it has to go under the IRT Lexington Avenue Line and other existing infrastructure.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

This is the actual 63rd street station, which is quite far along. There’s track, for instance, and the far wall is sporting some actual finishes. The MTA didn’t use tile, to avoid the maintenance costs experienced whenever water infiltrates behind it. Instead, the wall has a sort of rack on it, and the “tiles” clip on to it leaving a bit of leeway for flowing liquids to find their way to drains.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

It seemed like electrical and HVAC work was still underway, and there was a staircase under construction on the platform as well.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

It wasn’t the thrill of photographing a subway station platform that lured me down here, however titillating that prospect might be…

– photo by Mitch Waxman

This MTA tour allowed us to walk the actual tunnel, from 63rd to 86th streets. That’s what brought me here, and over the next several days, Lords and Ladies, you’ll see what I saw. Like today’s rather photo heavy post, the next few days will bring you sights and scenes from the darkness below.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

It seems that the “old school” staircase found at the end of the platforms has been done away with in these Second Avenue Subway stations, and we were shuffled into a line that entered a small antechamber at the edge of the public arena.

Soon, we found ourselves “behind the curtain.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A small flight of stairs, somewhat crowded, and all the latest offerings from Nikon and Canon were brandished about. iPhone and GoPro alike were deployed, and the flashes began to pop.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Down on the actual tracks, and looking back towards the 63rd street station, the point of no return on this journey into an oneirontic darkness carven from the belly of Manhattan.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Tomorrow, and for the rest of the week, you’ll be seeing Second Avenue Subway images, at this – your Newtown Pentacle. Remember, I go to these places so that you don’t have to.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Upcoming Tours –

May 30, 2015 –
The Skillman Corridor with Atlas Obscura

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

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

June 7th, 2015
13 Steps Around Dutch Kills Walking Tour
with Newtown Creek Alliance, click here for details and tickets.

June 11th, 2015
MADE IN BROOKLYN Hidden Harbor Boat Tour
with Working Harbor Committee, click here for details and tickets.

June 13th, 2015
The Insalubrious Valley of the Newtown Creek Walking Tour
with Atlas Obscura, click here for details and tickets.

June 20th, 2015
Kill Van Kull Walking Tour
with Brooklyn Brainery, click here for details and tickets.

Written by Mitch Waxman

May 26, 2015 at 11:00 am

slumber, watcher

with 3 comments

What would Superman do?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As mentioned in the past, the supernatural ideation at whose altar one such as myself leaves the burnt offerings is Superman. No offense meant to those of you who worship more traditional deities, but my god has heat vision and the Romans would have had a darned difficult time driving nails through his hands (except under a Red Sun, of course). My particular exemplar of morality, of course, routinely puts me in particularly thorny ethical territory. When I see the strong preying upon the weak, I am compelled to interfere – despite the fact that no matter how practiced my accusing stare may be, nothing seems to be bursting into flame. Additionally, the whole invulnerability thing would be nice, but your humble narrator is unfortunately on the other side of the scale when it comes to that. Sometimes it seems that a mild breeze is all that it takes to overcome my defenses.

Still, when confronted with moral quanries, I always ask myself “What would Superman do?“.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One discussed a recent event with friends on Facebook just the other day, wherein having accomplished that set of tasks normally set aside for the early morning, I was sitting on the porch here in Astoria with my little dog Zuzu and finishing a second cup of coffee. Suddenly, a tumult arose from the sidewalk. An older couple was arguing, and the male – an excitable Spaniard – was swinging his arms and legs around at the female. From the way that she flinched and assumed defensive postures, it was obvious that the fellow’s pantomine blows often connected, and I began to yell and scream at him to let her be. My tactic was successful, as he turned his rage towards me – inviting me down to join him in the gutter. Since they were seperated, I then instructed the woman to call the Police. She instead started waving her arms around while saying “let it go, let it go.”

What would Superman do?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One strives to be the best version of myself that is possible, which was not always the case. Lazy and selfish pretty much typifies the manner in which I operated until falling ill roughly ten years ago. Lying in a hospital bed for nearly a week, I promised myself, and that fictional deity of mine, that were I to survive the experience that I would be a different man than I was formerly. Every action since has been in pursuance of some sort of redemption. This often forces me to confront the forces of chaos here in Astoria, and in the Metropolis which cradles the ancient village. Where one runs into moral shades of gray, however, is in the reaction of that woman saying “let it go, let it go.” Could I have beaten the tar out of her abusive mate? Yes. Would that have accomplished anything at all? Would it have just made things worse for her? People ask why I refer to the population hereabouts as “the human infestation,” and why I seem so puzzled about their actions. Why not try to rise above, and be the best possible version of yourself? Why give in to your base instincts towards violence and selfishness? I don’t understand.

What would Superman do?

“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 30, 2015 –
The Skillman Corridor 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 13, 2015 at 11:00 am

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