The Newtown Pentacle

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Archive for the ‘Lower East Side’ Category

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Manny hatty keeps on forcing me to visit.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

For someone who actually loathes visiting Manhattan, preferring the ruinations of western Queens and devastations of northern Brooklyn to the Shining City, I do seem to be spending an awful lot of time there of late. Another recent series of events demanded that I visit the Bloody Sixth Ward and Old St. Patrick’s Cathedral, so down the hole and into an electrically driven aluminum box of monkey meat did I go.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The visit to Old St. Patrick’s was all business, introducing a certain engenue to the Church’s resident historical hierophant. While on site, I snapped a few quick shots, all the while wishing that I had brought my tripod along with me. Unfortunately, the bulky tool is a bit of a carry, and unless I expressly know that I’m going to be utilizing the thing it gets left home. When I’m not on that rattling contraption that hurtles beneath the streets, I’m walking, after all.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

While doing some of that walking, on my way back to the underground monkey mover, this absolutely cliche “little italy” shot appeared before me. It looked so incredibly staged, couldn’t help but record it.

Note: A holiday schedule of single images will be presented here next week, although I’m going to be solidly ensconced in Queens as no one will have me. Time for a little break, and to mix things up a bit. You may have noticed that Maritime Sunday hasn’t splashed into port the last couple of weeks- which is mainly due to my inability to get out on the water during the cold months, precluding the gathering of fresh and or interesting content for the feature. It’ll return in the future, when I’m able to get out there again.

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granite portal

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One step forward, two steps back.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Once upon a time, this charming section of Manhattan was home to cattle yards, rendering plants, and an enormous industrial sector which ran on coal. It was described as smokey, stinky, and not very pleasant by the Knickerbockracy. By the time of the Civil War, that had all changed, and this area which came to be called Union Square had begun to gentrify. Shedding itself of dirty or noisome industry is something the folks over in the City have absolutely excelled at over the years. These days, the place drowns in sentiment, seems fairly underutilized, and would benefit from some of the thinking and urban planning which guides the burgeoning shorelines of the East River in Brooklyn and Queens. Have you noticed that there are few buildings around Union Square which are under 20 stories?

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Obligation carried one to the Shining City again just last week, for a lunch meeting this time, and I spied this crew of fellows tearing up a substantial chunk of 18th street. They seemed to be having a great time, using esoteric equipment and enjoying a ribald orgy of demolition. When I was a younger and less humble narrator, around the age of 5, my ambition was to drive a bull dozer. It is good to see that, for some, the dreams of childhood did not suffer the brutal euthanasia which mine have. The City people did not seem to notice the crew, presumptively this scene was just another obstacle for them which impeded rushing about and spending. It’s enough to drive one into the arms of a mixologist.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Profoundly unpopular, physically repulsive and societally unacceptable, one such as myself desires nothing more than to be included in things. How one wishes that parties such as the one witnessed in today’s post were the sort of thing for which an invitation might be offered. This looks like so much fun, tearing into the concretized firmament with powerful engines of modern design. Long have I been curious about what might lie below, but such obsessions are denied me, and one can only photograph that which occurs in a brightly lit world illumined by the burning thermonuclear eye of god itself, here in the Shining City.

Upcoming Tours

Saturday- September 28, 2013
Newtown Creek Boat Tour with the Working Harbor Committee- tickets on sale now.

Saturday – October 19, 2013
The Insalubrious Valley of the Newtown Creek with Atlas Obscura- tickets on sale soon.

Sunday- October 20th, 2013
The Poison Cauldron of the Newtown Creek with Brooklyn Brainery- tickets on sale now

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle


Written by Mitch Waxman

September 25, 2013 at 12:19 pm

idle curiosity

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In today’s post- The New York Marble Cemetery on Manhattan’s Lower East Side.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

If your view of second avenue in Manhattan’s East Village looks like what you see in the shot above, there’s only one place you can possibly be.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

You would be standing on the other side of these gates, found at the end of an alley, and within a walled off corridor which was established in 1831- the same year that the French Foreign Legion first deployed and Charles Darwin left England for the Galapagos onboard the Beagle.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

One of the perks of working with Atlas Obscura is that I can sometimes insert myself into somebody else’s adventure, and in this case, it was Allison Meier’s walking tour excursion to the New York Marble Cemetery at 41 1/2 Second Avenue. She graciously allowed me to attend her sold out tour.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Check out this page, which I think Allison wrote- at the Atlas Obscura- for the full history of the place (there’s no point in me paraphrasing it). The tombs are all underground, with the grave markers arranged on the walls in the form of stone plaques. The surrounding neighborhood has literally risen around the place, with every building style from 19th century tenement to ultra modern luxury hotel represented around it.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The president of the cemetery association was there to talk to the attendees, and she described the walls as being quite fragile and in bad condition. Nearly two hundred years of New York air, and vibration, have taken their toll on mortar laid down just ten years before Mary Rogers “the beautiful cigar girl” was found in a trunk floating along on the Hudson- sparking the interest of none other than Edgar Allen Poe.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Pictured above is the plaque denoting the tomb of Uriah Scribner, father of the eponymous founder of the publishing house “Charles Scribner’s Sons.” Uriah died in 1853.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

1830’s New York City is literally the stuff of legend.

It’s Poe’s town, as well as the NYC that Herman Melville and Washington Irving and William Cullen Bryant knew, a city which had less than a quarter million inhabitants. What we call the lower east side was farmland back then, and the center of town was down near the Battery.

The river fronts were described as a “forest of masts” for all the merchant trading vessels found docked there.

Check out the New York Marble Cemetery here.

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Want to see something cool? June 2013 Walking Tours-

The Poison Cauldron- Saturday, June 15, 2013
Newtown Creek walking tour with Mitch Waxman and Atlas Obscura, tickets now on sale.

Kill Van Kull- Saturday, June 22, 2013
Staten Island walking tour with Mitch Waxman and Working Harbor Committee, tickets now on sale.

The Insalubrious Valley- Saturday, June 29, 2013
Newtown Creek walking tour with Mitch Waxman and Newtown Creek Alliance, tickets now on sale.

hollow voice

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“follow” me on Twitter at @newtownpentacle

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The Consolidated Edison facility on 13th street and avenue D in Manhattan famously exploded during Hurricane Sandy. Oddly, just a few months prior to this, I had found myself perched upon the DEP property across the street- when the shot above was captured. Embedded below is a video which seems to have been captured from a vantage in Long Island City (by someone else) which depicts the explosion.

Written by Mitch Waxman

November 17, 2012 at 4:14 pm

raised place

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- photo by Mitch Waxman

That’s the Marie J. Turecamo, a Moran tug, getting all iconic on the East River. This tug has been discussed in earlier posts at this, your Newtown Pentacle, specifically the posting “Circumnavigation 1” from which the following is quoted:

…along came the Marie J. Turecamo tugboat- a 2,250 HP twin screw tug operated by Moran Towing. It was originally built as the Traveller in 1968, by Tangier Marine Transport which operated out of the Main Iron Works facility in Houma, LA.


Moran is a leading provider of marine towing and transportation services, a 150-year-old corporation that was founded as a small towing company in New York Harbor and grew to preeminence in the industry. The cornerstone of our success has been a long-standing reputation for safe, efficient service, achieved through a combination of first-rate people and outstanding vessels and equipment.

Over the course of its history Moran has steadily expanded and diversified, and today offers a versatile range of services stemming from its core capabilities in ship docking, contract towing, LNG activities and marine transportation. Our tug fleet serves the most ports of any operator in the eastern United States, and services LNG terminals along the U.S. East and Gulf Coasts and the West Coast of Mexico. The Moran barge fleet serves the U.S. Atlantic and Pacific Coasts, the Great Lakes, the inland waters of the U.S. eastern seaboard, and the Gulf of Mexico. We also provide worldwide marine transportation services, including operations in the Caribbean and periodic voyages to South America and overseas waters.

Another appearance of the tug, wherein it played a similar iconic role and chewed a different bit of harbor scenery was in the posting “curious customs“.

Also- Upcoming tours…

for an expanded description of the October 20th Newtown Creek tour, please click here

for more information on the October 27th Newtown Creek Boat Tour, click here

for more information on the November 9th Newtown Creek Magic Lantern Show, click here

for an expanded description of the November 11th Newtown Creek tour, please click here


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