The Newtown Pentacle

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Archive for the ‘Apollo Street’ Category

The 2013 Spring and Summer Tours Schedule

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“follow” me on Twitter at @newtownpentacle

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- photo by Mai Armstrong

Want to see something cool?

Odds are that a bunch of the folks who will be reading this might have no idea who Mitch Waxman is, why they should come along with him on a tour of some weird neighborhood in Brooklyn or Queens or Staten Island, nor what a Newtown Creek or Kill Van Kull are- let alone where. Who is this weirdo?

Check out the “bio” page here at Newtown Pentacle, or this profile of me from the NY Times published in 2012. My tours of Newtown Creek have garnered no small amount of interest from the fourth estate- whether it be DNAInfountappedcities.com, Queens Chroniclenewyorkview.net, the 22blog, photobycateblog.com, or Queensnyc, and I’ve turned up in a bunch of media reports, documentaries, and been interviewed for multitudinous reports on the lamentable history of the Newtown Creek.

Most recently, it was National Geographic and Curbed. Attendees on my tours come from a variety of backgrounds- photographers, history and rail buffs, maritime enthusiasts, and there always seems to be an odd and welcome concentration of elected officials and journalists about.

What is with this guy?

I’m the Newtown Creek Alliance Historian, Official Photographer and Steering Committee member of the Working Harbor Committee, a member of the Newtown Creek Monitoring Committee and the Newtown Creek CAG, and am also a member of the Kosciuszko Bridge Stakeholders Advisory Committee. Newtown Pentacle, this blog, has been steadily published since 2009. I live in Astoria, Queens with my wife and our little dog, Zuzu.

In just the last few years, I have exposed thousands of people to the Newtown Creek, and its incredible history. This is where the industrial revolution actually happened, along this 3.8 mile long waterway that defines the border of Brooklyn and Queens.

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- photo by Mai Armstrong

In 2013, continuing relationships with Atlas Obscura, Newtown Creek Alliance, and the Working Harbor Committee (as well as friends like the Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance, and others) allow me to offer the following schedule. Live ticketing links will be made available as they come online, and all dates are subject to cancellation or rescheduling due to weather or unforeseen circumstance. There are 6 unique walking tours listed here, and one boat trip in which I will be the principal speaker.

Private tours are possible, schedule permitting, and can be arranged by contacting me here. Last year, for instance, several private University classes engaged me for a day at the Creek, as did a few private groups. As mentioned, contact me and we will figure something out if you’ve got a meetup group, college class, or special request.

Here then, is my official schedule as it stands right now. There will likely be a few additions as time goes on, which I will let you know about as they occur. Best to subscribe to this blog (top right, email subscription)  or “follow” me on Twitter @newtownpentacle for news.

In April, 2013- There will be a brand new tour  of Greenpoint debuted, which I call “Glittering Realms.”

Glittering Realms- Saturday, April 20, 2013
Newtown Creek walking tour with Mitch Waxman and Atlas Obscura, tickets now on sale.

In May, 2013- We start off with 13 Steps around Dutch Kills, go to the Insalubrious Valley, visit DUKBO, and finish off the month with a Working Harbor boat tour.

13 Steps around Dutch Kills- Saturday, May 4, 2013
Newtown Creek walking tour with Mitch Waxman and Atlas Obscura, tickets now on sale.

Parks and Petroleum- Sunday, May 12, 2013
Newtown Creek walking tour with Mitch Waxman and Newtown Creek Alliance, tickets on sale soon.

The Insalubrious Valley- Saturday, May 25, 2013
Newtown Creek walking tour with Mitch Waxman and Atlas Obscura, tickets on sale soon.

Hidden Harbor: Newtown Creek tour with Mitch Waxman – Sunday, May 26,2013
Boat tour presented by the Working Harbor Committee,
Limited seating available, order advance tickets now. Group rates available.

NCA Birdwatch Bus tour- June 24, 2012

- photo by Mai Armstrong

In June, 2013- We visit the Poison Cauldron, return to the Insalubrious Valley, and check out the Kill Van Kull.

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

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

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

In July, 2013- We visit Queens’s Hunters Point with a brand new tour. I might have another offering or two for you, but nothing I can speak about quite yet.

Modern Corridor- Saturday, July 13, 2013
Newtown Creek walking tour with Mitch Waxman and Atlas Obscura, tickets on sale soon.

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- photo by Mai Armstrong

In August, 2013- We return to the Poison Cauldron, repeat the 13 steps, and the Kill Van Kull walks.

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

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

The Poison Cauldron- Saturday, August 24, 2013
Newtown Creek walking tour with Mitch Waxman and Atlas Obscura, tickets on sale soon.

There are a few other dates coming in the fall, and a couple of more summer events which are still being discussed, but I’ll let you know more about them in coming posts.

Also, I will definitely be onboard but not on the microphone during the Working Harbor Committee “Beyond Sandy” Hidden Harbor tours on Tuesday nights, all summer. Hope you can come along.

Click here for more on “Beyond Sandy.”

calm alabaster

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“follow” me on Twitter at @newtownpentacle

- photo by Mitch Waxman

If one doth dare, acknowledging and admiring the languid splendors of the Newtown Creek from midstream is neither commonplace nor ordinary. Intellectual inebriation is experienced by one such as myself while engaged in ribald contemplation of the place.

Ineffable wonder surmounts the water body, and no place is more steeped in legend and litigation than the southern banks found between Greenpoint and Meeker Avenues in infinite Brooklyn.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

In focus this day, here at your Newtown Pentacle, are the fuel tanks which betray the presence of the British Petroleum (formerly Amoco) facility at Apollo Street. This was a sliver of the gargantuan Standard Oil works, a bulk storage yard built on the property in 1969 by the fore mentioned Amoco oil corporation.

Refining of petroleum distillates ceased on Newtown Creek in 1966, and the local oil business in modernity is all about storage and distribution.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The BP yard is 9.98 acres, hosting one underground and eleven above ground tanks with an overall capacity of 5,902,512 gallons of storage. There is Kerosene, Gasoline, Ethanol, and #2 fuel oil in supply- all of which are available for bulk purchase by local companies.

Additionally, there’s eight dual phase recovery wells on site which, as of 2011, had siphoned some 21,500 gallons of petroleum from deep underground. That’s where a story that started during the 1880’s actually began in 1978.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Apollo Street in Greenpoint Brooklyn, where the Locust Hill refinery fire happened, and where the Standard Oil operation once towered, is pretty close to ground zero of the infamous and much referred to “Greenpoint Oil Spill”. In 1978, when a Coast Guard helicopter pilot first noticed that oil was oozing from the bulkheads of Newtown Creek- it was right across Apollo from the BP yard, at a former Paragon Oil terminal owned in modernity by a beverage importer and distributor.

In the shot above, the spot to look for are the three garage doors on the cream colored building just beyond the tanks. That’s where the Coast Guard first spotted the plume.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

As a point of fact, however, it should be mentioned that the traditional manner in which Americans pronounce the word “Oil”- Oy Uhl – is incorrect in North Brooklyn.

Around these parts the way to say that word is simply “Erl”.

“Greenspoints Erl Spell” is what “Greenpoint Oil Spill” should sound like, if pronounced in proper Brooklyn patois.

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