The Newtown Pentacle

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Archive for the ‘DUPBO’ Category

heavy boots

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Yeah, Happy Earth Day.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Another Earth Day rolls around, wherein large numbers of happy little sophists will gather together in Manhattan Parks and congratulate themselves for separating their trash into “recycling” and “garbage” parcels. They will pat each other on the back, and claim that NYC is the “greenest” and most “resilient” of American cities. You won’t see any of them visiting LIC, or Greenpoint, Maspeth, or Bushwick, or Ridgewood. They won’t think about what happens after they flush their toilets, either.

Few, if any, will find themselves having arrived at the Newtown Creek.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

They won’t see the black waters of Newtown Creek’s tributary Maspeth Creek, or smell the battery acid odor of raw sewage as it is entering the waterway. They won’t comment on the illegal dumping, or the true nature and environmental impact of the recycling industry. Greater good, they would say, were they to leave Manhattan.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Few will visit Dutch Kills at low tide, over in LIC. If they did, they would be forced to rationalize the rotten egg smell as being produced by anaerobic microbes. They wouldn’t puzzle over the neon colors of this tributary of Newtown Creek, whose mouth is .75 of a mile from the East River.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

They won’t wander through the borderlands of Brooklyn and Queens to Ridgewood, and witness what the recycling process actually looks and smells like. They won’t worry about what they are breathing either.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The Manhattan people like to feel as if they’re doing something to help the environment, and will do so in front of television cameras. They will make a show of discussing the banning of plastic grocery bags, or demand that NYC begins to compost its organics. They won’t realize that this composting has to be done somewhere within throwing distance of their Borough, and that it will carried by truck to some central receiving facility where it will be collected and stored whilst awaiting processing. They don’t know that this area will be somewhere along the Newtown Creek.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

They certainly won’t visit the tracks of the LIRR’s Bushwick Branch line, and see the hundreds of filled cargo boxes that compose the “garbage train.” They won’t care that the concentrating point of roughly 30-40% of NYC’s garbage is found on the corner of Varick Street and Johnson Avenue, nor about the thousands of trucks which descend upon it daily.

So – Happy Earth Day, from Newtown Creek.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Upcoming Tours –

May 3, 2015 –
DUBPO, Down Under the Pulaski Bridge Onramp
with Newtown Creek Alliance Historian Mitch Waxman, a free tour offered as part of Janeswalk 2015, click here for tickets.

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

unwonted ripples

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Ahh, my beloved Creek… she never disappoints.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Last week, one found himself visiting the Vernon Avenue Street End in the company of a couple of friends who were busy talking shop. I was idle, and interfering with their conversations, and so went to the water’s edge. A fine view of DUPBO was being enjoyed when the NYC DEP’s Port Richmond Sludge Boat appeared.

“Oh happy day” thought I.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I’m fairly obsessed with the DEP’s Navy, and my interests in the fleet of sludge boats is well known to regular readers of this, your Newtown Pentacle. This is one of three brand new vessels, recently brought online, the Port Richmond. In the shot above, its doing what its designed to do, which is pass under the Pulaski Bridge without necessitating the draw bridge to open.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Port Richmond was coming from the Newtown Creek Waste Water Treatment Plant’s new dock facility along Newtown Creek’s Whale Creek tributary. It was likely headed for Wards Island, where the “honey” would be pumped out. Said “honey” will be centrifuged to remove as much water as possible, leaving behind sewage solids which have been described to me as having the consistency of wet polenta.

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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.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

February 23, 2015 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

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

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

physical resistance

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This is actually a Newtown Pentacle post, sorry for the spam this morning.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Not sure how, as my passwords etc. were still secure when I checked, but at 8:24 this morning – a spam posting propagated out from this site. First time in better than 5 years that there’s been a breech, but security protocols (changing passwords, mainly) have been invoked. Sorry for the spam, however, but… y’know, hackers and spam bots are clever.

The offending post has been removed from the Twitter, Facebook, and Tumblr feeds, but there’s nothing I can do about the emailed subscriber feed so please delete it without clicking on the links. Believe me when I tell you, the last thing I wanted to deal with before finishing my coffee was this.

Your humble narrator is preparing for quite a busy weekend, after all.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

On Saturday, I’ll be leading an excursion with the Atlas Obscura folks in Long Island City. 13 Steps around Dutch Kills will explore the Queens tributary of Newtown Creek and wind up over in Brooklyn. We’re meeting at the corner of Jackson Avenue and 23rd street at 11 a.m. and the walk will be around three hours or so. There’s lots of great stuff to take pictures of, and the route will carry us along one of my favorite paths. Advance tix are recommended, click here for the link, but walkups are also very welcome if you’re a last minute sort of lord or lady.

The tour will set you back $20, and as it’s the last Dutch Kills walk of 2014, come with?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

On Sunday, the tour will be in DUKBO – Down Under the Kosciuszko Bridge Onramp – a part of brooklyn which I fondly refer to as “the Poison Cauldron.” This is likely the second to last time EVER that this tour will happen, as the coming bridge project is going to tear most of this area down. I was there last weekend and most of the businesses are gone, leaving behind a post industrial moonscape. We’ll be walking through petroleum country at the beginning, and I’ll be telling the story of Standard Oil and the Greenpoint Oil Spill along the path. Seriously, if you’ve been putting off coming on one of these, do it now. The Poison Cauldron of the Newtown Creek will soon be a construction zone, which will preclude exploration.

This tour is being produced by the good folks from Brooklyn Brainery, whose ticketing page is found here. Walkups are very welcome, we’ll be at the corner of Kingsland and Norman Avenues in Greenpoint at 10 a.m. The tour will set you back $25.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Upcoming Walking Tours-

Saturday, September 27th, 13 Steps Around Dutch Kills
Walking Tour with Atlas Obscura, click here for tickets and more info.

Sunday, September 28th, The Poison Cauldron of the Newtown Creek
Walking Tour with Brooklyn Brainery, click here for tickets and more info.

uttermost fields

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Night shooting in DUPBO, Down under the Pulaski Bridge Onramp.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Saturday last, your humble narrator attended the first half of the North Brooklyn Boat Club’s annual “Rock the Pulaski” party. One arrived a bit early, staked out a spot of the bulkhead, and waited for it to get dark. Pictured above, obviously, is Frederick Zurmuhlen’s 1954 vintage double bascule Pulaski Bridge – owned and operated by the NYC Department of Transportation.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

While squeezing out tripod shots of the Newtown Creek scenery, this critter suddenly made an appearance. I’m told that it’s a juvenile Night Heron. It seemed to be doing some hunting, and was rather non-plussed when I attached the flash to my camera.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The bird was hunting worms, of the aquatic variety, and using a floating plank of wood as a platform from which to do so. That’s actually a peanut shell in its beak in the shot above. Apparently, Night Herons like peanuts.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A long exposure shot of the scene, looking towards Long Island City’s Hunters Point neighborhood, and the Vernon Avenue Street end. Once upon a time, the Vernon Avenue Bridge and the Newtown Creek Towing Company (and an Ulmer Brewery saloon) would have been in the center of the shot. That’s what it looks like at night, in DUPBO.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Upcoming Walking Tours-

Saturday, September 27th, 13 Steps Around Dutch Kills
Walking Tour with Atlas Obscura, click here for tickets and more info.

Sunday, September 28th, The Poison Cauldron of the Newtown Creek
Walking Tour with Brooklyn Brainery, click here for tickets and more info.

Written by Mitch Waxman

September 22, 2014 at 12:00 pm

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