The Newtown Pentacle

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Archive for the ‘Queensboro Bridge’ Category

mocking instruments

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One dares, or he dares not.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

As mentioned in yesterday’s post, one found himself entering the death inducing environs of Queens Plaza last week. Navigating the cryptic signage painted onto the pavement, which mixes bike lane and pedestrian lanes intermittently, at night… Well, the NYC DOT really needs to be thinking about a do-over concerning them. Path finding is not based on any sort of recognizable municipal language, and there are few if any “tells” indicating where the pedestrian pathways fall. I walk through here all the time, and it scares the patootie off a humble narrator every time.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Automotive lanes suddenly appear in front of you, ones in which cars are already moving at a pretty good clip by the time they hit a badly marked cross walk. There’s nothing to “stand behind” while waiting for the light to change, and a feeling of exposure is experienced. This can’t be right. When the Dutch Kills Green park on the northern side of Queens Plaza opened a few years back, it dramatically improved the pedestrian situation on the Dutch Kills side, but the south eastern side is dangerous as all get out and difficult to navigate.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Don’t get me wrong, the northern side ain’t perfect, but it’s vastly easier to navigate through it than its opposite. As a note, I’ve been unable to stop noticing the super tall Manhattan building “432 Park Avenue” and everywhere I go these days it’s just popping up and demanding to be acknowledged. Here it is from Queens Plaza, a monster building as seen from the central gearbox of the Great Machine. One wonders, and more than wonders, what the weather is like up there.

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ragged and dusty

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A few views of “Our Town” in today’s post.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Your humble narrator has finally attained a few hours of sleep, and plans on spending a rare day off dealing with the abundances of laundry which have collected around HQ, then doing some banking, and attending a Newtown Creek Monitoring Committee meeting over in Greenpoint. If it doesn’t rain tonight, one plans on capturing some tripod shots of Newtown Creek on the way back home to Astoria. Things seem to come at me in bunches these days, with back to back events that are followed by long intervals in front of the computer developing shots.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Once upon a time, one was known for his ability to “multi task,” accomplishing several things simultaneously. This is what always made me a valuable hire in the advertising world, but the ravages of advancing age have reduced this quality. These days, one is happy if he can chew gum and walk at the same time, what with the calcification of the jellies in my head and all. Soon, I will be reduced to only being allowed to use spoons, in the name of safety. The sharp tines of a fork will be naught but the stuff of cherished memory.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

All ‘effed up, this sort of whining about infirmity and the advance of personal entropy is the product of too much solitary time. For some reason, one is surprised when somebody recognizes me, or offers a compliment about one of my little histories and accompanying pictures. It is easy to brush aside what you have done, in the name of what you haven’t. Why is it that the “big” good stuff you’ve accomplished is so easy to forget, why the “small” bad stuff can easily keep you awake at night? Others seem to remember the former, while I’m obsessed with the latter. Odd.

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Written by Mitch Waxman

September 9, 2014 at 11:50 am

fancying that

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The new normal, the way we live now, and so on.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The recent imbroglios surrounding breaches of security in and around the fabled Brooklyn Bridge does not surprise one at all. For several years, your humble narrator has been pointing out that there is no security whatsoever – outside of highly visible areas within Manhattan – being provided to NYC’s infrastructure other than “security theater” which is a sort of kabuki. Billions have disappeared into the black hole that is “homeland security” over the last decade, and when officialdom is asked where it has gone the response is often a play on “if I told you, I’d have to kill you to maintain the secret.” Meanwhile, within a period of just a few weeks over the summer, foreign nationals have managed to penetrate the so called “ring of steel” at the Brooklyn Bridge twice.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

One cannot count the number of times that this blog has discussed this “apeshit security situation” – whether it be fences left unlocked and unguarded at the Sunnyside Yard on holiday weekends (or any of the hundreds of unmonitored infrastructure sites in LIC which are left to fend for themselves) or the abrogation of any semblance of sense that allows anonymous cars and trucks to be parked directly under the structural elements of area bridges. If a group of German hipsters can swap out the flag on the Brooklyn Bridge, they had time… and opportunity. Should a bad actor have gotten up there, and not some Russian tourist hoping to take a selfie just a few weeks after the flag incident, we’d be having a very different conversation than whether or not the Mayor’s family danced well at the Caribbean Day Parade or not.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

I’m reminded of a presentation and speech offered by a certain Lieutenant in the NYPD Counter Terrorism Unit who showed up in Astoria at a community meeting around a year and a half ago. The officer instructed the citizenry that should they witness anyone taking pictures of the various area bridges, a call to the Police should be made, intoning that photographers are probably working with foreign Terrorist organizations as scouts. This fellow turned up in combat gear, wearing an aviation jumpsuit and sporting a speed holstered automatic weapon rather than a standard NYPD duty or even dress uniform. It should be pointed out that despite his rhetoric, and the billions that have been poured into securing the vital infrastructure of NYC, I still could have done whatever I wanted under the Queensboro bridge when shooting these pictures of its underpinnings just last week (and on the very same day the NYPD Commish announced a tightening of the reigns around such structures). There are no cameras, drones, sensors, or even some schmuck cop who has been consigned to walking a beat keeping an eye on things down here. Where has all that Homeland Security money gone? Are we allowed to know, or is that a state secret?

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This weekend-

Saturday, September 6th, The Insalubrious Valley of the the Newtown Creek
Walking Tour with Atlas Obscura, click here for tickets and more info.

Written by Mitch Waxman

September 3, 2014 at 12:36 pm

defined apprehensions

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Twirling, ever twirling.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The affability of recent climate has seen me visiting old haunts and novel locale alike in recent weeks, which might be described as having been a somewhat pleasurable set of experiences. That would mean, of course, that your humble narrator was actually capable of experiencing a sensation called “pleasure.” A series of dull events punctuated by occasional gastro-intestinal distress, all sorts of bacterial and viral infections, and the oft bizarre actions of others is the way one such as myself describes “Life.”

One bright spark in the otherwise gathering clouds of existential horror which plague me are unexpected moments of serendipity.

A train passing by can excite one endlessly, and reminds that “you have to appreciate the little things.”

In my case, it’s big things that go “thruuummmm thruuuuuuummmm thruuummmm” or “claaacckkclaaacckkclaaacckk” as they pass by, but I’m all ‘effed up.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Good days are ones where I’m not walking to go anyplace in particular. Days when I leave the house and decide only which compass point to walk toward. For some reason, its not east that often, as that’s usually looking into the light. Instinct always points my path towards water, no matter where I am. It was kind of interesting finding myself in Queens Plaza, which I used to inhabit back in 2009 and 2010 during the Queensboro Bridge Centennial period but which I mainly cross through these days on my way to someplace in Brooklyn or Hunters Point.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Luckily, Our Lady of the Pentacle had agreed to visit the Brooklyn Grange roof top farm here in Astoria with a friend of ours who subscribes to their CSA program and I tagged along. While they picked up some quality produce, I got busy with the camera. Serendipity at work, when I woke up that morning, seeing this vista overlooking the Sunnyside Yards and the Shining City of Manhattan was not on the menu.

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combats betwixt

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Just like the good old days.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Lugging a dslr and its associated kit around can be quite a drag.

Camera body and lenses, and all the other crap I use, weigh something like ten pounds. Doesn’t sound like much, but that’s all on one shoulder and after awhile, it feels like you’ve got an anchor suspended across your back. I used to exclusively carry a Canon G10 with a specialized sort of mini tripod that involves rare earth magnets, and just to mix things up, for the last couple of days I’ve left the dslr and camera bag at home and taken the G10 and its mount with me instead.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The G10 is a grand little camera, notable mainly for its lens. The tiny sensor captures a quite noisy image – these shots were captured at ISO 200′s digital equivalent. My 7D dslr would render ISO 1000 in a similar fashion, something you can chalk up to sensor size and processor chip power. Still, it’s quite liberating to be carrying something that isn’t much heavier than a book for a change, and the bulk of multiple lenses was not missed on recent walks.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The singular virtue enjoyed when carrying this particular camera emanates from the fancy magnet tripod I’ve attached to it, which was originally designed to work as a mount for the sort of laser leveler which a carpenter or drywall installer might employ.

Multiple rare earth magnets provide a steady grip on any ferrous surface, allowing for a steady and unyielding mount for the image capture. At night, I’ll attach a wire release trigger to the device, which further minimizes camera shake and allows long exposure shots at ISO 100, the lowest and least noisy setting the thing is capable of.

Have a cool holiday weekend, lords and ladies, and take lots of pictures. I know I will.

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Written by Mitch Waxman

May 23, 2014 at 11:00 am

approaching triumph

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Infrastructure pornography, gratuitous and forbidding, in today’s post.

Also, I’ll be at Brooklyn Brainery on February 27th presenting “the Newtown Creek Magic Lantern Show.”

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Gaze upon the terrible scale of the Verrazano Narrows Bridge, connecting Brooklyn with… Staten Island… Bridges are on my mind today, especially the ones that connect Long Island with other extant land masses scattered about the archipelago.

Today will be just a lot of photos, and your humble narrator will be taking advantage of the short interval of warmth offered today. Out and about, looking at things- that’s me.

from wikipedia

The bridge is owned by the City of New York and operated by MTA Bridges and Tunnels, an affiliate agency of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. Interstate 278 passes over the bridge, connecting the Staten Island Expressway with the Gowanus Expressway and the Belt Parkway. The Verrazano, along with the other three major Staten Island bridges, created a new way for commuters and travelers to reach Brooklyn, Long Island, and Manhattan by car from New Jersey.

The bridge was the last great public works project in New York City overseen by Robert Moses, the New York State Parks Commissioner and head of the Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority, who had long desired the bridge as a means of completing the expressway system which was itself largely the result of his efforts. The bridge was also the last project designed by Chief Engineer Othmar Ammann…

- photo by Mitch Waxman

East River Bridge #1, or East River Suspension Bridge #1, or Brooklyn Bridge from Brooklyn.

from nyc.gov

The Brooklyn Bridge opened in 1883. At the time, it was the longest suspension bridge. It has been designated a National Historic Landmark by the National Park Service, and a New York City Landmark by the Landmarks Preservation Commission.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

East River Bridge #3, or Manhattan Bridge, from the water.

from nyc.gov

The youngest of the three DOT East River suspension bridges, construction began on October 1, 1901. The bridge opened to traffic on December 31, 1909 and completed in 1910. The Bridge’s total length is 5,780 feet from abutment to abutment at the lower level; and 6,090 feet on the upper roadways from portal to portal. Its main span length is 1,470 feet long and each of its four cables is 3,224 feet long. The Bridge was designed by Leon Moisseiff (1872-1943)…

- photo by Mitch Waxman

East River Bridge #2, Williamsburg Bridge, from Manhattan.

from nyc.gov

When it opened in 1903, the Williamsburg Bridge was the longest suspension bridge in the world, with a span of 1600 feet and a total length of 7308 feet and the first with all-steel towers. The 310-foot steel towers support four cables, each measuring 18_ inches in diameter and weighing 4,344 tons. In all, nearly 17,500 miles of wire are used in the cables that suspend the bridge 135 feet above the East River. The massive stiffening trusses were designed not only to withstand high winds, but also to support rail traffic on the deck.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

East River Bridge #4, Queensboro Bridge, from Long Island City.

from nyc.gov

The bridge was constructed between 1901 and 1909 and was opened to the traffic on June 18, 1909. A collaboration between the bridge engineer Gustav Lindenthal (1850-1935) and architect Henry Hornbostel, the main bridge is 3,725 feet long, the longest of the East River Bridges. The overall length of the bridge including the Manhattan and Queens approaches is 7,449 feet.

The site is an ideal location for a bridge as Roosevelt Island provides a convenient footing for the piers. Seventy-five thousand tons of steel went into the original bridge and its approaches. Its original cost was about $18 million, including $4.6 million for land. At the time of completion, it was not only the longest cantilever bridge in the United States, but also was designed for heavier loads than any other bridges.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Welfare Island, aka Roosevelt Island Bridge, from Roosevelt Island looking towards Queens.

from nyc.gov

The Roosevelt Island Bridge is a tower drive, vertical lift, movable bridge across the East Channel of the East River between the borough of Queens and Roosevelt Island, New York City. The span length is 418 feet. It was known as the Welfare Island Bridge when it was first opened to traffic in 1955.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Triborough Bridge, aka Robert F Kennedy Bridge, from Astoria, Queens.

from wikipedia

Construction began on Black Friday in 1929, but soon the Triborough project’s outlook began to look bleak. Othmar Ammann, who had collapsed the original design’s two-deck roadway into one, requiring lighter towers, and thus, lighter piers, saving $10 million on the towers alone, was enlisted again to help guide the project. Using New Deal money, it was resurrected in the early 1930s by Robert Moses, who created the Triborough Bridge Authority to fund, build and operate it. The completed structure was opened to traffic on July 11, 1936.

The total cost of the bridge was more than $60 million, one of the largest public works projects of the Great Depression, more expensive even than the Hoover Dam. The structure used concrete from factories from Maine to Mississippi. To make the formwork for pouring the concrete, a whole forest on the Pacific Coast was cut down.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Hell Gate Bridge, also from Astoria, Queens.

from wikipedia

The Hell Gate Bridge (originally the New York Connecting Railroad Bridge or The East River Arch Bridge) is a 1,017-foot (310 m)[3] steel through arch railroad bridge in New York City. The bridge crosses the Hell Gate, a strait of the East River, between Astoria, Queens and Wards Island in Manhattan.

The bridge is the largest of three bridges that form the Hell Gate complex. An inverted bowstring truss bridge with four 300-foot (91.4 m) spans crosses the Little Hell Gate (now filled in); and a 350-foot (106.7 m) fixed truss bridge crosses the Bronx Kill (now narrowed by fill). Together with approaches, the bridges are more than 17,000 feet (3.2 mi; 5.2 km) long.

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marching things

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Infrastructure geekery today.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The center of the Williamsburg Bridge span offers a clearance to river going vessels of about 135 feet.

A building story is conventionally calculated as being around 10-12 feet, so that makes the Williamsburg Bridge tall enough to fit a roughly 11-12 story building under the apogee of its arc, water towers notwithstanding. That gives us a bit of an idea about the sort and size of maritime vessels which used the mercantile river during the late 19th and early 20th century. Remember that engineers always work around restrictions, and inadvertently create standards when they do.

from wikipedia

Construction on the bridge, the second to cross this river, began in 1896, with Leffert L. Buck as chief engineer, Henry Hornbostel as architect and Holton D. Robinson as assistant engineer, and the bridge opened on December 19, 1903 at a cost of $24,200,000

- photo by Mitch Waxman

A 75,000 ton pile of steel, we call it Queensboro, and this deck is around 130 feet over the water. When it went up in 1909, there were still concerns about navigability for warships and other large ocean going vessels moving between the Navy Yard in Williamsburg and Long Island Sound (via Hells Gate). This has never been the front door for NY Harbor though, most mariners prefer the shallow but safer route which carries them through Gerritsen Bay and the Narrows, which we call the Ambrose Channel, to Jamaica Bay and the open ocean.

from wikipedia

Serious proposals for a bridge linking Manhattan to Long Island City were first made as early as 1838 and attempts to finance such a bridge were made by a private company beginning in 1867. Its efforts never came to fruition and the company went bankrupt in the 1890s. Successful plans finally came about in 1903 under the city’s new Department of Bridges, led by Gustav Lindenthal (who was appointed to the new position of Commissioner of Bridges in 1902), in collaboration with Leffert L. Buck and Henry Hornbostel, designers of the Williamsburg Bridge.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

149 feet over the water, Manhattan Bridge offers a significant amount of clearance to shipping, nearly 20 feet more than its northern brethren. Admittedly, this has always been a busier part of the river than that spanned by Queensboro and Williamsburg, but I’ve always wondered why East River Bridge 2 (MB) was built higher than 3 (WB) and 4 (QB). I’m sure the answer is pedantic, and will likely be depressing.

from wikipedia

The bridge was opened to traffic on December 31, 1909 and was designed by Leon Moisseiff, who later designed the infamous original Tacoma Narrows Bridge that opened and collapsed in 1940. It has four vehicle lanes on the upper level (split between two roadways). The lower level has three lanes, four subway tracks, a walkway and a bikeway. The upper level, originally used for streetcars, has two lanes in each direction, and the lower level is one-way and has three lanes in peak direction. It once carried New York State Route 27 and later was planned to carry Interstate 478. No tolls are charged for motor vehicles to use the Manhattan Bridge.

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