The Newtown Pentacle

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fresh surprise

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Megalopolis harbor, in today’s post.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Last Saturday, a welcome return to the bosom of the Working Harbor Committee was enjoyed. WHC’s programming this year has occurred on Saturdays, when I’ve largely been busy with my own Newtown Creek and Kill Van Kull tours, and accordingly I’ve missed most of the 2014 schedule. Luckily, I got onboard the Port Elizabeth Newark Bay trip which occurred onboard a Circle Line vessel. Even luckier, I wasn’t asked to speak on the mike, so I stuck my headphones in and turned up the heavy metal and started shooting.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The headphones weren’t deployed because I didn’t want to pay attention to the three speakers onboard – Ed Kelly, Gordon Cooper, and Capt. Maggie Flanagan – I did, but one needed to tune out distraction. Look up, down, all around… shoot everything… record, reveal, recall. This is something truly enjoyed by one such as myself, and I wasn’t seeking companionship on this trip – which is something I enjoy less and less these days.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

There’s a couple of WHC trips still on the schedule for this year – a circumnavigation of Staten Island and an exploration of Gowanus Bay, I believe. Tomorrow, I’ll have some shots from last Sunday’s WHC event – the Great North River Tugboat Race and Competition – for you.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Walking Tour 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 4, 2014 at 11:56 am

shewing much

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A last look at Fresh Kills Park, at sunset.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The burning thermonuclear eye of god itself is a fixed point in time and space, of course, and as Fresh Kills rotated out of its view, the lighting experienced at this bold experiment in environmental remediation and reclamation being conducted by the NYC Parks Dept. and the DSNY became dramatic and somewhat theatrical.

As described previously, Fresh Kills park is being constructed atop the 2,200 acre garbage dump and landfill which NYC operated between 1947 and 2001 on Staten Island. The Fresh Kills landfill is the largest man made object upon the earth, with hills (or mounds) that rise from 90 to 225 feet above surrounding terrain.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

One of the interesting things which were observed here, there were many, was the way that water was beginning to chart its own course in the root beds of the chest high grasses which occluded the manufactured ground. There were several species of grasses growing here which, as I was informed, are all “volunteers” or self seeded. All this green blew in on the wind, apparently.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

A stitched panorama from a high elevation, looking over the industrial landscape of New Jersey just beyond the Arthur Kill. I believe that’s Linden, just beyond the hill, and we are looking up the New Jersey Turnpike corridor towards Newark. If you click the image, it will bring you to progressively larger incarnations of it at Flickr, btw.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

This is the Fresh Kills waterway itself, a small tidal strait which breaks off of the larger and quite industrial Arthur Kill. Notice the soft edges and natural looking mud flats along the shoreline? Many of the environmentally focused people I speak to about my beloved Newtown Creek describe the end stage of the superfund process as leaving parts of the Creek (Dutch Kills and Maspeth Creek in particular) in a similar condition.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Nearly dark, but one had a few last shots that needed capturing. The pole to the left of the shot has an Osprey nest crowning it. Seeing an Osprey in NYC is a bit like spotting a unicorn, and in this shot there are three juveniles in the nest and mama is returning from the hunt. She’s a bit blurred, but this is a handheld shot at about a thirtieth of second, so I’m just happy that I was able to get a crisp focus in what was functionally total darkness.

Tomorrow, back to Queens.

also – I’m required to state the following, regarding the access which allowed me to capture these photos – “Courtesy of the City of New York. NYC Parks and the Freshkills Park Alliance have made access available for the production of this artwork.” I’m also required to offer this link to freshkillspark.org and inform that inquiries regarding the park are best sent to freshkillspark@parks.nyc.gov

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

This weekend-

Saturday, August 16th, LIC’s Modern Corridor
With Atlas Obscura, click here for tickets and more info.

Sunday, August 17th, 13 Steps Around Dutch Kills
With Brooklyn Brainery, click here for tickets and more info.

Written by Mitch Waxman

August 12, 2014 at 1:00 pm

grassy banks

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More from Fresh Kills Park.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

As mentioned last week, an opportunity to visit Staten Island’s Fresh Kills popped up, and your humble narrator eagerly hurtled across land and water to get there. The Parks Dept. of our great city was conducting what they described as a “VIP photographers tour” and I was lucky enough to be included. For those of you unfamiliar with the place, the park is being constructed atop the 2,200 acre garbage dump and landfill which NYC operated between 1947 and 2001. The Fresh Kills landfill is the largest man made object upon the earth, with hills (or mounds) that rise from 90 to 225 feet above surrounding terrain.

Basically, it’s Fresh Kills and the Great Wall of China in the top spot of “big,” with the Pyramids of Egypt and the Hoover Dam barely making the list.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The views from atop one of the great berms are incredible, with the flood plains of New Jersey and their petroleum industries found just beyond the Arthur Kill ringing the horizon. I think that everyone knows, at this point in time, that “kill” is Dutch for creek, but I’ll throw that out for the uninformed. The way that the decadent Dutch used the word indicates a slow moving or shallow tidal water body.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The West Shore Expressway rolling out towards the Outerbridge Crossing is pictured above, which gives you some idea of the actual elevation which Fresh Kills offers to visitors. The neighborhood of Travis is nearby, but this used to be Linoleumville, once upon a time before Robert Moses.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

As mentioned, New Jersey’s industrial sections are nicely revealed from up here. That looks like the complex of petroleum refining and distributing facilities along the New Jersey Turnpike to me, the ones whose many smokestacks cause most passing drivers to roll up their car windows – even on very warm days.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Pictured above is a Flare Station, with Port Elizabeth Newark’s cargo cranes rising behind it. The operation at this building is all about the Methane produced by the buried landfill, and controlling it. The Flare Stations occasionally burn off the volatile gas when its too abundant. After last week’s post, I was asked about the disposition of the methane, and my understanding is that the DSNY and NYC Parks dept. have a relationship with an energy company which harvests the so called “natural gas” for resale to the public.

Tomorrow – sunset at Fresh Kills.

also – I’m required to state the following, regarding the access which allowed me to capture these photos – “Courtesy of the City of New York. NYC Parks and the Freshkills Park Alliance have made access available for the production of this artwork.” I’m also required to offer this link to freshkillspark.org and inform that inquiries regarding the park are best sent to freshkillspark@parks.nyc.gov

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

This weekend-

Saturday, August 16th, LIC’s Modern Corridor
With Atlas Obscura, click here for tickets and more info.

Sunday, August 17th, 13 Steps Around Dutch Kills
With Brooklyn Brainery, click here for tickets and more info.

Written by Mitch Waxman

August 11, 2014 at 1:00 pm

old garden

with 6 comments

You need to get out of the City, every now and then, and commune with nature.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

As mentioned in yesterday’s post, a journey to Staten Island was on the menu last weekend. After accomplishing the journey from Astoria to St. George, one found himself whisked away by a municipal vehicle. Not an ambulance driven by men in white coats nor a paddy wagon driven by the fellows in blue shirts, as you might expect, this time it was a white van with a green leaf logo on the side. The NYC Parks Dept. owned this van.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

At our destination, which is vouchsafed by security and controlled access, a somewhat bucolic landscape was encountered. It was sweet smelling, bursting with grasses and trees, and there were critters of all descriptions bounding about. There were literally white tail deer popping in and out of view, ospreys turning in the sky, and bunnies leaping. This was no ordinary meadow, however. This is the built environment you’re looking at, and this was formerly considered one of the worst places upon the entire Earth, a place which my beloved Newtown Creek was actually preferable to.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The only thing that betrays what this spot once was are the bits of methane handling, and sampling, equipment which protrude out of the verge.

Lords and Ladies, welcome to the still under construction Fresh Kills Park, which sits atop the 2,200 acre garbage dump and landfill which NYC operated between 1947 and 2001. The Fresh Kills landfill is the largest man made object upon the entire planet, with hills (or mounds) that rise from 90 to 225 feet above the surrounding terrain.

My kind of place, and luckily, I got invited in to take a few photos.

also – I’m required to state the following, regarding the access which allowed me to capture these photos – “Courtesy of the City of New York. NYC Parks and the Freshkills Park Alliance have made access available for the production of this artwork.” I’m also required to offer this link to freshkillspark.org and inform that inquiries regarding the park are best sent to freshkillspark@parks.nyc.gov

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

August 8, 2014 at 11:00 am

lie outstretched

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An evening trip to Staten Island.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

For reasons that will become clear in later postings, last Saturday night, one had to get out to… Staten Island. The near to final leg of the journey is quite straightforward, as it occurs on the most reliable of all of NYC’s mass transit systems – the Staten Island Ferry. Manifest joy, however, is repeatedly encountered when negotiating the weekend subways with their schedule of FastTrack repairs.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

As you may recall, the weather was threatening all day, and began to clear up in the afternoon. The folks who control and steward my eventual destination gave the green light for a visit, based on meteorological advice from NOAA, and off a humble narrator went. The views from the ferry never disappoint, there’s always something going on in NY Harbor worth pointing a camera at.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Having made my way to Staten Island, the St. George Ferry Terminal is pictured above, one had a few moments of panic while looking for the next connection I needed to make – to a waiting automobile which would take me the rest of the way. Hold tight, lords and ladies – for tomorrow I’ll bring you to someplace entirely new.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

August 7, 2014 at 11:23 am

amusing incidents

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Witnessed on the Kill Van Kull.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Back in April, your Newtown Pentacle displayed shots of and discussed the estimable USS Slater’s arrival at the Caddell Dry Dock on the Staten Island side of the Kill Van Kull. Your humble narrator was onboard the recent Working Harbor Newark Bay excursion when the Slater was encountered again.

from wikipedia

USS Slater (DE-766) is a Cannon-class destroyer escort that served in the United States Navy and later in the Hellenic (Greek) Navy. The ship was named for Frank O. Slater of Alabama, a sailor killed on the USS San Francisco (CA-38) during the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal. He was posthumously awarded the Navy Cross for gallantry in action. The USS Slater is now a museum ship on the Hudson River in Albany, New York, the only one of its kind afloat in the United States. 

- photo by Mitch Waxman

From the look of it, the ship was being repainted by one guy, which is a ridiculous notion. You can’t paint a Navy Destroyer, retired or not, with just one brush. I’d insist on using a roller, at least.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

My understanding is that Slater will have returned to the water by the time you’re reading this, although I’m unsure of when her vacation in the City will be over and she returns to duty in Albany. One cannot imagine how expensive her trip to the spa has been, but Staten Island is noted for its rejuvenating qualities, so it’s probably money well spent.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Paul Andrew, a tug operated by the DonJon towing concern (which has also been mentioned before at this, your Newtown Pentacle), slid past the Statue of Liberty, which was a shot I couldn’t resist capturing or presenting here – at your Newtown Pentacle.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

There are three Newtown Creek walking tours coming up.

Sunday, June 22nd, America’s Workshop
A FREE tour, courtesy of Green Shores NYC, click here for rsvp info

Saturday, June 28th, The Poison Cauldron
With Atlas Obscura, click here for tickets and more info.

Sunday, June 29th, The Insalubrious Valley
With Brooklyn Brainery, lunch included, click here for tickets and more info.

purpose firm

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Recently sighted on the Kill Van Kull.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

With all the crap weather experienced in New York City during the first quarter of 2014, your humble narrator has spent nary a minute upon the undulating harbor. Luckily, a Working Harbor Committee trip, a private one produced by the WHC Education Committee that took a bunch of school kids out to Port Elizabeth Newark on a NY Water Taxi, appeared on my schedule.

The scene depicted is found at Cadell Dry Dock, on… Staten Island.

from wikipedia

USS Slater (DE-766) is a Cannon-class destroyer escort that served in the United States Navy and later in the Hellenic (Greek) Navy. The ship was named for Frank O. Slater of Alabama, a sailor killed on the USS San Francisco (CA-38) during the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal. He was posthumously awarded the Navy Cross for gallantry in action. The USS Slater is now a museum ship on the Hudson River in Albany, New York, the only one of its kind afloat in the United States. 

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Legend haunted, the North Shore of Staten Island borders the busy Kill Van Kull waterway, connecting Port Newark to NY Harbor. When the Slater left Albany, all of my “usual suspects” began to buzz about it. Facebook and the like were discussing its position, and where and when to get shots of it. Personally, I was busy with other stuff and the ship wasn’t even a blip on my radar.

Happily, though, serendipity brought me past its bow at a somewhat opportune moment – lighting wise.

from ussslater.org

The destroyer escorts were a vital component of the Allied strategy for victory in the Atlantic. They escorted the convoys of supply ships that carried the forces needed to win the war in Europe. Destroyer escorts also served in some of the most dangerous areas of the Pacific Theater. They escorted convoys, conducted shore bombardments, and served as radar picket ships towards the end of the war. The USS SLATER served in both the Atlantic and Pacific Theaters during and immediately after the war. Following its World War II service, the ship was deactivated until 1951, when it was transferred to the Hellenic Navy. The SLATER, renamed AETOS, remained in Greek service until 1991, when it was transferred back to the United States under the care of the Destroyer Escort Historical Foundation, which began a painstaking restoration of the ship. Today the SLATER is one of less than a dozen surviving destroyer escorts, and it is the only ship that is still in its World War II configuration.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

My pals over at the Working Harbor Committee blog got into quite a lather about the Slater coming down, check out their coverage here. Mr. Will Van Dorp over at Tugster has been following the ship since it left Albany, check their coverage here. Apparently, the Slater is in dire need of repair, which is how it ended up in… Staten Island.

There are three public Newtown Creek walking tours coming up, one in Queens and one in Brooklyn and two that walk the currently undefended border of the two boroughs.

Poison Cauldron, with Atlas Obscura, on April 26th.
Click here for more info and ticketing.

DUPBO, with Newtown Creek Alliance and MAS Janeswalk, on May 3rd.
Click here for more info and ticketing.

Modern Corridor, with Brooklyn Brainery, on May 18th.
Click here for more info and ticketing.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

April 24, 2014 at 11:00 am

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