The Newtown Pentacle

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Archive for the ‘Staten Island’ Category

flashed before

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New York Harbor, in today’s post.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Last week, my chums at the Working Harbor Committee conducted one of the group’s Education Tours for students. We had a gaggle of ninth graders onboard, as well as some rather top shelf speakers from the NYC EDC, Maritime Association, and Port Authority. The goal of the trip is to encourage the kids to consider a career in the Maritime industry, and teach them a little bit about the harbor. Most of the kids onboard were from inland neighborhoods in Manhattan and the Bronx, so visiting the sixth borough was a real treat for them. Me? I was there to take pictures, and frankly, I was just happy to be out on a boat again after the insane winter we’ve all just suffered through.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The trip was conducted on a NY Waterways Ferry, and proceeded from Pier 11 in Lower Manhattan first to Erie Basin in Red Hook and then up the Kill Van Kull (a tidal strait found betwixt Staten Island and Bayonne, New Jersey) to Port Elizabeth Newark in Newark Bay. Pretty familiar turf to me, as long time readers of this, your Newtown Pentacle, will attest – but it was fantastic watching the faces of the kids who were seeing it for the first time. Education about the harbor of New York and New Jersey, after all, is ultimately what Working Harbor Committee’s mission is.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

In between getting shots of the kids and dignitaries on the mike, one managed to crack out a few shots of passing maritime traffic, as evinced by the shots in today’s post. I’m going to be on the mike for a trip down Newtown Creek on the 31st of May (leaving at 11 a.m. from Pier 11), which will be directly followed by a second journey down the Gowanus Canal. My pals and I at WHC are currently forming up a summer tour schedule which will visit locations both familiar and novel, btw, and will shortly be announcing our 2015 schedule.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Upcoming Tours –

May 16, 2015 –
13 Steps Around Dutch Kills with Atlas Obscura

with Newtown Creek Alliance Historian Mitch Waxman, click here for details and tickets.

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

these assertions

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Boats, and a ship, in today’s post.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A recent trip to the Kill Van Kull, the busy waterway that defines the border betwixt New Jersey and… Staten Island… happened to coincide with a small burst of shipping activity. DonJon’s Emily Ann is pictured above.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A cargo ship was emerging form the Port Elizabeth Newark complex after having crossed under the Bayonne Bridge. She was riding pretty high in the water, destination unknown. The rail tracks are all that’s left of this branch of the Staten Island Railroad.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Moran tugs are iconic, especially when posing against the newest NYC icon, the so called Freedom Tower. Sorry for the “softball” post today, it’s been a heck of a week. More on that in a future posting.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

powdered exquisites

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The state of the Newtown Pentacle.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Whenever I’m not pouring coffee or whiskey down my throat hole, I seem to be fretting. I’m not playing guitar (fret… get it? Ha!), instead one is usually sweating what the next post is going to be either here at Newtown Pentacle or for Brownstoner. There’s also freelance projects – I’m still sort of engaged with the Red Hook people, for instance, and there’s the whole NY Harbor thing as well.

2014 wasn’t exactly a banner year, financially speaking, but I’ve been keeping pretty busy.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A bunch of cool posts have been produced over the last year for the O’Connell Organization’s Red Hook Waterfront site which I’d encourage you to check out. I’m the photographer for nearly everything at that website, and act as primary writer on most of the posts, although they are often heavily edited (which is a part of the process on freelance jobs). 

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Over at Brownstoner Queens, I’ve got two posts a week to fill. Of particular note in the last quarter of 2014 was when I scooped the NY Times and every news source in the City, this post about getting high in LIC, this one about finding where you used to be able to find a pint of Guinness, Halloween in Astoria, and my reactions to the latest attempts at decking over the Sunnyside Yards. More recently, a walk led by Queens Borough Historian Dr. Jack Eichenbaum was attended out in Willets Point.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I tweet the Brownstoner and Red Hook postings out whenever they appear, so if you use Twitter and care about staying in touch with my various offerings, click through to the link below and subscribe to my feed. You can also follow Newtown Pentacle in a reader like Feedly or whatever via the handy RSS Feed link at top right of this page. Additionally, there’s an email signup box at top right which will deliver these posts to you whenever one is published. An appeal is offered to you to please share these posts of mine, if at all possible, on your Facebook wall or on twitter.

There’s a bunch of buttons at the bottom of every post which makes it easy.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A few people have asked me when the Newtown Creek tours will start up again, and my answer is purposely vague. It’s likely that we’ll get going again in April or thereabouts, but right now… brrr. The weather is too unpredictable and the possibility of ice and snow causing slip hazards along the way is too great. There’s a couple of interesting things cooking, but nothing definite enough to mention yet.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

January 23, 2015 at 11:00 am

delighted astonishment

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A short trip off of a Long Island to… Staten Island.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Over at the St. George Ferry terminal, on the… Staten Island… side of the harbor, one is treated to magnificent views of Lower Manhattan and it’s a pretty sure bet that you’ll see some maritime traffic. Pictured above is the Vane Brothers Sassafras towing a fuel barge, for instance.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One such as myself is always eager to witness a DEP Sludge Boat splashing by. That’s the MV North River heading towards the Port Richmond sewer plant found a mile or so up the Kill Van Kull.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Marjorie B. McAllister also happened by, and the bright red tug was towing a fuel barge. Even when it seems that a tug is pushing a barge, it’s still called “towing.”

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pause and peer

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Sunset at Freshkill, in today’s post.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As mentioned yesterday, there were four shots a humble narrator was slavering over capturing during a recent evening visit to Freshkills – two involved a chancy encounter with wild fauna and did not happen, the shots in today’s post – however – were all ones that I desired. Sunset on… Staten Island…

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As I understand it, this is the actual Fresh Kill for which the former DSNY facility and the modern Parks project takes its name. As the sun was going down, there were a bunch of ducks on the water who were doing duckish things. The piles and structure pictured above reminded me of the sort of thing you’d tow a barge into, but I might just be seeing what I want to see.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Here and there, flotsam reminds one of what this place once was used for, but this is material that likely floated in on the tide. Trust in me, of course, to waste time taking monochrome pictures of a cast off tire in the mud while a spectacular sunset is underway.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

For you photo geeks out there, the formula for this one was to reduce my aperture down to f22, and expose for around 2.5 seconds. That’s how you produce the frozen glassiness of the water and capture a wide range of color from the sky without causing the wind driven clouds to “drag” or the constantly moving ducks to motion blur. It’s a tripod shot, which was triggered by a remote release. If you click the image and head over to my Flickr account, there’s a few permutations on the formula which go darker and or lighter on this scene surrounding it in the album. I like this one best.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The scenics which made me long for a tripod and my sharpest lens when I visited Freshkill in August follow after this one. The equipment in the shot above is a methane monitoring well, I’m told. This is all natural light, by the way, although I was standing in absolute darkness. A long exposure, thirty seconds long, the light pollution erupting from New York City is remarkable.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

This is looking westwards at New Jersey, across the Arthur Kill, and the vast complex of oil refinery and distribution businesses which give the area its nickname – the “chemical coast.” It’s striking, actually, how less “lit up” this area is despite the proximity of Newark Airport and the various highways leading to and from it and the crossings into and out of Manhattan.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Pictured above is the Arthur Kill Power Plant, a 1950’s era beast of an electricity generating station. My pals at habitatmap did a work up on the place a while back, check it out here. When I was reviewing the shots back at HQ, it occurred that I seemed to have shot a Pink Floyd album cover here.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

After dusk settled into darkness, I realized that a repeat of the long journey was about to ensue and it was nearly 7:30 p.m. One last shot of the Manhattan skyline jutting out of the Freshkills mounds was required, however, as pictured above.

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

Upcoming Walking Tours-

Saturday, November 8th, Poison Cauldron
Walking Tour with Atlas Obscura, click here for tickets and more info.

Note: This is the last Newtown Creek walking tour of 2014, and probably the last time this tour will be presented in its current form due to the Kosciuszko Bridge construction project. 

Written by Mitch Waxman

November 7, 2014 at 11:00 am

incidents and sensations

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Freshkills, in today’s post.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

My long trek across the City of Greater New York, discussed all week at this – your Newtown Pentacle – had a singular goal. It was to answer an invitation to return to Freshkills that had been tendered by officials at the NYC Parks Dept. As detailed in several early August posts (here, here, and here), the Parks people have a program which allows artists and photographers to visit the still under construction park, one which I was lucky enough to be invited to participate in.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

In August, I had shown up with just my standard camera kit bag, which serves me well in most circumstances. I wished at the time that I had brought the whole kit, especially my trusty tripod. When this autumn invitation to return to the park was offered, the entire toy box was packed up for travel and the long commute from Astoria to Freshkills was gladly undertaken.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

This time around, it was a bit of a private viewing. Last time I was out here, there was a group of us shooting, but this time it was just me and a chaperone from Parks who was actually the same person that invited me out (thanks again, Mariel!). She told me that the park had just been mowed, in anticipation of autumn (2,200 square acres of dry grass would be just asking for something bad to happen).

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The park itself is divided into several sections, each designed to offer different services to the community. Certain areas are being designed for sports fields and events, while others are being crafted with scenic splendors in mind. Water runs throughout the place, which is crossed by squamous concrete bridges which were designed for heavy trucks.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

When discussing the timing of this excursion, Mariel from Parks and I kept the setting sun in mind, as we were both keen to see what I could capture during the so called “golden hour.” Your humble narrator particularly hungered for shots of the white tail deer which have taken up residence in the park, but they are skittish and elusive critters. Best shot I got was from very far away, as presented above.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

At least the Geese had the good sense to pose for me. The structure in the background is one of many that handles the methane which the occluded reality of the place produces. Don’t forget, the park is being built atop the worlds largest man made object, the mounds of garbage generated by the totality of New York City for a good chunk of the 20th century. On the horizon is the chemical coast of New Jersey, which lies beyond the Arthur Kill.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

When planning my visit, there were four shots which I desired to come home with. Two were denied me – the deer, and the bald eagles. You can’t count on critters cooperating unless you’re prepared to spend weeks on the endeavor, so I wasn’t crying into my camera bag, but I should have brought a pound of lox with which to draw in the eagle. The other two I was desirous of capturing were accomplished, and will greet you in tomorrow’s installment of this, your Newtown Pentacle.

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

Upcoming Walking Tours-

Saturday, November 8th, Poison Cauldron
Walking Tour with Atlas Obscura, click here for tickets and more info.

Note: This is the last Newtown Creek walking tour of 2014, and probably the last time this tour will be presented in its current form due to the Kosciuszko Bridge construction project. 

Written by Mitch Waxman

November 6, 2014 at 11:00 am

hidden and unsuspected

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Are they ever called “on purposes”?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Having finally achieved landfall in… Staten Island, after a lengthy journey through the rotting tunnels of the Subway that lead from Astoria to lower Manhattan and across the harbor on the Staten Island Ferry, one was happily ensconced in an automobile when this scene was witnessed. The pair of NYPD officers seemed to be discussing a recent accident. Got me to thinking about traffic, and traffic accidents.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One remembers a few screw ups from when I was first licensed to drive, in particular there was a crunched door panel in a Ralph Avenue strip mall parking lot which was my fault ultimately (misjudged my turning radius) that cost an astronomical amount (to an 18 year old back in the 80’s ) for me to put right. Never experienced the sort of thing in the shot above, which still puzzles me from the physics point of view, as it would have taken a LOT of energy to get that wheel up off the ground. This was on Jackson Avenue in LIC, incidentally.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

This NYPD patrol car had its lights on and was in the process of responding to a call with great haste when the officers lost control of the vehicle. They were speeding down 44th street in Astoria and ran afoul of uneven pavement encountered when crossing Broadway. Witnesses reported that they gained altitude after their wheels hit a rise in the intersection. The cops totaled a parked Taxi, struck several other parked cars, and came to a halt only after smashing into a tree – which they creamed. The boys in blue, I inquired with the local Precinct Commander afterwards, had a few bangs and bruises but were ultimately ok and returned to duty shortly afterwards.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Upcoming Walking Tours-

Saturday, November 8th, Poison Cauldron
Walking Tour with Atlas Obscura, click here for tickets and more info.

Note: This is the last Newtown Creek walking tour of 2014, and probably the last time this tour will be presented in its current form due to the Kosciuszko Bridge construction project. 

Written by Mitch Waxman

November 5, 2014 at 11:00 am

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