The Newtown Pentacle

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Archive for the ‘Working Harbor Commitee’ Category

quaint fusion

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Shots from a recent boat trip to the Gowanus.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A few weeks back, I conducted the Working Harbor Committee Newtown Creek boat tour, which was followed by an excursion to the Gowanus Canal. Both boats were solidly packed with harbor enthusiasts, curious explorers who welcomed the opportunity to visit some of NY Harbor’s less well known spots. Obviously, I didn’t get any shots on the Newtown Creek tour (my curse) but since my pals Joseph Alexiou and Eymund Diegel were handling the narration on the Gowanus trip, I was able to have some #superfun for once.

Pictured above, the push boat Emerald Coast in Gowanus Bay.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

John Quadrozzi Jr. was also onboard, and he jumped onto the microphone once or twice during the voyage. Seeing as how JQJr. actually owns big giant chunks of Gowanus Bay, he had a few things to say about this and that – offering the Working Harbor audience insider insights from his unique point of view.

One of the “this’s” Mr. Quadrozzi discussed was his Grain Terminal building, and one of the “that’s” was the ship Loujaine – both pictured above.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I do like the point of view one is offered by the entrance to the Gowanus Canal, don’t forget that Gowanus Bay is kind of a separate banana from the Gowanus Canal, whose navigable entry point is found at the Hamilton Avenue Bridge.

That hulking monstrosity you’ll notice lurking above the bridge, in all its neighborhood blighting glory, is the Gowanus Expressway.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Our vessel’s passage required the Hamilton Avenue Bridge to open, and while we waited for the redoubtable employees of the NYC DOT to actuate its mechanisms, I noticed this bit of former maritime industrial glory sitting on the poison shoreline. First thought that entered my head when I saw it was “this is the dreidel of the gods.” For those of you reading this who are “goyem,” a dreidel is that little Jewish spinning top thing with the Hebrew lettering on it.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The HMS Liberty, observed as it passes by the SimsMetal facility and a windmill on the southern shore of Gowanus Bay. Liberty is a tugboat, as opposed to the Emerald Coast found in the first shot of today’s post – which is a push boat. Both are towing vessels, of course, and tug versus push is pretty descriptive of the different approaches to the mission which they’re engineered for.

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Upcoming Tours –

June 20th, 2015
Kill Van Kull Walking Tour
with Brooklyn Brainery, click here for details and tickets.

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.

hither come

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Get on the boat, for #superfun with the Working Harbor Committee.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

On May 31, I’ll be narrating on a boat tour of Newtown Creek for the Working Harbor Committee. WHC is offering a special $30 ticket price, discounted to $25 for seniors. It’s a two hour tour which will leave from Pier 11 in Manhattan at 11 a.m. I’m anticipating having a couple of other guest speakers onboard, but that’s still firming up.

For tix to WHC’s morning tour with NCA Historian Mitch Waxman, on Newtown Creek. For group rates, or questions – contact Working Harbor Committee at workingharbor@aol.com

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The Maritime History of Newtown Creek is one largely forgotten in these decadent times, but even now an odd tugboat and barge might be spied making their way down the waterway on any given day. 19th century Property owners were considered to have been blessed by some of the finest industrial bulkheads in the world, yet many of the businesses based along the Creek today ignore this invaluable resource, allowing their waterfront property to decay and decline.

Along these bulkheads, great fortunes have risen.

Amongst others- Peter Cooper (BO Railroad, Canton Iron, and Cooper Union), Charles Pratt (Astral Oil, Standard Oil, and Pratt University), and ultimately John D. Rockefeller (Standard Oil) – all grew richer than the dreams of avarice in this place. Alongside them, the darkest mills of the industrial revolution- rendering plants, yeast distilleries, bone blackers, and acid factories provided tens of thousands of jobs to the immigrant populations of Brooklyn and Queens. Today – National Grid, BP, Amoco, ExxonMobil, and a host of other multinational companies still maintain an enormous investment in this valuable industrial canal at the very center of New York City.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Vast operations will be witnessed by those onboard, many of which are involved in the scrap metal and recyclables trade. Responsible for an enormous amount of cross harbor shipping, companies such as SimsMetal are heavily reliant on the maritime trades for their economic success. This is also the the birthplace of Mobil Oil, and was the home base in NYC for the Standard Oil Company.

Not all that long ago, Newtown Creek carried a greater tonnage of cargo than the entire Mississippi River.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A tributary of the estuarine East River, Newtown Creek extends some 3.8 miles from its junction with the more familiar waterway, and provides demarcation for the currently undefended border of much of Brooklyn and Queens. Named to the Federal Superfund list in 2010, the Creek suffers from a centuries long history of environmental degradation and municipal neglect.

An era of great change is upon the Newtown Creek, and this trip will be one of your last chances to be exposed to it in its current form.

“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.

#SUPERFUN on May 31

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Welcome to Newtown Creek.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As promised – the big Monday Announcement!!! On May 31, I’ll be narrating on a boat tour of Newtown Creek for the Working Harbor Committee. WHC is offering a special $30 ticket price, discounted to $25 for seniors. It’s a two hour tour which will leave from Pier 11 in Manhattan at 11 a.m. I’m anticipating having a couple of other guest speakers onboard, but I’m still firming that up.

For tix’s to WHC’s morning tour with NCA Historian Mitch Waxman, on Newtown Creek. For group rates, or questions – contact Working Harbor Committee at workingharbor@aol.com

– photo by Mitch Waxman

So what could be more fun than visiting a superfund site? Visiting two, of course.

A separate and distinct excursion will leave from Pier 11 at 1:10 p.m., as Working Harbor Committee’s afternoon trip to the Gowanus Canal embarks. Last I heard, it’s the same deal as Newtown Creek for pricing and tix, and it’s a two hour tour as well.

Click here for tix to WHC’s afternoon tour of the Gowanus Canal.

Newtown Creek is better, of course, because it’s mine.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Captain Doswell

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Captain John Doswell has passed away.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Executive Director of the Working Harbor Committee, Captain John Doswell’s mission was to educate the public about the Harbor of New York and New Jersey. He was a part owner of the John J. Harvey fireboat, a respected speaker on all things maritime, a devoted husband and father, and my friend.

He died as he lived, surrounded by the family he so adored.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

After serving in the United States Navy in Viet Nam, Captain Doswell produced trade shows and industrial videos, eventually finding himself in the software business. In the mid 1990’s Captain Doswell shifted his attentions to the waterfront.

Pictured above is how I’ll always remember him, narrating to a sold out boat, explaining every little nuance of what they were seeing at Port Newark, or circumnavigating Staten Island, or while exploring Erie Basin.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

He worked with the Friends of Hudson River Park and the Working Harbor Committee – and a host of elected officials – to bring New Yorkers into closer contact with the water. Captain Doswell coordinated and organized the maritime operations of OpSail 2012, the City of Water Day festivals on Governors Island, the Liberty Challenge International Outrigger Canoe Races, and literally dozens of Working Harbor trips and the annual Great North River Tugboat Race.

He would also regularly send a NY Water Taxi, with some lunatic blogger on the mike, to Newtown Creek.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

John Doswell built communities wherever he went. Once you found yourself in his orbit, there was always something amazing going on around him. He was generous with his time, and renowned for an even temperament. It was an honor to know him, and the privilege of having spent as much time as I did with him over the last few years is an incalculable blessing.

The world is a poorer place without him. 

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Captain John Doswell is survived by his beloved, Jean Preece Doswell, and their daughter Jhoneen. The event of the year for the NY Harbor Community in 2014 was their wedding on July 25 of last year. The NY Times ran a full profile of the event here, which was held on the John J Harvey Fireboat and Lilac – historic vessels which Captain Doswell helped to preserve.

I’m going to miss him. 

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

January 5, 2015 at 11:00 am

unthinkable hands

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Adventure and excitement.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Working Harbor Committee’s annual Circumnavigation of Staten Island tour carried me out onto the Kill Van Kull recently, and despite it being a Sunday, the waterway was teeming with busy tugs. Moran, in particular, was quite occupied.

Pictured above is the Barney Turecamo.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The tugs were accompanying MSC Busan, a cargo ship, from Port Elizabeth Newark to the outer harbor along the narrow and busy Kill Van Kull.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Barney Turecamo was leading the way, and bringing up the rear were Miriam Moran, Gramma Lee T. Moran, and Laura K. Moran. All the Moran tugs have painted their “M” pink to raise awareness for Breast Cancer research.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

By cargo ship standards, MSC Busan isn’t that big a boat. Built in Korea in 2005, flagged in Liberia, she’s 324,80 meters long and can carry 8089 TEU worth of containers. TEU means “ton equivalent unit” and the cargo containers you see onboard are either 20 or 40 TEU boxes, which the boat can carry 6275 of.

“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. 

impelled to

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As promised, shots from the Tug race in today’s post.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Last Sunday, the Working Harbor Committee organized this years iteration of the Great North River Tug Race and Competition. A multi pronged assault on the brain’s fun center, it starts with a race that begins at the 79th creek boat basin on the Hudson River. The finish line is at 42nd street, and this year the Robert McAllister tug won. Someday, I’d like to win something, but the only thing I’ve ever been good at winning is being a good loser.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The fun center of the brain is something which I’m fairly sure has withered away within my own skull, likely due to some unheralded ischemic event. Suspecting that my fun center has been “stroked out” of operation, it’s no surprise that the dull and quite existential horrors which typify my days were only briefly punctured by the “tug of war” nose to nose pushing competition segment of the event. It’s all so depressing.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Once, this sort of thing would have caused my mouth to form into a horrible gap toothed shape which could be roughly interpreted by others as being a smile. Now, there is only a flat affect and an abundance of dull eyed staring, I’m afraid. At least I can still work the camera, but can’t seem to distinguish the difference between sweet and sour tastes anymore. It takes sewerage or burning plastic for me to take notice of smell or taste these days.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The part of the Tug Race which I’ve always loved photographing, if that’s an emotion I can still experience, is the line toss. The various tugs form a queue and then hurtle at the pier, whereupon they hurl a rope at a bollard. The goal is to loop the rope onto the bollard and the throwers are rated for time and accuracy. I wish I could tell you who won, but a group of teenagers scared me so I headed home and locked my doors securely, back in Astoria where I belong.

The entire race set can be viewed at this flickr page.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

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 5, 2014 at 12:29 pm

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