The Newtown Pentacle

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Posts Tagged ‘Bayonne Bridge

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Maritime Sunday bobs to the surface.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Joan Turecamo, IMO number 7902025, is a 392 ton Tug which was built in 1981 at the Matton Shipyard in Cohoes, NY. She’s owned and operated by the Moran Company, and was recently spotted while onboard a Working Harbor Committee “Beyond Sandy” tour. In the background is the ill fated Bayonne Bridge spanning the Kill Van Kull, a structure whom modernity has labeled “an impediment to navigation.” Maritime Sunday shout outs to the Moran tug and her crew.

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Want to see something cool? Summer 2013 Walking Tours-

Kill Van Kull- Saturday, August 10, 2013
Staten Island walking tour with Mitch Waxman and Working Harbor Committee, tickets now on sale.

13 Steps around Dutch Kills- Saturday, August 17, 2013
Newtown Creek walking tour with Mitch Waxman and Newtown Creek Alliance, tickets now on sale.

Written by Mitch Waxman

July 21, 2013 at 11:27 am

heavy articles

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“follow” me on Twitter at @newtownpentacle

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Just a short one today, the tug Mary Alice rolling along at twilight. Back tomorrow with something a bit more substantial, but today must be spent with loved ones as the world soon ends.

Only 12 days left until the 13th b’ak’tun ends, initiating the Mayan Apocalypse on December 21st, after all.

terrific fatigue

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- photo by Mitch Waxman

That’s the Bayonne Bridge, mentioned a couple of times this week, spanning the busy Kill Van Kull. The last “regular” Working Harbor Committee excursion of the year was recently enacted, and we encountered sometimes heavy weather and an overcast sky which laid down a pall of preternatural darkness upon the harbor. The air itself was thick with fog and mist, and many were the times which I needed to clear my lens of condensates.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Denizens of the harbor used to such visual occlusion, the working vessels and tugs kept to their normal routines. Hushed intonations have been offered to your humble narrator in the past suggesting that a suite of electronics are commonly found onboard these machines. These esoteric devices neutralize the need for direct line of sight, allowing the operator to remotely sense the environment around them.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The shadowed shoreline observed in these shots is the so called “Chemical Coast” of New Jersey. The name was earned in an earlier century, when Bayonne was famed for its mastery of colorant and dye manufacture, before the oil industry arrived with the Rockefellers.

desolate shore

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- photo by Mitch Waxman

As mentioned in yesterday’s posting, a few friends and I made it a point to experience the Bayonne Bridge a few weeks back and walk over the pedestrian walkway. Our reasoning was that since the construction project which will “rekajigger” the roadway is beginning quite soon, access to this point of view will be denied to pedestrians for some time and we had better go while the getting was good. Hence…

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The bridge seems absurdly high, much more than its actual height suggests. This is largely due to the low lying shorelines which comprise the surrounding terrain, which are a vast tidal floodplain reclaimed by landfill techniques from the swampy marshlands which nature intended. One or two members of our small party found themselves suffering the effects of vertigo, but luckily your humble narrator was not one of them. My paranoid fantasies allow little room for other psychological complaints to crowd in.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Attempts at “getting artsy fartsy” with the camera were what occupied me, and along the way envy for the unique perspectives captured by the daring bridge photographer Dave Frieder crawled into my mind. If you don’t know Frieder’s work, you should. He made a career of climbing the bridges of New York City (and beyond) and captured extraordinary images while doing so. He is also quite the expert on bridge engineering.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

There is true beauty in the arch component of the Bayonne Bridge, one can visualize the lines of force moving through the steel. Othmar Amman, who designed the bridge, often allowed the structural elements of his work to remain visible. Before him, engineers would be compelled to erect facades of masonry or cement to encase the steel, but he liked to let it all hang out.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Looking to the west, and New Jersey, one may observe the gargantuan Port Elizabeth Newark dock complex which serves as one of the main engines of the Port of New York. Gantry cranes and stacked shipping containers obscure Newark Airport behind it. Beyond lies the continent, and the United States.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

To the east is witnessed the city state which lies off the coast of America, the shining city. The Kill Van Kull is the body of water spanned by the Bayonne Bridge, a tidal strait which connects the port facilities to the west with ocean going traffic. The Kill has been discussed thoroughly here at your Newtown Pentacle, and a section of its landward side on Staten Island is actually the subject of a walking tour (offered below) which I conduct for the Working Harbor Committee. The Staten Island side of the Kill is “The North Shore” and the Jersey side is called “The Chemical Coast”.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Some work on the bridge has already begun, as evinced by the construction aprons being installed. The initial phases of things involve the removal of generations of lead based paint which protect the structure from corrosion. In our environmentally and politically correct age, such material is anathema, and must be removed. Discussion of the EPA administered site on the Staten Island side which is polluted with Uranium, of course, will be kept to a minimum.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Slouching downward toward Bayonne, those lines of force I mentioned earlier dance within the steel. Not pictured, incidentally, are the many bits of signage installed along the walkway advising the citizenry against suicide. Were my only choices for residence New Jersey or… Staten Island, despondency might set in, but one cannot believe that either is “that bad”. Since the City keeps the suicide counts for individual bridges quiet, I can’t provide any insight on this, but is the Bayonne Bridge a favorite spot for such activity?

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Fully ensconced on the New Jersey side, the roadway betrays its destination via signage. Morningstar Rd. seems to be innocently named, but upon seeing the sign, I could not help but think of two things. First- the Morningstar in occultist circles is Venus, and Second- Morningstar is the last name of the transmogrified archangel Lucifer. Perhaps those anti suicide signs are more prosaic than I thought. Does the Bayonne Bridge quietly connect to some outer borough road to hell?

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Bayonne Bridge as seen from the New Jersey side, as our little party entered the unknown country of Bayonne in search of a diner. Luckily New Jersey is lousy with such establishments, although there is a significant difference in the meaning of “sloppy joe” over there. The NYC sloppy joe is what the rest of America would call a “loose meat sandwich”, whereas in NJ it’s a three layered affair which involves turkey breast, cole slaw, and russian dressing- amongst other things.

Also- Upcoming tours…

for an expanded description of the October 13th Kill Van Kull tour, please click here

for an expanded description of the October 20th Newtown Creek tour, please click here

subsidiary impression

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- photo by Mitch Waxman

You see it all the time, here at your Newtown Pentacle. The Bayonne Bridge, deemed an archaic impediment to navigation by those scions of NY harbor whose hidden machinations are confined to secretive board room meetings at Port Authority and the NYC EDC, is often used as a frame for tugboat shots by your humble narrator. Othman Amman’s second masterpiece (after Hellgate), the bridge is destined to be altered shortly. Accordingly, a group of enthusiasts, antiquarians, and weirdos were gathered one fine September morning to walk across it.

from a Newtown Pentacle posting of June 26, 2009

The fourth largest steel arch bridge on Earth with a height of 150 feet over the water, it connects Bayonne, New Jersey’s Chemical Coastline with Staten Island. It’s primary mission is to allow vehicular traffic access to Manhattan via the Holland Tunnel…

The Bayonne Bridge was designed by a man who helped design the Hell Gate rail bridge on the East river- and was principal designer for the Verrazano bridge over the Narrows, The George Washingston Bridgeover the Hudson River, the Bronx Whitestone Bridge over the East River, the Throgs Neck Bridge over the East River. He was brought in to simplify the design of mighty Triborough- which is actually a bridge and highway complex spanning multiple waterways and islands. A swede Swiss, Othmar Amman worked for Gustavus Lindenthal (designer of the the Queensboro and Hell Gate Bridges), and took over as head bridge engineer at the New York Port Authority in 1925. He also directed the planning and construction of the the Lincoln Tunnel.

He was Robert Moses’s “guy”.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

We came to… Staten Island… via the ferry, and accessed a bus which took us to a less than savory section of the forgotten borough adjoining the bridge. There, the walkway was gained and off we went. Amongst our number was Kevin Walsh of Forgotten-NY fame, my aide de camp and far eastern correspondent Armstrong, as well as our railroad expert, and a certain lady who knows that all that glitters is gold. Stairway to heaven, indeed.

from panynj.gov

Initially, the bridge was planned for motor vehicles, bicycles, and pedestrians only. Accordingly, a suspension bridge design was developed since this type of bridge offered the most economical way to engineer a single span across the Kill Van Kull for motor vehicles. However, the suspension scheme was abandoned when the Port Authority commissioners insisted that considerations be made for at least two rail transit tracks to be added at some future date. (Studies showed that adapting a suspension design for rail traffic would be cost-prohibitive.) With rail traffic in mind, the bridge’s chief designer, Othmar H. Ammann, began developing a scheme that spanned the Kill Van Kull with a single, innovative, arch-shaped truss. As with the suspension bridge scheme, Ammann worked on the arch design in partnership with architect Cass Gilbert. The arch bridge that emerged promised to be a remarkably efficient solution, well suited to the site from both an engineering and aesthetic standpoint.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Like the thrice damned Kosciuszko Bridge over my beloved Newtown Creek, Bayonne Bridge is a relict of an earlier age with a less than bright future. Public fortunes will be spent on reengineering it to fit the needs of private commercial interests. Government sources describe a scenario in which the arch itself will remain unaltered, but that the road which it carries will be obliterated and replaced. Increasingly important to accomplish the walk before this happened, we ignored the signs along the walkway adjuring against suicide and left… Staten Island… for New Jersey to see what could be seen. More to come…

Also- Upcoming tours…

for an expanded description of the October 13th Kill Van Kull tour, please click here

for an expanded description of the October 20th Newtown Creek tour, please click here

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