The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

Posts Tagged ‘elevated subway

by surprise

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Cool atmospherics in Sunnyside.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

One of those periodic blasts of duty has been upon me for the last week or so, a lot to do with little time to do it, and the rain last week didn’t help. Got in the way of one project, delayed two others, and obliterated any semblance of free time when precipitants fell not. Accordingly, rather than walking everywhere, as I just did not have the time, mass transit was utilized.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Unlike several of my friends, especially that walking encyclopedia of regional transport options – Kevin Walsh of Forgotten-NY, I generally don’t familiarize myself with transit lines that I don’t frequent. Limited space available on my internal hard drives, and the needs of the now often crowd out things I don’t need to use often. However, I was quite proud of myself while improvising a bus and train path on the fly, just the other day, which is how I ended up on the 7 train.

Normally, I’d just walk from Greenpoint to Flushing, as it’s only a few miles and carries one across a staggeringly interesting cross section of Brooklyn and Queens.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The good news is that the first walking tour of 2014 is now accomplished, on Saturday I did the “13 Steps around Dutch Kills” tour with Atlas Obscura, which was one of the many things I had to do last week. Next tour with the Obscura Society will be “The Poison Cauldron of the Newtown Creek” on April 26, tickets are available here.

The reason I was heading to Flushing, and lucky enough to catch these cool atmospherics and lighting in Sunnyside, was to get some shots of the Unisphere for my Brownstoner column – check them out here.

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Written by Mitch Waxman

April 7, 2014 at 11:00 am

curiously dislocated

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- photo by Mitch Waxman

Although it is the Mother of harlots, entering Manhattan on a regular basis is periodically required of your humble narrator, for none may trade nor sell in the City of New York lest this borough’s mark is upon them. Usually this journey is accomplished along the subterranean R line, but often will one walk over to the elevated N line on the 31st street side of the neighborhood just to mix things up. You take the low road, I’ll take the high road, and I’ll be in midtown before ye…

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The Shining City, a place which your humble narrator actually lived for many years, has become lost in an inferior incarnation of itself. One does not long for the era of sin and fornication recently passed, it is the modern facade of the City which agitates. Many disagree with me, arguing for acceptance of a halcyon and quite modern era of progress and development which will eradicate the mistakes of prior centuries. All I can tell you, in retort, is that I don’t see many autochthonous smiles in Manhattan. Also, $9 is too much for a tuna sandwich.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

An echo chamber, things there are no longer hot, nor cold- rather they are lukewarm. Don’t get me wrong, there ain’t no mountain spring water running out here in Astoria neither, there are oodles of things wrong in Brooklyn and Queens. I’m sure the Bronx and …Staten Island… likely have some problems too. I’m just saying that we don’t export them, unlike the unsustainable island of Manhattan, and that I- for one- am a lot more comfortable and likelier to be smiling here in Queens.

Written by Mitch Waxman

March 15, 2013 at 4:34 am

suffocating windrows

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“follow” me on Twitter at @newtownpentacle

- photo by Mitch Waxman

A few of you have emailed me recently, concerned about the dire outlook and melancholy displayed here, at your Newtown Pentacle, in recent months. Concerns have been transmitted that I seem to be grasped by a dark and somber mood are noted, and appreciated. Everything is fine, however, and your humble narrator is simply reacting to normal stressors in typically infantile manner. For example- I need an expensive new zoom lens and have no idea how I am going to pay for it, which is the very definition of a “first world problem.”

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The thing is, though, that at the moment I’m more than a little bored, without a whole lot to look forward to in the immediate future. There’s going to be a Working Harbor Committee Newtown Creek Boat tour in May, and I’ll be announcing a series of 2013 walking tour dates that will stretch out from the early spring to the fall in a few days… Also, the Kosciuszko Bridge project will be kicking to life soon… right now, though, not so much.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

For the moment, I’m just some weird guy in a filthy black raincoat whom you see while driving along, walking toward Newtown Creek with a camera in my hand. A veritable mendicant- discarded and disabused, walking the earth and cataloging its riches. “When you’re down in the dumps”, I always say, “buy into your own mythology”- it’ll get you through the rough patch.

Written by Mitch Waxman

February 19, 2013 at 12:15 am

fortunately verifiable

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- photo by Mitch Waxman

“Choose your battles” is what the old man used to say. Then he’d remind me of how I physically compared with other members of my peer group and advised “pick up something- a brick, pipe, garbage can lid- throw it at their head, and then run away as fast as I could”. Following this advice over the years, I’ve learned something. I am not a fast runner.

Walking, however, is something I can do for hours at a pop.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Choosing the battle, however, during the short and dark days of the winter is not always up to me. Complicating my life, the recent multiple day long spurts of rain has made getting out something of a luxury. One can withstand some amount of cold, or a limited quantity of wet, but not both. In recent years, your humble narrator has developed a nearly comic book level “vulnerability to cold”.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

It’s a funny thing. The various groups I work with along the Newtown Creek and New York Harbor have a lot of meetings which I am compelled to attend, whether it be out of interest or obligation. More often than not, these meetings take place far from home, and I will take advantage of “getting there” via scenic routes in order to collect photos and tour certain locales. Unfortunately, during the winter months, darkness begins as early as half past four in the afternoon, and these meetings often start more than hour or two after sunset.

Unable to follow the old man’s advice and choose my battles, as I cannot throw a brick at natures head, an attempt is underway to improve my “hand held at low light” photgraphic skill set.

fallen over

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“follow” me on Twitter at @newtownpentacle

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Thanksgiving weekend is no time to burden you with cares or worries, that’s Walmart and your family’s job, so the Newtown Pentacle tradition is to kick back and present singular images which appeal to the sensibility and tastes of a humble narrator. Above, and I do believe that this shot has run before at this – your Newtown Pentacle, is depicted the corner of 31st street and Broadway in demimonde plagued Astoria. The structure, of course, is the the elevated track of the Subway. There’s just something about the light in this one which I really dig.

Written by Mitch Waxman

November 24, 2012 at 12:15 am

smoking gulf

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- photo by Mitch Waxman

Ask anyone who lives here and they’ll tell you- Astoria Queens rules.

It’s one of the last places in New York City that actually still looks like New York City, and people who live here are generally idiosyncratic and gregarious types who enjoy life’s simpler pleasures wholeheartedly. The ancient village has its problems- of course, too much traffic, a disturbing amount of public inebriation, and when “it hits the fan” around here- things quickly tend to get messy.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Our streets seem to be collapsing, our sewers back up routinely, everything costs too much, and the new neighbors are noisy. The kids have no respect for the older folks, and litter in a casual manner. The deli guys let bums drink in the back yards of their storefronts, and the social contract which dictates that one should find an appropriate commode for the elimination of bodily wastes seems to have been forgotten. We still haven’t forgotten about the “Great Astoria Blackout of 2006″ or the week we spent in the dark while a proverbial “Emperor Nero” fiddled away in City Hall and claimed nothing was wrong.

City services are applied haphazardly (at best) here, except in the case of handing out fines to homeowners and businesses- something handled by the authorities in a fashion best described by the aphorism of “Russian Efficiency”.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

A background hum- caused by highways and rail yards and millions of air conditioners, automobile engines, and oscillating fan blades- colors the air. There is always some sort of yelling, invariably in some foreign tongue, within earshot. Alternatively- kids are playing and squealing with delight, old ladies shuck beans on their stoops, and old men gather in loose groups to complain about the Mets and Rangers or brag about their grandkids.

Everywhere, one might find sidewalk cafes and tavernas glistening with vibrant crowds.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Indecent development by the real estate industrial complex crowds in on the older building stock, disillusioning long time residents and inflaming the passions of preservationists, but what are you going to do about it? People have a right to do what they want with their own property, and the Astoria way is to mind your own business, unless something directly affects you. The interesting thing about Astoria, as well, is that the whole “race thing” isn’t so much of an issue here. The kids in the neighborhood don’t run in ethnic packs like they do in other parts of the city, it’s more a block by block sort of thing. Brazilian, Irish, Italian, Greek, Korean, Egyptian, whatever- they’re all just “one of the boys” from this avenue or that block or those buildings. Doesn’t matter- as they’re all spoiled rotten, don’t know how good they’ve got it, won’t amount to anything, had it too easy, and all the other things that the old ladies say while making a “tsk tsk” sound.

This is what one might see on the streets, what it’s like to actually live here, and this posting is a response to something someone said to me a couple of weeks ago while I was over in the city- the actual quotation was: “Astoria, I love it there, it’s so diverse”.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

What does that mean? Every description I’ve ever heard of Astoria starts with the “diverse” thing, which connotes that the standard for the rest of the world is rigid social segregation along racial and ethnic lines, and that Astoria is some sort of gulag for foreigners who haven’t figured out that they should shop for clothes at JC Penny at the mall on Queens Blvd. and learn to lose the accent. Additionally, on the “diversometer”, do we score higher than Flushing or Ridgewood or Greenpoint?

If one more Manhattanite asks me if I’ve ever been to a) Elias’s Corner, b) the Bohemian Hall, or c) the Museum of the Moving Image- a humble narrator might just go screaming off into the night.

Anyway, Astoria Queens rules.

You got a problem with that?

Written by Mitch Waxman

May 31, 2012 at 12:15 am

cool recesses

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- photo courtesy google books, from: Queens Borough, New York City, 1910-1920: The Borough of Homes and Industry

This image was found in one of the many ancient books which your humble narrator is known to haunt. The shot’s vantage point is familiar to regular riders of the LIRR, and would be somewhere very close to Trimble Road’s intersection with 64th street in Woodside. Notice the Woodside Court building on the left, it would have been around 10 years old in the shot above, having been constructed in 1916.

It’s supposed to be the very first apartment house in all of Woodside, or so I’m told.

From the aforementioned book linked to above,

“The importance of this station as a transfer point is directly proportional to the number of Long Island Railroad trains which stop there. About seventy-four percent of the trains stop today. The Queensboro Chamber of Commerce believes that more trains should stop at that point for the interchange of passengers, at the same time realizing that passengers bound for all points in New York City can go through to the Pennsylvania Station and make connections there with the Seventh Avenue Subway”.

- photo by Mitch Waxman, 2011

My shot is from the platform of the modern Long Island Railroad platform, in the summer of 2011. The Woodside Court building is still there, as are the two electrical towers and the elevated train station which crosses over the LIRR tracks along Roosevelt Avenue. The elevated tracks arrived in 1917, so I guess that means that very little has actually changed- from an infrastructure point of view- in the intervening 94 years.

Written by Mitch Waxman

December 29, 2011 at 12:15 am

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