The Newtown Pentacle

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Posts Tagged ‘Greenpoint Avenue Bridge

literal resurrection

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Old habits die hard, I guess.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

There are certain shots which I can never resist, and amongst these are the easterly and westerly views from the Greenpoint Avenue Bridge. Pictured is the former Van Iderstine property, in Queens, alongside that malign reminder of generational neglect known as the Newtown Creek. Van Iderstine has been discussed previously, in the posting “virgin aether,” if you’re curious.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The former Tidewater property, which has also been discussed in a prior posting “central chamber,” and… wait a second… something has changed. Something odd and atavist has been added to a scene both familiar and loved

- photo by Mitch Waxman

I will confess that I was tipped off to this Standard Oil signage being installed on the Tidewater building a couple of days before these shots were taken (thanks, T. Willis) – but – what’s happening on Newtown Creek? Does anybody know? Fill a humble narrator in.

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Written by Mitch Waxman

February 10, 2014 at 7:30 am

always susceptible

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In today’s post, a familiar path.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The triple lobed eye of that thing which cannot possibly exist at the cupola of the sapphire tower, a structure in Long Island City’s Court Square area often referred to as “The Megalith” at this – your Newtown Pentacle – must enjoy one heck of a view. Norse God Odin is meant to have sat upon a “hildskalf” or high seat from which he could see the entire world, he also had two ravens which were sort of like unmanned drones that he sent off on espionage missions.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

I may have read too much popular literature of the Science Fiction genre, probably, but the notion of armed robots flying, swimming, and tunneling around the world makes me a bit more nervous than two magical ravens serving a one eyed god. Saying that, I for one welcome our new robot (or raven) overlords, and look forward to the glorious efficiencies they will bring. Also- just in case- Hail Ming. Pictured above, the gates of Calvary in late afternoon sun.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

One feels as if he is in a bit of a rut at the moment, overly familiar with certain corridors connecting familiar destinations. Wanderlust is at the forefront of my ambitions, and I wonder what new frontier there might be out there which I’m not learning about. If you’re not actively learning something new, you’re actively dying inside. Unfortunately for me, I’ve been dead inside for a long time… can’t you smell it?

Upcoming Tours

Saturday- September 21, 2013
13 Steps Around Dutch Kills Walking Tour with Atlas Obscura- tickets on sale now.

Saturday- September 28, 2013
Newtown Creek Boat Tour with the Working Harbor Committee- tickets on sale now.

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southern slope

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Scenes from a short trip up a long Creek.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

As you may have heard, a body of water called the Newtown Creek provides a visual indicator of the currently undefended border of Brooklyn and Queens for several miles leading back from the East River. An industrial waterway with a troubled past and increasingly bright future, there are several bridges which span its polluted depths, and one of them is the JJ Byrne or Greenpoint Avenue Bridge. It connects the Blissville section of Long Island City in Queens with the Greenpoint neighborhood of Brooklyn.

A draw bridge, it is currently receiving a bit of spit and polish.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Great enjoyment is experienced in presenting and narrating the story of Newtown Creek to the curious, most recently while onboard a NY Water Taxi whose use was donated for the Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance’s “City of Water Day” festival, but it really gets in the way of taking photos, which is my one regret.

We see a LOT of cool stuff from the water.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Luckily, Lisa Garrison of the Hudson River Fund agreed to come on board as a speaker, and handing her the microphone allowed me to skulk away and grab my camera for an interval. When she started describing several of the cool projects she’s been curating around Newtown Creek (including some of NCA’s tour programming last year, in the name of disclosure), your humble narrator veritably flung himself forward in contemplation of shooting these bridge painting guys at work.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Bridge maintenance is another one of those hidden occupations most people don’t know exists, and you seldom get to see what’s going on except from the water. My pals at the North Brooklyn Boat Club see this sort of thing all the time, as they intrepidly ply the troubled waterway in kayak and canoe.

Me, I like boats with motors that stand up and away from the water, but that’s me.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

According to documentation found here and there on the vast interwebs, this project is meant to conclude in September. The bridge is administered by the NYC DOT, was built in 1987, and is 1.3 miles from Newtown Creek’s junction with the East River. This also explains why the bridge has smelled like spray paint lately.

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Want to see something cool? Summer 2013 Walking Tours-

Glittering Realms- Saturday, August 3rd, 2013
Newtown Creek walking tour with Mitch Waxman and Atlas Obscura, tickets now on sale.

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.

tireless and continuing

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- photo by Mitch Waxman

Missives regarding the Newtown Creek reach my desk all the time, mostly describing activist causes and far reaching governmental plans, but a particular message from the United States Coast Guard seemed to be the sort of thing which will likely affect the communities (on both sides and upon the water) which are nearby the troubled waterway so I decided to share it with you.

The Greenpoint Avenue Bridge is going to receiving attention, this summer, from NYC DOT bridge painting crews.

from federalregister.gov

The Commander, First Coast Guard District, has issued a temporary deviation from the regulation governing the operation of the Greenpoint Avenue Bridge across Newtown Creek, mile 1.3, at New York City, New York. The deviation is necessary to facilitate bridge painting operations. Under this temporary deviation, the bridge may remain in the closed position for various times up to six days at a time during a four month period.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

From the sound of it, the main inconvenience will be felt by the maritime community, as the bridge repair will render the drawbridge static for as long as six days at a pop between May and September.

For drivers, and this is an incredibly busy span, one suspects that there will be traffic tie ups and lane closures but this is conjecture based solely on the behavioral and occupational patterns exhibited and displayed by DOT crews and their contractors on other projects around the City.

One suspects that the four day windows when the draw bridge is open for “business as usual” shall also witness a higher than normal number of bridge openings, which is good for me, of course as lots and lots of tugboats will be lined up along the Creek.

also from federalregister.gov

The bridge owner, New York City Department of Transportation, requested multiple six day closure periods between May 1, 2013 and September 30, 2013, to facilitate bridge painting operation at the Greenpoint Avenue Bridge. Each six day closure period will be followed with four days of normal bridge operations. The exact time and dates of each six day closure period will be announced in the Local Notice to Mariners and also with a Broadcast Notice to Mariners at least two weeks in advance of each closure period. This temporary deviation will be in effect from May 1, 2013 through September 30, 2013.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

C’est la vie, life in the big city, and what can you do about it anyway?

Such maintenance is a necessary inconvenience to keep the structure from rotting away into a corroded heap. The waters of the Newtown Creek, just like the East River, are brackish. Salt is the natural enemy of steel and no one wishes to see a traffic mess like the one created by the 1987 rebuild of the bridge occur anytime soon.

Additionally, although I imagine that the Public Art Commission will approve the continued usage of “Aluminum Green” paints for the Greenpoint Avenue Bridge, I would suggest that using “Pulaski Red” all the way back to the Metropolitan Avenue Bridge would visually unite and “Brand” the Bridges of Newtown Creek.

from nyc.gov

The first bridge on this site, a drawbridge known as the Blissville, was built in the 1850’s. It was succeeded by three other bridges before a new one was completed in March 1900 at a cost of $58,519. That bridge received extensive repairs after a fire in 1919 damaged parts of the center pier fender, the southerly abutment, and the superstructure. Until that time, the bridge had also carried tracks of the Long Island Rail Road. The current bridge was built in 1987.

Also: Upcoming Tours!

13 Steps around Dutch Kills- Saturday, May 4, 2013
Newtown Creek walking tour with Mitch Waxman and Atlas Obscura, tickets now on sale.

Parks and Petroleum- Sunday, May 12, 2013
Newtown Creek walking tour with Mitch Waxman and Newtown Creek Alliance, tickets now on sale.

The Insalubrious Valley- Saturday, May 25, 2013
Newtown Creek walking tour with Mitch Waxman and Atlas Obscura, tickets on sale soon.

Hidden Harbor: Newtown Creek tour with Mitch Waxman – Sunday, May 26,2013
Boat tour presented by the Working Harbor Committee,
Limited seating available, order advance tickets now. Group rates available.

decreasing wind

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- photo by Mitch Waxman

Foaming, your humble narrator was scuttling his way to Brooklyn recently when sonic evidence of certain titanic exertions, whose only source could be a locomotive engine at work, penetrated through my ever present head phones.

On this particular afternoon, nearby the so called “Bliss Tower” along those tracks of the Long Island Railroad which snake along beneath the Greenpoint Avenue Bridge in a nameless section of Queens, once known as Blissville but which I describe as DUGABO, it was a NY and Atlantic freight operation which was raising the ruckus.

from anacostia.com

New York & Atlantic Railway began operation in May 1997 of the privatized concession to operate freight trains on the lines owned by Long Island Rail Road. The railway serves a diverse customer base and shares track with the densest passenger system in the United States.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

My headphones were not playing Norwegian Black Metal, nor late 80’s NYC Hardcore. They were not transmitting one of my many H.P. Lovecraft audio books, the soundtrack from the first Omen movie, or any of my usual playlists of childish anthems and guitar driven ballads.

Instead, the audio files I was enthralled by were podcasts, specifically Dan Carlin’s “Wrath of the Khans” series, which is presented episodically at his Hardcore History show.

If you’re not listening to Dan, you’re missing out.

from wikipedia

There is an urban legend that Julius Caesar specified a legal width for chariots at the width of standard gauge, causing road ruts at that width, so all later wagons had to have the same width or else risk having one set of wheels suddenly fall into one deep rut but not the other.

In fact, the origins of the standard gauge considerably pre-date the Roman Empire, and may even pre-date the invention of the wheel. The width of prehistoric vehicles was determined by a number of interacting factors which gave rise to a fairly standard vehicle width of a little under 2 metres (6.6 ft). These factors have changed little over the millennia, and are still reflected in today’s motor vehicles. Road rutting was common in early roads, even with stone pavements. The initial impetus for the ruts probably came from the grooves made by sleds and slide cars dragged over the surfaces of ancient trackways. Since early carts had no steering and no brakes, negotiating hills and curves was dangerous, and cutting ruts into the stone helped them negotiate the hazardous parts of the roads.

Neolithic wheeled carts found in Europe had gauges varying from 130 to 175 centimetres (4 ft 3 in to 5 ft 9 in). By the Bronze age, wheel gauges appeared to have stabilized between 140 to 145 centimetres (4 ft 7 in to 4 ft 9 in) which was attributed to a tradition in ancient technology which was perpetuated throughout European history. The ancient Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians and Greeks constructed roads with artificial wheelruts cut in rock spaced the wheelspan of an ordinary carriage. Such ancient stone rutways connected major cities with sacred sites, such as Athens to Eleusis, Sparta to Ayklia, or Elis to Olympia. The gauge of these stone grooves was 138 to 144 centimetres (4 ft 6 in to 4 ft 9 in). The largest number of preserved stone trackways, over 150, are found on Malta.

Some of these ancient stone rutways were very ambitious. Around 600 BC the citizens of ancient Corinth constructed the Diolkos, which some consider the world’s first railway, a granite road with grooved tracks along which large wooden flatbed cars carrying ships and their cargo were pulled by slaves or draft animals. The space between the grooved tracks in the granite was a consistent 1.5 metres (4 ft 11 in).

The Roman Empire actually made less use of stone trackways than the prior Greek civilization because the Roman roads were much better than those of previous civilizations. However, there is evidence that the Romans used a more or less consistent wheel gauge adopted from the Greeks throughout Europe, and brought it to England with the Roman conquest of Britain in AD 43. After the Roman departure from Britain, this more-or-less standard gauge continued in use, so the wheel gauge of animal drawn vehicles in 19th century Britain was 1.4 to 1.5 metres (4 ft 7 in to 4 ft 10 in). In 1814 George Stephenson copied the gauge of British coal wagons in his area (about 1.42 metres (4 ft 8 in)) for his new locomotive, and for technical reasons widened it slightly to achieve the modern railway standard gauge of 1.435 metres (4 ft 8.5 in).

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Normally, the media I consume is not something I think people would be interested in, at least that’s been my experience in real life. A recent conversation with Kevin Walsh of Forgotten-NY fame, wherein that intrepid explorer queried me about where to find some of these Lovecraft audio files which are so often mentioned, forced me to reconsider that maxim. Accordingly, since its a holiday weekend and you might have some free time, here you go.

The Atlanta Radio Theater Company is great. The website… their stuff is available as mp3’s at itunes and others, so go hunt them down.

The astounding H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society.

ARTC made a better Dunwich, by my taste, but HPLHS did both “Mountains of Madness” and “Shadow Out of TIme” better and they made a freaking “Call of Cthulhu” silent movie as well as the unbelievably great “Whisperer in Darkness” film. Dark Adventure Radio Theatre just rocks.

Huge talents, a podcast performed by two of its associates is HPPodcraft.com.

Incidentally, just like the LIRR Engine 102 featured in yesterday’s post, today’s NY&A engine is an EMD SW1001.

from wikipedia

The EMD SW1001 was a 1,000-horsepower (750 kW) diesel locomotive for industrial switching service built by General Motors’ Electro-Motive Division between September 1968 and June 1986. A total of 230 examples were constructed, mainly for North American railroads and industrial operations.

The SW1001 was developed because EMD’s SW1000 model had proved unpopular among industrial railroad customers, as the heights of its walkway and cab eaves were much greater than those of earlier EMD switcher models. The overall height was similar, but the SW1000′s roof was much flatter in curvature. Industrial railroads that only operated switchers often had facilities designed to the proportions of EMD’s earlier switchers.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Gold standard, the best of the best unabridged readings are from Audiorealms, featuring narrator Wayne June. Flat out readings of the Lovecraft Texts by professional voice talent in a studio. Genre defining, these are commercial works which really deserve support. Buy em, highest Mitch Waxman ratings- lengthy, mellifluous, well worth the hard slaved money. Six volumes, covering all the really good stuff. I think I got them through iTunes, although audible.com has them for sale.

The unmentionable Jeffry Combs reads “Herbert West Re-Animator.”

Additional mentions for theatrical productions of “Call of Cthulhu” and “Lurking Fear,” pro recordings from “back in the day,” when audio books were released on things called “audio cassettes.” Check out lovecraftzine.com for a list of free downloads which includes these two gems.

Archive.org is hosting Maria Lectrix‘s readings of “The Dream Quest of Unknown Kadath.“ Free, and open sourced, go get em. Poke around at archive.org, by the way. This isn’t the only Lovecraft audio there- look for “Herbert West: Reanimator” and others.

from nyc.gov

Greenpoint Avenue is a four-lane local street in Queens and Brooklyn, running northeast from the East River in Greenpoint, Brooklyn to Roosevelt Avenue in Sunnyside, Queens. The Greenpoint Avenue Bridge, also known as the J. J. Byrne Memorial Bridge, is located approximately 2.2 km from the mouth of Newtown Creek. The bridge is situated between Kingsland Avenue in Greenpoint, Brooklyn and Review Avenue in the Blissville section of Queens.

ache horribly

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- photo by Mitch Waxman

Down Under the Greenpoint Avenue Bridge Onramp, or DUGABO as I call it, on the Queens side of the loquacious Newtown Creek, is found south of the tracks of the Long Island Railroad. A largish industrial footprint, whose boot heels were dug into the swampy soil as early at the 1830’s, both describes and damns the area. The ghosts of fat renderer and yeast brewery alike haunt the spot, as does your humble narrator.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Wandering around down here recently, this intriguing bit of graffiti was observed. I’ve seen such markings before, over on Dutch Kills Street nearby Queens Plaza. It’s unusual mainly because of the figurative nature of the illustration, most area graffiti tends to be gang oriented, typographical in nature, or features the usage of a stylized and highly practiced logo or “tag”.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Deeper meanings and interpretation are best left to curators and wonks, but I for one like the drawing. The text betrays the twee irony of the hipsters, in my opinion. Always remember, lords and ladies, I go to these places so you don’t have to.

“follow” me on Twitter at @newtownpentacle

clearing sky

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- photo by Mitch Waxman

While scuttling across the Greenpoint Avenue Bridge recently, enroute to a Newtown Creek Alliance meeting featuring a presentation by the DEC’s head oil spill man -Randall Austin, this fellow was observed hard at work by one unused to such exertion. As a zoom lens was already affixed to my camera, I decided to see what might be captured, and realized that I knew almost nothing about the process of welding.

Of course, what I do know about is Newtown Creek.

from wikipedia

Welding is a fabrication or sculptural process that joins materials, usually metals or thermoplastics, by causing coalescence. This is often done by melting the workpieces and adding a filler material to form a pool of molten material (the weld pool) that cools to become a strong joint, with pressure sometimes used in conjunction with heat, or by itself, to produce the weld. This is in contrast with soldering and brazing, which involve melting a lower-melting-point material between the workpieces to form a bond between them, without melting the workpieces.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

On a basic level, I understand the process, but having never undertaken the task- am largely ignorant of its mores. Something I do know of welding, however, it that a welded tank is preferred to a riveted one for bulk storage of petroleum- which was once the industry “standard”.

Incontrovertibly, if one is at Newtown Creek, and the word “Standard” comes up- only one meaning can be gleaned.

from wikipedia

A rivet is a permanent mechanical fastener. Before being installed a rivet consists of a smooth cylindrical shaft with a head on one end. The end opposite the head is called the buck-tail. On installation the rivet is placed in a punched or drilled hole, and the tail is upset, or bucked (i.e., deformed), so that it expands to about 1.5 times the original shaft diameter, holding the rivet in place. To distinguish between the two ends of the rivet, the original head is called the factory head and the deformed end is called the shop head or buck-tail.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The facility that this torch bearing fellow was at work in is either the Lukoil or Metro depots, but I’m never certain about the property lines in the petroleum district- and given the generally paranoid atmosphere loosed roughly upon society and caused by the ongoing Terror Wars- it’s probably best not to speculate too long about the subject of whose fence begins or ends and where the property lines are.

What’s more interesting about this spot along Newtown Creek, to me at least, is that this laborer was at work in a very special spot- historically speaking.

from wikipedia

Oil depots are usually situated close to oil refineries or in locations where marine tankers containing products can discharge their cargo. Some depots are attached to pipelines from which they draw their supplies and depots can also be fed by rail, by barge and by road tanker (sometimes known as “bridging”).

Most oil depots have road tankers operating from their grounds and these vehicles transport products to petrol stations or other users.

An oil depot is a comparatively unsophisticated facility in that (in most cases) there is no processing or other transformation on site. The products which reach the depot (from a refinery) are in their final form suitable for delivery to customers. In some cases additives may be injected into products in tanks, but there is usually no manufacturing plant on site. Modern depots comprise the same types of tankage, pipelines and gantries as those in the past and although there is a greater degree of automation on site, there have been few significant changes in depot operational activities over time.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

This was right across the street from an early (1840) Kerosene refinery- Sone and Fleming, which was later acquired by John D Rockefeller’s Standard Oil Trust and transformed into an oil refinery. This facility has been mentioned before, in connection with an armageddon like blaze which Greenpoint suffered through in 1919. Such disasters were fairly common occurrences in the early days of oil refining and storage depots, and often were caused or made worse by weaknesses in petroleum tanks that were defectively riveted.

Today, there are no refineries along the Creek, it’s all about distribution and temporary storage.

from nytimes.com

TWENTY ACRES OF OIL TANKS ABLAZE; BIG FACTORIES BURN; Flames Cross Newtown Creek from Standard Yards Storing 110,000,000 Gallons of Oil. LOSS RUNS TO MILLIONS Each Fresh Explosion Fills the Sky, as from a Volcano, with Flame and Smoke. 1,200 FIREMEN AT THE SCENE Blaze Spreads for Blocks–Two City Fireboats Catch Fire and Two of Crew Reported Missing. TWENTY ACRES OF OIL TANKS ABLAZE Burned in 1883. Crowd All But Engulfed.

also- check this photo at cah.utexas.edu out, it’s from 1919, showing the fire’s aftermath.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Welded joins are an order of magnitude better than riveted ones in such structures. Owing to my ignorance of this industrial art, a quick check was made with a neighbor who was formerly a member of a steam fitting trade union. He instructs that a perfect weld should look like a series of quarters overlapping each other seamlessly, and that an x-ray spectrum radiological photograph can be inspected to confirm a firm and lasting fit- something which cannot be obtained with rivets.

See, you learn something new every day- here in heart of the Newtown Pentacle- along the loquacious and utterly provocative Newtown Creek..

from 1921’s Welding engineer, Volume 6, courtesy google books

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Upcoming boat tours of Newtown Creek

July 22nd, 2012 NEXT SUNDAY- There are Just a few tickets left, don’t miss out

Working Harbor Committee Newtown Creek Boat Tour

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