The Newtown Pentacle

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Posts Tagged ‘Hurricane Sandy

slight remainder

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Notice: the November 9th Magic Lantern Show with Atlas Obscura is cancelled for now. We hope to reschedule for sometime during the winter. Observatory, where the event is scheduled to take place, has been damaged by Hurricane Sandy and flooding.

Alternatively, it has been decided to move forward with this Sunday’s Newtown Creek “SideTour” Poison Cauldron walking tour in Greenpoint, details are found at the bottom of this posting.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Having moved through one of my regular “routes” from Astoria to Greenpoint to catalog the so called lower reaches of the Newtown Creek, it was time to return via another well explored and familiar pathway back to Queens. Over the Pulaski Bridge, into Long Island City, and ultimately up Skillman Avenue back to my neighborhood. On the Pulaski, I noted that one of the many undocumented sailboats which enjoys free berth on the Queens side had sunken, as you will discern in the lower right corner of the shot above.

The other locations and concurrent postings in this series exploring the post Hurricane Sandy conditions found around the Newtown Creek are Borden Avenue Bridge in open place, The Dutch Kills turning basin in dark moor, Calvary Cemetery in solid stones, The Maspeth Plank Road in sinister swamp, The Grand Street Bridge in shallow mud, English Kills in stranger whence, and Blissville to Greenpoint in vaguer recollection.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Descending down into Queens via the Pulaski stairs, where an eerie quiet was experienced. Again, this section of my survey was accomplished on Sunday the 4th, coincidentally the day which the NYC Marathon would normally have been conducted and ran across the Bridge, and the guys with the dirty fingernails who are the motive force in LIC had been hard at work cleaning up for the better part of week at this point.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Evidence of sedimentation escaping the Creek’s bulkheads was apparent, evinced at street corner sewer grates as in the shot above. That sidewalk isn’t wet, that’s oil. An unrelated trip just two days ago revealed the corner to be in the same condition, but this is the definition of “wrong side of the tracks” down here and the larger City has bigger problems right now than some piddly corner hidden away in an industrial backwater.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Stalwart, the Long Island Rail Road yard at Hunters Point was in fine fettle, despite the orange hue which their rails had taken on, no doubt due to immersion in salt water. This was a commonality shared by all rail tracks observed around the Creek which were flooded, but remember that the historic facility at Hunters Point has survived through flood and fire since 1870, and that Sandy was hardly their first rodeo.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The big story down here, beyond the flooding in the residential sections of Tower Town along 2nd and Center Streets- which I am not going to discuss- was the flooding of the Midtown Tunnel. According to the AP and WCBS, as well as official statements from the MTA, the water in the Queens Midtown Tunnel flooded in from the Queens side and emanated from Newtown Creek.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Anecdotal stories transmitted to me described Dutch Kills breaching its banks and flowing down Borden Avenue which met with surge waters that rose over the bulkheads from the Creeks junction at East River. So far, no photos or video of the flooding have reached me. I understand that large scale pumping operations are still underway, and that the tunnel is now passable but only by buses.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

This flooding of the Midtown Tunnel is the reason why the Long Island Expressway is being diverted onto local streets after Greenpoint Avenue (at least as of a couple of days ago) and describes one of the larger casualties of Hurricane Sandy in western Queens. We got fairly lucky around these parts, as compared to southeastern districts like the Rockaways and Howard Beach.

Again, in the shot above, notice that fresh orange patina on the tracks.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Noticing the large piles of trash along the rail tracks, conversation was struck up with a local woman named Marti. She maintains a small community garden alongside the fence line and revealed that she had been cleaning this mess up for days with the help of a few sympathetic laborers. All of this flotsam ended up plastered along the fence from the westerly flow moving down Borden Avenue.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The businesses along Borden, as mentioned in the first posting in this series, all experienced flooding in at least their basements. Enormous losses of vehicles and equipment notwithstanding, they were back at work on this day.

Of course, this is what Long Island City does, which is getting back to work.

Upcoming Newtown Creek tours and events:

Note: there are just 4 tickets left on this one, which is likely the last walking tour I’ll be conducting in 2012.

for an expanded description of the November 11th Newtown Creek tour, please click here

vaguer recollection

with 2 comments

Notice: the November 9th Magic Lantern Show with Atlas Obscura is cancelled for now. We hope to reschedule for sometime during the winter. Observatory, where the event is scheduled to take place, has been damaged by Hurricane Sandy and flooding.

Alternatively, it has been decided to move forward with this Sunday’s Newtown Creek “SideTour” Poison Cauldron walking tour in Greenpoint, details are found at the bottom of this posting.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Amongst the oddest things I’ve witnessed around the Newtown Creek in the wake of Hurricane Sandy is a Long Island Expressway (ok, technically Queens Midtown Expressway) completely devoid of Manhattan bound traffic. This is, of course, on account of the fact that Newtown Creek is actually being pumped out from inside the Queens Midtown Tunnel, which is where the sky flung viaduct leads to.

Regardless, it is irregular.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The shots in this post, and tomorrow’s as well, we’re captured last Sunday while on foot. Hank the Elevator Guy, who accompanied and drove me around for the shots presented for the last few days, was absent. His is a life of ups and downs, and thinking outside the box. That’s elevator humor, btw. Your humble narrator, alone as he should be, marched involuntarily across Greenpoint Avenue toward the bridge for named for it, and the loquacious Newtown Creek.

Thankfully, the Tidewater building seemed no worse for wear.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

On the Brooklyn side, which I am told was quite submerged, visible damage from the flooding was everywhere. On the street, it was small- a knocked down street sign caked in muck, a high water mark on the cement wall of a factory building, a car whose windows showed condensation on the passenger cabin side.

There was little pumping still going on, but there was a great deal of sweeping and heavy equipment was observed moving piles of garbage about.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

At the corner of Paidge and Provost, nearby the shuttered Newtown Creek Nature Walk, an area where I have been told that the water was some seven feet deep, petroleum residue was all over the sidewalk and the smell of fuel hung heavily in the air. Both corporate and municipal assets in the area were heavily damaged by the flooding, and in some cases a total loss of vehicular fleets was suffered.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

As mentioned in the past, one of the groups who tolerate my presence is the Newtown Creek Alliance, and early on in the Hurricane Sandy story, the group’s Executive Director Kate Zidar advised that it would be a good idea to not wear the shoes utilized to walk around in the contaminated areas within ones home. Here is a visible example of why, and your humble narrator reiterates and endorses this simple precaution.

Who can guess, all there is, that came bubbling up from down there?

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Moving from Paidge in the direction of the staircase adorning the Pulaski Bridge, which would carry me back into Queens, I noticed this petroleum distributor had a significant amount of earth moving equipment on site. They are one of the dozens of distribution depots which were laid low by rising waters, critical infrastructure dependent on maritime access.

When this facility, and all the others like it, are back online- the current fuel shortages will become a distant memory.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The North Brooklyn Boat Club, where I’ve spent many happy afternoons this summer, was stricken hard by the flooding. Luckily- redoubtable devotees of the institution like T. Willis Elkins, Fung Lim, Leif Percifeld, and Dewey Thompson will not let their dreams drown, and a massive cleanup of their lot has been underway. The DOT yard next door also received a pungent bath when the Newtown Creek, unfettered, roared across their property.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The thing though, and it’s always hardest to remember this when you’re flat on your back and bleeding from the ears, is that NYC will ALWAYS rebuild. Stronger, better, faster. There will be fighting, and scandal, and horrible truths will be uncovered- but this is a once in a lifetime chance to reform the City.

Tomorrow, we return to the Queens side and Borden Avenue, and end our survey of the aftermath.

Upcoming Newtown Creek tours and events:

Note: there are just 4 tickets left on this one, which is likely the last walking tour I’ll be conducting in 2012.

for an expanded description of the November 11th Newtown Creek tour, please click here

Written by Mitch Waxman

November 7, 2012 at 12:15 am

stranger whence

with one comment

Notice: the November 9th Magic Lantern Show with Atlas Obscura is cancelled for now. We hope to reschedule for sometime during the winter. Observatory, where the event is scheduled to take place, has been damaged by Hurricane Sandy and flooding.

Alternatively, it has been decided to move forward with this Sunday’s Newtown Creek “SideTour” Poison Cauldron walking tour in Greenpoint, details are found at the bottom of this posting.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Completing the survey of the distaff tributaries of the fabled Newtown Creek in the aftermath of the so called Frankenstorm, Hurricane Sandy, my stalwart companion Hank The Elevator Guy and your humble narrator proceeded to the heart of darkness itself, the malign English Kills which runs along the borderland of Bushwick, Williamsburg, Greenpoint, and Ridgewood.

There are few casual visitors to this spot, and those of us who are familiar with this section of the Creek make attempts to limit our exposure to it.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Reports from those who live nearby, and don’t enjoy the measured luxury of choosing how often to breathe the unique perfumes of English Kills, indicated that significant flooding occurred here. The water was meant to have infiltrated out from the bulkheads, overflowing the tracks of the LIRR’s Bushwick Branch, and onto both Morgan and Johnson Avenue.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The shells of bivalves were extant upon the moist ground. Can it be possible that they were deposited by the tidal surge? One thing which should be noted is that the smell one normally associates with this area, something not dissimilar to a turtle’s aquarium tank, was absent. Everything smelled… well, wet.

Only way to describe it.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Everywhere that I’ve seen exposed rail tracks around the Creek, they all exhibit this fresh patina of orange corrosion. Causation does not equal correlation, however, if you were to compare them to the shots in the Newtown Pentacle posting from March of this year “approaching locomotive” you will notice a distinct change in color which your humble narrator would ascribe to immersion in brackish water.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The water in English Kills, as always, was horrible to behold. It was a bit murkier than usual, as would be suspected, and a large amount of floatable trash was observed. Again, not unsurprising. There is a reason that my old pal Bernie Ente called this spot “the heart of darkness” and why I use “gods gift to pain“.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

This is a pretty well established spot for homeless shanties and sometimes full blown camps to be established. It’s hidden and far enough away from “civilization” for no one to complain about a camp fire, after all.

This shanty was smashed, no doubt by heavy winds.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The CSO at the end of the Newtown Creek’s furthest extant. One can only imagine what was erupting from it during the storm surge.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The larger Homeless shanty dwelling atop the CSO seems to have survived the storm, and they are flying the flag.

Notice the storm debris hanging from the plants along the banks, no doubt left behind as the waters receded, sucking along anything that was submerged or floating in it on the way back into the waterway.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Your humble narrator has been in contact with certain members of the government about oil sheens and petroleum residues observed around the Newtown Creek on this survey. They assured me, and asked that I pass along that they will be back on the beat with us as soon as they clear up the disastrous situation in the Rockaways, Staten Island, and especially the Arthur Kill. They have asked that if anybody in the area spots oil, especially after the coming storm on Wednesday, that you call the NYS DEC Spills Hotline, open 24 hours a day at 1-800-457-7362.

Tomorrow, I’ll be tying things up with a visit to Greenpoint and Hunters Point made on Saturday, sans the services of Hank the Elevator Guy.

Upcoming Newtown Creek tours and events:

Note: there are just 4 tickets left on this one, which is likely the last walking tour I’ll be conducting in 2012.

for an expanded description of the November 11th Newtown Creek tour, please click here

shallow mud

with 4 comments

Notice: the November 9th Magic Lantern Show with Atlas Obscura is cancelled for now. We hope to reschedule for sometime during the winter. Observatory, where the event is scheduled to take place, has been damaged by Hurricane Sandy and flooding.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Hank the Elevator Guy and I next proceeded to the Grand Street Bridge in our survey of the Newtown Creek watershed, post Hurricane Sandy. Reports during the storm itself described the area as impassible, and knowing that the low lying areas around Metropolitan and Flushing Avenues are normally prone to flooding, it was with no small amount of trepidation that we approached DUGSBO.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

On the Brooklyn side of the Grand Street Bridge, there was evidence of washouts and sedimentation from the banks, and a pile of rubble and even a wooden staircase was piled up against the fence which separates the street from the bulkheads of Newtown Creek’s East Branch.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Additionally, the fire hydrant at the foot of the bridge was painted with muck and mire, indicating that the water overflowing the banks rose to at least its height. This is startling, as it is close to 15 feet over the normal waterline. However, given the presence of the enormous CSO back on Metropolitan Avenue, it would reasonable to assume that the surge rose from two directions here, one traveling eastward along the Creek from the East River, and another rising from the multiple vaults underlying Metropolitan.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Clearly affected by the flooding, this low lying yard which houses a school bus company was hard at work. Most of the buses had their engine hoods open, and mechanics were seen tinkering with the machinery therein. Additionally, there were people inside the buses working with cloths and mops. Another one of the subjects which I’ll likely be called to task for in the future by political wonks and area wags, one only hopes that an enormous amount of bleach will be expended by these laborers, before children are allowed onto these buses when schools open next week.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

It should be noted, and admitted to you lords and ladies, that your humble narrator is embroiled by controversy and derision these days. Unsought but uncomfortably accepted notoriety has brought no small amount of joy to me, but there is a dark side to this as well. My notably unpleasant personality and aberrant disobedience to social norms, it would seem, is best taken in small doses. Fair enough, one must always remain and function as an outsider, for this is where I belong.

solid stones

with 3 comments

Notice: the November 9th Magic Lantern Show with Atlas Obscura is cancelled for now. We hope to reschedule for sometime during the winter. Observatory, where the event is scheduled to take place, has been damaged by Hurricane Sandy and flooding. 

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Continuing our survey of the Creeklands in the immediate wake of Hurricane Sandy, Hank the Elevator Guy and I entered venerable Calvary Cemetery in Blissville. Truly, I did not expect to see what was evident there, which was virtually zero impact from the storm.

Not a downed headstone nor anything larger than a fallen tree limb betrayed the tumult.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Not sure of how this was possible, given the exposure and high elevations of the place. Wherever you are along the Newtown Creek, the highest natural elevations visible are Calvary (Laurel Hill) and the hill next to it (Berlin). It is certainly the highest point between Flushing Avenue in Ridgewood and the East River, and is an unstructured hill well planted with trees.

The majority of the monuments merely sit upon the ground and have no foundation other than a stripe of poured concrete.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

One truly expected to find the place laid low, with grounds crews attempting to right the stones and clear away fallen trees. How strange. It is almost as if someone was looking out for the cemetery and steering the destruction away from it. Sunnyside, which is at a slightly lower declination than Calvary, suffered massive losses of trees. So did Maspeth proper which is at an even higher elevation.

I guess Dagger John knew how to pick a piece of land…

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