The Newtown Pentacle

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Posts Tagged ‘MTA

… down there?

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Second Avenue Subway, 72nd to 86th street, in today’s post.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As detailed in several posts last week, with today’s offering as capstone, I was invited to join with a group of photographers and reporters on a walk through of Phase One of th Second Avenue Subway project with MTA President of Capital Construction Michael Horodniceanu. We entered the project at 63rd street, and walked all the way to 86th street, experiencing differing levels of “finish” as we went.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A constant issue encountered was the presence of other people, which bedevils me wherever I go, and efforts were made to move slowly and find myself at the rear of the group in order to attain “clean shots” of the project.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

86th street was far and away the least developed section we encountered, and work on the actual tracked hadn’t progressed much past foundations. Platforms were still under construction as well. When invited to come along, MTA personnel had warned that at the end of the trip, we would have to “climb a 130 step staircase.” One was a bit worried about the “climb” designation.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As it turns out, I was right to worry about that word “climb.” Some anonymous laborer had scrawled the graffito “heart attack ridge” on the temporary landing and by the time a humble narrator had achieved that height, a heart attack felt like it was a real possibility. As my grandmother would have said – I couldn’t stop shvitzing.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Nevertheless, I plodded up the steps with camera gear in tow, while wearing my heavy steel toe boots and “PPE.” At the landing, all of us old guys decided to take a breather.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A construction worker in his mid twenties admonished us that he did this flight of stairs several times a day, which tells you about the sort of fortitude it takes to wear a hard hat. Insult to injury was added when Donna Hanover came bounding up the stairs like a mountain goat.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Back at the surface, one avoided the Q&A section of the trip, and a hasty retreat back to Queens and my beloved Astoria was enacted. I had a speaking engagement on for the evening, discussing the Sunnyside Yards development plans with the United Forties Civic over on the Woodside/Sunnyside border, and needed to get home and shower off all the concrete dust and “shvitz.”

Tomorrow, something completely different, at this – your Newtown Pentacle.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Upcoming Tours –

June 7th, 2015
13 Steps Around Dutch Kills Walking Tour
with Newtown Creek Alliance, click here for details and tickets.

June 11th, 2015
MADE IN BROOKLYN Hidden Harbor Boat Tour
with Working Harbor Committee, click here for details and tickets.

June 13th, 2015
The Insalubrious Valley of the Newtown Creek Walking Tour
with Atlas Obscura, click here for details and tickets.

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

Written by Mitch Waxman

June 1, 2015 at 11:00 am

…that might be…

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From somewhere under Manhattan, the Second Avenue Subway Series continues.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There were work lights arrayed within the deep, pushing back against the enveloping darkness. Happily, they were polychromatic, and provided one with an interesting series of contrasts. Additionally, a flash gun was employed in the capture of some of these images, an evil necessitated by lighting conditions.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

This section of track, which had been continuously installed in the tunnels from our starting point at 63rd street, led into a complex of chambers which will one day be the 72nd street station. One noticed that electrical equipment was already installed. This spot would likely be around 70th street.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The design of the Second Avenue Subway passenger stations is distinct from the older sections of the system, there were no steel beams hanging down from the ceiling for instance. The stations take the shape of a series of flattened cylinders with cathedral like interiors.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The gaggle of photographers and press people whom one had joined were directed to follow the tracks as we walked north, more than 100 feet below the surface of the Shining City.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

In this section, the roadbed hadn’t been installed yet, and prefabricated sections of the tracks were simply placed. Notice the rebar nest underlying the sections, into which concrete will be pumped, which will provide the firm footing for the river of trains which will flow through here.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

My strategy of staying at the back of the group paid off several times, this shot is looking southward towards the section we had just traversed.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The actual 72nd street, lower level, station appeared. There’s that rack thingamabob pointed out at the 63rd street station, which is designed to allow water to flow without destroying the “finish” tiles which will be attached to it.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The group was directed to climb the stairs up to the upper level.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

This is where the scale of this project really began to come into view.

More Second Avenue Subway walk through shots in tomorrow’s post at this – your Newtown Pentacle.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Upcoming Tours –

May 30, 2015 –
The Skillman Corridor with Atlas Obscura

with Newtown Creek Alliance Historian Mitch Waxman, click here for details and tickets.

May 31, 2015 –  SOLD OUT
Newtown Creek Boat Tour
with Working Harbor Committee and Newtown Creek Alliance Historian Mitch Waxman, click here for tickets.

June 7th, 2015
13 Steps Around Dutch Kills Walking Tour
with Newtown Creek Alliance, click here for details and tickets.

June 11th, 2015
MADE IN BROOKLYN Hidden Harbor Boat Tour
with Working Harbor Committee, click here for details and tickets.

June 13th, 2015
The Insalubrious Valley of the Newtown Creek Walking Tour
with Atlas Obscura, click here for details and tickets.

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

Written by Mitch Waxman

May 28, 2015 at 11:00 am

…all that there is…

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Second Avenue Subway, continues in today’s post.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As mentioned yesterday, one managed to attach himself to the press tour offered by the estimable MTA Press Office of its under construction facilities of the Second Avenue Subway project.

Part of largish band of reporters and photographers, one grew increasingly annoyed at the inability to capture a shot of the tunnels sans evidence of humans.

Bother.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The atmosphere in this newly carven intestine of the Megalopolis was actually a bit on the warm side, but not uncomfortably so, and no unpleasant nor mephitic odors were encountered in any abundance. Curing concrete coupled with a somewhat static and dusty air mass contributed to bodily perspiration, however, a process exacerbated by the requirements for wearing “PPE” or “Personal Protective Equipment” insisted on by the work site management.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Vests and construction hats, as well as safety glasses, were gladly offered by our hosts on this trip to the underground world. Required dress code also included long pants, and sleeves, as well as heavy boots.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Such precautions are standard going when visiting active industrial sites, in ones’ own experience, and a sturdy pair of steel toe boots are part of my personal arsenal of equipment. These are not the most comfortable shoes in the world, but the so called “steel toes” did provide me with a bit of prevaricating logic that explained to the MTA handlers why I seemed to be lagging along at the rear end of the group.

“Still breaking them in” uttered a humble narrator.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A fascinating ideation was rattling about in my thoughts, namely that after a lifetime of avoiding a situation wherein I would find myself standing on the tracks of some Subway, here I was.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One other fellow seemed to be thinking like me, hanging a little further back than me. He didn’t seem to be feigning a slight limp as I was, but there you go. The head of this press snake was pretty far ahead of us by this point, and we were asked to “catch up.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

For my part at least, the request was answered, and soon I was back in a crowd of reflective vests, hard hats, and flashing cameras.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One bent over to retie the laces of the “steel toe” boots, which allowed a plausible reason for dallying. I found myself at the end of the line, walking along with the tour’s “sweeper.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One decided to retie the other boot as well, out of an abundance of caution.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

It’s the little things which make me happy. 

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Upcoming Tours –

May 30, 2015 –
The Skillman Corridor with Atlas Obscura

with Newtown Creek Alliance Historian Mitch Waxman, click here for details and tickets.

May 31, 2015 –  SOLD OUT
Newtown Creek Boat Tour
with Working Harbor Committee and Newtown Creek Alliance Historian Mitch Waxman, click here for tickets.

June 7th, 2015
13 Steps Around Dutch Kills Walking Tour
with Newtown Creek Alliance, click here for details and tickets.

June 11th, 2015
MADE IN BROOKLYN Hidden Harbor Boat Tour
with Working Harbor Committee, click here for details and tickets.

June 13th, 2015
The Insalubrious Valley of the Newtown Creek Walking Tour
with Atlas Obscura, click here for details and tickets.

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

Written by Mitch Waxman

May 27, 2015 at 11:00 am

Who can guess…

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Lords and Ladies, the Second Avenue Subway project…

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Lucky, that’s me.

Persistent, that’s me as well, and I’ve been bugging/begging the MTA to allow me to wave the camera around at the Second Avenue Subway project for quite a little while now. Graciously, they invited me along for a press excursion that occurred on May 21 of this year. The fellow pictured above is Michael Horodniceanu, and he’s the President of Capital Construction for the MTA – the boss.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There were a sizable number of sharp elbowed reporters in the group, including the former First Lady of NYC, Donna Hanover. She seemed nice.

One made an early decision, based on a hunch that since the presence of my fellow photographers was going to be an integral part of this experience, that I’d make sure to photograph the photographers while they photographed.

from wikipedia

The Second Avenue Subway (officially the IND Second Avenue Line; abbreviated to SAS) is a long-envisioned rapid transit subway line, part of the New York City Subway system. As of 2014, Phase I, a new line between the existing BMT 63rd Street Line and 96th Street and Second Avenue, is under construction beneath Second Avenue in the borough of Manhattan.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The whole mob of us followed Michael Horodniceanu deep into the F station at 63rd street, and proceeded down to the lowest of platforms. The MTA folks opened the gates for us, so there was no need to swipe my Metrocard. Score!

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The Second Avenue Subway project entrance was along the F platform, where commuters encounter a plywood partition separating them from the show. A door was opened, and the gaggle of reporters followed Michael Horodniceanu and his cohort of contractors (and assorted MTA folks) through it.

from wikipedia

Lexington Avenue – 63rd Street is a two-level station shared by the IND and BMT 63rd Street Lines of the New York City Subway. Located at the intersection of Lexington Avenue and 63rd Street, it is served by the F train at all times. Downtown and Brooklyn-bound trains use the upper level, and Queens-bound trains use the lower level. The original wall tiles installed in this station were red-orange; currently, there are beige-white wall tiles, which replaced the orange wall tiles because of the construction for the Second Avenue Subway. There are a total of ten escalators, six staircases and two elevators. Two additional staircases between the platform levels are at the eastern end of platforms, past the elevator.

The station’s upper level is 140 feet (43 m) deep, making the station among the system’s deepest. This depth is because it has to go under the IRT Lexington Avenue Line and other existing infrastructure.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

This is the actual 63rd street station, which is quite far along. There’s track, for instance, and the far wall is sporting some actual finishes. The MTA didn’t use tile, to avoid the maintenance costs experienced whenever water infiltrates behind it. Instead, the wall has a sort of rack on it, and the “tiles” clip on to it leaving a bit of leeway for flowing liquids to find their way to drains.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

It seemed like electrical and HVAC work was still underway, and there was a staircase under construction on the platform as well.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

It wasn’t the thrill of photographing a subway station platform that lured me down here, however titillating that prospect might be…

– photo by Mitch Waxman

This MTA tour allowed us to walk the actual tunnel, from 63rd to 86th streets. That’s what brought me here, and over the next several days, Lords and Ladies, you’ll see what I saw. Like today’s rather photo heavy post, the next few days will bring you sights and scenes from the darkness below.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

It seems that the “old school” staircase found at the end of the platforms has been done away with in these Second Avenue Subway stations, and we were shuffled into a line that entered a small antechamber at the edge of the public arena.

Soon, we found ourselves “behind the curtain.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A small flight of stairs, somewhat crowded, and all the latest offerings from Nikon and Canon were brandished about. iPhone and GoPro alike were deployed, and the flashes began to pop.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Down on the actual tracks, and looking back towards the 63rd street station, the point of no return on this journey into an oneirontic darkness carven from the belly of Manhattan.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Tomorrow, and for the rest of the week, you’ll be seeing Second Avenue Subway images, at this – your Newtown Pentacle. Remember, I go to these places so that you don’t have to.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Upcoming Tours –

May 30, 2015 –
The Skillman Corridor with Atlas Obscura

with Newtown Creek Alliance Historian Mitch Waxman, click here for details and tickets.

May 31, 2015 –  SOLD OUT
Newtown Creek Boat Tour
with Working Harbor Committee and Newtown Creek Alliance Historian Mitch Waxman, click here for tickets.

June 7th, 2015
13 Steps Around Dutch Kills Walking Tour
with Newtown Creek Alliance, click here for details and tickets.

June 11th, 2015
MADE IN BROOKLYN Hidden Harbor Boat Tour
with Working Harbor Committee, click here for details and tickets.

June 13th, 2015
The Insalubrious Valley of the Newtown Creek Walking Tour
with Atlas Obscura, click here for details and tickets.

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

Written by Mitch Waxman

May 26, 2015 at 11:00 am

corporeal tenement

with 2 comments

Wind, snow, rats, egg rolls, fear.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

An interesting visualization of the locations where rats were reported in 2014 in the City of Greater New York, as presented by the Village Voice, was reviewed over the weekend. The health department and the writer of the piece focused in on the seeming correlation between the addresses of Chinese restaurants and the location of rat colonies. Officialdom and the Voice writer speculated on whether or not the rodents have a preference for Chinese take out. When viewing the map, I couldn’t help but notice that the shape of the rat infestations closely mirrored that of the NYC Subway system. Follow the critters through Queens, and you can trace out the path of the R/M, 7, and F lines rather neatly. Same thing with Brooklyn, where you can trace out the G tunnels. Just saying… these restaurants are either located above subway tunnels or are nearby the entrances to the system.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Personal observation of the Chinese restaurants here in Astoria, a few of which are on the Voice map, reveals that the owners of these establishments consider the corner sewer drain as a handy receptacle for the issuance of both fryer oil and the emptying of mop buckets. Rats love fatty foods (who doesn’t, after all?) and hang around the local sewer interceptors and underground vaults knowing that the good stuff will be coming soon. Thing is, my belief is that these sorts of anecdotes are coincidental to the real issue of where the rats are coming from – which are the MTA tunnels.

Ask anyone who lives in public housing – the worst landlord in the City of New York is actually the City of New York, which passes strict rules and enacts a series of fines on the citizenry to enforce them, rules which it does not find itself obliged to follow. Show me a New Yorker who hasn’t seen a rat in the Subway and I will declare them a one percenter who normally gets around town in the back seat of a limo. Show me an apartment house owner with black mold on the walls and no available heat or hot water, who never gets fined, and I’ll automatically tell you the owner is the City of New York.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

After the snow finishes falling, look around tomorrow. You’ll be able to discern which properties in your neighborhood are owned and operated by the City simply by noticing which sidewalks haven’t been shoveled (with the exception of schools, courthouses, and anything within camera range of Manhattan’s City Hall). These City owned stretches of pavement will remain covered in snow, which will shortly compact down into a plate of milky colored, rotting, wet ice that will persist until the spring thaw. Sadly, many of these spots will surround Subway stations and bus stops. This is one of the things which “I don’t get” as even the Soviet Commisars acknowledged that they had certain responsibilities to the Proletariat. The connection between high volume restaurants and rats is actually a correlation of the proximity of these establishments to Subway infrastructure. Dealing with NYC’s rat infestation should begin with that which connects us all – the subway tunnels. Then, we should work our way up to the surface and blame the Chinese restaurants.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

January 26, 2015 at 11:00 am

worried faces

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Would it kill you to smile?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

While riding the Subway in New York City, observation of the interesting social behaviors exhibited by the citizenry entertains. There are those who present the “pfft, ain’t no thing” and those who present the “what the hell are you looking at” and also present are the “please, for gods sake, do not notice me” lean. Others pretend to sleep, or stare blankly at the floor (that’s the one which I favor), while a small group of extroverts feel the need to shout and otherwise draw attention unto themselves. Then there’s the buskers.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There are Mariachi’s, young couples who perpetrate the “gypsy baby” scam, those three kids who dance and perform acrobatics. Worst of all are the religious zealots, whose clumsy attempts at evangelism are enough to drive one into the arms of Satan itself. Skillfully ignoring these buskers and con artists, or not, is what separates the true New Yorker from the tourist. The tourists are the worst, of course, breaking all of the unspoken rules of subway etiquette which “regular” riders subconsciously obey and enforce. Nobody smiles, the MTA has a rule against that.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

My camera is always at the ready whenever entering these concrete bunkers with their pungent atmospheres, and one of the odd things I’ve noticed in recent years is the reaction some have upon seeing the device. Lens cap on and power switch off, they will stare at the camera in the manner one would watch the countdown clock on a bomb. I don’t understand this. Humans, they’re weird, and need to smile more often.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

April 2, 2014 at 10:54 am

poor substitute

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“follow” me on Twitter at @newtownpentacle

– photo by Mitch Waxman

December 6th, a date which will live in infamy, as it is the anniversary of the birth of British Occultist Dion Fortune as well as the day that a man modernity knows as Santa Claus died.

The Mayan Apocalypse is only 15 days away now, so it might be a good idea to focus in on something a bit less weighty than the end of the universe. Accordingly, on a day that reminded one of nothing more than the Stephen King short story called “The Mist”, your humble narrator headed down to Queens Plaza to check out and ride the MTA Holiday Nostalgia Trains.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

These holiday nostalgia trains are a yearly event offered by the MTA, and run on the M line between Queens Plaza and the 2nd avenue stop in Manhattan. Legacy equipment, the trains are a hodge lodge of different eras in subway history, and are maintained with the historical advertising one would have observed “back in the day”. The trains are running on Sundays, with the first train leaving the city at ten and arriving in Queens Plaza for the return trip at 10:44 am. Check out this page at the MTA website for more info on train models and schedule.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Train people, rail fans as they would call themselves, are a breed apart. It is extremely easy to mock their enthusiasm and detailed knowledge of the industrial ephemera which surrounds rolling stock, and there are several nicknames for them. These denigrating nomens infuriate their insular community, in the same way that Star Trek or Comic Book people detest outsiders labeling them as nerds or geeks. This is their hobby, and its actually a fairly wholesome one at that.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

It’s funny, how little attention or notice the actual hardware of the subways receives. Personally, the only time I truly pay attention to the cars themselves is when I find myself on a line which is using a completely different model than one of the trains which I normally travel on. The R versus the 1 for instance, use entirely different models, although I couldn’t tell you much more than surface differences, nor why the choice was made to use one of the other. The rail fan will be able to point to the exposed screw in a random light fixture and tell you an involved tale about it, usually involving long dead commissioners and obscure MTA operatives you’ve never heard of before.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

You’ve still got two more Sundays to get out and experience these vintage cars, lined with goofy advertising from the past- admonishments to “hire a veteran”, “Smoke Viceroy”, and reminders that “real men wear a hat”. Be prepared though, for camera flash and dozens of photographers roaming the trains as they hurtle along. One interesting existential observation is how “bouncy” these trains are in comparison to the modern units, they are also quite a bit louder.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As mentioned, the holiday trains are moving along the M tracks, and performing regular duty for the day. An enjoyable activity is to watch the City people blindly get on board, texting and futzing about with their phones, and then suddenly cast their gaze around, noticing their surroundings and the hordes of photographers and rail fans around them. There are some photographers and “creepy camera club guys” who hire models to dress in period garb for the day, and pretty ladies and gentlemen can be observed wearing the fashions of earlier times.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One finds that you have to hold on to something when these trains are moving, lest you be tossed about. One of my many annoying habits, this one exhibited while riding the subway, is to stand on the balls of my feet with my arms at my side and “surf” as the subway moves between stations. I enjoy this, and it would be suicide to try it on the vintage trains, which demand two on the floor and one on the pole or hanging strap. The MTA, you’ve come a long way, baby.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The general protocol which your humble narrator follows for this event is to ride the train in a full circuit, from Queens Plaza to second and back to QP where I leave the train, satisfied with the experience. My rail fan friends engage in a Bataan death march of a day, riding back and forth in some kafkaesque loop, and will pack a lunch. Such devotion is remarkable, and beyond my attention span.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

My personal predilection, after entering the subway system, is usually to get out of it as quickly as possible. I don’t like it down there, in that dripping stygia of rat infested tunnels. I don’t like knowing that the trains form pneumatic dams within the tunnels which push a swirling cloud of rodent droppings and desiccated decay before them and into the station. Mephitic, these dust blasts paint every surface- including me- with fecund horrors whose byzantine complexity is beyond the capacity of even a madman to conceive.

Accordingly, me and the Forgotten-NY guy went out for coffee in LIC after getting off the train at the 23 Ely stop.

Written by Mitch Waxman

December 6, 2012 at 12:15 am

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