The Newtown Pentacle

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Posts Tagged ‘New York City Skyline

delighted astonishment

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A short trip off of a Long Island to… Staten Island.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Over at the St. George Ferry terminal, on the… Staten Island… side of the harbor, one is treated to magnificent views of Lower Manhattan and it’s a pretty sure bet that you’ll see some maritime traffic. Pictured above is the Vane Brothers Sassafras towing a fuel barge, for instance.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One such as myself is always eager to witness a DEP Sludge Boat splashing by. That’s the MV North River heading towards the Port Richmond sewer plant found a mile or so up the Kill Van Kull.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Marjorie B. McAllister also happened by, and the bright red tug was towing a fuel barge. Even when it seems that a tug is pushing a barge, it’s still called “towing.”

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damnable chance

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From the very edge of the Newtown Pentacle.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The Cemetery of the Evergreens is found near the border of East New York and Bushwick, is some 225 acres in size, and is home to around a half million corpses. For a short time, during the 1920’s, it was the busiest burying ground in the entire city. Unfortunately, during my visit, the fact that Anthony Comstock is buried here was unknown to me, for I am possessed of a strong desire to first spread out a few issues of Hustler and thereupon urinate upon his grave. If that sounds shocking, you don’t know who that “assassin of joy” called Comstock was. If I’d known he was here, I’d have brought him some porn.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Evergreens was my second destination on a recent trip to the south eastern interval of the Pentacle, after having visited Machpela Cemetery. When entering the place, a humble narrator was in a state of willful ignorance. My friend Kevin Walsh over at Forgotten-NY has written extensively (and offered a walking tour) about the non sectarian Cemetery of the Evergreens, btw., but this was my first visit. Personally, I was blown away by the view, as the altitude of the hill that the cemetery is built into offers panoramic views of the entire geologic “soup bowl” that NYC is nestled into. The only competition for these tapophile views from Bushwick, in my experience, are those encountered at the Mt. Olivet Cemetery found a few miles to the north over in Maspeth.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

It must be mentioned, as always, that the Manhattan people look to Brooklyn and Queens to dispose of things they don’t want – which includes their dead. Back in 1847, the Rural Cemeteries Act was passed as a sanitary law. The RCA of 1847, a reaction to a recent Cholera outbreak in Manhattan’s Bloody Sixth Ward, decreed that no new burials were to take place on Manhattan Island and that the various sects and houses of worship housed thereupon must acquire properties in “the country.” Back then, “the country” meant the vastness of greater Newtown or the infinity of the City of Brooklyn (independent municipalities, I would mention, who permanently lost a significant acreage of otherwise profitable land to these cemeteries).

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Observed were a wealth of monuments representing several recent eras in the field of graphic design. Particularly well represented were early 20th century deco and nouveau motifs, and typography such as that used on the carvings above was of high quality and tasteful execution. Having spent as much time studying First Calvary as I have, which hosts monuments that are the epitome of an interval starting during the Civil War of the 1860’s right through 1900 or so (thoroughly Irish and German Catholic in type and marker styling), this sort of “moderne” approach to funereal typography caught my eye. Several examples of this sort of marker were noticed, with the one above recorded simply because the light was good.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

For as long as this – your Newtown Pentacle – has been focusing on the various cemeteries which comprise the so called “Cemetery Belt” there have been references offered for “disturbing subsidences.” Presumption is made that you have a life and don’t spend your time hunting around cemeteries, unlike me, and that a little bit of explanation as to what you’re looking at should be attempted for the non ghoul.

This is a washout, not a fresh interment. If it was a new burial, there would be a temporary marker of some kind and the soil would form a slight mound – there would also be tire marks from earth moving equipment and footprints. Additionally, notice the edges of the bald soil! which bear the shape of flowing water. No, what you’re seeing here is a disturbing subsidence, wherein either the entire casket has been shifted or damaged by hydrologic action – or the lid of the casket has simply collapsed – allowing soil to infiltrate, creating a void which caused column of loam to drop down.

As mentioned – a “disturbing subsidence.”

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Written by Mitch Waxman

January 20, 2015 at 11:00 am

later developments

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“follow” me on Twitter at @newtownpentacle

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Just a quick one for Maritime Sunday this week, of the Marjorie B. McAllister tug steaming out of the Kill Van Kull. Iconic backgrounds notwithstanding, this is a pretty cool little boat, and deserving of a hearty “Hi.”

rhythmical promise

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“follow” me on Twitter at @newtownpentacle

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Recently, occasion carried me down to Long Island City, where my stated goal was to catch the venerable East River Ferry and attend a meeting in Brooklyn Heights. It is somewhat ironic, to me at least, that the only mass transit pathway between two points on the western tip of Long Island that doesn’t involve transversing Manhattan is to use a ferry service set up to carry folks from the former to the latter. Unfortunately, just as I arrived at the dock, the boat was leaving, which in many ways is a metaphor for my entire life.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

It was no tragedy, as it offered an opportunity to linger and play around with some of that night photography I was talking about at the start of the week. Manhattan can be quite lovely when viewed from outside of itself, and some effort went into the endeavor. The Empire State Building, a shining beacon of hope erected during the deep despair of the Great Depression, never disappoints.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

For some reason, the Freedom Tower will always be the name I call the building at One World Trade Center. Future generations will just call it whatever name they inherit from us, and Freedom Tower reminds me of those early days of the Terror War when terms like “blowback”, “freedom fries”, and “new normal” were coined. I think it’s important to remember that time, and that some symbolism is valuable even for the jaded mindset of modernity.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Such ruminations came to end, when the East River Ferry showed up. Their service has really matured in the last year, although the dock at Long Island City is in dire condition. It is temporary, of course, as the Hunters Point South development project surrounds and engulfs all in a shroud of ongoing construction.

perpetually ajar

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– photo by Mitch Waxman

Recent serendipity found your humble narrator onboard a vessel plying the languid waters of the Newtown Creek. This particular adventure was part of a larger and laudable effort which will be the subject of a posting later in the week, but urgent demands and unavoidable deadlines preclude discussion of the outing at this point. Instead, one is anxious to share the scenic wonders and hidden landscape of this water body that defines the currently undefended border of Brooklyn and Queens.

Captured in the heart of DUMABO (Down Under the Metropolitan Avenue Bridge), the shot above depicts the far off and omnipresent Sapphire Megalith rising over industrial Brooklyn and framed by the Metropolitan Avenue Bridge while opening at English Kill.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The self same Megalith again provides geographic context for the scene, and the thrice damned Kosciuszko Bridge and Calvary Cemetery occupy the foreground.

To the right is the Phelps Dodge site, and to the left is found the lurking fear and that rampant darkness which lurks on the Brooklyn side of DUKBO (Down Under the Kosciuszko Bridge Onramp).

– photo by Mitch Waxman

In the shot above, gaze in wonder at the skyline of the Shining City itself, as framed by the titan National Grid tanks and the myriad works of infrastructure arrayed across the Brooklyn flood plain. Inextricably linked, the heavy industries and energy installations along the Newtown Creek allow the Shining City to maintain the facade of assumptions which Manhattanites prefer to believe about this place where aspirant and realist metaphors clash.

More, on why exactly I was on this boat, will be forthcoming. Apologies for brevity and obfuscation.

graceful valleys

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– photo by Mitch Waxman

A structure which may be discerned in the distance, within the shot above, at Sunnyside Yards is the 35th street or Honeywell Bridge. The location of the camera which captured it was astride the 39th street or Harold Avenue bridge at Steinway Street, where ongoing construction has rendered a hidden breach in the fencing which normally frustrates its purpose by obfuscating the view.

For a discussion of another of the bridges which cross these titan rail yards, click here for the posting “incaculable profusion”, examining the Thomson Avenue Viaduct to the west.

from forgotten-ny.com

When the Yards were built, Long Island City, to the north of the Yards, was effectively cut off from Sunnyside and Maspeth, to the south. Viaducts were built at Queens Boulevard (which was itself under construction in 1910), Honeywell Street, Harold Avenue, and Thomson Avenue. Laurel Hill Avenue (43rd Street) Gosman Avenue (48th Street) and Woodside Avenue were carried under the railroad.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A paucity of such apertures in the fence lines around the yards exists, which is appropriate in this age of heightened vigilance, and the discovery of something large enough to accept the lens of a dslr is tantamount to observing a unicorn to one such as myself. Of course in the midst of all this faux security and theater, I can show you a dozen different places where you could work mischief if you chose to. Such is always the case with large installations like this one, however, and illegal trespass is not the Newtown Pentacle way.

The real estate happy characters in Manhattan are desirous to rob me of this vista, as evidenced in the document linked to below, describing the feasibility and benefits of decking over these yards and expanding the population of western Queens by tens of thousands. It seems to be a plan of some vintage, however, crafted before the financial crisis and concurrent economic crisis experienced by the region and country at large since 2008 (when do we get to start calling this a depression?).

from nyc.gov

Sunnyside Yards, one and three-quarters of a mile long and 1,600 feet across at its widest point, is the largest site in this inventory. The total deckable airspace of its 14 parcels – over 167 acres – is more than double the size of the next largest airspace site, the 74-acre NYCT Coney Island Maintenance Shop and Yards (K5000). This one corridor contains around one-sixth of the entire deckable airspace in this inventory.

The potential for large scale land uses above these yards is extraordinary. With the possible exception of Staten Island’s west shore, no other large tracts of “vacant” land remain in the City. Moreover, Sunnyside Yards is defined by a surrounding context of relatively dense development and plentiful transit access.

At the behest of former Deputy Mayor for Economic Development and Rebuilding Daniel Doctoroff, DCP’s Housing, Economic and Infrastructure Planning (HEIP) unit conducted a preliminary analysis concerning the viability of decking over and developing Sunnyside Yards. The HEIP unit determined that the most desirable sites within the yards were two roughly rectangular areas running from the southwest to the northeast; the northern third of both sites is located northeast of Queens Boulevard.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

These trusses which fly over the Sunnyside Yards are actually rather new. The Honeywell and Harold Bridges (39th and 35th streets), for instance, were totally rebuilt recently. The Honeywell Bridge reopened in 2003 after having laid fallow and closed to pedestrian and vehicle traffic for better than 20 years. The night shot above, by the way, is betrayed by its format and shape as being from my trusty old Canon G10, which is still in service at this- your Newtown Pentacle.

from nytimes.com

In 1979, inspectors from the city’s Department of Transportation judged the 1,600-foot four-lane bridge, which was built in 1909, to be on the verge of falling down. The inspection occurred near the end of an era in which the city, nearly broke and as exhausted as a disco dancer at dawn, partly balanced its budget by deferring maintenance on bridges. Tom Cocola, a department spokesman, said once costs had been cut by removing the bridge from the city’s regular inspection schedule, ”we probably just forgot about it.”

Written by Mitch Waxman

March 12, 2012 at 12:15 am

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