The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

Posts Tagged ‘Staten Island

pause and peer

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Sunset at Freshkill, in today’s post.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

As mentioned yesterday, there were four shots a humble narrator was slavering over capturing during a recent evening visit to Freshkills – two involved a chancy encounter with wild fauna and did not happen, the shots in today’s post – however – were all ones that I desired. Sunset on… Staten Island…

- photo by Mitch Waxman

As I understand it, this is the actual Fresh Kill for which the former DSNY facility and the modern Parks project takes its name. As the sun was going down, there were a bunch of ducks on the water who were doing duckish things. The piles and structure pictured above reminded me of the sort of thing you’d tow a barge into, but I might just be seeing what I want to see.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Here and there, flotsam reminds one of what this place once was used for, but this is material that likely floated in on the tide. Trust in me, of course, to waste time taking monochrome pictures of a cast off tire in the mud while a spectacular sunset is underway.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

For you photo geeks out there, the formula for this one was to reduce my aperture down to f22, and expose for around 2.5 seconds. That’s how you produce the frozen glassiness of the water and capture a wide range of color from the sky without causing the wind driven clouds to “drag” or the constantly moving ducks to motion blur. It’s a tripod shot, which was triggered by a remote release. If you click the image and head over to my Flickr account, there’s a few permutations on the formula which go darker and or lighter on this scene surrounding it in the album. I like this one best.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The scenics which made me long for a tripod and my sharpest lens when I visited Freshkill in August follow after this one. The equipment in the shot above is a methane monitoring well, I’m told. This is all natural light, by the way, although I was standing in absolute darkness. A long exposure, thirty seconds long, the light pollution erupting from New York City is remarkable.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

This is looking westwards at New Jersey, across the Arthur Kill, and the vast complex of oil refinery and distribution businesses which give the area its nickname – the “chemical coast.” It’s striking, actually, how less “lit up” this area is despite the proximity of Newark Airport and the various highways leading to and from it and the crossings into and out of Manhattan.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Pictured above is the Arthur Kill Power Plant, a 1950’s era beast of an electricity generating station. My pals at habitatmap did a work up on the place a while back, check it out here. When I was reviewing the shots back at HQ, it occurred that I seemed to have shot a Pink Floyd album cover here.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

After dusk settled into darkness, I realized that a repeat of the long journey was about to ensue and it was nearly 7:30 p.m. One last shot of the Manhattan skyline jutting out of the Freshkills mounds was required, however, as pictured above.

also – I’m required to state the following, regarding the access which allowed me to capture these photos – “Courtesy of the City of New York. NYC Parks and the Freshkills Park Alliance have made access available for the production of this artwork.” I’m also required to offer this link to freshkillspark.org and inform that inquiries regarding the park are best sent to freshkillspark@parks.nyc.gov

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Upcoming Walking Tours-

Saturday, November 8th, Poison Cauldron
Walking Tour with Atlas Obscura, click here for tickets and more info.

Note: This is the last Newtown Creek walking tour of 2014, and probably the last time this tour will be presented in its current form due to the Kosciuszko Bridge construction project. 

Written by Mitch Waxman

November 7, 2014 at 11:00 am

incidents and sensations

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Freshkills, in today’s post.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

My long trek across the City of Greater New York, discussed all week at this – your Newtown Pentacle – had a singular goal. It was to answer an invitation to return to Freshkills that had been tendered by officials at the NYC Parks Dept. As detailed in several early August posts (here, here, and here), the Parks people have a program which allows artists and photographers to visit the still under construction park, one which I was lucky enough to be invited to participate in.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

In August, I had shown up with just my standard camera kit bag, which serves me well in most circumstances. I wished at the time that I had brought the whole kit, especially my trusty tripod. When this autumn invitation to return to the park was offered, the entire toy box was packed up for travel and the long commute from Astoria to Freshkills was gladly undertaken.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

This time around, it was a bit of a private viewing. Last time I was out here, there was a group of us shooting, but this time it was just me and a chaperone from Parks who was actually the same person that invited me out (thanks again, Mariel!). She told me that the park had just been mowed, in anticipation of autumn (2,200 square acres of dry grass would be just asking for something bad to happen).

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The park itself is divided into several sections, each designed to offer different services to the community. Certain areas are being designed for sports fields and events, while others are being crafted with scenic splendors in mind. Water runs throughout the place, which is crossed by squamous concrete bridges which were designed for heavy trucks.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

When discussing the timing of this excursion, Mariel from Parks and I kept the setting sun in mind, as we were both keen to see what I could capture during the so called “golden hour.” Your humble narrator particularly hungered for shots of the white tail deer which have taken up residence in the park, but they are skittish and elusive critters. Best shot I got was from very far away, as presented above.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

At least the Geese had the good sense to pose for me. The structure in the background is one of many that handles the methane which the occluded reality of the place produces. Don’t forget, the park is being built atop the worlds largest man made object, the mounds of garbage generated by the totality of New York City for a good chunk of the 20th century. On the horizon is the chemical coast of New Jersey, which lies beyond the Arthur Kill.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

When planning my visit, there were four shots which I desired to come home with. Two were denied me – the deer, and the bald eagles. You can’t count on critters cooperating unless you’re prepared to spend weeks on the endeavor, so I wasn’t crying into my camera bag, but I should have brought a pound of lox with which to draw in the eagle. The other two I was desirous of capturing were accomplished, and will greet you in tomorrow’s installment of this, your Newtown Pentacle.

also – I’m required to state the following, regarding the access which allowed me to capture these photos – “Courtesy of the City of New York. NYC Parks and the Freshkills Park Alliance have made access available for the production of this artwork.” I’m also required to offer this link to freshkillspark.org and inform that inquiries regarding the park are best sent to freshkillspark@parks.nyc.gov

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Upcoming Walking Tours-

Saturday, November 8th, Poison Cauldron
Walking Tour with Atlas Obscura, click here for tickets and more info.

Note: This is the last Newtown Creek walking tour of 2014, and probably the last time this tour will be presented in its current form due to the Kosciuszko Bridge construction project. 

Written by Mitch Waxman

November 6, 2014 at 11:00 am

hidden and unsuspected

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Are they ever called “on purposes”?

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Having finally achieved landfall in… Staten Island, after a lengthy journey through the rotting tunnels of the Subway that lead from Astoria to lower Manhattan and across the harbor on the Staten Island Ferry, one was happily ensconced in an automobile when this scene was witnessed. The pair of NYPD officers seemed to be discussing a recent accident. Got me to thinking about traffic, and traffic accidents.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

One remembers a few screw ups from when I was first licensed to drive, in particular there was a crunched door panel in a Ralph Avenue strip mall parking lot which was my fault ultimately (misjudged my turning radius) that cost an astronomical amount (to an 18 year old back in the 80’s ) for me to put right. Never experienced the sort of thing in the shot above, which still puzzles me from the physics point of view, as it would have taken a LOT of energy to get that wheel up off the ground. This was on Jackson Avenue in LIC, incidentally.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

This NYPD patrol car had its lights on and was in the process of responding to a call with great haste when the officers lost control of the vehicle. They were speeding down 44th street in Astoria and ran afoul of uneven pavement encountered when crossing Broadway. Witnesses reported that they gained altitude after their wheels hit a rise in the intersection. The cops totaled a parked Taxi, struck several other parked cars, and came to a halt only after smashing into a tree – which they creamed. The boys in blue, I inquired with the local Precinct Commander afterwards, had a few bangs and bruises but were ultimately ok and returned to duty shortly afterwards.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Upcoming Walking Tours-

Saturday, November 8th, Poison Cauldron
Walking Tour with Atlas Obscura, click here for tickets and more info.

Note: This is the last Newtown Creek walking tour of 2014, and probably the last time this tour will be presented in its current form due to the Kosciuszko Bridge construction project. 

Written by Mitch Waxman

November 5, 2014 at 11:00 am

fresh surprise

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Megalopolis harbor, in today’s post.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Last Saturday, a welcome return to the bosom of the Working Harbor Committee was enjoyed. WHC’s programming this year has occurred on Saturdays, when I’ve largely been busy with my own Newtown Creek and Kill Van Kull tours, and accordingly I’ve missed most of the 2014 schedule. Luckily, I got onboard the Port Elizabeth Newark Bay trip which occurred onboard a Circle Line vessel. Even luckier, I wasn’t asked to speak on the mike, so I stuck my headphones in and turned up the heavy metal and started shooting.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The headphones weren’t deployed because I didn’t want to pay attention to the three speakers onboard – Ed Kelly, Gordon Cooper, and Capt. Maggie Flanagan – I did, but one needed to tune out distraction. Look up, down, all around… shoot everything… record, reveal, recall. This is something truly enjoyed by one such as myself, and I wasn’t seeking companionship on this trip – which is something I enjoy less and less these days.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

There’s a couple of WHC trips still on the schedule for this year – a circumnavigation of Staten Island and an exploration of Gowanus Bay, I believe. Tomorrow, I’ll have some shots from last Sunday’s WHC event – the Great North River Tugboat Race and Competition – for you.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Walking Tour this weekend-

Saturday, September 6th, The Insalubrious Valley of the the Newtown Creek
Walking Tour with Atlas Obscura, click here for tickets and more info.

Written by Mitch Waxman

September 4, 2014 at 11:56 am

spectral summer

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Damnation, hell, and other allegories plague my days.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

That’s a gull catching the free ride on the Staten Island Ferry, a critter smarter than me who says “why walk (or fly) when you can ride?” Severe fatigue marks this day for a humble narrator. A freelance assignment carried one out to storied Red Hook yesterday, a trip made remarkable by the atypically wonderful weather. Having clicked the shutter while pointing the camera at my intended targets, and not having much else to do for the afternoon, one decided to walk home to Astoria.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The shot above depicts what the City looks like from the water, at night. Walking from Red Hook to Astoria sounds insane, I know, but it’s only about 10 miles from A to B. Along the way, one gets to witness the majesty of the East River while moving out of Red Hook, into Brooklyn Bridge Park, through Vinegar Hill, past the Navy Yard, into Williamsburg and Greenpoint, over the Pulaski into Hunters Point, and then the Queensbridge, Ravenswood, and finally Astoria neighborhoods are encountered in Queens. It takes around four to five hours to do this section of the western coast of Long Island.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

My beloved Dutch Kills, above. When you return home, a little puff of steam is released as you doff your shoes. You really do feel it the next day, mainly in the lateral part of the hips, which is where my feeling of fatigue comes in.

It’s actually so silly cool a walk that I’m considering organizing a free event on the Saturday of Thanksgiving weekend, the 29th of November, and calling it the “Red Hook to Astoria Challenge.” This won’t be a tour, per se, it’ll be more of a hang out. More to come on this.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

This weekend-

Saturday, August 16th, LIC’s Modern Corridor
With Atlas Obscura, click here for tickets and more info.

shewing much

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A last look at Fresh Kills Park, at sunset.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The burning thermonuclear eye of god itself is a fixed point in time and space, of course, and as Fresh Kills rotated out of its view, the lighting experienced at this bold experiment in environmental remediation and reclamation being conducted by the NYC Parks Dept. and the DSNY became dramatic and somewhat theatrical.

As described previously, Fresh Kills park is being constructed atop the 2,200 acre garbage dump and landfill which NYC operated between 1947 and 2001 on Staten Island. The Fresh Kills landfill is the largest man made object upon the earth, with hills (or mounds) that rise from 90 to 225 feet above surrounding terrain.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

One of the interesting things which were observed here, there were many, was the way that water was beginning to chart its own course in the root beds of the chest high grasses which occluded the manufactured ground. There were several species of grasses growing here which, as I was informed, are all “volunteers” or self seeded. All this green blew in on the wind, apparently.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

A stitched panorama from a high elevation, looking over the industrial landscape of New Jersey just beyond the Arthur Kill. I believe that’s Linden, just beyond the hill, and we are looking up the New Jersey Turnpike corridor towards Newark. If you click the image, it will bring you to progressively larger incarnations of it at Flickr, btw.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

This is the Fresh Kills waterway itself, a small tidal strait which breaks off of the larger and quite industrial Arthur Kill. Notice the soft edges and natural looking mud flats along the shoreline? Many of the environmentally focused people I speak to about my beloved Newtown Creek describe the end stage of the superfund process as leaving parts of the Creek (Dutch Kills and Maspeth Creek in particular) in a similar condition.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Nearly dark, but one had a few last shots that needed capturing. The pole to the left of the shot has an Osprey nest crowning it. Seeing an Osprey in NYC is a bit like spotting a unicorn, and in this shot there are three juveniles in the nest and mama is returning from the hunt. She’s a bit blurred, but this is a handheld shot at about a thirtieth of second, so I’m just happy that I was able to get a crisp focus in what was functionally total darkness.

Tomorrow, back to Queens.

also – I’m required to state the following, regarding the access which allowed me to capture these photos – “Courtesy of the City of New York. NYC Parks and the Freshkills Park Alliance have made access available for the production of this artwork.” I’m also required to offer this link to freshkillspark.org and inform that inquiries regarding the park are best sent to freshkillspark@parks.nyc.gov

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

This weekend-

Saturday, August 16th, LIC’s Modern Corridor
With Atlas Obscura, click here for tickets and more info.

Sunday, August 17th, 13 Steps Around Dutch Kills
With Brooklyn Brainery, click here for tickets and more info.

Written by Mitch Waxman

August 12, 2014 at 1:00 pm

grassy banks

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More from Fresh Kills Park.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

As mentioned last week, an opportunity to visit Staten Island’s Fresh Kills popped up, and your humble narrator eagerly hurtled across land and water to get there. The Parks Dept. of our great city was conducting what they described as a “VIP photographers tour” and I was lucky enough to be included. For those of you unfamiliar with the place, the park is being constructed atop the 2,200 acre garbage dump and landfill which NYC operated between 1947 and 2001. The Fresh Kills landfill is the largest man made object upon the earth, with hills (or mounds) that rise from 90 to 225 feet above surrounding terrain.

Basically, it’s Fresh Kills and the Great Wall of China in the top spot of “big,” with the Pyramids of Egypt and the Hoover Dam barely making the list.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The views from atop one of the great berms are incredible, with the flood plains of New Jersey and their petroleum industries found just beyond the Arthur Kill ringing the horizon. I think that everyone knows, at this point in time, that “kill” is Dutch for creek, but I’ll throw that out for the uninformed. The way that the decadent Dutch used the word indicates a slow moving or shallow tidal water body.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The West Shore Expressway rolling out towards the Outerbridge Crossing is pictured above, which gives you some idea of the actual elevation which Fresh Kills offers to visitors. The neighborhood of Travis is nearby, but this used to be Linoleumville, once upon a time before Robert Moses.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

As mentioned, New Jersey’s industrial sections are nicely revealed from up here. That looks like the complex of petroleum refining and distributing facilities along the New Jersey Turnpike to me, the ones whose many smokestacks cause most passing drivers to roll up their car windows – even on very warm days.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Pictured above is a Flare Station, with Port Elizabeth Newark’s cargo cranes rising behind it. The operation at this building is all about the Methane produced by the buried landfill, and controlling it. The Flare Stations occasionally burn off the volatile gas when its too abundant. After last week’s post, I was asked about the disposition of the methane, and my understanding is that the DSNY and NYC Parks dept. have a relationship with an energy company which harvests the so called “natural gas” for resale to the public.

Tomorrow – sunset at Fresh Kills.

also – I’m required to state the following, regarding the access which allowed me to capture these photos – “Courtesy of the City of New York. NYC Parks and the Freshkills Park Alliance have made access available for the production of this artwork.” I’m also required to offer this link to freshkillspark.org and inform that inquiries regarding the park are best sent to freshkillspark@parks.nyc.gov

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

This weekend-

Saturday, August 16th, LIC’s Modern Corridor
With Atlas Obscura, click here for tickets and more info.

Sunday, August 17th, 13 Steps Around Dutch Kills
With Brooklyn Brainery, click here for tickets and more info.

Written by Mitch Waxman

August 11, 2014 at 1:00 pm

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