The Newtown Pentacle

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Posts Tagged ‘Williamsburg

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This actually and absolutely astounds one such as myself.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Wandering from Red Hook back to Astoria around a week ago, your humble narrator found himself on the south side of Williamsburg at the triangle formed by Wythe, Heyward, and Wallabout. This splinter of a building is rising up from a paved triangle which is created by the ancient paths surrounding it. A tiny three story house, it just seems… wow, in Williamsburg, every patch of soil will have apartments on it pretty soon. Wow.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Based on the number of entrances, this has to be a three unit building presumptively? A basement, a first floor, and then a duplex upstairs? Then again, the stairs on the Heyward (left) side might be a common entrance with internal stairs? Talk about an efficiency apartment. Sheesh. Check it out in google street view (this is a very new building, doesn’t even seem to have an address yet) to get an idea of the actual size of this lot – which is just bigger than five parking spots for cars.

Note: I did try to find a street address on this structure at NYC DOB, where I was easily defeated and gave up without trying too hard.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

By the way, there’s two cool Working Harbor Committee events going on this weekend you might want to attend.

Saturday, the 30th is a Port Newark excursion onboard the Circle Line with Captain John Doswell, Ed Kelly of the Maritime Association of Port of NY/NJ and Maggie Flanagan – Marine Educator South Street Seaport Museum. The boat boards at 10:30, sails at 11, and returns at 1:30. Click here for more info and tix.

Sunday, the 31st is the annual Great North River Tugboat Race and Competition. 10:00 AM – Parade of tugs from Pier 84 to the start line. 10:30 AM – Race starts – From South of 79th Street Boat Basin (near Pier I) to Pier 84. 11 AM – Nose to nose pushing contests and line toss competition. Noon – Tugs tie up to Pier 84 for lunch and awards ceremony. Exhibits, amateur line toss, spinach eating contest 1 PM – Awards ceremony. Tugs depart at about 2 PM.

For tix on the spectator boat, click here.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

lean notary

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Shots from all over the edge of a Long Island.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Over at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, a cargo ship was unloading a load of concrete manufacture supplies. The ship was performing the unloading process all by itself, with a series of swing out booms and cranes with mechanical buckets and shovels all busily employed. These shots were all gathered during the Solstice, when everything looks a bit ethereal, as the burning thermonuclear eye of god itself is in its position of annual primacy over the megalopolis.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

You can’t see the Williamsburg Bridge lit like this during winter time, as the angle of the burning thermonuclear eye of god itself is considerably less efficacious. My camera’s color and light meters were all over the place when I shot these, as what would normally be thought of as afternoon lighting lasted well past 6 pm – I think this particular shot was from around 6:30-7. Notice the wild angle that the light is falling at – longest day of the year light.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

This is from pretty late in the day, as the burning thermonuclear eye of god itself is finally slipping down past the shield wall of Manhattan. It depicts my beloved Newtown Creek, as shot from a familiar spot on the Pulaski Bridge. It’s a handheld shot, and is a bit grainy, but there was just something wonderful about the scene – couldn’t resist.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

There are two Newtown Creek walking tours coming up.

Saturday, June 28th, The Poison Cauldron
With Atlas Obscura, click here for tickets and more info.

Sunday, June 29th, The Insalubrious Valley
With Brooklyn Brainery, lunch included, click here for tickets and more info.

complicated padlock

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Williamsburgh Savings Bank, part 2.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

In yesterday’s post -gleaming sands” – the story of the Williamsburgh Savings Bank building at 175 Broadway in Brooklyn was described in some detail. As promised, in today’s post, a few more shots from inside the recently restored structure.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

In the middle of the room is an ornate safe, which attracted no small amount of attention from the crowd that Atlas Obscura had brought in. This looked like the sort of safe which a cowboy might attempt to open with dynamite in a western movie.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

We were told that the safe is of European make and design, manufactured specifically in France. Of course, that’s 1875 France, which was a very different France than the one which we’re stuck with today.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

On the inside of the door were two medallions, which were “maker’s marks.”

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Emperor Napoleon the Third is commemorated on one of them.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Alongside the safe was a mechanism which acted as a sort of intercom to other sections of the building. This is not an electronic system, it should be noted, you simply spoke or whistled into the appropriate tube.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The domes kept on gathering my attention. The ornamentation and detail up there were incredible. Your humble narrator is still analyzing the iconography contained therein.

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Written by Mitch Waxman

February 19, 2014 at 11:44 am

gleaming sands

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How the other half lives, in today’s post.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

My pals at Atlas Obscura rang me up and asked if I’d be interested in shooting at one of their events in Brooklyn, and since this offered an opportunity to leave the house (a rare treat during this winter of frozen discontent), I packed up Our Lady of the Pentacle and my camera bag and we set off for Williamsburg. Now, I don’t spend a lot of time around these parts, can’t afford it, but its also nice to see how the other half lives.

from wikipedia

Williamsburg is a neighborhood of 113,000 inhabitants in the New York City borough of Brooklyn, bordering Greenpoint to the north, Bedford–Stuyvesant to the south, Bushwick and Ridgewood, Queens to the east and the East River to the west. The neighborhood is part of Brooklyn Community Board 1. The neighborhood is served by the New York Police Department (NYPD)’s 90th Precinct. In the City Council, the western and southern part of the neighborhood is represented by the 33rd District; and the eastern part of the neighborhood is represented by the 34th District.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

This is the Williamsburgh Savings Bank building at 175 Broadway, a building erected just 10 years after the Civil War. A famous structure, its the domed building you can’t help but notice when exiting the Williamsburg Bridge, at least when you’re on the Brooklyn side.

from wikipedia

The Williamsburgh Savings Bank was an important institution in Brooklyn, New York, from the mid-19th to the mid-20th centuries. A series of bank mergers brought it into the HSBC group late in the 20th century. (It is not to be confused with the nearby Dime Savings Bank of Williamsburgh, now known simply as the DIME, a rival local institution that has remained independent.) It is best remembered for two imposing headquarters buildings still standing, the domed original at 175 Broadway in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, designed by George B. Post, and the later Williamsburgh Savings Bank Tower.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

As transmitted by our hosts, the tale of the WSB includes decades of neglect, wear, and tear. The current owners acquired it just a few years ago (and of course it was controversial, it’s in North Brooklyn, not Queens) and set upon a radical architectural restoration of the bank. Pictured is the meticulous work found on the first of the interior domes.

from nyc-architecture.com

To build a new edifice for the WBS the board of trustees hired George B. Post (1837-1913), a man who had just finished the important Equitable Life Assurance Building (1868-1870), was at present finishing the Western Union Building (1873-1875), and who would later go on to design the icon of money, the market, and capitalism in 1903. Architecturally speaking and with vast hindsight, it was upon the hiring of Post that the WBS secured itself as a structural institution and landmark in Brooklyn. For it is through the tie to its architect that this structurally impressive building gains even more notoriety; George B. Post would later go on to design City College (1886-1906), the Brooklyn Historical Society (1881), the New York Stock Exchange (1903), and other notable buildings throughout the country.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

There were three buildings here, the 1875 original and an early 20th century addition (1906, I think) – both domed – and a 1940’s era office building of pedestrian design. The domed buildings were landmarked, but the office building was not and it was torn down. There are plans to erect a modern hotel on the property, a mammoth 40 story affair. The former bank will act as an event space for the hotel.

for a Landmarks Preservation Committee document generated by municipal authorities back in 1996, click here.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

This is the second dome, which I seem to recall as being of 1906 vintage, but might be misstating the date. The oculus in the center was actually boarded up during the Second World War and remained so until the restoration process began. In case you’re curious, yes, I laid down on the floor in the center of the room and shot straight up.

from ny.curbed.com

When Brooklyn hostel owner Juan Figueroa purchased the Williamsburgh Savings Bank for $4.5 million in 2010, the rumor was that he planned to convert the historic bank building into a hotel. That would have been difficult, though, since the structure is an exterior, interior, and national landmark. The actual plan, it turned out, was to meticulously restore it and turn it into an event space and banquet hall, and place a 40-story hotel right next door.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The other half lives in Williamsburg, I’m told. The Brooklyn patois pronunciation for this neighborhood is “Willemsboig” and my parents – who used to bank with the company once located here – called it “Da Willemsboig Savins Banks.” They stayed with the company all the way till it became HSBC. That’s brand loyalty, folks. Back tomorrow with a few more shots from within the lush interior, including some details on the vault.

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Written by Mitch Waxman

February 18, 2014 at 7:30 am

existing make

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- photo by Mitch Waxman

Normally, with this being Saturday and all, you’d find a photo of a Firebox in some godforsaken locale displayed prominently and spoken about in glowing terms.

Since it’s August, and that means vacation lazy time, let’s take this week off from “Project Firebox” and instead visit with the FDNY Marine 1 at Wallabout Bay.

The unit housed therein have several historic fireboats in their inventory. That’s the Governor Alfred E. Smith fireboat pictured above, for instance.

from marine1fdny.com

Marine 1 was the first Marine Company formed in the City of New York. We have moved several times over the years (find out more on our history page). We are on call and respond to 560 miles of waterfront surrounding the City of New York. These waterways are among the busiest in the world, used for both shipping and enjoyment. Along with the other two fireboats and a total of four small rapid response boats, we protect the people of New York as well as those visitors who are just passing through.

Marine 1 is manned by a crew of seven; an officer, a pilot, two engineers, and two firefighters.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Those are the Firefighter and John D. McKean fireboats, both longtime veterans of the harbor which have passed out of useful duty. Firefighter 2 is the sister ship of the futuristic Three Forty Three, and Firefighter 1 is already retired.

Just a short visit to the Wallabout today, go outside and play some ball or something, don’t waste the entire summer sitting inside surfing the net.

from wikipedia

Fire Fighter, also known as Firefighter, is a fireboat serving the New York City Fire Department. She was an active fireboat serving as Marine Company 9 until being retired in 2010. She was the most powerful diesel-electric fireboat when built in 1938. She has fought more than 50 fires, including upon the SS Normandie in 1942.

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August 5th, 2012- Newtown Creek Alliance Walking Tour- The Insalubrious Valley- Tomorrow

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Newtown Creek Alliance historian Mitch Waxman will be leading a walk through the industrial heartlands of New York City, exploring the insalubrious valley of the Newtown Creek.

The currently undefended border of Brooklyn and Queens, and the place where the Industrial Revolution actually happened, provides a dramatic and picturesque setting for this exploration. We’ll be visiting two movable bridges, the still standing remains of an early 19th century highway, and a forgotten tributary of the larger waterway. As we walk along the Newtown Creek and explore the “wrong side of the tracks” – you’ll hear tales of the early chemical industry, “Dead Animal and Night Soil Wharfs”, colonial era heretics and witches and the coming of the railroad. The tour concludes at the famed Clinton Diner in Maspeth- where scenes from the Martin Scorcese movie “Goodfellas” were shot.

Lunch at Clinton Diner is included with the ticket.

Details/special instructions.

Meetup at the corner of Grand Street and Morgan Avenue in Brooklyn at 11 a.m. on August 5, 2012. The L train serves a station at Bushwick Avenue and Grand Street, and the Q54 and Q59 bus lines stop nearby as well. Check MTA.info as ongoing weekend construction often causes delays and interruptions. Drivers, it would be wise to leave your vehicle in the vicinity of the Clinton Diner in Maspeth, Queens or near the start of the walk at Grand St. and Morgan Avenue (you can pick up the bus to Brooklyn nearby the Clinton Diner).

Be prepared: We’ll be encountering broken pavement, sometimes heavy truck traffic as we move through a virtual urban desert. Dress and pack appropriately for hiking, closed-toe shoes are highly recommended.

Clinton Diner Menu:

  • Cheese burger deluxe
  • Grilled chicken over garden salad
  • Turkey BLT triple decker sandwich with fries
  • Spaghetti with tomato sauce or butter
  • Greek salad medium
  • Greek Salad wrap with French fries
  • Can of soda or 16oz bottle of Poland Spring

for August 5th tickets, click here for the Newtown Creek Alliance ticketing page

Announcement: Newtown Creek Boat Tour- July 22, 2012

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Many people know about the environmental issues facing Newtown Creek, but did you know that the Creek was once the busiest waterway in North America, carrying more industrial tonnage than the entire Mississippi River?

You’ll learn much more when Working Harbor Committee’s maritime historians and harbor experts
put it all in context during a Hidden Harbor Tours: Newtown Creek Exploration.

The heart of industrial New York, Newtown Creek was home port to hundreds of tugboats (one of which is the historic WO Decker). It was also an international destination for oceangoing ships and a vast intermodal shipping and manufacturing hub that employed hundreds of thousands of people. Forming the border of Brooklyn and Queens for nearly three miles, five great cities grew rich along the Newtown Creek’s bulkheads — Greenpoint, Willamsburg, Bushwick, Long Island City and Manhattan itself. The waterway is still a vital part of the harbor and the Working Harbor Committee (WHC) is proud to present this tour as part of the celebration of their tenth anniversary year.

Mitch Waxman, a member of WHC’s steering committee and the group’s official photographer, also serves with the Newtown Creek Alliance as its group Historian. In addition to working on WHC’s boat tours of the Creek, Mitch offers a regular lineup of popular walking tours, and presents a series of well-attended slideshows for political, governmental, antiquarian, historical and school groups. His website — newtownpentacle.com — chronicles his adventures along the Newtown Creek and in the greater Working Harbor.

He was recently profiled in the NY Times Metro section, check out the article here.

Upcoming tour: Hidden Harbor Tours: Newtown Creek Exploration.

On July 22nd, Mitch shares his unique point of view and deep understanding of the past, present and future conditions of the Newtown Creek as the narrator and expedition leader for this years Hidden Harbor Tours: Newtown Creek exploration.

Our NY Water Taxi leaves from South Street Seaport at 11 a.m. (sharp) on a three hour tour of the Newtown Creek. From the East River we’ll move into the Newtown Creek where we’ll explore explore vast amounts of maritime infrastructure, see many movable bridges and discover the very heart of the Hidden Harbor.

Limited seating available, get your tickets today.

Tickets $50, trip leaves Pier 17 at
South Street Seaport at 11a.m. sharp.

We will be traveling in a comfortable NY Water Taxi vessel with indoor and outdoor seating. There will be refreshments and snacks available for purchase at the bar.

_______________________________________________________________________________

Also:

June 23rd, 2012- Atlas Obscura Thirteen Steps around Dutch Kills walk

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The “Obscura Day” Thirteen Steps around Dutch Kills tour proved that the efficacy and charms of the Newtown Creek’s least known tributary, with its myriad points of interest, could cause a large group to overlook my various inadequacies and failings. The folks at Atlas Obscura, which is a fantastic website worthy of your attentions (btw), have asked me to repeat the tour on the 23rd of June- also a Saturday.

for June 23rd tickets, click here for the Atlas Obscura ticketing page

June 30th, 2012- Working Harbor Committee Kill Van Kull walk

- photo by Mitch Waxman

My various interests out on the sixth borough, NY Harbor, have brought me into association with the Working Harbor Committee. A member of the group’s Steering Committee- I also serve as the “official” group photographer, am chairman and principal narrator of their annual Newtown Creek Boat Tour, and occasionally speak on the microphone during other tours (mainly the Brooklyn one). This year, the group has branched out into terrestrial explorations to compliment the intense and extant schedule of boat tours, and I’m going to be leading a Kill Van Kull walking tour that should be a lot of fun.

The Kill Van Kull, or tugboat alley as its known to we harbor rats, is a tidal strait that defines the border of Staten Island and New Jersey. A busy and highly industrialized waterfront, Working Harbor’s popular “Hidden Harbor – Newark Bay” boat tours provide water access to the Kill, but what is it like on the landward side?

Starting at the St. George Staten Island Ferry terminal, join WHC Steering Committee member Mitch Waxman for a walk up the Kill Van Kull via Staten Islands Richmond Terrace. You’ll encounter unrivaled views of the maritime traffic on the Kill itself, as well as the hidden past of the maritime communities which line it’s shores. Surprising and historic neighborhoods, an abandoned railway, and tales of prohibition era bootleggers await.

The tour will start at 11, sharp, and you must be on (at least) the 10:30 AM Staten Island Ferry to meet the group at St. George. Again, plan for transportation changes and unexpected weirdness to be revealed to you at MTA.info.

for June 30th tickets, click here for the Working Harbor Committee ticketing page

July 8th, 2012- Atlas Obscura Walking Tour- The Insalubrious Valley

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Newtown Creek Alliance historian Mitch Waxman will be leading a walk through the industrial heartlands of New York City, exploring the insalubrious valley of the Newtown Creek.

The currently undefended border of Brooklyn and Queens, and the place where the Industrial Revolution actually happened, provides a dramatic and picturesque setting for this exploration. We’ll be visiting two movable bridges, the still standing remains of an early 19th century highway, and a forgotten tributary of the larger waterway. As we walk along the Newtown Creek and explore the “wrong side of the tracks” – you’ll hear tales of the early chemical industry, “Dead Animal and Night Soil Wharfs”, colonial era heretics and witches and the coming of the railroad. The tour concludes at the famed Clinton Diner in Maspeth- where scenes from the Martin Scorcese movie “Goodfellas” were shot. Lunch at Clinton Diner is included with the ticket.

Details/special instructions.

Meetup at the corner of Grand Street and Morgan Avenue in Brooklyn at 11 a.m. on July 8, 2012. The L train serves a station at Bushwick Avenue and Grand Street, and the Q54 and Q59 bus lines stop nearby as well. Check MTA.info as ongoing weekend construction often causes delays and interruptions. Drivers, it would be wise to leave your vehicle in the vicinity of the Clinton Diner in Maspeth, Queens or near the start of the walk at Grand St. and Morgan Avenue (you can pick up the bus to Brooklyn nearby the Clinton Diner).

Be prepared: We’ll be encountering broken pavement, sometimes heavy truck traffic as we move through a virtual urban desert. Dress and pack appropriately for hiking, closed-toe shoes are highly recommended.

Clinton Diner Menu:

  • Cheese burger deluxe
  • Grilled chicken over garden salad
  • Turkey BLT triple decker sandwich with fries
  • Spaghetti with tomato sauce or butter
  • Greek salad medium
  • Greek Salad wrap with French fries
  • Can of soda or 16oz bottle of Poland Spring

for July 8th tickets, click here for the Atlas Obscura ticketing page

The Smelling Committee

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- photo by Mitch Waxman

As long time readers will recall, in the fall of 2010, the Newtown Creek Alliance and the Working Harbor Committee received a grant from the NYCEF fund of the Hudson River Foundation to conduct 4 boat tours of Newtown Creek. The plan was to do two ticketed tours for the public (the tickets were available at a steeply discounted rate), one for educators, and one for “the elected’s” of the watershed. The first three went off without a hitch, but the fourth was postponed due to the tragic helicopter crash on the East River which occurred just as we were about to board the boat.

Last Friday, the 4th of May, we accomplished the fourth tour with a modern day “Smelling Committee” onboard.

from “Annual Report of the Department of Health of the City of Brooklyn for the year 1895″, courtesy google books

Whereas, Complaint has been made to the Governor of the State of New York during the year 1894 by the citizens and residents of the Town of Newtown and the City of Brooklyn, relating to the existence of public nuisances on or near Newtown Creek, jeopardizing the health and comfort of the people in the vicinity thereof, and the Hon. Roswell P. Flower, Governor of the State of New York, did thereupon, on the 2d day of August, 1894, pursuant to Chapter 661, of the Laws of 1893, require, order and direct the State Board of Health to examine into the alleged nuiscances, and to report the result thereof…

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Important to the mission was attendance of officials from both sides of the Creek. The “center of gravity” for the advocacy of the Newtown Creek has historically been in Greenpoint, but that doesn’t mean that the folks on the Queens side haven’t been paying attention. Pictured above are Michael Gianaris and Jimmy Van Bramer, and both were anxious to visit this hidden part of their districts.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

As luck would have it, we passed by one of the many workboats which have been operating along the Newtown Creek of late. These workboats, hailing from Millers Launch on Staten Island, are carrying contractors and employees of the Federal Environmental Protection Agency who are collecting samples of the so called “black mayonnaise” sediments for laboratory analysis.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

You cannot fix something unless you understand it, and the EPA has scheduled an exhaustive “scoping period” during which a series of such tests will be performed. Since January, I have personally witnessed dozens of such operations- ranging from towing a sonar buoy up and down the waterway to establish a subsurface topographical map, to the group onboard this vessel who seemed to operating a hand operated dredge to bring materials up into the light.

Notice that the folks directly handling the sediments are wearing protective garments.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

A Newtown Creek Alliance member, Phillip Musegaas of Riverkeeper fame came along to inform about and describe the legal and policy issues surrounding the Greenpoint Oil Spill, Superfund, or any of the myriad points of law which surround the Newtown Creek. That’s Phillip on the right.

I should mention that Council Member Stephen Levin of Greenpoint was onboard as well, but was forced to stay in the cabin and deal with urgent business in his district via phone.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

A decision which I’ve been keeping to is to not bring “civilians” all the way back to English Kills on these boat tours, but this “Smelling Committee” was no mere interested group and accordingly we entered into the heart of darkness- God’s Gift to Pain itself. This is as bad as it gets along the Newtown Creek, a stinking and fetid miasma poisoned with sewage and urban runoff surrounded by waste transfer stations.

In the distance is one of the largest CSO’s in the entire city, and the Montrose Avenue Rail Bridge of the LIRR’s Bushwick Branch.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Not just elected officials were onboard, of course, representatives of a veritable alphabet soup of three lettered agencies were also invited. Additionally, local leaders- such as Tom Bornemann from the Ridgewood Democratic Club (pictured above, in sunglasses) accompanied the tour. The microphone was passed amongst us, with Kate Zidar (NCA’s executive director), Michael Heimbinder (NCA’s chair), Laura Hoffman (Newtown Creek Monitoring Committee), Phillip Musegaas (Riverkeeper), Penny Lee (City Planning), and myself narrating at various legs of the trip.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Pictured above are Assemblyman Joe Lentol of Greenpoint, Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer of Queens, Working Harbor Development Director Meg Black, Council Member Diana Reyna of Brooklyn, a gentleman who I’m embarrassed to say I can’t identify, and State Senator Michael Gianaris.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The Smelling Committee of 2012 encountered a Newtown Creek swollen by days of rain, replete with oil slicks and “floatables” contamination. The term floatables is used to describe everything from stray bits of lumber and tree limbs to cast off plastic bottles and wind blown trash carried in the water, by the way. The trip was 2 hours in length, and accomplished onboard a NY Water Taxi vessel. It left from Pier 17 in Manahattan at four in the afternoon and returned at six, proceeding some three and one half miles into the Newtown Creek and required the opening of the Metropolitan Avenue Bridge.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Along the way, sites of legal or popular interest were pointed out- including the future of the Arch Street Yard, the Hunters Point South development, SimsMetal, the Newtown Creek Waste Water Treatment Plant, the Greenpoint petroleum district, the Blissville Oil spill, the Greenpoint Oil Spill, the Phelps Dodge site, the Kosciuszko Bridge, the CSO issue, the role of Newtown Creek as a mass employer, the maritime potential of the Creek and its potential for eliminating a significant amount of trucking activity, its myriad waste transfer stations, and the plans which EPA have for the place.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Crass observers in the antiquarian community and political operatives in both boroughs will sneer at efforts such as this, the aim of which was to create a common sense of purpose and to identify issues regarding the Creek for both the Queens and Brooklyn political establishments. Ridgewood and Bushwick, Maspeth and Greenpoint, Williamsburg and Long Island City- all parts of the Newtown Creek watershed have more in common with each other than they do with neighboring districts in either borough. They are blessed with one of the finest industrial waterfronts in the world, but cursed by its past. What the Newtown Creek will look like in fifty years time is beginning to be discussed, and it was time for this “congress of the creek” to be convened.

So much of what the people in high office know of this place is influenced by dire reportage and dry testimony, and it can be easy to overlook the past, present, and future of this maritime superhighway if you haven’t experienced it first hand.

Especially from the water.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Several times have I witnessed the effect that this place has on first time visitors, a transformation of expression and demeanor overtakes them.

Hardened New Yorkers all, the Newtown Creek nevertheless explodes all expectations and an expression of wonderment forms upon their faces. They come to see toxic waste dumps and oil spills, but instead find Herons, Egrets, and Cormorants nesting in the broken cement of abandoned industrial bulkheads. They witness the miles wide vistas and wide open view of the City of New York from its very navel, and are thunderstruck that such a place exists- this “Insalubrious Valley” of the Newtown Creek watershed.

Every time I start to narrate on one of these tours, my first utterance is always “this is not the world you know…”.

I’m happy to say that due to the Working Harbor Committee, Newtown Creek Alliance, and the NYCEF Fund of the Hudson River Foundation- the Smelling Committee of 2012 knows this corner of the world a little bit better.

What will come of it?

Others will have to answer that, for your humble narrator must remain without and is cursed to merely observe such matters. Always, an outsider.

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