The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

Posts Tagged ‘Working Harbor Committee

quaint fusion

leave a comment »

Shots from a recent boat trip to the Gowanus.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A few weeks back, I conducted the Working Harbor Committee Newtown Creek boat tour, which was followed by an excursion to the Gowanus Canal. Both boats were solidly packed with harbor enthusiasts, curious explorers who welcomed the opportunity to visit some of NY Harbor’s less well known spots. Obviously, I didn’t get any shots on the Newtown Creek tour (my curse) but since my pals Joseph Alexiou and Eymund Diegel were handling the narration on the Gowanus trip, I was able to have some #superfun for once.

Pictured above, the push boat Emerald Coast in Gowanus Bay.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

John Quadrozzi Jr. was also onboard, and he jumped onto the microphone once or twice during the voyage. Seeing as how JQJr. actually owns big giant chunks of Gowanus Bay, he had a few things to say about this and that – offering the Working Harbor audience insider insights from his unique point of view.

One of the “this’s” Mr. Quadrozzi discussed was his Grain Terminal building, and one of the “that’s” was the ship Loujaine – both pictured above.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I do like the point of view one is offered by the entrance to the Gowanus Canal, don’t forget that Gowanus Bay is kind of a separate banana from the Gowanus Canal, whose navigable entry point is found at the Hamilton Avenue Bridge.

That hulking monstrosity you’ll notice lurking above the bridge, in all its neighborhood blighting glory, is the Gowanus Expressway.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Our vessel’s passage required the Hamilton Avenue Bridge to open, and while we waited for the redoubtable employees of the NYC DOT to actuate its mechanisms, I noticed this bit of former maritime industrial glory sitting on the poison shoreline. First thought that entered my head when I saw it was “this is the dreidel of the gods.” For those of you reading this who are “goyem,” a dreidel is that little Jewish spinning top thing with the Hebrew lettering on it.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The HMS Liberty, observed as it passes by the SimsMetal facility and a windmill on the southern shore of Gowanus Bay. Liberty is a tugboat, as opposed to the Emerald Coast found in the first shot of today’s post – which is a push boat. Both are towing vessels, of course, and tug versus push is pretty descriptive of the different approaches to the mission which they’re engineered for.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Upcoming Tours –

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

hither come

leave a comment »

Get on the boat, for #superfun with the Working Harbor Committee.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

On May 31, I’ll be narrating on a boat tour of Newtown Creek for the Working Harbor Committee. WHC is offering a special $30 ticket price, discounted to $25 for seniors. It’s a two hour tour which will leave from Pier 11 in Manhattan at 11 a.m. I’m anticipating having a couple of other guest speakers onboard, but that’s still firming up.

For tix to WHC’s morning tour with NCA Historian Mitch Waxman, on Newtown Creek. For group rates, or questions – contact Working Harbor Committee at workingharbor@aol.com

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The Maritime History of Newtown Creek is one largely forgotten in these decadent times, but even now an odd tugboat and barge might be spied making their way down the waterway on any given day. 19th century Property owners were considered to have been blessed by some of the finest industrial bulkheads in the world, yet many of the businesses based along the Creek today ignore this invaluable resource, allowing their waterfront property to decay and decline.

Along these bulkheads, great fortunes have risen.

Amongst others- Peter Cooper (BO Railroad, Canton Iron, and Cooper Union), Charles Pratt (Astral Oil, Standard Oil, and Pratt University), and ultimately John D. Rockefeller (Standard Oil) – all grew richer than the dreams of avarice in this place. Alongside them, the darkest mills of the industrial revolution- rendering plants, yeast distilleries, bone blackers, and acid factories provided tens of thousands of jobs to the immigrant populations of Brooklyn and Queens. Today – National Grid, BP, Amoco, ExxonMobil, and a host of other multinational companies still maintain an enormous investment in this valuable industrial canal at the very center of New York City.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Vast operations will be witnessed by those onboard, many of which are involved in the scrap metal and recyclables trade. Responsible for an enormous amount of cross harbor shipping, companies such as SimsMetal are heavily reliant on the maritime trades for their economic success. This is also the the birthplace of Mobil Oil, and was the home base in NYC for the Standard Oil Company.

Not all that long ago, Newtown Creek carried a greater tonnage of cargo than the entire Mississippi River.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A tributary of the estuarine East River, Newtown Creek extends some 3.8 miles from its junction with the more familiar waterway, and provides demarcation for the currently undefended border of much of Brooklyn and Queens. Named to the Federal Superfund list in 2010, the Creek suffers from a centuries long history of environmental degradation and municipal neglect.

An era of great change is upon the Newtown Creek, and this trip will be one of your last chances to be exposed to it in its current form.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Upcoming Tours –

May 3, 2015 –
DUBPO, Down Under the Pulaski Bridge Onramp
with Newtown Creek Alliance Historian Mitch Waxman, a free tour offered as part of Janeswalk 2015, click here for tickets.

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

#SUPERFUN on May 31

with one comment

Welcome to Newtown Creek.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As promised – the big Monday Announcement!!! On May 31, I’ll be narrating on a boat tour of Newtown Creek for the Working Harbor Committee. WHC is offering a special $30 ticket price, discounted to $25 for seniors. It’s a two hour tour which will leave from Pier 11 in Manhattan at 11 a.m. I’m anticipating having a couple of other guest speakers onboard, but I’m still firming that up.

For tix’s to WHC’s morning tour with NCA Historian Mitch Waxman, on Newtown Creek. For group rates, or questions – contact Working Harbor Committee at workingharbor@aol.com

– photo by Mitch Waxman

So what could be more fun than visiting a superfund site? Visiting two, of course.

A separate and distinct excursion will leave from Pier 11 at 1:10 p.m., as Working Harbor Committee’s afternoon trip to the Gowanus Canal embarks. Last I heard, it’s the same deal as Newtown Creek for pricing and tix, and it’s a two hour tour as well.

Click here for tix to WHC’s afternoon tour of the Gowanus Canal.

Newtown Creek is better, of course, because it’s mine.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Captain Doswell

with 2 comments

Captain John Doswell has passed away.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Executive Director of the Working Harbor Committee, Captain John Doswell’s mission was to educate the public about the Harbor of New York and New Jersey. He was a part owner of the John J. Harvey fireboat, a respected speaker on all things maritime, a devoted husband and father, and my friend.

He died as he lived, surrounded by the family he so adored.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

After serving in the United States Navy in Viet Nam, Captain Doswell produced trade shows and industrial videos, eventually finding himself in the software business. In the mid 1990’s Captain Doswell shifted his attentions to the waterfront.

Pictured above is how I’ll always remember him, narrating to a sold out boat, explaining every little nuance of what they were seeing at Port Newark, or circumnavigating Staten Island, or while exploring Erie Basin.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

He worked with the Friends of Hudson River Park and the Working Harbor Committee – and a host of elected officials – to bring New Yorkers into closer contact with the water. Captain Doswell coordinated and organized the maritime operations of OpSail 2012, the City of Water Day festivals on Governors Island, the Liberty Challenge International Outrigger Canoe Races, and literally dozens of Working Harbor trips and the annual Great North River Tugboat Race.

He would also regularly send a NY Water Taxi, with some lunatic blogger on the mike, to Newtown Creek.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

John Doswell built communities wherever he went. Once you found yourself in his orbit, there was always something amazing going on around him. He was generous with his time, and renowned for an even temperament. It was an honor to know him, and the privilege of having spent as much time as I did with him over the last few years is an incalculable blessing.

The world is a poorer place without him. 

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Captain John Doswell is survived by his beloved, Jean Preece Doswell, and their daughter Jhoneen. The event of the year for the NY Harbor Community in 2014 was their wedding on July 25 of last year. The NY Times ran a full profile of the event here, which was held on the John J Harvey Fireboat and Lilac – historic vessels which Captain Doswell helped to preserve.

I’m going to miss him. 

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

January 5, 2015 at 11:00 am

impelled to

with one comment

As promised, shots from the Tug race in today’s post.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Last Sunday, the Working Harbor Committee organized this years iteration of the Great North River Tug Race and Competition. A multi pronged assault on the brain’s fun center, it starts with a race that begins at the 79th creek boat basin on the Hudson River. The finish line is at 42nd street, and this year the Robert McAllister tug won. Someday, I’d like to win something, but the only thing I’ve ever been good at winning is being a good loser.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The fun center of the brain is something which I’m fairly sure has withered away within my own skull, likely due to some unheralded ischemic event. Suspecting that my fun center has been “stroked out” of operation, it’s no surprise that the dull and quite existential horrors which typify my days were only briefly punctured by the “tug of war” nose to nose pushing competition segment of the event. It’s all so depressing.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Once, this sort of thing would have caused my mouth to form into a horrible gap toothed shape which could be roughly interpreted by others as being a smile. Now, there is only a flat affect and an abundance of dull eyed staring, I’m afraid. At least I can still work the camera, but can’t seem to distinguish the difference between sweet and sour tastes anymore. It takes sewerage or burning plastic for me to take notice of smell or taste these days.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The part of the Tug Race which I’ve always loved photographing, if that’s an emotion I can still experience, is the line toss. The various tugs form a queue and then hurtle at the pier, whereupon they hurl a rope at a bollard. The goal is to loop the rope onto the bollard and the throwers are rated for time and accuracy. I wish I could tell you who won, but a group of teenagers scared me so I headed home and locked my doors securely, back in Astoria where I belong.

The entire race set can be viewed at this flickr page.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

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 5, 2014 at 12:29 pm

fresh surprise

leave a comment »

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

not shocking

leave a comment »

Maritime Sunday returns.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

At the end of the 2013 schedule of NY Harbor tours conducted by Working Harbor Committee, a circumnavigation of Staten Island was offered and I was onboard. We left the familiar confines of the Kill Van Kull and turned left, onto the Arthur Kill.

from wikipedia

The Arthur Kill is a tidal strait separating Staten Island, New York City from mainland New Jersey, USA, and a major navigational channel of the Port of New York and New Jersey. Arthur Kill has also been known as Staten Island Sound.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Unknown country for your humble narrator, great expectations of maritime industrial activities were met when the Barbara McAllister tug appeared of the early November air.

from tugboatinformation.com

Built in 1969, by Halter Marine Services of New Orleans, Louisiana (hull #226) as the T.J. Sheridan for the Sheridan Transportation Company of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

It was a beautiful, if bracing, trip. Luckily, I had a flask of hip pocket whiskey with me which provided for some warming comfort.

from mcallistertowing.com

McAllister Towing & Transportation is one of the oldest and largest marine towing and transportation companies in the United States. We operate a fleet of more than 70 tugboats and barges in 17 locations along the U.S. East Coast from Portland, ME to San Juan, PR. The fleet of over 100,000 H.P. consists of 24 Z-Drive/ Tractor tugs, 6 Tier II compliant tugs, 20 plus vessels involved in coastal towing and 35 ABS load line classed vessels.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A hearty maritime Sunday shout out to the Barbara McAllister is offered, and to the Working Harbor Committee for another excellent year on the harbor.

also from mcallistertowing.com

McAllister Towing has provided superior tugboat service to New York Harbor since 1864, when Captain James McAllister, great-grandfather to current president Brian A. McAllister, bought his first sail lighter to carry cargo from Manhattan to Brooklyn . Today, McAllister’s tugs provide a wide variety of services to the busy ports of New York and New Jersey , serving the most concentrated and affluent consumer market in the world and handling a significant part of the 16 million tons of cargo that passes through the port every year. In addition to ship docking services and general harbor assist work, New York based tugs are regularly employed in offshore towing along the entire East Coast.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,032 other followers

%d bloggers like this: