The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

enigmatic fragments

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– photo by Mitch Waxman

This blog post is not about Osama Bin Laden or LeBron James, has little or nothing to say about Charlie Sheen or Hosni Mubarek, and it’s production has not been influenced in any way by fluctuations in the Producer Price Index or any other leading financial indicators. Additionally, it is not sponsored by the Pew Charitable Trust nor a grant from the Koch foundation.

Instead, the focus of this post is about a silted over, non navigable, and relict tributary of the Newtown Creek found fairly close to the dead bang geographic center of New York City called Maspeth Creek.

It is apparently a good place to get rid of an unwanted automobile or two,

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Your humble narrator seems to end up here a lot, as until just recently, it was one of the few places in Queens where one might witness the terrible grandeur of the Newtown Creek up close and personal with a minimum of hassle from private security or curious inquiries from the local gendarme. A large lot, overgrown with thorny plants, all stained with that peculiar colour- which is like something out of space- allowed some access to the place. Alas, the owner of the febrile lot seems to have found some new usage for it, and the fences have gone up.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One of the great problems associated with Newtown Creek, and an obstacle to the efforts being made by Newtown Creek Alliance and other groups to reveal the history and significance of the place to the vast new populations being installed in Greenpoint and Long Island City by certain Real Estate interests is the fact that the Creek is hidden in most places by anonymous warehouses and industrial sites not friendly to casual visitors. The point of view of the property owners is one of liability for injury, and they have entirely appropriate concerns. The Newtown Creek can be a dangerous place, with multi ton trucks and gargantuan machinery whizzing around on streets where few pedestrians or bicyclists are normally seen. Not far from this spot, your humble narrator found himself falling into a hole in the roadway (at the end of the winter) which was nearly a yard deep.

Those of you out there who wander the rail tracks, however, are being foolhardy. The threat to your very existence is manifest, and should you be prosecuted for trespass, mandatory sentencing applies.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Other area bloggers and several urban explorers have taken me to task over the years for my admonitions reminding readers of this, your Newtown Pentacle, to remain cautious and alert of their surroundings when exploring the creek lands. There are forces here, sinister and hidden, which like the Creek just the way it is and don’t appreciate strangers with cameras wandering through their back yards. Additionally, the purely physical hazards of high speed traffic (the issue of trucks moving through Maspeth and other residential neighborhoods is a long standing and somewhat intractable issue, I would suggest a visit to the folks at COMET for more on the situation) and broken road surfaces must be factored in around these parts.

Recently, I almost got Kevin Walsh of forgotten-ny killed on Metropolitan Avenue- which goes to show that even those well versed in navigating these streets can end up in an emergency room after visiting the area. Kevin is fine by the way, his scalp is back in one piece, he just can’t say any word in which the second letter is a “c” for awhile- although his physicians swear this is only temporary.

Lastly, a safe way to experience the Newtown Creek:

It is critical for you to purchase tickets for the Newtown Creek Cruise soon. We’re filling up rapidly and seating is limited. Your humble narrator is acting as chairman for this journey, and spectacular guest speakers are enlisted to be onboard. Click here to order tickets

From workingharbor.com

he May 21st, Newtown Creek Cruise:

Explore Newtown Creek by Boat

Saturday, 21 May, 2011

Pier 17, South Street Seaport. 

Departs 10 am sharp 

Returns 1 pm

Price: $60

Join us for a special water tour with expert narration from historical and environmental guest speakers.

There are limited tickets available on the MV American Princess for a very rare tour of Newtown Creek. Guest narrators will cover points of industrial and historical interest as well as environmental and conservation issues during your three-hour exploration. New York’s forgotten history will be revealed – as well as bright plans for the creeks future.

MV American Princess is a large, comfortable vessel with indoor and outdoor seating. Complimentary soft drinks and a tour brochure are included.

Cruise runs rain or shine

Queries? Contact Tour Chairman Mitch Waxman: waxmanstudio@gmail.com

Hosted by Hidden Harbor Tours ® in association with the Newtown Creek Alliance.

Click here to order tickets

Written by Mitch Waxman

May 13, 2011 at 11:37 am

One Response

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  1. […] Maspeth Creek has been, and often still is, used as an illegal dump- of course. These sunken automobiles are de facto “iconic” Newtown Creek shots, and often photographed by thrill seeking urban explorers- including your humble narrator. […]


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