The Newtown Pentacle

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Archive for April 25th, 2012

obscure and cryptical

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– photo by Mitch Waxman

Another “Now and then” posting for you today, Lords and Ladies of Newtown, and today it’s arguably my favorite of all the bridges of Newtown Creek- the atavist Grand Street Bridge spanning the currently undefended border of Brooklyn and Queens. The shot above is from the water, as recreating the 1910 era shot below (from the bulkheads of the eastern brooklyn side) would require probable trespass- which in our modern day age of the Terror War might subject one to legal penalties such as exsanguination or some time spent in “the boot“.

– photo from Engineering magazine, Volume 38, 1910- courtesy google books

While it does seem true that the Grand Street Bridge has changed little in the intervening century, the primary difference between then and now is that it doesn’t function as a swing bridge very often these days. The stalwart engineers and mechanics of the DOT do open it for maintenance periodically, but the City has petitioned the Coast Guard to abandon such actions due to lack of industrial need and expense of operation.

For a prior posting which will tell you literally EVERYTHING about the Grand Street Bridge and environs- an area I call DUGSBO- Down Under the Grand Street Bridge Onramp- click here


– photo by Mitch Waxman

An NCA event, which I for one am pretty stoked about:

April NCA meeting hosts Dr. Eric Sanderson

Thursday, April 26, 2012 at 6pm

Ridgewood Democratic Club, 
6070 Putnam Avenue, 
Ridgewood, NY 11385

In addition to important updates from our members – in particular the Bioremedition Workgroup has been very busy! – we will be hosting a special presentation on the “Historical Ecology of Newtown Creek”.

Dr. Eric Sanderson, senior conservation ecologist at the Wildlife Conservation Society and author of “Mannahatta: A Natural History of New York City” (Abrams, 2009), will describe recent studies of the historical ecology of Newtown Creek, describing the original wetlands, creek channels, topography and vegetation of the area. He will show a series of 18th and 19th century maps of the watershed of the creek and discuss the process of synthesizing them into an integrated ecological picture that can be used to inform and inspire natural restoration and cultural appreciation of the Newtown Creek watershed. This work is part of the Welikia Project (, an investigation into the historical ecology of the five boroughs of New York City and surrounding waters. The Welikia Project on Newtown Creek is funded by The NYCEF Newtown Creek Fund of the Hudson River Foundation.

And this Saturday,

Obscura Day 2012, Thirteen Steps around Dutch Kills

Saturday April 28th, 10 a.m.

Your humble narrator will be narrating humbly at this year’s Obscura Day event on April 28th, leading a walking tour of Dutch Kills. There are a few tickets left, so grab them while you can.

“Found less than one mile from the East River, Dutch Kills is home to four movable (and one fixed span) bridges, including one of only two retractible bridges remaining in New York City. Dutch Kills is considered to be the central artery of industrial Long Island City and is ringed with enormous factory buildings, titan rail yards — it’s where the industrial revolution actually happened. Bring your camera, as the tour will be revealing an incredible landscape along this section of the troubled Newtown Creek Watershed.”

For tickets and full details, click here :

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