The Newtown Pentacle

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Archive for June 2012

Things to do!

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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

July 22nd, 2012- Working Harbor Committee Newtown Creek Boat Tour

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.

supposedly solid

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– photo by Mitch Waxman

The DEP Pump House described in yesterday’s posting, which is located in Manhattan’s “Alphabet City” neighborhood, is found across the street from Con Ed’s East River Generating Station. Both facilities are, in turn, surrounded by vast residential complexes which long time New Yorkers might refer to as “The Projects“.

Governmental officials would prefer the term “affordable housing“, of course, or at the very least- “The Jacob Riis Houses”.

from wikipedia

The New York City steam system is a district heating system which takes steam produced by steam generating stations and carries it under the streets of Manhattan to heat, cool, or supply power to high rise buildings and businesses. Some New York businesses and facilities also use the steam for cleaning, climate control and disinfection.

The New York Steam Company began providing service in lower Manhattan in 1882. Today, Consolidated Edison operates the largest commercial steam system in the United States. The organization within Con Edison that is responsible for the system’s operation is known as Steam Operations, providing steam service to nearly 1,800 customers and serving more than 100,000 commercial and residential establishments in Manhattan from Battery Park to 96th Street uptown on the West side and 89th Street on the East side of Manhattan. Roughly 30 billion lbs (just under 13.64 megatons) of steam flow through the system every year.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The subject of the post today has little to do with the aforementioned complex of buildings, they are mentioned strictly for contextual and geographic orientation of the Con Ed facility. My understanding is that this “cogeneration” facility is considered to be a desirable target to those ragged armies of third world sappers commonly referred to as “terrorists“, and several acquaintances and or friends have found themselves being interviewed by Police and Security personnel merely for having photographed the place.

from coned.com

In the grand tradition of the Jumbo dynamos, the six-story boilers installed at Fourteenth Street and East River were so large that a luncheon for nearly 100 people was served inside one of them before the renovated station went into operation in the late 1920s. During the opening day ceremony in 1926, Queen Marie of Rumania flipped the switch to start the 100,000 horsepower turbine generator.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The view in the first two shots are from the East River, captured while onboard aquatic vessels, and the shot above is actually from the roof of the DEP Pump house.

The housing complex in the shot above is not true “public housing”, rather it is the Stuyvesant Town property. After the second World War, “urban renewal” projects such as the Riis Houses and Stuyvesant Town were seen as the answer to the endemic poverty found around and propagated by tenement slums. Funding and political impetus for large scale developments such as these- inspired by the ideations of a cryptofascist architect, LeCorbusier, and his disastrous “Tower in a park” conception- were made possible by both Federal and entrepreneurial sources.

from newyork.construction.com

Located on the east side of Lower Manhattan, the 43,000-sq.-ft. facility produces electricity and steam for homes and businesses throughout New York City. The project was completed May.

To repower the 360-MW power plant, the project team is performing all civil, structural, electrical and mechanical work, including the installation of major equipment, such as two GE Frame 7FA gas turbines, two Vogt-NEM, Inc. heat recovery steam generators and three Atlas Copco gas compressors. More than 100,000 lin. ft. of process pipe will be installed.
Construction of a new, onsite water treatment plant is also a part of the contract. The new treatment plant will consist of a 9,000 GMP reverse osmosis system that will produce pure water for steam generation. Electrical work includes the installation of 77,000 lin. ft. of conduit, 15,000 lin. ft. of cable tray, 665,000 lin. ft. of power and control cable and 30,000 electrical terminations.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Historically, this area was known as the Gas House District, so named for an enormous number of multi story “high pressure” tanks and the hundreds of associated industrial buildings which serviced and supplied them. A network of pipes snaked out into Manhattan from the East River, supplying fuel to street lights, commercial customers, and even residences.

The adage “Don’t blow out the light” was displayed prominently in hotels and flop houses all over town during the 19th century, as newcomers to the City would often treat a gas light in the manner they would a candle- which would have disastrous, fatal, and often explosive results. The District followed the East River and extended from 14th to 27th streets.

The neighborhoods surrounding the Gas Light District was notorious for its violent crime.

from gsapp.org

Address: East 14th Street

Architect: Thomas E. Murray/Unknown

Date: 1926/1950s

The Consolidated Edison Company’s East River Generating Station dominates the eastern section of 14th Street, stretching from 13th and 17th Streets and between Avenue C and the East River. It was erected primarily in two phases, the first campaign completed in 1926 and the second in the 1950s. Because of its size and prominence, the East River Generating Station plays an important role in the history of the East River waterfront, as well as in the general evolution of power plant architecture in New York City. The widespread low-scale fabric of the Lower East Side, consisting mostly of tenement buildings, went generally unchanged for most of the nineteenth century and the early part of the twentieth century, while the rest of Manhattan was seeing the erection of skyscrapers and other tall buildings.

Driven by the increasing cost of power plant construction and the need to design “with an eye to the future,” the East River Generating Station of 1926 was designed to be less ostentatious than earlier stations that were typically of the Beaux-Arts Style, yet it was also less monolithic than contemporaries such as Hell Gate or Hudson Avenue Stations. The waterfront façade of this building was divided into three distinct bays in rectilinear form, a design scheme that allowed for easy expansion as need be. The building uses vertical fenestration and horizontal bands of limestone set within a field of dark red brick to give the façade a sense of visual excitement

Written by Mitch Waxman

June 22, 2012 at 12:15 am

greater reality

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– photo by Mitch Waxman

The opportunity to visit the NYC DEP Manhattan Pump House on the Lower East Side of the Shining City drew me to the center of the human infestation in the desperate manner of an opiate addict.

The Newtown Creek Monitoring Committee is a community group which provides input and access to the people of Greenpoint in matters related to the reconstruction and operations of the Newtown Creek Waste Water Treatment Plant in Brooklyn. Despite geographic and political boundaries, the pump house is an integral part of that facility and has been undergoing its own upgrade and reconstruction.

from nyc.gov

DEP meets monthly with the Newtown Creek Monitoring Committee (NCMC), a committee of volunteers from the Greenpoint community, which was established in 1996 pursuant to a City Council resolution allowing the City to acquire property required for the upgrade of Newtown Creek WWTP. NCMC members are appointed by the local City Council member, the Brooklyn Borough President and Brooklyn Community Board #1. NCMC, with the assistance of its technical consultant, reviews and makes recommendations about activities associated with the treatment plant upgrade in order to mitigate potential impacts to the Greenpoint Community. NCMC worked with DEP to identify and design community amenities such as the Nature Walk, and is one of the longest standing citizen oversight committees in New York City.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Vast trunk line pipes underlie Manhattan and carry waste water from storm water cisterns and weirs as well as residential sewage. Every cleaning chemical, medicinal formulation, or cold cup of coffee which goes down the drain is agglutinated and homogenized into the flow, all of it headed for a relatively small building sited between a power plant and a city housing project.

Titan works exist hidden here, and the part of the structure visible from street grade elevations are merely the tip of a finger.

from nyc.gov

The Avenue D Pump Station (also known as the 13th Street Pump Station or more commonly the Manhattan Pump Station)  is currently being upgraded as part of the Newtown Creek Upgrade Project.  The Manhattan Pump Station provides the Newtown Creek WPCP with more than half of its flow, 155 million gallons per day (mgd) for treatment.  The pump station was put into service in 1965 and is currently undergoing a total reconstruction upgrade.  As part of this upgrade, the station will receive five(5) new 2,500 horsepower motors controlled by energy efficient Variable Frequency Drives, new screening equipment, a full emergency power generation system, and an architectural façade.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

At the lowest levels of the place, one will find the elephantine plumbing which quietly accomplishes the expurgation of Manhattan’s waste. Hidden behind masonry and cement, a multi million gallon tank allows for the orderly disposition of the waste water into the subaqueous piping which carries it across the East River and into Greenpoint, Brooklyn. Our group moved through the facility, visiting several specialized levels and chambers.

The guide for the journey was none other than Jim Pynn of the DEP, an engineer who is superintendent of the ongoing reconstruction project on the larger facility in Brooklyn.

from nyc.gov

Jim Pynn is the Plant Superintendent for the Newtown Creek Wastewater Treatment plant in the Greenpoint section of Brooklyn. Jim, a lifelong Brooklynite, has worked at DEP for nearly 36 years. He enjoys the daily challenge of working at a venue that taps into his high energy and his ability to multi-task. There is no such thing as a routine day. “In addition to regular work with the staff here at the plant,” Jim said, “my day can begin with a meeting with construction contractors, engineers and architects, followed by a visit from a local school and end with a meeting with members of the community. I really enjoy the variety.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Ascending into it’s heights, Mr. Pynn described the function of the various caches of machinery we passed by, offering insight and experience gained during his long employment and familiarity with the construction, design, and function of the DEP infrastructure. A familiar face in Greenpoint, Mr. Pynn often leads the popular NCWWTP public tours of his plant, and he’s a charismatic and knowledgeable speaker.

He’s also a heck of a nice guy.

from nyc.gov

Although tours of the entire Newtown Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant facility are not available, we do have monthly public tours of the award-winning Digester Eggs. Please see our events calendar for the next scheduled tour.  Reservations are required.  To make a reservation on the next tour please email events@dep.nyc.gov.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Near the end of the tour, while instructing us on the electrical backup generators installed within the structure, he announced our next stop would be the so called “Surge Tower” whose entrance was located on the buildings paramount. He warned us to prepare ourselves, and to ensure that any jewelry or eyeglasses worn by members of the group be secured.

from wikipedia

Originally, the “Lower East Side” referred to the area alongside the East River from about the Manhattan Bridge and Canal Street up to 14th Street, and roughly bounded on the west by Broadway. It included areas known today as East Village, Alphabet City, Chinatown, Bowery, Little Italy, and NoLIta.

The exact western and southern boundaries of the neighborhood are a matter of perspective – New York natives and long-time neighborhood residents, especially the Puerto Rican and black community, and the Jewish community, don’t have East Village in their vocabulary, and refer to it as the Lower East Side. The so-called debate about naming conventions typically only applies to the post-gentrification crowd. Most recent arrivals to the area, including new visitors and residents prefer to call the area north of Houston Street the East Village – a name not coined until around 1960.

Although the term today refers to the area bounded to the north by East Houston Street, parts of the East Village are still known as Loisaida, a Latino pronunciation of “Lower East Side.” Avenue C is known directly as “Loisaida” and is home to the Loisaida Festival every summer.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The tower itself, viewed from its exterior, is polished aluminum and appears banal. The roof of the tower is equipped with specialized equipment designed to reduce and eliminate the infiltration of odors into the nearby residential complexes which distinguish this long troubled section of Manhattan, once known to all New Yorkers as “Alphabet City”. Our group circled around the great cylinder, entered into a doorway, and ascended a staircase which ended at a locked door.

Keys were produced, and we entered the “Surge Tower”.

from wikipedia

Until the early 19th century, much of what is now Alphabet City was an extensive salt marsh, a type of wetland that was part of the East River ecosystem. The wetland was drained, and a patch of the river bed reclaimed, by real estate developers in the early 19th century.

Like many other neighborhoods on Manhattan’s Lower East Side, Alphabet City became home to a succession of immigrant groups over the years. By the 1840s and 1850s, much of present-day Alphabet City had become known as “Kleindeutschland” or “Little Germany”; in the mid-19th century, many claimed New York to be the third-largest German-speaking city in the world, after Berlin and Vienna, with most of those German speakers residing in and around Alphabet City. In fact, Kleindeutschland is considered to have been the second substantial non-Anglophone urban ethnic enclave in United States history, after Germantown in Philadelphia.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Gaze into the maelstrom, lords and ladies, and imagine the crashing sound of water echoing within the metallic cylinder housing it. Little good can be achieved in attempting to describe its scent, which will be left unspoken. The bottom of this tank was invisible to the naked eye and swathed in primal darkness- only by setting my camera flash to its maximum setting and “throw” was the bottom rendered visible. The bright orbs you see in the shot are likely not spiritual ectoplasm nor evidence of some ghostly or supranormal presence, rather they are suspended dust and reflective particulate hanging in the air and illuminated by the actions of the strobe light.

from wikipedia

A maelstrom /ˈmeɪlstrɒm/ is a very powerful whirlpool; a large, swirling body of water. A free vortex, it has considerable downdraft. The power of tidal whirlpools tends to be exaggerated by laymen. There are virtually no stories of large ships ever being sucked into a maelstrom, although smaller craft are in danger and tsunami generated maelstroms may even threaten larger craft. Tales like those by Paul the Deacon, Jules Verne and Edgar Allan Poe are entirely fictional.

One of the earliest uses of the Scandinavian word (malström or malstrøm) was by Edgar Allan Poe in his story “A Descent into the Maelström” (1841). In turn, the Nordic word is derived from the Dutch maelstrom, modern spelling maalstroom, from malen (to grind) and stroom (stream), to form the meaning grinding current or literally “mill-stream”, in the sense of milling (grinding) grain.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Mr. Pynn and his associate, a fellow engineer named Basil, carefully vouchsafed us as we moved around this containerized cataract. Ichor collecting, this is the duodenum of Manhattan itself, and another of the vast and hidden works which allow the occupants of that unsustainable City to convince themselves that everything is just fine.

from “A Descent into the Maelström“, by Edgar Allen Poe, courtesy wikisource

In a few minutes more, there came over the scene another radical alteration. The general surface grew somewhat more smooth, and the whirlpools, one by one, disappeared, while prodigious streaks of foam became apparent where none had been seen before. These streaks, at length, spreading out to a great distance, and entering into combination, took unto themselves the gyratory motion of the subsided vortices, and seemed to form the germ of another more vast. Suddenly—very suddenly—this assumed a distinct and definite existence, in a circle of more than a mile in diameter. The edge of the whirl was represented by a broad belt of gleaming spray; but no particle of this slipped into the mouth of the terrific funnel, whose interior, as far as the eye could fathom it, was a smooth, shining, and jet-black wall of water, inclined to the horizon at an angle of some forty-five degrees, speeding dizzily round and round with a swaying and sweltering motion, and sending forth to the winds an appalling voice, half shriek, half roar, such as not even the mighty cataract of Niagara ever lifts up in its agony to Heaven.

The mountain trembled to its very base, and the rock rocked. I threw myself upon my face, and clung to the scant herbage in an excess of nervous agitation.

“This,” said I at length, to the old man—”this can be nothing else than the great whirlpool of the Maelström.”

Click for details on Mitch Waxman’s
Upcoming walking and boat tours of Newtown Creek, and Staten Island’s Kill Van Kull

June 23rd, 2012- Atlas Obscura Thirteen Steps around Dutch Kills walk (this Saturday)

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

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

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

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

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

July 22nd, 2012- Working Harbor Committee Newtown Creek Boat Tour

needed adjustments

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– photo by Mitch Waxman

Recent opportunity found your humble narrator standing upon that painted lady of the archipelago named Manhattan, in front of one the Shining City’s newest accoutrements.

Originally built on the Lower East Side in 1965, the Manhattan Pump House acts as the central concentrating point for the waste water and sewage of a significant slice of the borough (basically everything below 79th street) and the point from which it is pumped to the Newtown Creek Waste Water Treatment Plant in Greenpoint from for processing.

from nyc.gov

Early Manhattan settlers obtained water for domestic purposes from shallow privately-owned wells. In 1677 the first public well was dug in front of the old fort at Bowling Green. In 1776, when the population reached approximately 22,000, a reservoir was constructed on the east side of Broadway between Pearl and White Streets. Water pumped from wells sunk near the Collect Pond, east of the reservoir, and from the pond itself, was distributed through hollow logs laid in the principal streets. In 1800 the Manhattan Company (now The Chase Manhattan Bank, N.A.) sank a well at Reade and Centre Streets, pumped water into reservoir on Chambers Street and distributed it through wooden mains to a portion of the community. In 1830 a tank for fire protection was constructed by the City at 13th Street and Broadway as was filled from a well. The water was distributed through 12-inch cast iron pipes. As the population of the City increased, the well water became polluted and supply was insufficient. The supply was supplemented by cisterns and water drawn from a few springs in upper Manhattan.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Pictured above is a device which performs a rudimentary process upon the collected liquids, a screening mechanism designed to remove solids from the flow. Remember that what everybody’s friends at the NYC DEP are dealing with is not just that which one might flush down or wash away, but all that might find its way into a roadside sewer grate. Casual littering, when seen from a citywide point of view, creates enormous engineering concerns and generates tons of sewage borne trash.

from wikipedia

The New York City Department of Environmental Protection (NYCDEP) manages the city’s water supply, providing more than 1.1 billion US gallons (4,200,000 m3) of water each day to more than 9 million residents throughout New York State through a complex network of nineteen reservoirs, three controlled lakes and 6,200 miles (10,000 km) of water pipes, tunnels and aqueducts. The DEP is also responsible for managing the city’s combined sewer system, which carries both storm water runoff and sanitary waste, and fourteen wastewater treatment plants located throughout the city. The DEP carries out federal Clean Water Act rules and regulations, handles hazardous materials emergencies and toxic site remediation, oversees asbestos monitoring and removal, enforces the city’s air and noise codes, bills and collects on city water and sewer accounts, and manages citywide water conservation programs.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Surprisingly, turtles often find themselves swept up in the flow, and the workers at this plant have set up a temporary habitat tank for their reptilian charges to recover from the ordeal of their journey here. After regaining their strength, the turtles are offered a new home in the wild, in an “undisclosed location” body of water owned and operated by the City Parks Department.

from wikipedia

The red-eared slider (Trachemys scripta elegans) is a semiaquatic turtle belonging to the family Emydidae. It is a subspecies of pond slider. It is the most popular pet turtle in the United States and also popular in the rest of the world. It is native only to the southern United States, but has become established in other places because of pet releases and has become an invasive species in many introduced areas, like California, where it outcompetes the native western pond turtle.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Something which often brings a tinge of warmth to my otherwise calcified and cynical outlook on the world is the way that workmen handle the animals who traverse and inhabit their facilities. These are busy, burly, often brusque men and women that work in dangerous and often unpleasant circumstance who nevertheless show their gentle and kind sides toward the lesser breeds. Whether it be rail yard, factory, or in this case- pump house- these folks always do their best to accommodate and care for strays, injured, or just lost animals.

Laudable, the entire human infestation of New York should take note of such efforts and attempt emulation.

from nyc.gov

Litter that washes down storm drains in the street can easily wind up in local waters and on City beaches. This unsightly pollution, called floatables, can kill birds, turtles and other marine animals that mistake trash – especially plastic – for food. Street litter that goes to the treatment plants must be separated from the wastewater so it won’t damage plant equipment. Litter can also clog storm drains and cause sewer backups and flooding.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

This posting will be a two parter. Tomorrow, we will descend into the very bowels of New York City. Additionally, we will looking into a yawning black maelstrom, which when stared into…

from “Beyond Good and Evil, by Friedrich Nietzche” courtesy authorama.com

He who fights with monsters should be careful lest he thereby become a monster. And if thou gaze long into an abyss, the abyss will also gaze into thee.

Click for details on Mitch Waxman’s
Upcoming walking and boat tours of Newtown Creek, and Staten Island’s Kill Van Kull

June 23rd, 2012- Atlas Obscura Thirteen Steps around Dutch Kills walk (this Saturday)

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

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

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

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

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

July 22nd, 2012- Working Harbor Committee Newtown Creek Boat Tour

darkly hidden

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– photo by Mitch Waxman

As described in the recent posting “Obscure World“, the location of Conrad Wissel’s notorious “Dead Animal and Night Soil Wharf” has been finally nailed down and confirmed by contmeporaneous maps and photographs. A lot of people ask me where I find my information about the oft occluded history of the Newtown Creek, and are surprised when informed about my methodology.

Basically, it all boils down to this- I’ll notice something hidden in plain sight while wandering around, take photos of it, and start researching when back at HQ. There’s a whole list of mysteries in my “to do” pile, and often the answer to what they were is presented while searching for something else entirely. It’s how the whole “missing Lamp Post of the Queensboro bridge thing” got started. Accordingly, whenever accusations of pursuing some political agenda are leveled at this- your Newtown Pentacle- great amusement ensues.

The utterly forgotten headquarters of the General Electric Vehicle Company of Long Island City, which had been staring me in the face for years, revealed itself in this manner. Easy to miss the third largest factory building in Queens, I guess, even if its painted with bright yellow and green stripes.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As detailed in the posting “uncommented masonry“, one was merely poking around for some information about the “Blissville Banshee“.

A supernatural phenomena, the Banshee was reported on in 1884 by the NY Times (she was described as red haired, blue eyed, and screaming “Oh Ho” like … well… a banshee), and was an obvious jab at the largely Irish and Catholic population of Blissville by Manhattan’s patrician “Nativists”. Racial or ethnic prejudice is commonly encountered in journalism of that era, and quite unsurprising to those familiar with reportage of the period. In the 1880’s, “politically correct” meant not shooting someone on sight.

What emerged about the structure above, however, was that in 1915- a quarter of the 40,000 or so trucks then plying the streets of New York City were electric (and participated in a rail based battery exchange program). Most of them were manufactured in Long Island City within the building pictured above, by the General Electric Vehicle Company.

This is my favorite sort of posting, a product of serendipity and pure discovery.

Which brings me to the Tammany men, and why there very well might be a horse buried in Calvary Cemetery.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The Abbot” from January of 2010, described a chance sighting of a curious obelisk in Queens’s Calvary Cemetery.

By the time that I was done with this post, I had found the young J.J. Scannell and Richard Croker sitting out a sentence in Manhattan’s “Tombs”. Quite a propitious meeting- in retrospect, one with far reaching consequence.

These two men would rise to the top of Tammany Hall one day, preside over the consolidation of the City of Greater New York from the shadowed world of the “smoke filled room”, and grow filthy rich on a buttery diet of political corruption.

Think Boss Tweed was something? In that case, you’ve never heard of Scannell and Croker.

All this because I enjoy strolling through Calvary in the afternoon while the Dropkick Murphys are playing on my headphones.

incidentally, something recently discovered (see how it works?) were these portraits of Mr.’s Scannell and Croker- found in Moses King’s “Notable New Yorkers of 1896-1899, courtesy google books

– photo by Mitch Waxman

from some point in space“, another 2010 posting, showcases a shot of Dutch Kills acquired before a press conference which highly placed members of the Newtown Creek Alliance had asked me to represent them at (literally no one else from Queens was available).

My statement was prepared, thankfully, as I was standing next to and was introduced by Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney. Stage fright and hallucination inducing nervousness ruled my mood during the lead up.

To alleviate the anxiety while waiting for the event to begin… and as I happened to be standing in a south facing room within the Degnon Terminal’s former Loose Wiles building… which overlooks the waters of the Dutch Kills tributary of Newtown Creek- a window was soon roughly thrown open and I shot the image above.

As it happens, while attempting to research a group of heretical Quakers operating in the area just before the Revolutionary War, I came across the following image in another one of those “old and out of copyright” municipal journals which have found their way onto the web.

– Photo from 1921’s ”The Newtown Creek industrial district of New York City By Merchants’ Association of New York. Industrial Bureau”, courtesy google books

Cool, huh?

An August 2011 post, called the “the dark moor“, reversed the point of view and showed the view from infinite Brooklyn into Queens from atop the digester eggs of the Newtown Creek Waste Water Treatment Plant.

Click for details on Mitch Waxman’s
Upcoming walking and boat tours of Newtown Creek, and Staten Island’s Kill Van Kull

June 23rd, 2012- Atlas Obscura Thirteen Steps around Dutch Kills walk (this Saturday)

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

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

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

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

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

July 22nd, 2012- Working Harbor Committee Newtown Creek Boat Tour

antique bridge

with 3 comments

– photo by Mitch Waxman

To be seen by so many diminishes me.

Seeking solace, one such as myself can only find succor and peace in those hinterland angles found between neighborhoods- or boroughs. Neither tick nor tock, Brooklyn nor Queens, the concrete devastations found in these places are nepenthe. Often do I find that my steps have carried me in some inexorable and unconscious fashion to the Grand Street Bridge, spanning the lamentable waters of the Newtown Creek itself.

DUGSBO has been calling to me (Down Under the Grand Street Bridge Onramp) again.

from nyc.gov

The bridge is located between Gardner Avenue in Brooklyn and 47th Street in Queens. The Grand Street Bridge is a 69.2m long swing type bridge with a steel truss superstructure. The general appearance of the bridge remains the same as when it was opened in 1903. The bridge provides a channel with a horizontal clearance of 17.7m and a vertical clearance, in the closed position, of 3.0m at MHW and 4.6m at MLW. The bridge structure carries a two-lane two-way vehicular roadway with sidewalks on either side. The roadway width on the bridge is 6.0m and the sidewalks are 1.8m wide. The height restriction is 4.1m. The approach roadways are wider than the bridge roadway. For example, the width of Grand Avenue at the east approach to the bridge (near 47th Street) is 15.11m.

The first bridge on this site, opened in 1875, quickly became dilapidated due to improper maintenance. Its replacement, opened in 1890, was declared by the War Department in 1898 to be “an obstruction to navigation.” Following a thorough study, a plan was adopted in 1899 to improve the bridge and its approaches. The current bridge was opened on February 5, 1903 at a cost of $174,937.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

This is close to the cartographic end of the actual “Newtown Creek”, although the English Kills tributary slithers forth into Brooklyn and slouches roughly toward Bushwick from this spot. Truncated wetlands, the canalized bulkheads and present shape of the waterway were established by the Army Corps of Engineers in the early 20th century, eradicating any semblance to what the Mespat, Dutch, or English knew the place to look like.

There used to be a nearby island, called Mussel, which the Federal authorities spent no small amount of effort on eradicating from common memory, for instance.

The East Branch, as the water on the eastern side of the Grand Street Bridge is called, continues a short distance and terminates in a complex of sewage infrastructure which underlies Metropolitan Avenue.

from 1920’s Port of New York Annual, courtesy google books

Newtown Creek is a tidal arm of the East River, and forms the boundary between the Boroughs of Brooklyn and Queens, New York City. The mouth of the creek is nearly opposite 34th Street, Manhattan, and 4 miles northeast from the Battery. Its length is about 4 miles, with width varying from 125 to 200 feet.

About 2.75 miles above its mouth it divides into two branches, termed the East Branch and English Kills, or West Branch. About 4,000 feet above the mouth a tributary, Dutch Kills, 4,450 feet long, enters the creek from the east, and almost directly opposite another tributary, Whale Creek, 2,000 feet long, enters it from the west. Maspeth Creek, 3,550 feet long, branches off to the southward 2.25 miles below the mouth of the creek. Mussel Island, included in the existing project for removal, is situated just above the junction of Maspeth Creek with the main stream. The drainage area embraces about 7 square miles, for the most part densely built up along the banks of the creek.

Previous projects.—The original project was adopted by the river and harbor act of June 14, 1880, and was modified and extended by the river and harbor acts of July 5, 1884, and June 3, 1886. A total of $527,530.58 had been expended on the modified project prior to the adoption of the existing project on March 2, 1919.

The amount spent for new work and maintenance can not be separately stated with accuracy, the division in the early years being intermediate. An approximate estimate is that $401,260.51 were applied to new work and $126,270.07 to maintenance.

Existing project.—This provides for a channel 20 feet deep at mean low water in Newtown Creek, including Dutch Kills, Maspeth Creek, and English Kills, and of the following widths: 250 feet wide at the entrance to Newtown Creek, narrowing to 150 feet, and continuing with this width to the Grand Street Bridge on the East Branch, and thence 125 feet wide to Metropolitan Avenue on said branch, including the removal of Mussel Island; 150 feet wide in English Kills, or West Branch, to the Metropolitan Avenue Bridge across said branch, including the easing of bonds; 100 feet wide for a distance of 2,000 feet up Maspeth Creek; and 75 to 100 feet wide for a distance of 2,800 feet up Dutch Kills, with a turning basin at the head, and for the collection and removal of drift. The total length of channel included in the project is about 25,000 feet.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Traffic, of an automotive sort, courses through and defines this locale. On the Brooklyn side, the neighborhood is called East Williamsburg and on the Queens side it’s an ancient community called Maspeth. There used to a light electric rail running through here and across the bridge, which contemporaneous sources referred to as “a streetcar” (trolley to we moderns), along Grand Street. It allowed for expansion of the great human hive in both directions, which allowed workers to get to and from the dark satanic mills of the industrial age.

Today, there’s a city bus which follows an ancient route of cart and horse, later travelled by streetcar and trolley.

Back during the days of industry, however, the preferred methodology for shipping freight was either rail or barge, not inefficient automotive conveyance.

also from nyc.gov

The highest volume Brooklyn-Queens highway was the Kosciuszko Bridge on the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, with two-way daily volume of 190,800 vehicles, 32.0% of all traffic on the monitored thoroughfares and 71.4% of Newtown Creek crossings. Belt Parkway (Shore Parkway) was second with 155,600 vehicles per day, 26.1% of the total recorded screenline traffic.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One of the great shames about the modern era along the Newtown Creek, often remarked upon at this- your Newtown Pentacle, is that so few of the industries based along the water utilize the bulkheaded shorelines lining their properties for their intended purpose.

Instead, the vast majority of stakeholders in the watershed are truck based businesses.

Soot paints the walls, and a bizarre “colour“- not part of any familiar palette or wholesome hue- but instead like something from outer (or perhaps out of) space- stains the vegetation and building stock with a queer sort of iridescence.

from nyc.gov

During the 47 years from 1963 to 2010, daily traffic crossing Newtown Creek increased 66.5%, to 267,100 from 160,400. Volumes increased on all four facilities: Kosciuszko Bridge up 86.7% to 190,800 from 102,200; J.J. Byrne Memorial Bridge up 51.5% to 26,700 from 17,600; Pulaski Bridge up 29.5% to 37,000 from 28,600; Grand Street Bridge up 5.3% to 12,700 from 12,000.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Overheard murmurs, carelessly spoken in my company by the Manhattan elites, have revealed that -as early as 2004 (see page 75)– plans to replace this centenarian structure were being drawn. Statisticians have compiled numerical data, engineers have produced dire reports, and described the need for a newer, wider, and distinctly static vehicle bridge to be installed on this spot. Heavy trucks, the presence of a nearby MTA bus garage, and an ever increasing number of automobiles are cited as causatives.

Personal experience offers that when a city bus or fully loaded truck speeds across the structure, often far in excess of the posted speed limit, the 1903 vintage swing bridge cavitates, trembles, and vibrates tremendously.

from Mayor Low’s Administration in New York at Google Books.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Given that which flows, lugubrious and languid, below- the kinetics of the Grand Street Bridge dancing in its casements can be quite disconcerting. It is something which one grows used to, however, despite the sure knowledge that when confronting the water and sediments of this part of the Newtown Creek- a single question crowds out all other thoughts in the minds of vehicle borne transient, pedestrian, or casual visitor alike…

Who can guess, all there is, that might be buried down there?

from Annual report of the State Department of Health of New York. 1896, courtesy google books

_______________________________________________________________________________

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

July 22nd, 2012- Working Harbor Committee Newtown Creek Boat Tour

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.

printless road

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– photo by Mitch Waxman

Know my wisdom.

A geologic formation located in the present day beneath the Williamsburg Bridge, called Corlears Hook by cartographers, is where the ship building industry of New York City would have been centered just after the Revolutionary War. Vast yards stretched from here to modern day 23rd street, and enormous piles of wood- white oak, live oak, cedar- would have been observed lining the shore. Everywhere would be plumes of smoke and the ringing sound of hammers and the groaning of strained rope, the smell of tar and pitch would pervade. The yards of Cheeseman, Charles Browne- and others- would shortly form the greatest concentration of ship building to be found anywhere in the newly christened United States.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A concentration of labor, sailors, and all the ancillary trades of the ship building industry created a huge demand for saloons, bars, hotels, and above all else- brothels. The concentration of prostitutes found nearby the Hook was infamous by the 1830’s, and from Corlears Hook a new and distinctly American slang term for the worlds oldest profession -still in usage today- emerged.

It’s why we call sex workers “Hookers”.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Always the guardians of decency, the powers that be in Albany demanded that a permanent, incorruptible, and salaried Municipal Police force be sent to clean up and prosecute the situation. Fears of a uniformed militia in the politically unstable atmosphere of the young republic were acknowledged by the decree that these policemen would dress in plain clothes and identify themselves only by a simple badge, fashioned into the shape of a six pointed star.

The badge was made of Copper, and that’s where the slang term, still in use for the gendarme- Cops- comes from.

_______________________________________________________________________________

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

July 22nd, 2012- Working Harbor Committee Newtown Creek Boat Tour

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.

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