The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

Archive for August 2012

chiseled likeness

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– photo by Mitch Waxman

Recently observed patrolling the languid expanses of the Newtown Creek, the NYPD Harbor Unit’s “Lt. Federico Narvaez”. The coppers name their boats after fallen comrades. There is also a playground in Brooklyn named after the departed officer.

from nycgovparks.org

Police Lieutenant Federico Narvaez (1956-1996), who was born in Brooklyn and died in the vicinity of this Flatbush playground. Following his graduation from high school in Williamsburg, Narvaez studied business at Baruch College, where he met his wife, Marilyn. The two married in 1980 and had one child, Katrina. Appointed to the Police Department in 1979, Narvaez served at the 25th, 34th and 23rd Precincts before his promotion to Lieutenant in 1993. In addition, Narvaez had tours of duty with the Narcotics Division, the Warrant Division and the Civilian Complaint Review Board.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The story of the fallen officer is told at the “NYPD Angels” site, linked to below. This is a message board frequented by the members of the force, and often displays a “pulls no punches” manner- so be warned if you click through. Launch 3 is technically a ship, not a boat. It’s a ship because it can launch a boat, which is one of those little bits of maritime knowledge you pick up hanging around sailors. There are enormous vessels out there- Tugs come to mind- which cannot launch a boat. It’s one of those minor points…

from nypdangels.com

Lieutenant Narvaez was shot and killed after being flagged down by a female pedestrian. The pedestrian told him that she was being stalked and Lieutenant Narvaez approached the man after calling for backup. The man turned and fired, striking Lieutenant Narvaez in the face. The man ran down a street but was stopped by other responding units. He was told to drop his gun but fired at the units and was shot and killed.

Lieutenant Narvaez had been on the job for 17 years.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

This Police ship, not boat, is actually pretty large. Most of the NYPD vessels you see are actually rather small, built for speed rather than capacity. On the day which these shots were captured, I was waiting for a group to arrive (who were running late) and whatever the Cops were doing on the Creek, they were back there for a good hour or more before I saw them heading back out to the East River.

from wikipedia

Commanding Officer of Harbor Unit – Deputy Inspector David Driscoll

On March 15, 1858, five members of the New York City Police Department rowed out into New York Harbor to combat piracy aboard merchant ships lying at anchor. The NYPD Harbor Unit has existed ever since, protecting life and property. With hundreds of miles of inland waterways to cover, the unit operates 27 boats from three bases.

For underwater work, the department used to contract with private diving companies when weapons or other evidence had to be recovered from the bottom of New York’s many rivers and waterways. In the early 1970s, however, the Harbor Unit formed a specialized scuba team that today numbers around 30 officers. Unlike many police dive units, whose members dive only part-time, NYPD divers are assigned to the unit full-time. (The exception are some scuba-trained officers in regular patrol units who are detailed to the team temporarily during the busy summer months.) In addition to the normal duties of evidence recovery, the Scuba Team’s mission has expanded since 9/11 to include a counter-terrorism role. For air-sea rescue work, the Harbor Unit keeps two divers assigned to the Aviation Unit 24 hours a day, seven days per week, all year round. These divers will work with their counterparts in the FDNY, who arrive at incidents by fireboat or rescue company.

image from wikipedia

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Upcoming Walking Tour- The Poison Cauldron, with Atlas Obscura

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Meetup at the corner of Kingsland and Norman Avenues in Greenpoint at 11 on Saturday, August 25th.

We will be exploring the petroleum and waste transfer districts of the Newtown Creek watershed in North Brooklyn. Heavily industrialized, the area we will be walking through is the heart of the Greenpoint Oil Spill and home to scores of waste transfer stations and other heavy industries. We will be heading for the thrice damned Kosciuszko Bridge, which is scheduled for a demolition and replacement project which will be starting in 2013. Photographers, in particular, will find this an interesting walk through a little known and quite obscure section of New York City.

Be prepared: We’ll be encountering broken pavement, sometimes heavy truck traffic, and experiencing a virtual urban desert as we move through the concrete devastations of North Brooklyn. Dress and pack appropriately for hiking, closed toe shoes are highly recommended- as are a hat or parasol to shield you from the sun.

Bathroom opportunities will be found only at the start of the walk, which will be around three hours long and cover approximately three miles of ground. Drivers, it would be wise to leave your cars in the vicinity of McGolrick Park in Greenpoint.

Click here for tickets, and as always- a limited number of walk ups will be welcomed- but for safety reasons we need to limit the group to a manageable size. Contact me at this email if you desire further details.

the last birthday of the Kosciuszko Bridge

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– photo by Mitch Waxman

Oh, the old gray mare, she ain’t what she used to be,

Ain’t what she used to be, ain’t what she used to be.

The old gray mare, she ain’t what she used to be, Many long years ago.

Seventy Three years ago today, the Little Flower cut the ribbon and officially opened the “New Meeker Avenue Bridge” to traffic. The following April in 1940, it was renamed as the Kosciuszko Bridge.

It’s the Night of the Living Dead, by the way. Also, it’s Vulcanalia

August 23, 1939, image New York City Municipal Archives at nycma.lunaimaging.com

– photo by Arthur J. Foley

According to the Long Island City Star-Journal of August 24th, 1939– the lineup of folks in the shot and action above are described as:

Mayor LaGuardia snips the ribbon which admitted the first autos lo use the lofty new Meeker Avenue Bridge over Newtown Creek in Laurel Hill, at the dedication held yesterday at Laurel Hill Plaza. To the right of the mayor is Acting Borough President John J. Halloran of Queens. To his left is Borough President Raymond V. Ingersoll of Brooklyn. Left of Ingersoll is Frederick J. H. Kracke, who was commissioner of Plant and Structures when that department originated plans for the bridge.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

American Bridge Company and Bethlehem Steel worked on her, along with dozens of other contractors. The Big K was part of what was known as “the Regional Plan”, which also provied the pretext for the erection of the Triborough, Whitestone, Marine Parkway and a slew of other bridges across the archipelago.

July 14, 1939, image New York City Municipal Archives at nycma.lunaimaging.com,

– photo by Arthur J. Foley

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Odds are very good that this is her last birthday, as the “Fast Track” program announced by the Governor will be kick starting the construction of a “Newer Meeker Avenue Bridge”- or perhaps the “Kosciuszko Two”- by the late spring of 2013. She will be gone by 2017, if one were to believe the schedule currently touted by State officials.

June 29, 1939, image New York City Municipal Archives at nycma.lunaimaging.com,

– photo by Joseph Shelderfer

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The historic shots included in this post all link out to the New York City Municipal Archives site, which has famously begun releasing thousands of historic images of the City online. One of the tricks to using the system, I’ve discovered, is knowing what things used to be called. It’s a “streetcar” versus “trolley” kind of thing. We call the former light rail system by the latter name, while those who dwelled in the past used the former.

June 29, 1939, image New York City Municipal Archives at nycma.lunaimaging.com,

– photo by Joseph Shelderfer

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Very little information is available about the construction and planning of the Kosciuszko, but there’s plenty about the New Meeker Avenue Bridge. The Big K was built for two official reasons- first, to provide a link between the multitudes of infinite Brooklyn and the World Fair Grounds in Flushing (Flushing Meadow Corona Park), and secondly to replace the aging swing bridge that spanned Newtown Creek between Meeker Avenue in Brooklyn and Laurel Hill Blvd. in Queens. Unofficially, Robert Moses really wanted to get the Brooklyn Queens Expressway built and this was as good a place as any to start.

August 14, 1939, image New York City Municipal Archives at nycma.lunaimaging.com,

– photo by Arthur J. Foley

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One does look forward to that day in the latter half of this decade, which I seriously doubt will be anything even close to 2017, when the pedestrian lane of the new bridge will be open for inspection. One of the most frustrating parts of the current bridge is that it once sported such a lane for perambulation, but it has long been closed off- thwarting photographic exploitation of the surreal vantage point that it offers.

How I would love to set up a tripod on the Kosciuszko Bridge…

from nydailynews.com

style=”padding-left:30px;”>Construction on a new bridge is now expected to begin in spring 2013 — a year ahead of schedule, thanks to $460 million made available for the job by Gov. Cuomo’s New York Work initiative.

The 73-year-old bridge, which carries the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway over the Newtown Creek, qualified for the money in part because it is on the state’s “deficient bridge” list.

The initial phase of construction will build an eastbound lane next to the existing bridge, according to the state Department of Transportation, the agency overseeing the project. The 1.1-mile bridge is expected to be done in 2017 and will cost about $800 million.

When completed, two new spans with a total of nine vehicle lanes and paths for pedestrians and bikes will replace the original structure.

Here’s a rare historic shot- in color- of the mighty span, from the year it was opened, also courtesy New York Municipal Archives

– photo by New York City Municipal Archives

– photo by Mitch Waxman

And just as a remider, in the name of public good and an abundance of caution- don’t forget about the whole Night of the Living Dead thing- this could be trouble.

from youtubeI’d suggest skipping forward to the 1 hour 13 minute marker, btw, unless you’ve got time to watch the whole flick via the Crackle Youtube page.

Written by Mitch Waxman

August 23, 2012 at 12:15 am

rythmical promise

with one comment

– photo by Mitch Waxman

In April of 2011, your humble narrator attended a lecture conducted by an FDNY Harbor Unit commander- Chief James Dalton of the Marine 6 unit. The Chief described several of the fascinating boats his unit was in the process of rolling out for duty in the Harbor of New York, one of which is the Fireboat pictured above- The Bravest.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Part of the Marine 6 unit, which is housed at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, The Bravest is one of the ships responsible for protecting an enormous area which encompasses an aggregate coastline of several hundred miles. This coast- which includes petroleum depots, several airports, and cargo terminals as well as residential and recreational docks- wraps around “terrorist target number one” and is the responsibility of only four FDNY chiefs and just over one hundred and twenty firefighters.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Like many of the modern “service boats”, Bravest is based around a Coast Guard model- the “Response Boat Medium” (which has been discussed in earlier postings at this, your Newtown Pentacle). Sixty five feet long, the vessel is incredibly fast (45 knots), and is powered by a jet drive which supplies three 1,000 HP engines with motive force. The jet drive scheme enhances crew safety, and allows for shallow draft operation.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Bravest’s two main monitors (water cannons) can pump an astounding six thousand gallons per minute. the Fireboat also carries a “miraculous” substance known as “purple K”. A foam extinguisher designed for fighting petrochemical fires, “purple K” and other exotic chemicals are kept onboard in case of an emergency at the Kill Van Kull or Newtown Creek. On the subject of the Creek, “The Bravest” is the likely first responder should an emergency occur involving one of the many oil industry installations found along it.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Bravest also carries a full suite of modern communications equipment, including “blue force tracking”, satellite uplinks, and classified radiological detection sensors. Onboard, one will also find a first aid area which comes very close to being considered a mobile field hospital. Larger than needed alternators supply excess voltage to power all of this equipment.

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Upcoming Walking Tour- The Poison Cauldron, with Atlas Obscura

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Meetup at the corner of Kingsland and Norman Avenues in Greenpoint at 11 on Saturday, August 25th.

We will be exploring the petroleum and waste transfer districts of the Newtown Creek watershed in North Brooklyn. Heavily industrialized, the area we will be walking through is the heart of the Greenpoint Oil Spill and home to scores of waste transfer stations and other heavy industries. We will be heading for the thrice damned Kosciuszko Bridge, which is scheduled for a demolition and replacement project which will be starting in 2013. Photographers, in particular, will find this an interesting walk through a little known and quite obscure section of New York City.

Be prepared: We’ll be encountering broken pavement, sometimes heavy truck traffic, and experiencing a virtual urban desert as we move through the concrete devastations of North Brooklyn. Dress and pack appropriately for hiking, closed toe shoes are highly recommended- as are a hat or parasol to shield you from the sun.

Bathroom opportunities will be found only at the start of the walk, which will be around three hours long and cover approximately three miles of ground. Drivers, it would be wise to leave your cars in the vicinity of McGolrick Park in Greenpoint.

Click here for tickets, and as always- a limited number of walk ups will be welcomed- but for safety reasons we need to limit the group to a manageable size. Contact me at this email if you desire further details.

partly delirious

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– photo by Mitch Waxman

Recently spotted as it plied the estuarine expanses of the East River, the Vane Brothers Sassafras Tug. Your humble narrator was onboard an East River Ferry, heading from Manhattan to Greenpoint, and spotted the tug moving iconically along the strait.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

In the dim past of industrial supremacy, this was one of the busiest stretches of aqua firma in the world, and it is truly a condemnation upon our modern civilization that the passing of a tug and barge along its expanses is something remarkable. A blogger of a century ago would have been limited to monographs, of course, but such a creature would have found very little to say about such a thing. In modernity, it would be like commenting on the passing of a common truck.

———————————————————————————————

Upcoming Walking Tour- The Poison Cauldron, with Atlas Obscura

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Meetup at the corner of Kingsland and Norman Avenues in Greenpoint at 11 on Saturday, August 25th.

We will be exploring the petroleum and waste transfer districts of the Newtown Creek watershed in North Brooklyn. Heavily industrialized, the area we will be walking through is the heart of the Greenpoint Oil Spill and home to scores of waste transfer stations and other heavy industries. We will be heading for the thrice damned Kosciuszko Bridge, which is scheduled for a demolition and replacement project which will be starting in 2013. Photographers, in particular, will find this an interesting walk through a little known and quite obscure section of New York City.

Be prepared: We’ll be encountering broken pavement, sometimes heavy truck traffic, and experiencing a virtual urban desert as we move through the concrete devastations of North Brooklyn. Dress and pack appropriately for hiking, closed toe shoes are highly recommended- as are a hat or parasol to shield you from the sun.

Bathroom opportunities will be found only at the start of the walk, which will be around three hours long and cover approximately three miles of ground. Drivers, it would be wise to leave your cars in the vicinity of McGolrick Park in Greenpoint.

Click here for tickets, and as always- a limited number of walk ups will be welcomed- but for safety reasons we need to limit the group to a manageable size. Contact me at this email if you desire further details.

budding branches

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– photo by Mitch Waxman

Returning from scouting a tour in hoary Greenpoint recently, your humble narrator was lucky enough to encounter the shot above waiting for me on Hunters Point avenue in Queens. Whereas I do seem to take quite a few shots of locomotives, I am no “railfan”. A true railfan or “foamer” obsesses over schedules and would be waiting for this train to pass. With me, it’s just pure serendipity. This is, of course, an Amtrak train heading for the Belmont tunnels which offer egress from Long Island to Manhattan via the Sunnyside Yards rail complex in Queens.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

In many ways, one can understand the apathy felt by the Manhattan elites toward Long Island City, for what do they see of the wonders hidden therein from the East River? Even the Newtown Creek appears to be just a simple bay from the water, another unremarkable inlet on the western coastline of a Long Island.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Perhaps this is why I’ve been drawn to conducting all of these tours. Famously, the Newtown Creek Alliance motto is “Reveal, Restore, Revitalize”, and in my capacity as group historian- I’m the “reveal” guy. Next Saturday, I’m going to be doing some of that “revealing”- there are still a few tickets left for “the Poison Cauldron” walk- do come along, if you dare.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Long have I been reluctant to bring people to this place.

For several months now, your humble narrator has been narrating in a not so humble fashion while leading boat and walking tours of the Newtown Creek watershed.

Literally hundreds of people have attended either the “Thirteen Steps around Dutch Kills“, “Insalubrious Valley“, or “Newtown Creek Boat Tour” events this year- and one question has been asked by all- “What about the Greenpoint Oil Spill?”.

Next week- a group of enthusiasts will be assembling, under the auspices of Atlas Obscura, to explore the lamentable “Poison Cauldron” of the Newtown Creek.

There are still tickets available, should you care to witness the place prior to its forthcoming demolition.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Down Under the Kosciuszko Bridge Onramp, or DUKBO, is the name I’ve assigned to this lunar landscape of industrial mills and waste transfer stations which lines the Brooklyn side of the Creek. This year is functionally the last time you will be able to witness this place, as the Kosciuszko Bridge replacement project will be kicking into high gear in the spring of 2013.

For the urban explorer and photographer crowd, this is a wonderland of shattered streets and rusted infrastructure which will soon be eradicated from all but living memory.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The tour will tell the story of Standard Oil at its start and cross over the Greenpoint Oil Spill’s heart, revealing that lost world of industrial aspiration and 20th century dissolution which lies less than a mile from the geographic and population centers of New York City.

In the past, I’ve described the area as “Mordor” at this, your Newtown Pentacle, and the Tolkien analogy is apt. The very air you breathe is a poisonous fume, the water is hopelessly tainted with bizarre combinations and millions of gallons of petroleum and industrial chemicals, the soil is impregnated with heavy metals, asbestos, and truly- who can guess all there is that might be buried down there?

An odd concentration of food distribution, waste transfer and garbage handling facilities, and energy industry plants make the area remarkable, and everywhere you look will be a “colour“- a bizarrely iridescent sheen which resembles no wholesome nor familiar earthly color but is instead like something from out of space- coating every bit of broken masonry and the sweat slicked skin of laborer and passerby alike.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Standard offer copy follows:

Meetup at the corner of Kingsland and Norman Avenues in Greenpoint at 11 on Saturday, August 25th.

We will be exploring the petroleum and waste transfer districts of the Newtown Creek watershed in North Brooklyn. Heavily industrialized, the area we will be walking through is the heart of the Greenpoint Oil Spill and home to scores of waste transfer stations and other heavy industries. We will be heading for the thrice damned Kosciuszko Bridge, which is scheduled for a demolition and replacement project which will be starting in 2013. Photographers, in particular, will find this an interesting walk through a little known and quite obscure section of New York City.

Be prepared: We’ll be encountering broken pavement, sometimes heavy truck traffic, and experiencing a virtual urban desert as we move through the concrete devastations of North Brooklyn. Dress and pack appropriately for hiking, closed toe shoes are highly recommended- as are a hat or parasol to shield you from the sun.

Bathroom opportunities will be found only at the start of the walk, which will be around three hours long and cover approximately three miles of ground. Drivers, it would be wise to leave your cars in the vicinity of McGolrick Park in Greenpoint.

Click here for tickets, and as always- a limited number of walk ups will be welcomed- but for safety reasons we need to limit the group to a manageable size. Contact me at this email if you desire further details.

Written by Mitch Waxman

August 20, 2012 at 12:45 pm

20th annual North River Tugboat Race- September 2, 2012

with one comment

– photo by Mitch Waxman

An upcoming and entirely wholesome opportunity for diversion and entertainment is upon us, as the 20th annual running of the Great North River Tugboat Race will be conducted on the 2nd of September. There are two components to the event which should be considered.

from workingharbor.com

20th Annual Great North River Tugboat Race and Competition to draw more than a dozen tugboats and hundreds of spectators to Hudson River Park

Sunday, September 2, 9:30 a.m. – 2 p.m., Hudson River Park Pier 84 at West 44th Street, Manhattan

Events include a tugboat parade, a river-churning race, nose-to-nose pushing contests, line-throwing, spinach-eating and tattoo competitions. A Circle Line spectator boat will follow the on-the-water action. Good viewing from shore along the West Side riverfront and at Pier 84

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The Working Harbor Committee (WHC), a nonprofit group for which I serve on the Steering Committee and which I am tasked with certain duties as its official photographer, conducts the race. This year a large number of tugs, more than 15 at this writing, will be participating.

from workingharbor.com

The Great North River Tugboat Race and Competition – one of New York City’s most popular Labor Day weekend events – returns for the 20th year on Sunday, September 2. More than a dozen tugboats, the maritime 18-wheelers that normally dock ships and push barges, are expected to participate.

The race, on a one-nautical-mile Hudson River course that extends from the West 70s to West 44th Street, typically draws thousands of spectators, some watching from shore; others getting right in the middle of the action aboard a Circle Line spectator boat that travels alongside the tugs.

The tugs come because it’s a chance to show off. “New Yorkers sometimes forget they are surrounded by water and that there is a whole maritime industry working here. This tug competition is the one time a year people can really see what we do,” said Craig Rising of McAllister Towing and Transportation, one of the largest and oldest tug companies in the nation. It is also a field day for the crews who pack their boats with family and friends and enjoy a chance to play on the water and win bragging rights over the competition. “It’s a great way for our families to see a slice of our lives,” said Glen Miller, president of Millers Launch, who plans to enter three tugs in the competition this year.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

WHC will, as always, be running a special spectator excursion onboard a comfortable Circle Line ship. Ticketing information is included below. The spectator boat offers uncommon views of the action, and allows enthusiasts and photographers a chance to get close to the fun. Additionally, there will be a free festival of events happening on Pier 84.

from workingharbor.com

When he came up with the idea of a tugboat race in the 1980s, chief judge Jerry Roberts, then a curator at the Intrepid Museum and now executive director of the Connecticut River Museum, didn’t know what to expect. “At that first race I did not know if we were going to get three tugs or six, or any at all,” he recalled. “We got 10, and I knew this was going to work. Twenty years later, the race has become an institution. In an age when New York Harbor has become more and more detached from its maritime roots, this a chance for the men and woman who make their living on the water to show their stuff, and their pride to us landlubbers who live on one of the greatest harbors on earth but don’t even know it.”

Festivities begin at 9:30 a.m. when the spectator boat leaves its dock and the tugs gather off Pier 84 to check in with the race committee and get ready to parade—beauty-pageant style—to the starting line near 79th St. At 10:30, the boats, which typically range in size from 100-foot, 5,000-horsepower monsters to 25-foot, 200-horsepower workboats, get in position behind the starting line. At the sound of a horn, they’re off: engines roaring and smoke belching, as their massive wakes make the river look like an angry ocean.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A family oriented event, the 20th annual Great North River Tugboat Race will have several interesting moments- including a spinach eating contest (all sailors eat their spinach), an unparalleled view of the line toss contests, and an opportunity to interact with the crews of the tugboats which will dock at the pier after the race.

from workingharbor.com

Immediately following the race, the tugs challenge each other to bow-to-bow pushing duels—the nautical version of arm wrestling. Then in what is the toughest test of all, captains steer close to the pier while deckhands attempt to lasso a bollard on Pier 84. The task, which makes horse wrangling seem tame, is something working tugboat crews perform daily, but it requires incredible coordination between captain and crew.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

WHC will be sponsoring several interactive activities for all ages, including line toss contests, and there will be food vendors and other diversions. The culmination of the day will include the award of the coveted winners trophy- which will guarantee on the crews bragging rights for the next year, and awards will be granted for best maritime pet, best sailor tattoo, and other achievements.

from workingharbor.com

At about noon, the tugs tie up to Pier 84 while judges tally the races results and choose the best-looking tug, best vintage tug, best-dressed crew, best crew tattoo and best mascot. The public is invited to get into the action on the pier in spinach-eating and line-tossing contests for both kids and adults. The awards ceremony begins at 1 p.m.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The best way to participate is clearly onboard the spectator boat- ticketing and departure details are listed below. I’ll be there, how about you?

from workingharbor.com

Circle Line Manhattan will depart at 9:30 from Circle Line’s Pier 83 at 43rd Street and 12th Avenue (boarding will begin at 9 a.m.), and it will return at 11:30 a.m., so that passengers can walk just one block to the events on Pier 84. Tickets are $30 adults/$25 children. Free for ages 4 and under. Tickets can be purchased in advance online at www.workingharbor.org or by calling 212-757-1600.

Admission to the Pier 84 events is free.

The race is organized by the Working Harbor Committee, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to spreading the word about the rich history, current vitality and future potential of the New York/New Jersey Harbor. The organization also provides Hidden Harbor Tours® and runs an extensive youth educational program. Full information is available at www.workingharbor.com. Thanks to co-sponsor Friends of Hudson River Park and major supporters Circle Line and the NYC Economic Development Corp.

a poison cauldron

with one comment

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Long have I been reluctant to bring people to this place.

For several months now, your humble narrator has been narrating in a not so humble fashion while leading boat and walking tours of the Newtown Creek watershed.

Literally hundreds of people have attended either the “Thirteen Steps around Dutch Kills“, “Insalubrious Valley“, or “Newtown Creek Boat Tour” events this year- and one question has been asked by all- “What about the Greenpoint Oil Spill?”.

Next week- a group of enthusiasts will be assembling, under the auspices of Atlas Obscura, to explore the lamentable “Poison Cauldron” of the Newtown Creek.

There are still tickets available, should you care to witness the place prior to its forthcoming demolition.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Down Under the Kosciuszko Bridge Onramp, or DUKBO, is the name I’ve assigned to this lunar landscape of industrial mills and waste transfer stations which lines the Brooklyn side of the Creek. This year is functionally the last time you will be able to witness this place, as the Kosciuszko Bridge replacement project will be kicking into high gear in the spring of 2013.

For the urban explorer and photographer crowd, this is a wonderland of shattered streets and rusted infrastructure which will soon be eradicated from all but living memory.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The tour will tell the story of Standard Oil at its start and cross over the Greenpoint Oil Spill’s heart, revealing that lost world of industrial aspiration and 20th century dissolution which lies less than a mile from the geographic and population centers of New York City.

In the past, I’ve described the area as “Mordor” at this, your Newtown Pentacle, and the Tolkien analogy is apt. The very air you breathe is a poisonous fume, the water is hopelessly tainted with bizarre combinations and millions of gallons of petroleum and industrial chemicals, the soil is impregnated with heavy metals, asbestos, and truly- who can guess all there is that might be buried down there?

An odd concentration of food distribution, waste transfer and garbage handling facilities, and energy industry plants make the area remarkable, and everywhere you look will be a “colour“- a bizarrely iridescent sheen which resembles no wholesome nor familiar earthly color but is instead like something from out of space- coating every bit of broken masonry and the sweat slicked skin of laborer and passerby alike.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Standard offer copy follows:

Meetup at the corner of Kingsland and Norman Avenues in Greenpoint at 11 on Saturday, August 25th.

We will be exploring the petroleum and waste transfer districts of the Newtown Creek watershed in North Brooklyn. Heavily industrialized, the area we will be walking through is the heart of the Greenpoint Oil Spill and home to scores of waste transfer stations and other heavy industries. We will be heading for the thrice damned Kosciuszko Bridge, which is scheduled for a demolition and replacement project which will be starting in 2013. Photographers, in particular, will find this an interesting walk through a little known and quite obscure section of New York City.

Be prepared: We’ll be encountering broken pavement, sometimes heavy truck traffic, and experiencing a virtual urban desert as we move through the concrete devastations of North Brooklyn. Dress and pack appropriately for hiking, closed toe shoes are highly recommended- as are a hat or parasol to shield you from the sun.

Bathroom opportunities will be found only at the start of the walk, which will be around three hours long and cover approximately three miles of ground. Drivers, it would be wise to leave your cars in the vicinity of McGolrick Park in Greenpoint.

Click here for tickets, and as always- a limited number of walk ups will be welcomed- but for safety reasons we need to limit the group to a manageable size. Contact me at this email if you desire further details.

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