The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

vaguer recollection

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Notice: the November 9th Magic Lantern Show with Atlas Obscura is cancelled for now. We hope to reschedule for sometime during the winter. Observatory, where the event is scheduled to take place, has been damaged by Hurricane Sandy and flooding.

Alternatively, it has been decided to move forward with this Sunday’s Newtown Creek “SideTour” Poison Cauldron walking tour in Greenpoint, details are found at the bottom of this posting.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Amongst the oddest things I’ve witnessed around the Newtown Creek in the wake of Hurricane Sandy is a Long Island Expressway (ok, technically Queens Midtown Expressway) completely devoid of Manhattan bound traffic. This is, of course, on account of the fact that Newtown Creek is actually being pumped out from inside the Queens Midtown Tunnel, which is where the sky flung viaduct leads to.

Regardless, it is irregular.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The shots in this post, and tomorrow’s as well, we’re captured last Sunday while on foot. Hank the Elevator Guy, who accompanied and drove me around for the shots presented for the last few days, was absent. His is a life of ups and downs, and thinking outside the box. That’s elevator humor, btw. Your humble narrator, alone as he should be, marched involuntarily across Greenpoint Avenue toward the bridge for named for it, and the loquacious Newtown Creek.

Thankfully, the Tidewater building seemed no worse for wear.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

On the Brooklyn side, which I am told was quite submerged, visible damage from the flooding was everywhere. On the street, it was small- a knocked down street sign caked in muck, a high water mark on the cement wall of a factory building, a car whose windows showed condensation on the passenger cabin side.

There was little pumping still going on, but there was a great deal of sweeping and heavy equipment was observed moving piles of garbage about.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

At the corner of Paidge and Provost, nearby the shuttered Newtown Creek Nature Walk, an area where I have been told that the water was some seven feet deep, petroleum residue was all over the sidewalk and the smell of fuel hung heavily in the air. Both corporate and municipal assets in the area were heavily damaged by the flooding, and in some cases a total loss of vehicular fleets was suffered.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As mentioned in the past, one of the groups who tolerate my presence is the Newtown Creek Alliance, and early on in the Hurricane Sandy story, the group’s Executive Director Kate Zidar advised that it would be a good idea to not wear the shoes utilized to walk around in the contaminated areas within ones home. Here is a visible example of why, and your humble narrator reiterates and endorses this simple precaution.

Who can guess, all there is, that came bubbling up from down there?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Moving from Paidge in the direction of the staircase adorning the Pulaski Bridge, which would carry me back into Queens, I noticed this petroleum distributor had a significant amount of earth moving equipment on site. They are one of the dozens of distribution depots which were laid low by rising waters, critical infrastructure dependent on maritime access.

When this facility, and all the others like it, are back online– the current fuel shortages will become a distant memory.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The North Brooklyn Boat Club, where I’ve spent many happy afternoons this summer, was stricken hard by the flooding. Luckily- redoubtable devotees of the institution like T. Willis Elkins, Fung Lim, Leif Percifeld, and Dewey Thompson will not let their dreams drown, and a massive cleanup of their lot has been underway. The DOT yard next door also received a pungent bath when the Newtown Creek, unfettered, roared across their property.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The thing though, and it’s always hardest to remember this when you’re flat on your back and bleeding from the ears, is that NYC will ALWAYS rebuild. Stronger, better, faster. There will be fighting, and scandal, and horrible truths will be uncovered- but this is a once in a lifetime chance to reform the City.

Tomorrow, we return to the Queens side and Borden Avenue, and end our survey of the aftermath.

Upcoming Newtown Creek tours and events:

Note: there are just 4 tickets left on this one, which is likely the last walking tour I’ll be conducting in 2012.

for an expanded description of the November 11th Newtown Creek tour, please click here


Written by Mitch Waxman

November 7, 2012 at 12:15 am

2 Responses

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  1. Mitch: It’s a good idea not to wear street shoes in one’s home – period. The streets are so filthy in any event with human gullet and nasal expectorants, dog and bird droppings, rat-devoured semi-pizza crusts, etc. Sandy’s flooding or not, I always doff my footwear at the door entrance – Buddhist temple style – and don a most comfortable pair of clogs. Happy treading to you and the lords and ladies, shod or unshod.


    November 7, 2012 at 10:41 pm

  2. […] The other locations and concurrent postings in this series exploring the post Hurricane Sandy conditions found around the Newtown Creek are Borden Avenue Bridge in open place, The Dutch Kills turning basin in dark moor, Calvary Cemetery in solid stones, The Maspeth Plank Road in sinister swamp, The Grand Street Bridge in shallow mud, English Kills in stranger whence, and Blissville to Greenpoint in vaguer recollection. […]

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