The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

slight remainder

with 2 comments

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

Having moved through one of my regular “routes” from Astoria to Greenpoint to catalog the so called lower reaches of the Newtown Creek, it was time to return via another well explored and familiar pathway back to Queens. Over the Pulaski Bridge, into Long Island City, and ultimately up Skillman Avenue back to my neighborhood. On the Pulaski, I noted that one of the many undocumented sailboats which enjoys free berth on the Queens side had sunken, as you will discern in the lower right corner of the shot above.

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.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Descending down into Queens via the Pulaski stairs, where an eerie quiet was experienced. Again, this section of my survey was accomplished on Sunday the 4th, coincidentally the day which the NYC Marathon would normally have been conducted and ran across the Bridge, and the guys with the dirty fingernails who are the motive force in LIC had been hard at work cleaning up for the better part of week at this point.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Evidence of sedimentation escaping the Creek’s bulkheads was apparent, evinced at street corner sewer grates as in the shot above. That sidewalk isn’t wet, that’s oil. An unrelated trip just two days ago revealed the corner to be in the same condition, but this is the definition of “wrong side of the tracks” down here and the larger City has bigger problems right now than some piddly corner hidden away in an industrial backwater.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Stalwart, the Long Island Rail Road yard at Hunters Point was in fine fettle, despite the orange hue which their rails had taken on, no doubt due to immersion in salt water. This was a commonality shared by all rail tracks observed around the Creek which were flooded, but remember that the historic facility at Hunters Point has survived through flood and fire since 1870, and that Sandy was hardly their first rodeo.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The big story down here, beyond the flooding in the residential sections of Tower Town along 2nd and Center Streets- which I am not going to discuss- was the flooding of the Midtown Tunnel. According to the AP and WCBS, as well as official statements from the MTA, the water in the Queens Midtown Tunnel flooded in from the Queens side and emanated from Newtown Creek.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Anecdotal stories transmitted to me described Dutch Kills breaching its banks and flowing down Borden Avenue which met with surge waters that rose over the bulkheads from the Creeks junction at East River. So far, no photos or video of the flooding have reached me. I understand that large scale pumping operations are still underway, and that the tunnel is now passable but only by buses.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

This flooding of the Midtown Tunnel is the reason why the Long Island Expressway is being diverted onto local streets after Greenpoint Avenue (at least as of a couple of days ago) and describes one of the larger casualties of Hurricane Sandy in western Queens. We got fairly lucky around these parts, as compared to southeastern districts like the Rockaways and Howard Beach.

Again, in the shot above, notice that fresh orange patina on the tracks.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Noticing the large piles of trash along the rail tracks, conversation was struck up with a local woman named Marti. She maintains a small community garden alongside the fence line and revealed that she had been cleaning this mess up for days with the help of a few sympathetic laborers. All of this flotsam ended up plastered along the fence from the westerly flow moving down Borden Avenue.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The businesses along Borden, as mentioned in the first posting in this series, all experienced flooding in at least their basements. Enormous losses of vehicles and equipment notwithstanding, they were back at work on this day.

Of course, this is what Long Island City does, which is getting back to work.

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


2 Responses

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  1. Mitch: That orange patina. It stays there and the trains continue to run over the rails cleaning it off? It gets scrubbed off somehow by a LIRR maintenance crew? It evaporates by itself?


    November 8, 2012 at 12:38 pm

    • Don’t have a definitive “operational” answer to this, but presumptively the steel wheels of the trains will be scrubbing it off. Ill ask some of my rail fan buddies, will let you know.

      Mitch Waxman

      November 8, 2012 at 1:28 pm

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