The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

fevered state

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– photo by Mitch Waxman

Gaze in wonder upon the fabled Newtown Creek of the 21st century, whereupon a tug of the Poling and Cutler towing organization wrestles a fuel barge in a westerly course toward the East River. A famously repeated phrase offered by your humble narrator boldly states that “in the late 19th and early 20th century, Newtown Creek carried more commercial traffic than the entire Mississippi River”, a statement which often causes listeners to roll their eyes. It is inconceivable, given the modern appearance of the Creek and its banks, to believe this statement. Some ask me whether or not tugs and barges even operate along the Newtown Creek in this dystopian future we have all found ourselves living in.

– photo by, September 11, 1903

Gaze, thereby, upon the Newtown Creek of 1903. This is roughly the same spot, with the Chelsea fiber mill (modern day Manhattan Avenue and GMDC) on the southern (left) or Greenpoint bank and the Newtown Creek towing company docks on the right or LIC bank (modern day Vernon Blvd. street end). Another shot emanating from the NYC Municipal Archives, this is one of the few extant photographic records of the Newtown Creek’s zenith as the “workshop of America” at the height of the second industrial revolution.

3 Responses

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  1. Look at the resolution of those old bw photos. There’s nothing like a print made from a BIG negative. The resolution just “sings” out at you. Digital photography is OK, but can’t (imho) cut the mustard to the old time photos. If you agree folks, WHY is that?


    November 28, 2012 at 10:40 am

  2. How would you like to see that 1903 image or the old Boro Hall 1936 photo in color?


    December 13, 2012 at 7:07 pm

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