The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

dark and furtive

with one comment

“follow” me on Twitter at @newtownpentacle

– photo by Mitch Waxman

While inspecting the scene which stands extant in DUPBO, or Down Under the Pulaski Bridge Onramp, one cannot help but notice the regular appearance of the Long Island Railroad operating along those tracks which it has held tenancy over since 1870.

The singular thrumming and vibrations of the municipal railways engines often rouse me from the piles of trash and wind blown debris amongst which one such as myself dwelleth, commanding my attentions and demanding proximity.

from 1877′s “Long Island and where to go!!: A descriptive work compiled for the Long R.R. Co.“, courtesy google books:

Long Island City is the concentrating point upon the East river, of all the main avenues of travel from the back districts of Long Island to the city of New York. The great arteries of travel leading from New York are Thomson avenue, macadamized, 100 feet wide, leading directly to Newtown, Jamaica and the middle and southern roads on Long Island, and Jackson avenue, also 100 feet wide, and leading directly to Flushing, Whitestone and the northerly roads.

Long Island City is also the concentrating point upon the East river, of the railway system of Long Island.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Diminished expectations notwithstanding, someday I would hope to actually ride upon one of these trains, transiting merrily from terminus to terminus and happily recording the largely pedestrian experience in photographs, anecdote, and the occasional video.

Of course, such pleasures must be denied to one such as myself, who is an onerous, undeserving, and decidedly feckless quisling renowned for publicly embarrassing himself with wild flights of fantasy and fantastic predictions of an uncomfortable and dire future.

from wikipedia

This station has 13 tracks, two concrete high-level island platforms, and one wooden high-level island platform. All platforms are two cars long and accessible from Borden Avenue just west of Fifth Street. The northernmost one, adjacent to tracks 2 and 3, is the only one used for passenger service. The other concrete platform adjacent to tracks 6 and 7 and the wooden one adjacent to tracks 8 and 9 are used for employees only. All tracks without platforms are used for train storage. The southernmost four tracks are powered by third rail while the remaining tracks are used only by diesel-powered trains.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Feeling somehow exposed down in DUPBO, a dark corner of the Newtown Creek watershed occasionally occluded by the gaseous exhalations of high volume roads, vehicular tunnels, and hundreds of thousands of automotive engines, your humble narrator retreated to the increasingly well used and so called “51st Avenue bridge”.

The elderly engine you see above, which is still at least ten years younger than me, is an EMD SW1001.

from wikipedia

The EMD SW1001 was a 1,000-horsepower (750 kW) diesel locomotive for industrial switching service built by General Motors’ Electro-Motive Division between September 1968 and June 1986. A total of 230 examples were constructed, mainly for North American railroads and industrial operations.

The SW1001 was developed because EMD’s SW1000 model had proved unpopular among industrial railroad customers, as the heights of its walkway and cab eaves were much greater than those of earlier EMD switcher models. The overall height was similar, but the SW1000’s roof was much flatter in curvature. Industrial railroads that only operated switchers often had facilities designed to the proportions of EMD’s earlier switchers.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A decaying and increasingly decrepit truss bridge designed for pedestrians, the structure hurtles over the tracks and leads one under the steel of the fabled Long Island Expressway. Several years ago, I witnessed documents prepared by certain members of the government which proposed the utter destruction and subsequent replacement of this bridge. This report continued in dire tones- describing the bridge as standing, but unsound due to decaying concrete and rusted steel.

For a longer look at the bridge and environs, check out this post from February of 2010, “dimly lit and illimitable corridors.”

Personal observation has revealed that this is a VERY well traveled route between the industrial labor force of LIC and the nearby 7 train at 49th Avenue- or Hunters Point Avenue- depending on which century you’re describing. The 7, of course, offers connections to the east via Queens Plaza or a short journey into Manhattan via the Steinway Tunnel.

Forgotten-NY has been here too.

from wikipedia

The Steinway Tunnel carries the 7  trains of the New York City Subway under the East River between 42nd Street in Manhattan and 51st Avenue in Long Island City, Queens, in New York City. It was originally designed and built as an interurban trolley tunnel (hence the narrow loading gauge and height), with stations near the 7 ; trains’ current Hunters Point Avenue and Grand Central stations. It is named for William Steinway, who was a major promoter of its construction, although he died in 1896 before it was completed.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

This is officially “one of my spots,” by the way.

During the week, especially around rush hour, a series of trains roll through here, providing a good opportunity for photography enthusiasts to gain a less common angle on the familiar blue and yellow passenger service. The phrase “one of my spots,” by the way, refers to an area I visit often while looking for a perfect combination of sky and light and subject. A wealth of photos of this particular spot and situation adorns my photostream at flickr, but I still haven’t hit that moment here, which is another failure I can pin on to my sweater.

There’s magic on the 51st Avenue bridge, I just have to find the right place and time to photograph it, which will take nothing but persistence.

from wikipedia

The Long Island Rail Road owns an electric fleet of 836 M7 and 170 M3 electric multiple unit cars, and 134 C3 bilevel rail cars powered by 23 DE30AC diesel-electric locomotives and 22 DM30AC dual-mode locomotives.

In 1997 and 1998, the LIRR received 134 double-decker passenger cars from Kawasaki, including 23 cab control cars, and 46 General Motors Electro-Motive Division diesel-electric locomotives (23 diesel DE30ACs and 23 dual-mode DM30ACs) to pull them, allowing trains from non-electric territory to access Penn Station for the first time in many years, due to the prohibition on diesel operation in the East River Tunnels leading to Penn Station.

One Response

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  1. I understand what you mean by “spot”. I have a few of those that I have revisited many times, during different times of day and light-still haven’t hit the ‘best one’.


    March 30, 2013 at 6:22 pm

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