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Archive for August 2013

Project Firebox 86

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An ongoing catalog of New York’s endangered Fireboxes.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

This municipal button has style, verve, and swagger. It towers precipitously on Crescent Street at the border of Astoria and Dutch Kills (the neighborhood, not the waterway, baby) awaiting the emergent and quite uncool news that trouble has arrived. Always at the ready to raise the roof or the alarum, this party loving firebox lets all that pass know help is just one shake of the lever away.

Things to do!

Working Harbor Committee presents: Great North River Tugboat Races and Competition, September 1st, 2013
9:30-11:30 a.m. at West 42nd Street and the Hudson River. Spectator Boat tickets now on sale.

Written by Mitch Waxman

August 31, 2013 at 7:30 am

grinning androsphynxes

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In today’s post… Staten Island…

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A rock thrust roughly from the sea, named for the parliamentary body of the 17th century incarnation of the nation of Holland, …Staten Island… is a place which I’ve been developing a real interest in of late. I will admit that the connections between the Kriescher and Steinway families discussed in this Newtown Pentacle post from May of 2010 spurred my curiosity, but I haven’t strayed too far from the Northern Coast of the island.

An abundance of my posts about Staten Island seem to start and end with a tugboat, but there is a lot going on out here in the deep south which one hopes to explore in the near future.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Intentions to move a bit farther out on… Staten Island… unfortunately involves the use of MTA buses due to the vast size and distances offered by the place. This introduces an distinct kink in my usual plan, which is wander around and find stuff, but for those of you who haven’t walked around the the borough, it offers steep hills and an unforgiving number of cul de sacs which branch off the main roads.

One could easily find himself isolated and surrounded by angry old women armed with brooms or shovels.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Still, there are some real treasures buried in the wooded hills on Staten Island. This little number was introduced to me by Kevin Walsh from Forgotten-NY a couple of years ago, a storybook house set on a hill from which one can see tugboats passing by on the Kill Van Kull.

Things to do!

Working Harbor Committee presents: Great North River Tugboat Races and Competition, September 1st, 2013
9:30-11:30 a.m. at West 42nd Street and the Hudson River. Spectator Boat tickets now on sale.

Written by Mitch Waxman

August 30, 2013 at 7:30 am

studied record

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In today’s post- infinite Brooklyn.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The sheer size of Brooklyn, geographically speaking, is staggering. When one takes into account all of the former various environments contained within the borough, whether former wetlands or forested hills, the mind reels. You can still tell what used to be what in the ancient city, Canarsie is always a bit more humid than Park Slope and Greenpoint a bit more prone to flooding than Bushwick.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Its da land a me boit, Brooklyns. Ise growns ups around dere, out in Canossy near da flatlands, buts Ise nevers gets back dere toos awfun. Nuttin much left from da old days, all my friends and families, dey done moved on and odder dan a pizza joint or two de old neighborhood ain’t mine no more, if it evah was. Dats Brooklyn for ya.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

These days, one rather enjoys the view of the place from outside, on the water. The littoral edge of Brooklyn has always been locked up in the hands of private business and government concerns, and is as such, an interesting historical canvas. Artifacts of New York’s industrial beginnings, relict creeks and streams, the true purpose and history of Canarsie Pier… Brooklyn is infinite…

Still, its no Queens.

Things to do!

Working Harbor Committee presents: Great North River Tugboat Races and Competition, September 1st, 2013
9:30-11:30 a.m. at West 42nd Street and the Hudson River. Spectator Boat tickets now on sale.

Written by Mitch Waxman

August 29, 2013 at 7:30 am

half seen

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In today’s post- the mysterious Bronx.

-photo by Mitch Waxman

I know little to nothing about the Bronx, and have probably only been in the Borough less than 20 times over the course of my entire life. Circumstance never carries me north, toward its heights. What I do know of this vast enigma has only been glimpsed from the edges of the place. I understand it to be quite an interesting place, but to one such as myself, it is enigma. I always say that “I’m saving it for the future,” meaning that someday I’ll start turning my attention that way.

There are definitely groups of people living there, as I’ve photographed them from the littoral periphery.

-photo by Mitch Waxman

Willful ignorance such as this assists me in maintaining a laser like narrow focus on a single subject, but there are large sections of the City for which little to no interest exists in me. I don’t care about downtown Brooklyn, for instance, and consider myself lucky to avoid being there. Nothing wrong with the place, just not my cup of tea. Also, I find the upper east side of Manhattan completely “meh.”

This unknown country of the north intrigues, but I’m not ready to look at it yet.

-photo by Mitch Waxman

Someday I plan to do a little exploring up here, and perhaps attempt some tremulous interaction with the dwellers therein. Supposedly, there is something to the place beyond the odd stadium, bridge, or rail yard.

Of course, its not going to be anywhere as close to cool as Queens is, but there might be some dark secret or two to be unearthed beyond the Hells Gate, and “winter is coming.”

Things to do!

Working Harbor Committee presents: Great North River Tugboat Races and Competition, September 1st, 2013
9:30-11:30 a.m. at West 42nd Street and the Hudson River. Spectator Boat tickets now on sale.

Written by Mitch Waxman

August 28, 2013 at 7:30 am

Posted in Bronx

Tagged with , , ,

imaginative stimuli

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In today’s post- the chiaroscuro of Queens.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Visual splendor makes Queens remarkable, with its open vistas and relicts of vainglory. Whenever the City of New York, since its consolidation, feels itself broken or in need of some experimental improvement- Queens is the place where it has tinkered with rail and expressway, bridge and tunnel, or with municipal zoning and tax abatement schemes. The old girl supports a lot of people these days, and all signs point to the Queens family growing larger.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There are things which we aren’t talking about in this election cycle, like what happened to the Bowery Bay Sewage Plant during Hurricane Sandy, or the alarming antiquity of the electrical grid. If you spend as much time as I do around Newtown Creek, specifically the Dutch Kills tributary of that infamous ribbon of urban malfeasance and political neglect, the future of Queens is very much reflected in its past.

How long, I wonder, how long before the tinkering begins anew?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

My predictions for the future are dire, as one is pessimistic both by nature and through experience. The growing modern corridors of western Queens will require new power plants and a modernized waste water control system before long which “somebody” will have to pay for. How long before stainless steel digester eggs reminiscent of the type found in Greenpoint tower over Astoria? How long will it be before red and white smokestacks rise over Dutch Kills here in Queens?

When will the tinkering begin?

Things to do!

Working Harbor Committee presents: Great North River Tugboat Races and Competition, September 1st, 2013
9:30-11:30 a.m. at West 42nd Street and the Hudson River. Spectator Boat tickets now on sale.

sonorous chanting

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In today’s post- darkness in the Shining City

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Continuing the brief moment of joy and hope for a better future which the large apertures of my new lens have made possible, a recent jaunt through the malevolent tunnels and filthy canyons of Manhattan saw me capturing images which were formerly out of reach with that other equipment which has suffered a long tenancy at my side. Loathsome, corrupted, and redolent, the rotting heart of the megalopolis nevertheless offers the wandering mendicant multitudinous opportunities to test and experiment the new device in its frontier of unnatural darkness, and to remain alone amongst the anonymous many.

Always, must I remain, an Outsider.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

South Street Seaport, at night, is subsumed in a preternatural darkness offered by the elevated FDR Drive with its muted sodium street lamps. One fears the presence of Nosferatu in the area, or at least the sudden approach of crowd of drunken Wall Street executives seeking to compliment their evening’s display of excess with a round of fisticuffs. It is amazing, what these favored sons get up to at night amongst the exclusive bars and restaurants, and what they get away with in this patrician enclave of a protected plutocracy.

Crassus would have felt very much at home in the rat infested Lower Manhattan of modern times, and would probably consent to be Mayor if the plebes begged him to do it.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As a young narrator, it was a stated desire to “get the hell out of Brooklyn and live in the City.” For many years did I dwell on the shadowy island, with its constancy of noise and the horrible randomness during which ones life would be trampled upon and impacted by external powers. One night, a Barbara Streisand production- I believe it was Prince of Tides- set itself up on my corner and decided that lighting up the side of my apartment building would be esthetically pleasing, for instance. Waking up at 3 in the morning when an artificial sun is pointed at your window is something that stays with a guy.

Best choice I ever made was picking and moving to the blessed rolling hills of almond eyed Astoria, here in Queens.

Things to do!

Working Harbor Committee presents: Great North River Tugboat Races and Competition, September 1st, 2013
9:30-11:30 a.m. at West 42nd Street and the Hudson River. Spectator Boat tickets now on sale.

Written by Mitch Waxman

August 26, 2013 at 7:30 am

September 10 Newark Bay Tour

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Want to see something cool?

-photo by Mitch Waxman

A Hidden Harbor® Newark Bay Tour is in the offing, which will take place onboard the luxury tour boat Zephyr.

Produced by the Working Harbor Committee of New York, a 501/3c non profit corporation whose mission is to strengthen awareness of the working harbor’s history and vitality today, and its opportunities for the future.

The tour will be departing from South Street Seaport’s Pier 16 in Lower Manhattan, on Tuesday the 10th of September, between 5:30 and 7:30 p.m.

-photo by Mitch Waxman

Our vessel features two fully enclosed and climate controlled decks with all amenities. There is an open-air roof deck which offers panoramic views of the incredible harbor of New York and New Jersey. Snacks and beverages, including wine and beer, will be available for onboard purchase on the spacious and comfortable ship.

Hidden Harbor® Tours are presented by Working Harbor Committee in partnership with the New York Water Taxi/Circle Line Downtown.

-photo by Mitch Waxman

Visiting Brooklyn’s Erie Basin, then “Tugboat Alley” (aka the Kill Van Kull), our ultimate destination will be the Port Elizabeth and Port Newark container terminals. The Statue of Liberty will be visited on the way home, at sunset.

Tugboats, oil barges, tankers, container ships, car carriers, ocean liners and ferries ply the busy waters of New York Harbor daily, but most of their activity is hidden from land. On this cruise tour-goers will get an insider’s view of New York’s working harbor – the largest port on the East Coast and the third busiest in the nation.

-photo by Mitch Waxman

Working Harbor Committee offers boat tours from May to October. Tours are narrated by people who know the harbor intimately – tugboat captains, maritime historians and other experts. WHC’s schedule includes visits to places like the tugboat berths in Erie Basin and Kill Van Kull, container, breakbulk, oil and car ports in Brooklyn and New Jersey, Newtown Creek and many other locations.

The group has been in operation for ten years, and proceeds derived from the tour help to support educational programs for at risk youths, as well as offering free harbor programming for senior citizens.

-photo by Mitch Waxman

Onboard our comfortable NY Water Taxi vessel Zephyr, you will be delighted by a never ending parade of tugboats, cargo vessels, and see the immense cargo handling equipment which lines the shorelines. Hear the realities of keeping a 24/7 operation like this- which employs tens of thousands of New Yorkers- running from maritime experts and harbor insiders.

-photo by Mitch Waxman

The world of working maritime vessels and facilities is vitally important to the area’s economic well being.

Want to know where your Toyota came in? How the ingredients for your chocolate bar got here? How your trash is removed?

Welcome to the Working Harbor.

-photo by Mitch Waxman

This tour passes by the Red Hook Container Terminal and visits Erie Basin, home of Hughes Brothers Barges and Reinauer Tugs before crossing the harbor toward Staten Island. It then enters Kill Van Kull, the area’s busiest waterway dividing Staten Island and Bayonne, passing tug yards, oil docks and marine repair facilities.It then passes under the Bayonne Bridge and visits the giant container ports of Newark Bay: Port Newark and the Elizabeth-Port Authority Marine Terminal, where the world’s largest container ships tie up.

On the way back, we pass by Military Ocean Terminal, the 9/11 Teardrop Memorial, the Robbins Reef Lighthouse and more.

The Statue of Liberty, at sunset, is our last stop before returning to Pier 16.

-photo by Mitch Waxman

The September 10th Newark Bay tour will be led by Captain John Doswell, executive director of Working Harbor Committee.

Capt. Doswell was a writer, designer, producer and software developer for many years before turning his attention to NYC’s waterfront. He serves on the board of several waterfront organizations and founded Friends of Hudson River Park. In addition, he is a waterfront consultant and event producer. Capt. Doswell runs the annual tug race on the Hudson River, and has been involved with everything from Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance’s “City of Water Day” to “Op Sail”.

-photo by Mitch Waxman

Special guest narrator Ed Kelly, executive director of the Maritime Association of the Port of New York and New Jersey, will draw on his long maritime experience to describe how the port works.

“The maritime industry delivers the American way of life. It is essential to the nation’s security and economic well being,” Ed Kelly has said. But because we have gotten so good at what we do people don’t even know we do it any more. It is hidden away. That’s why tours like this are so important.”

-photo by Mitch Waxman

To get onboard with the Working Harbor Committee, and order tickets to our September 10th Newark Bay tour with Capt. John Doswell and Ed Kelly, click here for the NY Water Taxi ticketing page.

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