The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

Archive for August 14th, 2013

express purpose

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Scenes from a short walk across a long Borough.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There is a notion afoot, amongst the Real Estate crowd and the urban planners, that Western Queens is somehow “under utilized” and needs to become more urban. This ideation was obviously formed by those who sit in air conditioned Manhattan office buildings who have never actually visited Queens for any reason other than to go to the airport or have only driven through it on their way to the Hamptons.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

When all the transportation infrastructure was rammed through Queens in the first half of the 20th century, this was largely an agricultural area. That’s why it was so easy to site the bridges and elevated subways and tunnel out here in the first place. Large lots of land which were easily purchased from a single buyer is a developers dream. Once all the steel and cement was in place, however, Queens grew exponentially. No kid from Astoria or Woodside will tell you he or she grew up in “the country.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Recently, someone asked me what I thought of the current notion of turning Western Queens into some sort of Silicon Valley style digital hub and business incubator.

The idea is compelling, given the massive floor space and stout construction which the former factory buildings that distinguish the area, but I asked “what will these companies be connecting to?”. Astoria in particular is a hodge podge of wires carelessly maintained, with electrical and data cables spanning the streets. The utility poles which these wires are hung on are notoriously and precipitously overloaded, causing the them to bend and bow.

Does this look like the infrastructure that will draw a google or apple data center to the neighborhood, or does it remind you of some third world shithole in which one or two favored companies were granted a permanent franchise?

Want to see something cool? Summer 2013 Walking Tours-

13 Steps around Dutch Kills Saturday, August 17, 2013
Newtown Creek walking tour with Mitch Waxman and Newtown Creek Alliance, tickets now on sale.

The Poison Cauldron of the Newtown Creek – Saturday, August 24, 2013
Newtown Creek walking tour with Mitch Waxman and Atlas Obscura, tickets now on sale.


Written by Mitch Waxman

August 14, 2013 at 7:30 am

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