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Archive for August 2013

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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.

Project Firebox 85

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An ongoing catalog of New York’s endangered Fireboxes.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

At the border of Woodside and Astoria, someone has been fancying up the Fireboxes. This specimen is found at 32nd avenue and 51st street, clad in gilt. Non regulation, at least someone other than me has begun to take notice of these municipal guardians, and decided to take ownership over the local street furniture.

Want to see something cool? Summer 2013 Walking Tours-

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

Written by Mitch Waxman

August 24, 2013 at 7:30 am

An unexpected birthday

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This is a reblog from exactly one year ago, commemorating both the Birthday of the Kosciuszko Bridge and the Night of the Living Dead.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Oh, the old gray mare, she ain’t what she used to be,

Ain’t what she used to be, ain’t what she used to be.

The old gray mare, she ain’t what she used to be, Many long years ago.

Seventy Four years ago today, the Little Flower cut the ribbon and officially opened the “New Meeker Avenue Bridge” to traffic. The following April in 1940, it was renamed as the Kosciuszko Bridge.

It’s the Night of the Living Dead, by the way. Also, it’s Vulcanalia

August 23, 1939, image New York City Municipal Archives at nycma.lunaimaging.com

– photo by Arthur J. Foley

According to the Long Island City Star-Journal of August 24th, 1939– the lineup of folks in the shot and action above are described as:

Mayor LaGuardia snips the ribbon which admitted the first autos lo use the lofty new Meeker Avenue Bridge over Newtown Creek in Laurel Hill, at the dedication held yesterday at Laurel Hill Plaza. To the right of the mayor is Acting Borough President John J. Halloran of Queens. To his left is Borough President Raymond V. Ingersoll of Brooklyn. Left of Ingersoll is Frederick J. H. Kracke, who was commissioner of Plant and Structures when that department originated plans for the bridge.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

American Bridge Company and Bethlehem Steel worked on her, along with dozens of other contractors. The Big K was part of what was known as “the Regional Plan”, which also provied the pretext for the erection of the Triborough, Whitestone, Marine Parkway and a slew of other bridges across the archipelago.

July 14, 1939, image New York City Municipal Archives at nycma.lunaimaging.com,

– photo by Arthur J. Foley

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Odds are very good that this is her last birthday (wrong again, Mitch), as the “Fast Track” program announced by the Governor will be kick starting the construction of a “Newer Meeker Avenue Bridge”- or perhaps the “Kosciuszko Two”- by the late spring of 2013. She will be gone by 2017, if one were to believe the schedule currently touted by State officials.

June 29, 1939, image New York City Municipal Archives at nycma.lunaimaging.com,

– photo by Joseph Shelderfer

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The historic shots included in this post all link out to the New York City Municipal Archives site, which has famously begun releasing thousands of historic images of the City online. One of the tricks to using the system, I’ve discovered, is knowing what things used to be called. It’s a “streetcar” versus “trolley” kind of thing. We call the former light rail system by the latter name, while those who dwelled in the past used the former.

June 29, 1939, image New York City Municipal Archives at nycma.lunaimaging.com,

– photo by Joseph Shelderfer

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Very little information is available about the construction and planning of the Kosciuszko, but there’s plenty about the New Meeker Avenue Bridge. The Big K was built for two official reasons- first, to provide a link between the multitudes of infinite Brooklyn and the World Fair Grounds in Flushing (Flushing Meadow Corona Park), and secondly to replace the aging swing bridge that spanned Newtown Creek between Meeker Avenue in Brooklyn and Laurel Hill Blvd. in Queens. Unofficially, Robert Moses really wanted to get the Brooklyn Queens Expressway built and this was as good a place as any to start.

August 14, 1939, image New York City Municipal Archives at nycma.lunaimaging.com,

– photo by Arthur J. Foley

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One does look forward to that day in the latter half of this decade, which I seriously doubt will be anything even close to 2017, when the pedestrian lane of the new bridge will be open for inspection. One of the most frustrating parts of the current bridge is that it once sported such a lane for perambulation, but it has long been closed off- thwarting photographic exploitation of the surreal vantage point that it offers.

How I would love to set up a tripod on the Kosciuszko Bridge…

from nydailynews.com

Construction on a new bridge is now expected to begin in spring 2013 — a year ahead of schedule, thanks to $460 million made available for the job by Gov. Cuomo’s New York Work initiative.

The 73-year-old bridge, which carries the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway over the Newtown Creek, qualified for the money in part because it is on the state’s “deficient bridge” list.

The initial phase of construction will build an eastbound lane next to the existing bridge, according to the state Department of Transportation, the agency overseeing the project. The 1.1-mile bridge is expected to be done in 2017 and will cost about $800 million.

When completed, two new spans with a total of nine vehicle lanes and paths for pedestrians and bikes will replace the original structure.

Here’s a rare historic shot- in color- of the mighty span, from the year it was opened, also courtesy New York Municipal Archives

– photo by New York City Municipal Archives

– photo by Mitch Waxman

And just as a reminder, in the name of public good and an abundance of caution- don’t forget about the whole Night of the Living Dead thing- this could be trouble.

from youtube

Want to see something cool? Summer 2013 Walking Tours-

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 23, 2013 at 9:30 am

clumsy modification

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I call thee vibrant and diverse, names by which thou shalt be known.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Bland and homogenous, the rest of New York City must be a wasteland ruled by a monolithic uniculture wherein all speak the same language and subsist on a flavorless protein paste. Woe to the quartet of other boroughs, for Queens has locked up all the color and intrigue, and it is both illegal and immoral to cook with curry or cumin in Staten Island or the Bronx. We got all the peppers out here as well, so enjoy your bland gravies Manhattanites.

I have come to this realization the last time somebody in the City reacted to the unexpected news that I live in Astoria with the ubiquitous “I love Queens, it’s so vibrant and diverse, and I was in Astoria sometime in the 70’s when I had Greek food.”

By the by, the two kids in the shot above had a small table with signage that read “everything, a dollar.”

from wikipedia

Astoria is a middle class and commercial neighborhood with a 154,000 population in the northwestern corner of the New York City borough of Queens. Located in Community Board 1, Astoria is bounded by the East River and is adjacent to three other Queens neighborhoods: Long Island City, Sunnyside (bordering at Northern Boulevard), and Woodside (bordering at 50th Street). Astoria is patrolled by the New York City Police Department’s 114th Precinct.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

To begin with, Astoria ain’t all that Greek anymore, they’ve largely moved on and are renting out restaurant space to the highest bidder. The section I live in is equal parts Croatian, Brazilian, Mexican, Ecuadorean, African American, and everybody else is a product of the old 20th century melting pot. The societal engineering that drove my grandparents to speak heavily accented english is gone, and the best way to describe the modern system is to reference the old testament.

This “vibrant and diverse” thing drives me crazy, something that is touted by Manhattan liberals who live in vertical affluence and believe what Time Warner Cables’ NY1 tells them and who haven’t visited Queens since that time in the 70’s they went out for Greek. Get to Queens and talk to somebody who doesn’t look like or agree with you, cliff dwellers.

from airbnb.com

If you’re looking for great Greek food or an exotic microbrew, look no further than Astoria. This northern Queens neighborhood exudes a youthful charm and welcoming attitude. In Astoria, mom-and-pop shops snuggle up to humble townhouses whose residents address one another by name. Strikingly diverse groups of people intermingle with appreciative ease in this laid-back neighborhood’s various culinary destinations and quiet streets.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Some of our vibrancy is expressed in illegal dumping, the native art form of western Queens. To wit, recently observed is yet another iteration of the single shoe phenomena on Broadway nearby the 46th street stop on the R. I’ve written about this a couple of times, and am not altogether convinced that there isn’t some amputee serial killer at work in the neighborhood. Vibrant diversity, however, would explain the presence of a population of peg legged sociopaths.

from oddshoefinder.com

Welcome to Oddshoefinder.com, a free site that connects people with odd shoes with people who need odd shoes! Many people with feet of different sizes buy one pair of shoes for each shoe size and use only one shoe from each pair, leaving a closet full of unused shoes. The purpose of this site is to help you get those shoes out of your closet and put money into your pocket.

Want to see something cool? Summer 2013 Walking Tours-

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 22, 2013 at 7:30 am

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