The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

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It’s nice just to be amongst people.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The tour schedule is underway again, which has been going pretty well. So far, it’s been a full house on every excursion. Accordingly, your humble narrator has found himself all over the City of Greater New York (avoiding Manhattan whenever possible) and one has been waving the camera around at a vast variety of subjects. As you’re reading this, I’m likely in historic Newtown (aka Elmhurst) searching for certain signs and portents left behind by earlier generations.

I was in South Brooklyn recently, for an opening reception of the “Combined Overflow” show at Proteus Gowanus, which I was invited to hang a few prints in.

from wikipedia

The English loanword “wanderlust” was already extant in the German language dating as far back as Middle High German. The first documented use of the term in English occurred in 1902 as a reflection of what was then seen as a characteristically German predilection for wandering that may be traced back to German Romanticism and the German system of apprenticeship (the journeyman), as well as the adolescent custom of the ‘Wanderbird’ seeking unity with Nature.

The term originates from the German words wandern (to hike) and Lust (desire). The term wandern, frequently misused as a false friend, does in fact not mean “to wander”, but “to hike.” Placing the two words together, translated: “enjoyment of hiking”, although it is commonly described as an enjoyment of strolling, roaming about or wandering.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

While at Proteus Gowanus, I decided to snap a couple of exposures of the lamentable Gowanus Canal as witnessed from the Union Street Bridge. Call me a “size queen,” but seriously – compared to Newtown Creek – Gowanus seems pretty compact. Attempts to get to know this waterway are being undertaken, as business carries me to South Brooklyn at least once a month these days.

from nyc.gov

The Union Street Bridge is a double leaf Scherzer rolling lift bascule supporting Union Street over the Gowanus Canal in the borough of Brooklyn. The bridge has two vehicular traffic lanes, each approximately 17 feet wide, and two sidewalks, each 6 feet wide. Both traffic lanes carry eastbound traffic.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

These two views are from either side of the Union Street bridge, and depict a landscape unfamiliar. On Newtown Creek, I can see through time and tell you about the outlines of long demolished chimneys and mills, whereas here at the Gowanus – I’m just a visiting tourist seeking the vicarious. That’s nice, I tell you. Something to learn about, new rocks to turn over, and a world which I do not know.

from wikipedia

The Gowanus Canal, also known as the Gowanus Creek Canal, is a canal in the New York City borough of Brooklyn, geographically on the westernmost portion of Long Island. Connected to Gowanus Bay in Upper New York Bay, the canal borders the neighborhoods of Red Hook and South Brooklyn to the west, Park Slope to the east, and Sunset Park to the south. It is 1.8 miles (2.9 km) long. There are seven bridges over the canal, carrying Union Street, Carroll Street (a landmark), Third Street, Ninth Street, Hamilton Avenue, the Gowanus Expressway and the IND Culver Line of the New York City Subway.

There are two public Newtown Creek walking tours coming up, one in LIC, Queens and one in Greenpoint, Brooklyn.

Glittering Realms, with Atlas Obscura, on Saturday May 17th.
Click here for more info and ticketing.

Modern Corridor, with Brooklyn Brainery, on Sunday May 18th.
Click here for more info and ticketing.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

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Written by Mitch Waxman

May 6, 2014 at 11:00 am

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