The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

distant whine

with 2 comments

The ugly half of walking over any East River Bridge – the Manhattan side.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Looking back over my shoulder, in the direction of Queens, on the pedestrian and bicycle lane of mighty Queensboro. As stated in the past, Queensboro was ceremoniously renamed for a former Mayor a few years back, and anytime someone is observed calling this span the Ed Koch bridge it just pisses me off. Accordingly, I’ve proposed renaming the Brooklyn Bridge as the “Michael Bloomberg Bridge.” Sounds outrageous and insulting to history, Brooklyn, and the Roeblings, and indicative of a somewhat crass bit of political excess? Exactly.

You couldn’t get away with it in Brooklyn, but you can in Queens where the borough motto seems to be “Welcome to Queens, now go fuck yourself.”

A long walk from Astoria to Manhattan’s east side – specifically the 20’s along Third – via the Queensboro, was the subject of yesterday’s and indeed today’s post. Today we land in a cautionary tale called Manhattan.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The bridge’s pedestrian lane makes landfall at 2nd avenue and 60th street. For some reason, the DOT has barriers set up at the bottom of the ramp which cause bicyclists to execute a sharp 180 degree turn and carry pedestrians a full block eastwards. One would imagine that most of the human powered traffic is headed west, mind you, and normally I just climb over the barriers but since there was an interval of time before my evening assignation it was decided to just play ball and “go with the flow.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Luckily, the path intended is occluded by steel supports for the Roosevelt Island Tram, which forces the itinerant pedestrian to cross over into the bike lane. This is the southern edge of the Upper East Side, incidentally, the so called “silk stocking district” where the masters live. Arguably one of the most monied neighborhoods on the planet, I’ve always found the Upper East Side particularly uninteresting. There’s a lot of interesting buildings found hereabouts, the homes of Roosevelts and Astors and so on, as well as survivor town houses from the late 19th century.

Undoubtedly, when the Second Avenue Subway finally opens in coming decades – the furnaces of the Real Estate Industrial Complex will blaze hereabouts and even the upper classes will begin to experience “gentrification” and be told that “density is good.” That’s when the four and five story townhouses will be torn down, and replaced with glass boxes.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Swinging south at the corner of first avenue, you’ll find a vaulted arch lined with Guastavino tiles. They really knew how to sell a project and “gild the lily” back in 1909, I tell you. I can also tell you that on this walk over Queensboro to the 20’s along Third, the camera was quite busy and well employed until this point.

When examining the range of photos taken along the way, two thirds of the “keepers” were captured in Queens and on the bridge itself. Manhattan has become so visually homogenous and boring in recent years that it is staggeringly difficult to find something interesting to shoot.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Luckily, illegal dumping is everywhere. This bit of “feral furniture” (a term coined by my pal Ms. Heather over at NY Shitty) was a distinct step up from what you find in the concrete devastations of LIC and Greenpoint.

Tomorrow – an exploration of a completely different bridge, and an exclusive set of photos you will not see anywhere else but here – at your Newtown Pentacle.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

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Written by Mitch Waxman

November 19, 2015 at 1:00 pm

2 Responses

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  1. Make that “Guastavino”.

    georgetheatheist . . . I before E

    November 19, 2015 at 1:32 pm


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