The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

several persons

leave a comment »

It’s National Chocolate Parfait Day, in these United States.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I’m always excited when people come to Newtown Creek to spend some time with me, but for some reason it always ends in a cloak of darkness punctuated only by the flashing of red and blue lights and the presence of law enforcement. Last Thursday, the 27th of April, was no exception to this tradition. That was the day that Governor Andrew Cuomo returned to Newtown Creek to celebrate the opening of the triumphant new Kosciuszcko Bridge.

Luckily for me, and you, and the historic record – a humble narrator was on the scene.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A habit, one arrived earlier than the appointed time for the event. I’m on the Stakeholders Advisory Committee, but somehow made it onto the first shuttle bus to the event with the press corps. That gave me a few minutes to wander about and get the lighting conditions figured out, and more than one or two shots of Newtown Creek from the bridge were acquired, since I was just waiting for the event to start.

Documenting this project has been a long standing project of mine – this 2012 post tells you everything you could want to know about Robert Moses, Fiorella LaGuardia, and the origins of the 1939 model Kosciuszko Bridge. Just before construction started, I swept through both the Brooklyn and Queens sides of Newtown Creek in the area I call “DUKBO” – Down Under the Kosciuszko Bridge Onramp. Here’s a 2014 post, and another, showing what things used to look like on the Brooklyn side, and one dating back to 2010, and from 2012 discussing the Queens side – this. Construction started, and this 2014 post offers a look at things. There’s shots from the water of Newtown Creek, in this June 2015 post, and in this September 2015 post, which shows the bridge support towers rising. Additionally, this post from March of 2016 detailed the action on the Queens side. Most recently, here’s one from May of 2016, and one from June of the same year. Here’s one from August of 2016the December 2016 one, and finally . Here’s another from March of 2017 which discusses the demolition of the 1939 bridge.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Suddenly, marching bands began to appear. This troupe danced their way over from Greenpoint.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

This troop marched in from the Queens side, which is in West Maspeth.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One does love a parade.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A whole passel of people began to appear from both sides of the new bridge, including this contingent of elected officialdom and VIP’s from Queens.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The security people and the folks from Albany got everyone into their places, and I crouched down with a bunch of other camera wielders as a 1932 Packard Limo which used to belong to Franklin Delano Roosevelt arrived on the scene.

Andrew Cuomo had returned to the Newtown Creek, in style.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The last time that I saw Mr. Cuomo hereabouts was back in November of 2010, when he (as Attorney General of NYS) announced the settlement of the ExxonMobil/Greenpoint Oil Spill lawsuit. As a note, that’s no dig, the Big Guy’s been busy.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The Governor of New York State seemed quite pleased with his new bridge, a project which he had famously and personally shouldered into fruition.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There was a ribbon cutting.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Then the crowd formed ranks during the pledge of allegiance, and the speechifying began.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

First up was Borough President Melinda Katz of Queens.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Second was Assemblyman Joe Lentol of Greenpoint. Mr. Lentol was followed by a diplomatic official from the Polish Government whose name I did not catch. Thaddeus Koscisuzcko whom the bridge is named for was, of course, a Pole and he’s a national hero to that proud nation.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

It seemed like every news crew in NYC was there, and there were camera drones zipping around as well.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Governor Cuomo seemed… rather… Presidential to me, if you know what I mean.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The plaques that adorned the old bridge for 78 years had been cleaned and polished up prior to the event, but this was the moment they were unveiled. The plaques are going to be installed on the new spans when all is said and done in 2020.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

2020, of course, is when the second half of the new Koscisuzcko Bridge is scheduled to be finished.

One was invited to attend the second ceremony of the day in Maspeth, wherein the Governor would unveil the new lighting project he’s enacting for all the bridges of New York Harbor. It was a dark and foggy night, but there was a variety of truly excellent food and drink that Mr. Cuomo had arranged for on hand. A party atmosphere penetrated the shroud of darkness cloaking the incredible Newtown Creek.

Note: For anyone from the Governors office or the Taste of NY people who might be reading this – that was probably the best brisket sandwich which I’ve ever quaffed. 

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Synchronized to music played on a couple of radio stations and over loud speakers at the event, the bridge was suddenly dancing with bright light.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The reaction of the crowd to this display seemed to please the Governor. My reaction, which was to try and get some decent shots of the thing, was badly reacted to by his security detail. “Get behind the white line” and “Now” was I told, and so did I comply. This encounter scared me, and fearing that one of my panics might be oncoming, one “retreat scuttled” back and away from the event and into the shadows of industrial Maspeth.

I really shouldn’t be amongst people. It always ends badly, with darkness, and law enforcement, and flashing lights.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One began to “quick scuttle” through the oily miasma and patchy fog of Blissville, keeping the tomb legions of Calvary Cemetery on my right, and all the while feeling the staring presence of those unknown eyes which watch from shuttered warehouse windows to the left. Off in the distance, the thing in the Sapphire Megalith of LIC watched through the mist.

It was nice to feel a slight return to normalcy, after such a long day in the presence of others.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

By the next day the Governor and the rest would all be back doing their own things in the places where they usually do them, but to a humble narrator on the 27th of April in 2017, the soliloquy of the Newtown Creek itself had just entered into a new chapter.

As a note, the next morning I was asked by NY Times reporter Emma G. Fitzsimmons to ride over the new bridge with her in a green Taxi, and she posted this article about our trip.

Upcoming Tours and events

First Calvary Cemetery walking tour, May 6th.

With Atlas Obscura’s Obscura Day 2017, Calvary Cemetery Walking Tour – details and tix here.

MAS Janeswalk free walking tour, May 7th.

Visit the new Newtown Creek Alliance/Broadway Stages green roof, and the NCA North Henry Street Project – details and tix here.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: