The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

loosely knit

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It’s National Piña Colada Day, in these United States.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Given that the final weeks of the old Kosciuszcko Bridge spanning the fabled Newtown Creek are at last upon us, one has been determined to record a few portrait shots to commemorate its long tenancy over the waterway. To wit, last week, one determined that it was time to carry the tripod all the way to eastern Greenpoint and stand there in the dark while shooting the end of an era in this particular corridor of the “House of Moses.” The tripod was needed to allow for long exposure, hyperfocal aperture depth, and deep saturation. Where I was will be instantly recognizable to some Newtown Creek enthusiasts, but to most – not so much. It’s off the beaten path, off the pavement in fact, and my specific vantage was shielded from street lights, perfectly dark, and stunk to high heaven from a passing slick of sewage. 

Ahh… my beloved Newtown Creek. 

I’m pretty happy with what I got in the shot above, which is a 30 second exposure captured at about 9:10 p.m. As always, if you click the photo it will open up a new window to Flickr, where you can zoom in or whatever. 

– photo by Mitch Waxman

While I was there – and as you’d imagine – one shot multiple variations of the first shot in today’s post using different exposure triangles, but it was randomly decided at the end of my little seission to pivot the tripod head about and get some shots of the surrounding creek as well. This is looking northward at the Queens side, and that black slab forming the background against the sky is the tree line of First Calvary Cemetery.

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, one from March of 2017 which discusses the demolition of the 1939 bridge.

Most recently – a post showing what I saw during a pre opening walk through in early April of 2017, and the fanfare surrounding the opening of half of the new bridge in April of 2017, and a walk through of the Brooklyn side job site in June of 2017.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Looking west along the Newtown Creek, towards the Shining City of Manhattan. The burning thermonuclear eye of God itself doesn’t dip behind the skyline until about 8:30 this time of year, and the shot was captured less than five minutes after the first shot in today’s post. That’s about when Indecided to break down the gear and head back to the rolling hills of Astoria, after having spent about an hour at my location. 

As far as the burning question everybody’s been asking me – no, I don’t have any intel on when the old bridge is coming down or not. Newtown Creek Alliance has recently published this post, which discusses the issue in detail and tells you what to expect from the operation.


Upcoming Tours and events

13 Steps Around Dutch Kills Walking Tour, with Newtown Creek Alliance – July 15th, 10 a.m. – 1 p.m..

The “then and now” of Newtown Creek’s Dutch Kills tributary in LIC, once known as the “workshop of the United States.” with NCA Historian Mitch Waxman details here.

The Poison Cauldron of the Newtown Creek Walking Tour, with Atlas Obscura – July 22nd, 11 a.m. – 2 p.m..

Explore the hellish waste transfer and petroleum districts of North Brooklyn on this daring walk towards the doomed Kosciuszko Bridge, with NCA Historian Mitch Waxman details here.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

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Written by Mitch Waxman

July 10, 2017 at 11:00 am

3 Responses

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  1. I humbly submit that a spelling correction must be made in your first sentence here. Thanks for the poignant image, and as always, for your attention to this bedraggled body of water.

    Eric

    July 11, 2017 at 11:13 am

  2. With the bridge’s fall, it’ll be The End of an Era in a funny way for me.

    You’ve got some great photos of the area on your photostream, I enjoyed perusing them.

    My “creek walking” days seem to be long behind me – walking along Grand from Waterbury in Williamsburg and through the Industrial section onward to Maspeth (that takes you over the Grand St bridge) was a happy accident (initially had thought to ramble east into the leafier, more residential hoods along Metropolitan) one summer day long ago — but then I veered left instead of straight, where Grand splits off after crossing the bridge closest to me – the Metropolitan bridge over English Kills.

    I headed East instead of West because even then Williamsburg was trending towards the kind of place I could not enjoy or feel comfortable. Eastward were working class folks, diverse communities, small stores. With nothing but time, I spent my days walking all along the BQE and Brooklyn/Queens borders. Through LIC (pre-glass-towers), Greenpoint, and, especially, all around Calvary cemetery.

    That accident of following Grand instead of Metropolitan that one day eventually became a near daily routine that stretched out as long as the days were long, and, especially, hot, year after year from adolescence through my late twenties, or perhaps about fourteen years. I would mark the beginning of a summer as the first day I could “take a walk” – which to me meant from Williamsburg to Elmhurst and back.

    Somehow, I always found veering through the warehouses “on the other side of Western Beef” far more fascinating a route than Metropolitan to the south. I would follow Grand to its terminal end, and, by subtle intent, found my home thereabouts many later.

    When I discovered your blog, it was with some skepticism that anyone else could find such an outwardly filthy area fascinating, let alone noteworthy. I think I have always been drawn to the over-looked, run-down, and bygone places in this City, where people hasten to move through, if they have to go through them at all.

    The peculiar, gritty quietude of the “grey zones” still unique to these areas resonate with me far more than any upscale condominium littered districts ever could, and I thank you for your diligence recording them from every conceivable angle. I don’t walk those streets much anymore, but I can look at your photos and remember.

    If you should ever seek to turn your apt camera towards the recording of another “grey zone” – one currently resisting the aesthetic trend towards “glass and gloss” (at least outwardly – there are as many hip cafes now as there are warehouses and workshops), may I humbly recommend following the course of Flushing as it runs through Bushwick from Evergreen towards Metropolitan.

    Tom

    July 11, 2017 at 12:47 pm


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