The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

quiet steps

with 3 comments

It’s National Caviar Day, in these United States.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The shot above was captured at the corner on the Astoria side of Northern Blvd. and 47th street, a couple of weeks ago. If it was shot a hundred years ago, this location would have been described as the corner of Jackson Avenue and 17th avenue (aka 19th century Oakley Street) nearby Long Island City’s border with Woodside. Back then, there would have been streetcars (trolleys) rolling through the shot. That’s the sort of thing which I wish the NYC EDC’s BQX team would think about – putting streetcars back where they belong, along these old routes currently serviced by MTA’s buses. This particular trolley route was one that rolled off the Queensborough Bridge, the New York and Queens County Railroad.

The street grid of modern day Sunnyside continued through to the north towards Astoria across what’s now the Sunnyside Yards and those huge used car dealerships you see in the shot above, which are found on the southern side of Northern Blvd. in modern times.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Northern Blvd. is a widened version of Jackson Avenue, which is another one of the many road projects overseen by Robert Moses in the early 20th century. Another one of Mr. Moses’s projects was both the creation of the Grand Central Parkway (which fed traffic to his Triborough Bridge from Eastern Queens and Long Island) and the redesignation of Astoria Avenue into Astoria Blvd.

FDNY’s Engine 263 and Ladder 117 are housed in a consolidation era firehouse, pictured above, which predates the Grand Central’s construction. There’s a shot of the place from ca. 1920 you might be interested in perusing at this link which shows what things looked like back in the post WW1 period here in Western Queens. The historic shot looks west down Astoria Avenue towards Steinway Street.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

That’s the Long Island Rail Road as it rolls out of the 1870 vintage LIC Passenger Yard towards the Hunters Point Station. The incredible is an invaluable resource for studying this particular rail empire, and they offer this incredible aerial image from 1940 which shows the LIRR operation at probably its grandest moment.

Upcoming Tours and events

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

Written by Mitch Waxman

July 18, 2017 at 11:00 am

3 Responses

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  1. You might like this:


    July 18, 2017 at 11:26 am

  2. Why would you think it a good idea to put railroad tracks in a flood zone? Why not a true BRT?

    Louis K

    July 18, 2017 at 11:44 am

  3. Lots of close shaves in that video, Cav.

    Yeah, this BQX is not going to work at all. I wonder if some of that money the city is supposed to provide the MTA with, the 2.5 billion that is, went into the feasibility study of and all those desktop graphic illustrations on the gentrification industrial complex express, which it’s guesstimated cost of the project is 2.5 billion dollars.

    Just a layman’s observation.

    JQ LLC

    July 22, 2017 at 10:11 am

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