The Newtown Pentacle

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Archive for September 21st, 2017

shrewd questioning

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It’s National Pecan Cookie Day, in these United States.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

For the last few days, a humble narrator has carried you around Calvary Cemetery in the Blissville section. As mentioned, I always have at least one ulterior motive or backup plan involving anything I do. My purpose in coming here was to walk out the route which I was going to guide a group around the place via during a walking tour, refamiliarizing myself with sight lines and “rehearsing” as it were. Along the way, however, there was so much to see that the camera was clicking and whirring away as I walked through the ancient polyandrion.

My ulterior motive today was to document the current phase of the demolition of the old Koscisuzcko Bridge.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Long time readers of this – your Newtown Pentacle – will tell you that this bridge replacement project has been explored before.

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.

Here’s 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, a walk through of the Brooklyn side job site in June of 2017. Here’s some night shots from early July of 2017. Finally – Here’s a series of posts focusing in on the removal of the central truss of the 1939 bridge from the summer of 2017 – a timelapse, some stills, and the barging out of the truss.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The “explosive” or “energetic demolition” of the remainders of the old bridge was originally meant to happen this Sunday the 24th of September, but for a variety of reasons – including the high winds and weather induced by Hurricane Jose out in the Atlantic Ocean – the NYS DOT engineers decided to reschedule the event for a later date.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

In the meantime, Breeze Demolition is wrenching and prying anything off of the structure that they can.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The idea, essentially, is to lessen the amount of material which will hit the ground during the so called energetic demolition. This reduces the chances of “flyaway” debris and seismic shock, and will quicken the reopening of area streets in Greenpoint and Maspeth afterwards. From what I’ve been told by the DOT, once the charges go off, the entire mass of the old bridge will drop in its own footprint. The point of removing what they can by conventional means involves reducing the seismic “hit” of having more than a mile of steel and concrete falling all at once.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

All over the old roadway, giant mechanical “insects” are chewing and chipping away at the old bridge. As the bits are removed – and these bits can weigh multiple tons, as a note – they are sent off to be recycled.

As has always been the case with this bridge project, the NYS DOT is being strangely cryptic about the recycling operation, and unwilling to discuss it in any sort of detail. Why they act like this thing is a state secret…

Honestly… do you think ANYTHING happening along Newtown Creek can be kept a secret from ME?

– photo by Mitch Waxman


– photo by Mitch Waxman

So… the following Saturday after the Calvary Walking Tour, I was doing a private tour for group of students from NYU while wearing my Newtown Creek Alliance hat. As it happens, I was able to arrange for our party to visit the Sims Metal Management LIC Dock so that they could understand the recycling process in a tangible manner.

Sims Metal Management is big on education – it’s a baked in part of the mission at their Sunset Park facility for instance – but the LIC location is a fairly dangerous industrial site with giant machines whizzing about and hundreds of tons of various recyclable materials stacked up. These guys and gals who work here toss around crushed cars in as seemingly casual a fashion as you would throw a napkin into the trash – and the only reason that can do this routinely and without killing each other is care, practice, and long experience.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The site manager met us at the gates of Sims, which is at the end of a long and quite dusty road found alongside a railyard in Blissville, and after a brief lecture about safety and the signing away of liability was completed, the site manager got on his radio and told his crew to shut everything down and take a coffee break. My NYU group and I followed him out onto the deck, and he took over the narrator duties. The kids from NYU were “gob smacked” having never suspected that anything like this place existed, let alone existent .8 of a mile from the East River in LIC.

While the site manager, named Lachman Hanoman, spoke to the group about what Sims does and how they do it – I waved the camera around a bit (even I don’t get in here very often), and guess what I spied with my little eyes?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Kosciuszcko, Kosciuszcko, men have named you…

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A bridge found alongside a graveyard, which is no longer a bridge, being pulled apart in expectation of its final demolition. Pieces of that bridge, observed along the fabulous Newtown Creek, at a graveyard for steel. That’s the executive summary of today’s post. Also – I know all, I see all.

Tomorrow – something completely different at this – your Newtown Pentacle.

Upcoming Tours and events

The Insalubrious Valley of the Newtown Creek Walking Tour,
with Atlas Obscura – Saturday, September 23rd, 11 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.

Join us on the wrong side of the tracks for an exploration of the hidden industrial heartlands of Brooklyn and Queens, with Newtown Creek Alliance Historian Mitch Waxman details here.

Exploring Long Island City, from Luxury Waterfront to Abandoned Factories Walking Tour,
with NY Adventure Club – Saturday, October 7th, 1 p.m. – 3 p.m.

Long Island City is a tale of two cities; one filled with glittering water-front skyscrapers and manicured parks, and the other, a highly active ground transportation & distribution zone vital to the New York economy — which will prevail? With Newtown Creek Alliance Historian Mitch Waxman details here.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

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