The Newtown Pentacle

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Artsy and fartsy at Luyster Creek, in today’s post.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As described yesterday, Luyster Creek is an inland tributary of the larger East River which was once known as Steinway Creek. The Steinway piano factory, built in 1870, used to float logs of mahogany in here for their manufacturing needs but that was a long time ago. Today, Luyster Creek is surrounded by energy infrastructure and is part of what I call the “forbidden northern coast of Queens.”

The shots in today’s post were gathered at a street end on 19th avenue, which is pretty much the only place you can get close to the water without fear of arrest for trespassing on the grounds of a power plant or a sewer plant or God knows what else.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Regular readers of this – your Newtown Pentacle – will tell you that a humble narrator is currently obsessed with night photography and has been wandering about Queens with a tripod in the dark. All of today’s shots are long exposures, which render flowing water into a near perfect mirror.

It was low tide when I arrived at Luyster Creek for sunset.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

That’s a “floatables boom” draped lasciviously over the rotting wood of some structure which was once likely a dock. Said boom is used to curtail the path of solid material carried by open sewers into larger water bodies. Designed to hang in the water column near the surface, these devices can get swept up during storms and end up becoming floatables themselves.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The mud flats along the shore could probably be described as being “black mayonnaise.” The energy companies based hereabouts are just the latest in a century of such endeavors, and I’m fairly sure that prior to Con Ed taking regency over the western shoreline of Luyster Creek there was a manufactured gas plant on their site simply called “Astoria Gas.” The Politti Power Plant, and the newish Astoria Energy power plant, as well as the NYC DEP’s Bowery Bay sewage treatment plant are all in the neighborhood and within throwing distance of where these shots were captured.

The likelihood of these sediments not being rich in PCB’s and coal tar is slight, therefore.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

New, to me at least, is a stream running from an upland property recently claimed by construction giant Skanska. Vituperous amounts of water were running out of some hidden outfall into Luyster Creek and carving out a new channel path in the mud flats. The source was right behind the rotting piles seen in the shot above.

Relevant state agencies have been notified and will investigate.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

That’s the inviting street end on 19th Avenue that these shots were gathered from, incidentally. A bunch of kids died here a couple of years ago, when they drove their car right into the water. There used to be goats, but there were none spotted here last Sunday. This industrial dead end does seem to be the preferred location for area “utes” interested in experimenting with cannibinoids and listening to hip hop, based on my experiences in the area, including last Sunday night.

It’s a good place for that sort of thing, I guess. If I was in high school, it’s where I would have gone for those sorts of pursuits. As a withering old man, however, all I’ve got is a tripod and a deep desire to explore lonely and ignored waterfront parcels like Luyster Creek here on the forbidden northern coast of Queens.


Upcoming Tours and Events

Blissville Stories Film Screening –
with Newtown Creek Alliance. Thursday, March 22nd, 7:30pm – 520 Kingsland Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11222.
Click here for trailer.

Newtown Creekathon – hold the date for me on April 15th.

That grueling 13 and change mile death march through the bowels of New York City known as the “Newtown Creekathon” will be held on that day, and I’ll be leading the charge as we hit every little corner and section of the waterway. This will be quite an undertaking, last year half the crowd tagged out before we hit the half way point. Have you got what it takes the walk the enitre Newtown Creek?
Keep an eye on the NCA events page for more information.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

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Written by Mitch Waxman

March 21, 2018 at 11:00 am

3 Responses

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  1. I didn’t know about Luyster Creek. The Luyster Farm was very close to the farmstead of Jesse Easton, my 3rd great-grandfather.

    Tom Padilla

    March 21, 2018 at 12:29 pm

    • That was to the east, near the Berrian properties?

      Mitch Waxman

      March 21, 2018 at 1:00 pm

      • To the southeast. Listed in directories as being on the Astoria Rd. On the 1860 non-population census, Peter Luyster appears two lines down from Jesse Easton for Newtown/Astoria Post Office.

        Tom Padilla

        March 21, 2018 at 2:18 pm


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