The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

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Minimalist Wednesdays? I dunno.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One has always opined that Queens will show you things if you just listen to her. Sometimes these things are ominous and weird, like the abundance of single iterated cast off shoes associated with the notorious Queens Cobbler. Other times they are just puzzling, and turn out to be a missing piece of the Queensboro Bridge. Go figure.

Recent endeavor encountered this hollowed out watermelon on Queens Blvd. It looked like somebody was eating it with a big spoon. I know… you’re thinking “rats,” but look at those clean (and clearly made by a knife) edges on the thing. Also, that would be one hell of a rat and rats don’t use giant spoons, as their hands as shaped like sporks with fingernails. Who can guess, though, what weird forms of (watermelon eating and giant spoon using) intelligence may exist, hidden in plain sight along the Boulevard of Death?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Something else one might witness along the old “bulevar de la muerte,” if – like a humble narrator – you’re trying to look “up, down, and all around,” whilst scuttling along the pedestrian lane are non standard sewer grates and other atavistic street furniture. The hodge podge of municipalities, towns and villages which were composited in 1870 as “Long Island City” and later as “Queens” is something that the first Queens Borough Presidents spent a lot of money on. If you look carefully, you’ll see a variety of approaches to drainage and sewer systems in the various neighborhoods. Several are relatively modern, others – like the one pictured above – date back to about the First World War. South Sunnyside was still defined by small family farms back then, and the area we call the Sunnyside Yards still had buildings standing that dated back to the Dutch Colonial period.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

So, what’s up with this “minimalist wednesday” thing, and how does it involve what the Romanians would call the “Bulevardul Morții”?

Simply put, every once in a while I try to frame up simplified and isolated shots, which is a lot easier said than done here in the super complicated layer cake of attention grabbing clutter called NYC. It’s kind of a challenge to do so, so… hence.

As far as the “Boulevard Mortis” – as you’d say it in Latin – goes, it’s just where I happened to end up one day, along with all the other wind blown trash in Queens.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Upcoming Tours and Events

Thursday, July 11, 7 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.

“Infrastructure Creek” Walking Tour w Newtown Creek Alliance

If you want infrastructure, then meet NCA historian Mitch Waxman at the corner of Greenpoint Avenue and Kingsland Avenue in Brooklyn, and in just one a half miles he’ll show you the largest and newest of NYC’s 14 sewer plants, six bridges, a Superfund site, three rail yards with trains moving at street grade (which we will probably encounter at a crossing), a highway that carries 32 million vehicle trips a year 106 feet over water. The highway feeds into the Queens Midtown Tunnel, and we’ll end it all at the LIC ferry landing where folks are welcome to grab a drink and enjoy watching the sunset at the East River, as it lowers behind the midtown Manhattan skyline.

Click here for ticketing and more information.

Saturday, July 13, 10 a.m. – 12 p.m.

“Exploring the East River, From General Slocum Disaster
to Abandoned Islands” Boat Tour w NY Adventure Club

Onboard a Soundview route NYC Ferry – Join New York Adventure Club for a two-part aquatic adventure as we explore the General Slocum disaster, and historic sights and stories along the East River, all by NYC Ferry.

Click here for ticketing and more information.

Buy a book!

In the Shadows at Newtown Creek,” an 88 page softcover 8.5×11 magazine format photo book by Mitch Waxman, is now on sale at for $30.

Written by Mitch Waxman

July 10, 2019 at 11:00 am

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