The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

diagonal fracturing

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You just have to love the Chrysler Building.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One of the more annoying things about the appearance of the so called “super talls” and the Hudson Yards “Dubai on the Hudson” nightmare has been the pollution and obliteration of sight lines and the sky silhouettes of the Empire State and Chrysler Buildings. The prominent position of the Chrysler Building in particular – skyline wise – has been diminished by this spate of construction, but there you are. NYC’s history is one of wrenching and often jarring change, take a picture right now, since whatever caught your eye might not be there next month.

The shot above was captured during a rare atmospheric phenomena (for NYC, at any rate) called “mammacular clouds,” which manifest after a strong thunderstorm cell has just passed through the area.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Another day, another thunderstorm, different camera, same midtown Manhattan art deco skyscraper. Y’know, I’ve never been inside the Chrysler Building. I’m told it’s almost universally populated by Dentist and Doctor’s offices, but that might be just a rumor. There’s lots of rumors about NYC, and I prefer the “as above, so below” variants. I’ve been in the weird complex of tunnels and rooms under Rockefeller Center, and can confirm that you can move between Broadway and Fifth in the lower east 50’s without ever having to emerge from the underground. There’s golf cart style vehicles driving around down there, lots of pipes and conduits, all sorts of banal stuff. I was never able to locate the Rockefeller’s cloning lab though.

I’d like to believe that there’s a mirror image of the Chrysler Building that penetrates down into the schist bedrock nearly 1,000 feet. The deep earth midtown underground is really something I imagine, but I’d not want to enter the “lower” lower east side without a military escort. I’m told that there used to be a dwarvish mine below the Alfred E. Smith houses, but that it was abandoned because of some dark and fiery entity called “Imperiale’s Bain” which invaded the space from below, driving out the dwarves. “You shall not pass,” as Daniel Moynihan used to say.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

It took a little bit of hunting through the archives to find the shot above, but there you go. You can just see my house over in Astoria, as a note, if you zoom in.

Every now and then, I like to think about the number of hours of labor that the landscape of NYC represents. Not just the construction of the towers, mind you, goes into the contemplation. All that steel and concrete and window glass and electrical wiring – everything – that is arranged just so in the shot above. The mind boggles.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle


Come to the library!

In the Shadows at Newtown Creek – The Roosevelt Island Historic Society has invited me to present a slideshow and talk about my beloved Newtown Creek at the New York Public Library on Roosevelt Island, on November 14th, 6 p.m. Free event!

Click here for 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 blurb.com for $30.

Written by Mitch Waxman

November 12, 2019 at 11:00 am

Posted in Manhattan, Midtown

Tagged with ,

2 Responses

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  1. Folks, in Mitch’s photo #3, see that big black monolith to the right of the Chrysler Building? That’s Trump World Tower. Now read this:

    ” Although Donald Trump prefers to publicize the aggressive side of his nature — it’s the manly thing to do — he is also the only beauty freak at large in New York City real estate development. Aggression and desire, violence and sex: put them together and they add up to Trump World Tower, undeniably the most primal building New York has seen in quite a while.”

    That’s the opening paragraph to the New York Times then architectural critic Herbert Muschamp’s RAVE review of the now-President’s construction in 2002.

    You can read the whole megillah here:

    Donald Trump, so saith The New York Times: primal building beauty freak

    georgetheatheist . . . up and away

    November 12, 2019 at 3:08 pm

  2. PS I agree with Muschamp. Trump World Tower IS a helluva nice looking building, no? And I usually despise “modernistic” architecture

    georgetheatheist . . . up and away

    November 12, 2019 at 4:21 pm


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