The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

Archive for March 23rd, 2020

brushed boldly

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Industrial zones and pandemics, a natural combination.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The long walks I take often end up taking me to lonely and deserted places wherein the only other inhabitants of the local vicinity are the drivers and passengers of passing motor vehicles. Now, more than ever, my footfalls lead me and the camera to uninhabited places. There’s a section of Long Island City, west of Sunnyside and north of Blissville, which I’ve always found visually interesting. The land slopes down towards the Dutch Kills Tributary of Newtown Creek, affording one interesting views and an easy perambulation. You’ve always got a real sense of vulnerability here, but intellectually know that at any given moment you’re on half a dozen CCTV security cameras and that there’s a sleep deprived night watchman watching you and hoping that they don’t have to get up and yell at you to stop doing something they are supposed to police. I never trespass, and graffiti ain’t my bag, so…

This section of LIC is interesting in terms of the utilitarian architecture encountered here, some of which is actually quite fetching, but I like a good warehouse or factory.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Pictured above is a nicely maintained structure found at the corner of 48th Avenue and 34th street, which is currently on sale – based on the Realtor’s banner signage hung on its wall. The 4 story building sits in an M2 industrial zone, hosts 141,000 square feet within its walls, and was erected in 1926 (altered and upgraded in 2013). A little detective work reveals that prior to the renaming of streets and avenues in Queens – and LIC in particular – back in the first half of the 20th century (which happened twice, and is very confusing) 48th Avenue was called “Anable Avenue” and that the factory pictured above was the home of the Morganite Brush Company. Here’s one of their advertisements.

Apparently, Morganite Brush (they’re still around, but call themselves Morgan Advanced Materials these days, and seem to do business from the American South East) manufactured electrical components called “carbon brushes” here. Not wanting to research and write a dissertation on carbon brushes, a quick call to my pal Hank the Elevator guy reveals that “it’s a moving component that supplies voltage to motors” and that he replaces a lot of brushes in the elevator motors he maintains as part of his daily round. Suddenly, the existing modern day profusion of elevator industry supply warehouses and maintenance companies in this section of LIC makes all the sense in the world to me.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As mentioned, one wasn’t really thinking about a destination and was just following the direction which my toes were pointing towards, while trying to consciously stop myself from wandering anywhere close to congregations of the humans. As is always the case with me, I’d eventually end up at Newtown Creek or one of its tributaries on this particular walk, which you’ve probably guessed by now. Along the way, photos were gathered.

One thing which has really taken my notice is how clean the sidewalks and gutters have become with all of us sequestered away in our hidey holes. Have to figure that the rats and pigeons must be wondering where all the free food has gone.

Note: I’m writing this and several of the posts you’re going to see for the next couple of weeks at the start of the week of Monday, March 16th. My plan is to continue doing my solo photo walks around LIC and the Newtown Creek in the dead of night as long as that’s feasible. If you continue to see regular updates as we move into April and beyond, that means everything is kosher as far as health and well being. If the blog stops updating, it means that things have gone badly for a humble narrator.


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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

March 23, 2020 at 11:00 am

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