The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

kindred eccentrics

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Thursday’s just kind of happen, huh?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I could talk, in a completely uneducated manner, about inverted trusses and why they’re cool. Instead, I’d refer you to google and tell you to read up on what an actual engineer has to offer on the subject. That’s the Hells Gate Bridge, as seen from its western base on Randalls/Wards Island. Surprisingly, this section of the rail bridge is a bit different, visually at least, than the more familiar section (to me) that towers over Astoria Park on the Queens side.

As mentioned earlier in the week, Randalls/Wards Island is a novel place for me, one which I incongruously haven’t explored. My inclination is to go the other way, towards my beloved Newtown Creek, when I’m taking the camera out for a walk.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I was able to get up close and personal with Hells Gate, and stood directly in front of its masonry pier when shooting the inverted truss structure pictured above and below. The bridge is part of the NY Connecting Railroad, which runs first to Sunnyside Yards and then the East River tunnels into Manhattan on the Queens side. It continues over Randalls/Wards, where the bridge ultimately connects to the Port Morris section of the Bronx and the Oak Point Rail Yard. From there… well… as mentioned in earlier posts, what I know about the Bronx wouldn’t fill a thimble.

This shot points eastwards on the right, towards Queens.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

You just can’t help but do some abstraction around this bridge, with all the structural steel flying around. Oddly enough, Hells Gate has no structural lighting kit, and at night all you can see is a silhouette with the odd navigational signal or blinking aviation beacon attached to it against the night sky. The bridge is the property of the Amtrak outfit, and you regularly see their Northeast Corridor passenger trains crossing it. There are also freight trains, which are more often than not operated by the CSX company. I’m not sure if other rail companies operate on this former New York Central Railroad Company span.

As long as you’re googling inverted truss bridges, you might as well search for Operation Praetorious. That’s the one where Nazi saboteurs wanted to blow the Hells Gate Bridge up during WW2, an operation foiled by the Greatest Generation’s Antifa. Those ubiquitous rascals are everywhere, ain’t they?

Note: I’m writing this and several of the posts you’re going to see for the next week at the beginning of the week of Monday, July 20th. 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 here, 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.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

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 23, 2020 at 11:00 am

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