The Newtown Pentacle

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Archive for October 15th, 2020

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– photo by Mitch Waxman

The Maspeth Avenue Plank Road allows for and offers a few fairly unique points of view, along that river of urban neglect called the Newtown Creek. It’s one of my favorite spots in Western Queens, and if you’re there at the right time of day there’s a spectacular display of light painting both the water and the industrial zone surrounding it in oranges and golds. Lovely.

As mentioned in yesterday’s post, while shooting at this location, a somewhat distant “pop” and then a “whoosh” was audible and echoed evidently.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

It turns out that the water main feeding a fire hydrant – one which has been mentioned a couple of times this week – had popped open while I was shooting. Back in May of this year, flowing water was encountered in this area, but that flooding was occurring because of a different reason. I jokingly called it “Furman’s Creek.”

Of course, while shooting that post, I wasn’t on the Newtown Creek side of the hill as the water was pushing through. In today’s shots, it was flooding right towards me, and I was basically caught between two waterways, feeling like a fool.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The channel carved out by the Furman’s Creek flow quickly filled and began to overflow. Normal persons would react to this sort of thing by getting out of the way of a torrent of water rushing down a hill at them, but I’m a seasoned urban photographer, so… schmuck with a camera mode.

I wasn’t being vainglorious, mind you, rather I was keeping a close eye on the flow and increasing depth of the cataract. A plan was hatched, and a benchmark level calculated, for escape. Saying that, I had a few minutes before the water was going to rise high enough for me to have to walk into it, so I got busy.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The flow ultimately was heading into Newtown Creek, flattening and spreading out over the concrete plinth found at the end of the Plank Road site. What you’re looking at above is a rapidly flowing bunch of water roughly a yard across and 2-3 inches deep.

By the time I made my escape, the water had subsumed the entire plinth and was about 5-6 inches deep and flowing rapidly. Hundreds and hundreds of gallons were ripping past me. Luckily, I was stationed on two concrete structures which offered me a bit of altitude over the flow.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Unfortunately, litter and garbage as well as motor oil and all sorts of industrial zone street “yuck” was being carried into the Creek by the flow.

After shooting this image and the one above it, wherein my back had been turned to the flowing water, I suddenly realized that my escape route had flooded. Not wishing to have to walk through the now ankle deep torrent, a rapid series of hops/leaps and jumps carried me over and out onto drier land, allowing egress back to the top of the hill and street level. I’m just like a goat, yeah.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

By the time I reached street level, the flowing water had pretty much flooded out the pathway used to get to the coastline of Plank Road. Oddly bucolic, thought I.

Exciting, no? I thought it was.

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, October 12th. 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

October 15, 2020 at 11:00 am

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