The Newtown Pentacle

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Archive for December 11th, 2020

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Remember when Friday was special?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As mentioned in the past, there’s something about the design principles of the “House of Moses” – which is what I call the teams of municipal engineers and architects that were employed by Robert Moses and who designed the network of highway, expressway, and parkway infrastructure of NYC between the early 1930’s and late 1960’s – which has always appealed to me. There seems to have been a governing philosophy back then that despite the mission calling for you to draw something utilitarian and inherently ugly – a high speed road, for instance – you should go out of your way to gussy it up and find ways to make it aesthetic. This is before Brutalism and massing shapes became the calling card of civil works.

I’m not being sarcastic, look at that 1940 section of the Long Island Expressway above. It could have been so much worse, and there’s all sorts of small detail built into what’s essentially an off ramp and an elevated travel lane. Truly under appreciated, I’ve always thought. The cloverleaf ramps nearby LaGuardia Airport are also quite visually pleasing to me.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

When I’m screaming at Government Employees in the modern day, I’m usually the only person in the room who’s not standing on a firm “Go ‘Eff yourself” on new or upgraded municipal infrastructure. Instead, I’m asking why they can’t spend a bit more time thinking about what it’s going to be like living with this stuff nearby. Why not make it visually interesting or even attractive? Look at the new Koscisuzcko Bridge, or the sewer plant in Greenpoint, for examples of what I’m talking about. I mean… you’re spending the money anyway, why not make it nice?

Pictured above is a Long Island Railroad train rolling through the Harold Interlocking at the Sunnyside Yards, photographed from my favorite hole in the fences. Want to talk about screwing up the public interface for a municipal facility? Look at the plate steel fences they’ve thrown up around the Yards, which are graffiti magnets. Uggh.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Despite the pandemic, ChristmAstoria is risibly present again this year. Lights are deployed and electrified, and luckily the fad for light strings with xmas music speakers attached seems to be dying. I’m into the decorative lights, but detest the piping of holiday music into the streets.

Back next week with more shots from different adventures.

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, December 7th. 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.

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