The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

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Wednesday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One finds himself wandering over the same ground over and over due to the efficiency of certain routes. There are de facto passes – gateway points – between the residential neighborhoods of Queens and the industrial business zones. That means that I end up moving through and towards these choke points all the time. Some of these “passes” are created by highways, cemeteries, or rail yards. In the case of the “happy place” Maspeth area of Newtown Creek, there’s the 39th/43rd/48th street corridors.

Interesting Queens historical trivia is that back in Dutch and English times, 39th street used to be called Harold Avenue, 43rd street used to be called Laurel Hill Blvd. and ran from Berrian Bay to Newtown Creek, and that 48th street was “the Shell Road” which was paved with crushed oyster shells.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Normal scuttling finds me looking for the most direct route from “A” to “B” but given that there’s nothing normal about the world right now, one finds himself wandering about a bit more than usual. Why not walk down that street or avenue you’ve never consciously explored before? It’s not like you have somewhere else to go.

My fascination with photographing the skeletal silhouettes of wintry street trees is becoming an issue for me, so I’m planning on calling Thrive NYC to ask Chirlane DeBlasio for some advice on kicking the habit. She’s apparently the wisest of all people, according to the Mayor, but he’s only watched a few of the videos.

Seriously though, seeing a tree this large and this old which has survived in the darkest of the environmental thickets of Newtown Creek’s industrialized hinterlands long enough to get up to forty or fifty feet is just inspirational. You’ve got to take hope when you find it, lords and ladies.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

This lobster truck, which has clearly seen better days, sits at the top of a hill in the section of West Maspeth which was sometimes referred to as “Berlin” or “Berlinville” in the late 19th century and for the first decade of the 20th. There are residential buildings hereabouts, scattered here and there amongst the factories and warehouses, and queries I’ve offered to the folks who live here over the years have revealed no living memory of the Berlin thing. Saying that, there was the Berlinville Railway disaster, and I’ve seen the term scribed onto fire insurance maps, so…

It’s parked on what should be the eastern slope of Berlin Hill. Laurel Hill is where First Calvary cemetery resides. The shallow valley between them, which the BQE runs through, used to host a lost tributary of Newtown Creek called “Wolf Creek,” or so the legend states…

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, January 18th. 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 blurb.com for $30.

Written by Mitch Waxman

January 20, 2021 at 11:00 am

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