The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

no anguish

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– photo by Mitch Waxman

That’s the Whale Creek tributary of the larger Newtown Creek pictured above. The nomenclature of “Whale Creek” harkens back to a fairly forgotten era in NYC, when illuminating fuels were derived from the distillation of cetacean fats rather than petroleum. Before Kerosene, which was more or less invented by a fellow named Abraham Gesner in 1854 and manufactured on the Queens side of the Newtown Creek, the way you conquered darkness in NYC was either by buying whale oil from a fellow in Brooklyn named Ambrose Kingsland (as in Kingsland Avenue) or manufactured gas from a variety of industrial outfits which were based on the east side of Manhattan. Manhattan’s “Gas Light District” was the zone currently occupied by Stuyvesant Town in the East River facing “teens and twenties.” A complex of gas manufacturing and storage was evident all the way up to “blood alley” in the high 30’s and low 40’s. Blood Alley was where you’d encounter abattoirs and slaughterhouses, and the United Nations complex is more or less sited in that zone.

Modern day Whale Creek is nestled entirely within the properties of the NYC DEP in Greenpoint, and it’s surrounded by the gargantuan sewer plant they’ve constructed, which handles about 900 million gallons of our corruption daily. Well, it’s Manhattan below 96th St.’s corruption, mainly.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The Court Square station in Long Island City is considered to be a “historic place” given that it’s one of the original elevated IRT Flushing Line subway stations that were erected in LIC, and it opened in 1916.

The modern day “Court Square Station” is actually a portmanteau of three different stations which were connected together back in 1990. The connections were part of a rezoning effort by NYC which began the build out of large scale buildings in LIC, notably the Citigroup tower which kicked off the building frenzy that continues to this day.

One yearns for perspective.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Looking eastwards towards Newtown Creek from the Empire State Building offers one such perspective, and allows you to view the region in the way that governmental entities do. There are not individual lives playing out in this area, rather there are trends and large infrastructure resources found therein.

Tomorrow and Friday, I’ll be showing you shots from this perspective, as I finally dropped the hammer on heading up to the 86th floor observation deck last week. The weather was right!

Back tomorrow, at this – your Newtown Pentacle.

“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

June 23, 2021 at 1:45 pm

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