The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

something tangible

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– photo by Mitch Waxman

Recent endeavor found a humble narrator in my happy place – Industrial Maspeth – before the burning thermonuclear eye of god itself emerged from behind Nassau County in the east. I was at the Maspeth Avenue Plank Road, with the tripod and full bag of gear.

Daylight savings time, coupled with the paucity of daylight hours and the atrocious angle of the winter sun relative to NYC’s street grid, negates a lot of photographic opportunities. Sunsets and sunrises are really your only chance for “magic moments” this time of year. One has been making an effort to commit to one or the other time interval at least once a week.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The Maspeth Avenue Plank Road is the stubby remain of a bridge which last crossed Newtown Creek during the Presidency of Ulysses S. Grant, and it’s found just shy of three miles from the East River. It adjoins a section of Newtown Creek called “the Turning Basin.” This area is conventionally referred to as being the most environmentally compromised section of the waterway, as a point of interest. Industrial usage of this zone of Newtown Creek included an enormous and quite dirty Manufactured Gas Plant on the Brooklyn side, and a chemical/acid factory and high volume copper refinery on the Queens shoreline. There were a lot of other businesses with lovely occupations housed on both sides – fertilizer and rendering mills, night soil processors, secondary manufacturers and packagers for petroleum refining byproducts like paraffin waxes and naphtha – for instance.

It’s nice. At sunrise, fleets of birds take to the air.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The big LNG fuel tank at the right side of the shot is one of two such apparatuses found in Greenpoint at the National Grid property. Grid’s footprint used to be Keyspan, and before that it was Brooklyn Union Gas’s. BUG was the manufacturer of the “natural” gas mentioned above. When Grid bought up all of the BUG assets, via their purchase of the Keyspan outfit who had previously acquired the property, they also assumed Superfund liability and responsibility for cleaning up all of BUG’s “yuck” here in Newtown Creek’s turning basin.

That’s the happy place for ya.

“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

December 1, 2021 at 11:45 am

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