The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

slight blurring

with 2 comments

Wednesday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A humble narrator didn’t have anything scheduled for the 23rd of February, and since one of my favorite things to do solo revolves around riding the NYC Ferry to some distant point, that’s what I did.

I boarded the Astoria line boat, headed over to Manhattan’s 34th street ferry dock hub, and transferred onto the Soundview line. Soundview heads over to the East River coastline of the Bronx, and the service had recently opened a new stop there – Ferry Point Park.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

After a stop at Manhattan’s East 90th street, NYC Ferry navigates through the Hells Gate section which adjoins Astoria Park. You get some pretty great views along the way. Saying that, they really open up the engines when heading north, so hold on to something. One hand for you, one for the boat.

The “normal” service on the East River is pretty smooth, and conducted at relatively low speeds. On the Rockaway, St. George, and Soundview routes, however, the boat is moving very fast and that means it’s bouncing around and smashing into waves.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A tug and fuel barge combo was navigating south west as we left 90th street. Believe it or not, there are “lanes” in the water which ship captains have to follow. Navigational depth, underwater obstructions and hazards, wake sensitive shorelines and construction areas, even environmental factors go into the designation of these “lanes” by the United States Army Corps of Engineers and the United States Coast Guard. Also, boat people call these lanes “channels,” ok?

When leaving HQ, I had geared up fully and was carrying my entire traveling kit with me. since I wasn’t going to be trekking miles and miles on foot, I figured “why not”?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The fuel barge was empty. You can tell that by how high it’s sitting in the water, and there’s a line of corrosion midway up on its outer hull that gives an idea of where it sits relative to the waterline when full.

That fuel barge carries the equivalent cargo of 38 heavy trucks, incidentally. We are about 10-20 years from seeing self driving barges, ones that are electrical motor driven, navigating the nation’s waterways. In NY Harbor, you’ll nevertheless likely see a tug accompanying the things for a decade or two after the new technology appears and gets deployed into the wild. That will have more to do with safety and homeland security than operational concern.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Moving up through Hells Gate, you first pass under Mighty Triborough’s East River Suspension Bridge. Triborough is a complex of bridges and highway on and off ramps, and one of the most complicated bits of engineering ever accomplished.

The East River span connects the Grand Central Parkway and Astoria/LIC’s local traffic to the bridge complex centered at Randall’s/Ward’s Island.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Next up is the Hell Gate Bridge, which carries railroad traffic off of Long Island and into the Bronx. From the Bronx, rail heads north and then west onto the continent from the archipelago of New York City. If you want to see what it looks like from up there, check out this post from last fall describing an Amtrak trip to Vermont’s Burlington.

More tomorrow.


The Newtown Creekathon returns!

On April 10th, the all day death march around Newtown Creek awakens from its pandemic slumber.

DOOM! DOOM! Fully narrated by Mitch Waxman and Will Elkins of Newtown Creek Alliance, this one starts in LIC at the East River, heads through Blissville, the happy place of Industrial Maspeth, dips a toe in Ridgewood and then plunges desperately into Brooklyn. East Williamsburgh and then Greenpoint are visited and a desperate trek to the East River in Brooklyn commences. DOOM! Click here for more information and to reserve a spot – but seriously – what’s wrong with you that you’re actually considering doing this? DOOM!


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle


Buy a book!


The Newtown Creekathon returns!

On April 10th, the all day death march around Newtown Creek awakens from its pandemic slumber.

DOOM! DOOM! Fully narrated by Mitch Waxman and Will Elkins of Newtown Creek Alliance, this one starts in LIC at the East River, heads through Blissville, the happy place of Industrial Maspeth, dips a toe in Ridgewood and then plunges desperately into Brooklyn. East Williamsburgh and then Greenpoint are visited and a desperate trek to the East River in Brooklyn commences. DOOM! Click here for more information and to reserve a spot – but seriously – what’s wrong with you that you’re actually considering doing this? DOOM!


“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

April 6, 2022 at 11:00 am

2 Responses

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  1. How many people on that 90th street-Ferry Point leg? You had the boat all to yourself?

    georgetheatheist...general slocum

    April 6, 2022 at 6:03 pm


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