The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

Archive for June 1st, 2022

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– photo by Mitch Waxman

The tunnels leading into Manhattan that are used by the Long Island Railroad are found within the Sunnyside Yards. On the south shore of Queens along Newtown Creek, however, you’ll find the LIRR’s Lower Montauk tracks which lead east. Used to be that the Lower Montauk could connect to the Yards via the Montauk Cutoff, but those tracks are now “abandoned,” and my friends and I have been working for a few years now to turn the cutoff into an “official” public open space – so no bueno for connecting anymore. The Montauk Cutoff is de facto “unofficial” public open space right now, but that’s another story.

Lower Montauk line starts at the LIRR’s Hunters Point Yard in Long Island City, found along Borden Avenue, which has been an active rail yard since the 1860’s.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A siding leaves the Lower Montauk and crosses Borden Avenue at street grade, after traveling under the Pulaski Bridge. This siding first enters the Hunters Point Avenue LIRR station about two blocks from the spot pictured above, and those tracks then offer connection to the Main Line and the tracks heading to Woodside, and Jamaica. These latter connections are beyond that which I can speak intelligently about, so if you think you know more about this than I do – you’re right, you do.

LIC, though, that’s my jam.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The Lower Montauk tracks almost always have a couple of idling engines sitting on them, which I’m told are kept ready to roll in case of an emergency or if a non functioning train on the busier parts of the system needs a rescue. They also tow work trains and “maintenance of way” equipment about.

That’s LIRR engine 105 pictured above, which was built sometime between 1968 and 1981. It’s a 1,000 HP locomotive engine.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Engine 164 is pictured above, which I can’t tell you much about. It’s gloriously rusty, and can really use a paint job – that’s all I’ve got.

The tracks they’re sitting on are on the Lower Montauk line. Eastwards, these engines can connect first to the Wheelspur Yard, or travel over the DB Cabin bridge spanning Newtown Creek’s Dutch Kills tributary leading into the Blissville Yard, on their way eastwards to the interlocking at Haberman or all the way to the Fresh Pond yard. Along the way, in Ridgewood, the LIRR Bushwick Branch intersects and connects.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

MTA stores their “rolling stock” in between rush hours at the Hunters Point Yard, and twice a day there’s an absolutely terrific amount of activity down here in DUPBO, Down under the Pulaski Bridge Onramp.

This is one of the most infrastructure heavy areas I know. The draw bridge above, rail and vehicles traffic on the surface, and the Long Island Expressway is feeding traffic into the Queens Midtown Tunnel below.

In my experience, between 4 & 6 in the afternoons, you’re almost guaranteed to see something LIRR related happening here.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Saying all that, my very productive day wasn’t over by a long shot, and I decided to crack out a “long shot” while climbing the Pulaski’s stairs and heading over towards Brooklyn’s Greenpoint section.

Wonders, I tell you, wonders.

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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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