The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

unvisited mountain

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– photo by Mitch Waxman

One last batch of photos from my penultimate boat trip down Newtown Creek greets you in today’s post.

The very first time I came back here by boat was back in 2007 or 2008, and it was a tour led by my future friend Bernie Ente with Working Harbor Committee acting as the organizer. Bernie was one of the founders of Newtown Creek Alliance, a great photographer, and he left his family and this world while still far too young in 2011.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Bernie and I had been working together for a while when he passed, doing boat and walking tours, and having adventures. My pal Mai Armstrong started hanging around with us, and we all worked on the NYC Bridge Centennial Commission with Barry and Judith Schneider, Gridlock Sam Shwartz, and the then NYC DOT Commissioner Jeanette Sadik-Khan on the City’s centennial celebrations for the Queensboro, Manhattan, Madison Avenue, and Hunters Point Avenue Bridges. Bernie almost missed the latter one, and he ended up checking himself into a hospital just a few days after it. He never checked out.

Bernie Ente introduced me to a circle of incredible people, all experts on one subject or another, and we collectively referred to ourselves as “Team Bernie” afterwards.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There was John Doswell, and Meg Black. There was John Skelson and Rich Taylor, a guy named John who works for the city and I can’t say his last name out loud in public or he’ll get in trouble with his boss, the self proclaimed “Harbor Wenches,” and Captain Maggie and…

Over at Newtown Creek Alliance, which had recently become a “proper” non profit rather than a community group, there were Katie Schmidt and the new Executive Director Kate Zidar, and my pal Penny Lee from NY City Planning. At the time, I was still on speaking terms with the Greater Astoria and Newtown Historical Societies. Those two’s a tale, I tell’s ya.

The path of education that Bernie started me on was continued by all of these people. My pal Mai Armstrong was by my side through it all.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Boat tours were always my favorite. I love telling the story of Newtown Creek and New York Harbor while bouncing along on the tide. I got to narrate on the Circle Line once with historian Dr. Kenneth Jackson (Encyclopedia of New York) onboard and at no point did he throw a chair at me or anything, so great success.

I’m quite reflective about all these people, many of whom have either retired to their dotage or passed on to their rewards.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

It won’t be too long now. I’ll be living somewhere else by Christmas.

I’ve spent my entire life in NYC. Grew up in Brooklyn, lived for a while in Manhattan, and I’ve been in Astoria for just under 20 years now. Newtown Creek has been at the center of my thoughts and actions for nearly 15 years. It’s time for the next generation to pick up their lance and tilt at the windmills along my beloved Creek.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

In a first for me, I actually had to sort of leap off the boat and catch a ladder affixed to the shoreline to get back on land in Greenpoint.

One soon found himself scuttling again, across the Pulaski Bridge. As always, the camera was being waved around at the various wonders of the currently undefended border of Brooklyn and Queens.

Tomorrow, more – more MORE!

“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

November 1, 2022 at 11:00 am

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