The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

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– photo by Mitch Waxman

October 8th was one of the days in Long Island City that passerby might have noticed a pile of black sackcloth being carried along by the wind. Closer inspection would have revealed a humble narrator clothed in his street cassock, a filthy black raincoat flapping about in the poison breeze. One was enjoying an afternoon constitutional, and occasionally startling the elderly and their dogs if they gazed upon my countenance while passing by. A face for radio, that’s me.

One was feeling particularly invigorated, and it was a beautiful day for a stroll over to a hopelessly polluted industrial zone.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Somebody left their shop door open, and I cracked out an exposure or two of the scene within while shambling past. Neat!

In accordance with recent policy shifts here at HQ in Astoria, one had timed the walk for the late afternoon. This was around 5 p.m., give or take. In October, the burning thermonuclear eye of god itself lobs about in the sky at fortuitous angularities relative to the street grid of New York City. Not so much in January, so take advantage when you can.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One of the torments which my friends endure revolves around me having led them through over hill and dale and onto hell’s favorite streets, baking in the sun the whole way, whereupon I present them with a description of our destination as being “only 2-3 miles more to go” followed by “but, it’s all down hill from here.” To wit: the shot above. Several of you reading this just groaned.

What you’re actually looking at above is the hydrological reservoir and surrounding sloped basin of the Dutch Kills tributary of Newtown Creek. The flat lowlands around the waterway were wetlands, or “waste meadows” as they called them in the old days. Behind me, and further up the hill from where I was standing, is Greenpoint Avenue. Greenpoint Avenue connects with, and used to incorporate Roosevelt Avenue, which went all the way to Flushing back in the days of the decadent Dutch in the form of a turnpike. Greenpoint Avenue was set up as a high ground ridge road which connected two isolated waterfront colonies separated by bogs, swamps, and grass land.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

1940 is when the monstrosity pictured above, which largely follows Borden Avenue’s far more ancient path, was opened for traffic. Formerly, the horse or oxen drawn traffic followed Borden or Hunters Point Avenue on its path to the East River, where ferry or boat transport would complete the journey of passengers or cargo to Manhattan from Queens. Back then, there were shops and restaurants and inns along the route. Houses too, a few blocks back.

When the City bound traffic disappeared onto the Long Island Expressway and into the similarly aged Queens Midtown Tunnel, it blighted the area, and an already onerous catalog of industries in this area got worse in terms of character and pollution.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

When you’re on the south side of the Long Island Expressway, you’ve entered Blissville. That’s the name of the neighborhood. Really.

This neighborhood, and many of its residents, have a special place in my heart. I like having beers at Bantry Bay on Greenpoint Avenue, and I can point you at a very comfortable socialist bench nearby Review Avenue (it was donated to the Blissville Community by the campaign of Jonathan Bailey, who ran as a Democratic Socialist for City Council in the last cycle, so “socialist bench.”)

I am unaware of any public furniture donations to Blissville from the Republican Candidate for the seat, Marvin Jeffcoat.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One such as myself is probably the only person in Brooklyn or Queens happy to see the Greenpoint Avenue Bridge opening at 5:30 p.m. on a weekday, but there you are. I enjoyed the show, and waited patiently, unlike everybody else, for the thing to resume “bridging” after it finished “drawbridging.”

More tomorrow.

“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 14, 2022 at 11:00 am

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