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2013 Newtown Creek Boat Tour

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The 2013 Newtown Creek Boat Tour.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

On Saturday -the 28th of September- the Working Harbor Committee is producing and offering a boat tour of the Newtown Creek for any interested parties to attend. A special emphasis on the waterway’s storied history and maritime legacy will be made.

I’m going to be doing the history part, speaking in my capacity as the Newtown Creek Alliance Historian, and am tasked with highlighting the various points of interest encountered along the route. Anticipated to be some three hours in length, this boat tour will be delving some three miles inland, proceeding to the Metropolitan Avenue Bridge crossing English Kills in East Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The Maritime History of Newtown Creek is one largely forgotten in these decadent times, but even now an odd tugboat and barge might be spied making their way down the waterway on any given day. Property owners were considered to have been blessed by some of the finest industrial bulkheads in the world a mere century ago, yet many of the businesses based along the Creek today ignore this invaluable resource, allowing their waterfront property to decay and decline.

Nevertheless, a staggering amount of maritime traffic is still observed here, and towing companies such as Reinauer, K-Sea, DonJon, and Poling and Cutler are regular visitors.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Vast operations will be witnessed by those onboard, many of which are involved in the scrap metal and recyclables trade. Responsible for an enormous amount of cross harbor shipping, companies such as SimsMetal are heavily reliant on the maritime trades for their economic success.

Not all that long ago, Newtown Creek carried a greater tonnage of cargo than the entire Mississippi River.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

An active and thriving industrial zone in the center of New York City, from the water one can truly grasp the sheer scale of Newtown Creek’s busy waterfront. Normally hidden by high fences and obscured by street facing structures, the intensity of the Newtown Creek is laid bare before the admiring gaze of first time visitor and veteran urban explorer alike.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A tributary of the estuarine East River, Newtown Creek extends some 3.8 miles from its junction with the more familiar waterway, and provides demarcation for the currently undefended border of much of Brooklyn and Queens. Named to the Federal Superfund list, the Creek suffers from a history of environmental degradation and municipal neglect.

An era of great change is upon the Newtown Creek, and this trip will be one of your last chances to see it in its current form.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

We will see four moveable bridges, and this year will be your last chance to see the static Kosciuszko Bridge which carries the BQE, as the NYS DOT has indicated that construction on its replacement will begin quite soon.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Along it’s banks, great fortunes have risen.

Amongst others- Peter Cooper (BO Railroad, Canton Iron, and Cooper Union), Charles Pratt (Astral Oil, and Pratt University), and ultimately John D. Rockefeller (Standard Oil)– all grew richer than the dreams of avarice in this place. Alongside them, the darkest mills of the industrial revolution- rendering plants, yeast distilleries, bone blackers, and acid factories provided tens of thousands of jobs to the immigrant populations of Brooklyn and Queens. Today- National Grid, BP, Amoco, ExxonMobil, and a host of other multinational companies still maintain an enormous investment in this valuable industrial canal.

Upcoming tour: Hidden Harbor Tours: Newtown Creek tour with Mitch Waxman.

Come explore Newtown Creek by boat with Working Harbor Executive Director Captain John Doswell and Newtown Creek Alliance Historian Mitch Waxman as your guides.

Boarding begins at 2:30 p.m., and departs at 3:00 p.m. sharp. The 2.5 hour, fully narrated, round-trip excursion departs from and returns to the New York Skyports Marina found at East 23rd Street & the FDR Drive in Manhattan.

There will be a cash bar onboard.

Tickets are $45.

For inquiries about group discounts please call 212-757-1600.

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Hidden Harbor Tours: Newtown Creek tour with Mitch Waxman

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“follow” me on Twitter at @newtownpentacle

– photo by Mitch Waxman

On Sunday -the 26th of May- the Working Harbor Committee is producing and offering a boat tour of the Newtown Creek for any interested parties to attend. A special emphasis on the waterway’s storied history and maritime legacy will be made.

I’m going to be doing the history part, speaking in my capacity as the Newtown Creek Alliance Historian, and am tasked with highlighting the various points of interest encountered along the route. Anticipated to be some three hours in length, this boat tour will be delving some three miles inland, proceeding to the Metropolitan Avenue Bridge crossing English Kills in East Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The Maritime History of Newtown Creek is one largely forgotten in these decadent times, but even now an odd tugboat and barge might be spied making their way down the waterway on any given day. Property owners were considered to have been blessed by some of the finest industrial bulkheads in the world a mere century ago, yet many of the businesses based along the Creek today ignore this invaluable resource, allowing their waterfront property to decay and decline.

Nevertheless, a staggering amount of maritime traffic is still observed here, and towing companies such as Reinauer, K-Sea, DonJon, and Poling and Cutler are regular visitors.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Vast operations will be witnessed by those onboard, many of which are involved in the scrap metal and recyclables trade. Responsible for an enormous amount of cross harbor shipping, companies such as SimsMetal are heavily reliant on the maritime trades for their economic success.

Not all that long ago, Newtown Creek carried a greater tonnage of cargo than the entire Mississippi River.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

An active and thriving industrial zone in the center of New York City, from the water one can truly grasp the sheer scale of Newtown Creek’s busy waterfront. Normally hidden by high fences and obscured by street facing structures, the intensity of the Newtown Creek is laid bare before the admiring gaze of first time visitor and veteran urban explorer alike.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A tributary of the estuarine East River, Newtown Creek extends some 3.8 miles from its junction with the more familiar waterway, and provides demarcation for the currently undefended border of much of Brooklyn and Queens. Named to the Federal Superfund list, the Creek suffers from a history of environmental degradation and municipal neglect.

An era of great change is upon the Newtown Creek, and this trip will be one of your last chances to see it in its current form.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

We will see four moveable bridges, and this year will be your last chance to see the static Kosciuszko Bridge as the NYS DOT has indicated that construction on its replacement will begin as early as the Fall of 2013.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Along it’s banks, great fortunes have risen.

Amongst others- Peter Cooper (BO Railroad, Canton Iron, and Cooper Union), Charles Pratt (Astral Oil, and Pratt University), and ultimately John D. Rockefeller (Standard Oil)– all grew richer than the dreams of avarice in this place. Alongside them, the darkest mills of the industrial revolution- rendering plants, yeast distilleries, bone blackers, and acid factories provided tens of thousands of jobs to the immigrant populations of Brooklyn and Queens. Today- National Grid, BP, Amoco, ExxonMobil, and a host of other multinational companies still maintain an enormous investment in this valuable industrial canal.

Upcoming tour: Hidden Harbor Tours: Newtown Creek tour with Mitch Waxman.

On May 26th, Mitch shares his unique point of view and deep understanding of the past, present and future conditions of the Newtown Creek as the narrator and expedition leader for this years’ Hidden Harbor Tours: Newtown Creek tour with Mitch Waxman.

Our NY Water Taxi leaves from South Street Seaport at 10 a.m. (sharp) for a three hour tour of the Newtown Creek. From the East River we’ll move into the Newtown Creek where we’ll explore explore vast amounts of maritime infrastructure, see many movable bridges and discover the very heart of the Hidden Harbor.

Limited seating available, get your tickets today.

Tickets $59, trip leaves Pier 17 at South Street Seaport at 10a.m. sharp.

We will be traveling in a comfortable NY Water Taxi vessel with indoor and outdoor seating. There will be refreshments and snacks available for purchase at the bar.

Other upcoming tours:

Parks and Petroleum- Sunday, May 12, 2013
Newtown Creek walking tour with Mitch Waxman and Newtown Creek Alliance, tickets now on sale.

The Insalubrious Valley– Saturday, May 25, 2013
Newtown Creek walking tour with Mitch Waxman and Atlas Obscura, tickets now on sale.

for a full listing and schedule of tours and events, click here

Newtown Creek Boat Tour

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– photo by Mitch Waxman

This coming Sunday -the 22nd of July, the Working Harbor Committee is producing and offering a boat tour of the Newtown Creek to any interested parties. A special emphasis on the waterway’s storied history and maritime legacy will be made.

I’m going to be doing the history part, speaking in my capacity as the Newtown Creek Alliance Historian, and am tasked with highlighting the various points of interest encountered along the route. Anticipated to be some three hours in length, this boat tour will be delving some three miles inland, proceeding to the Metropolitan Avenue Bridge crossing English Kills in East Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The Maritime History of Newtown Creek is one largely forgotten in these decadent times, but even now an odd tugboat and barge might be spied making their way down the waterway on any given day. Property owners were considered to have been blessed by some of the finest industrial bulkheads in the world a mere century ago, yet many of the businesses based along the Creek today ignore this invaluable resource, allowing their waterfront property to decay and decline.

Nevertheless, a staggering amount of maritime traffic is still observed here, and towing companies such as Reinauer, K-Sea, DonJon, and Poling and Cutler are regular visitors.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Vast operations will be witnessed by those onboard, many of which are involved in the scrap metal and recyclables trade. Responsible for an enormous amount of cross harbor shipping, companies such as SimsMetal are heavily reliant on the maritime trades for their economic success.

Not all that long ago, Newtown Creek carried a greater tonnage of cargo than the entire Mississippi River.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

An active and thriving industrial zone in the center of New York City, from the water one can truly grasp the sheer scale of Newtown Creek’s busy waterfront. Normally hidden by high fences and obscured by street facing structures, the intensity of the Newtown Creek is laid bare before the admiring gaze of first time visitor and veteran urban explorer alike.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A tributary of the estuarine East River, Newtown Creek extends some 3.8 miles from its junction with the more familiar waterway, and provides demarcation for the currently undefended border of much of Brooklyn and Queens. Named to the Federal Superfund list, the Creek suffers from a history of environmental degradation and municipal neglect.

An era of great change is upon the Newtown Creek, and this trip will be one of your last chances to see it in its current form.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

We will see four moveable bridges, and this year will be your last chance to see the static Kosciuszko Bridge as the NYS DOT has indicated that construction on its replacement will begin as early as the Spring of 2013.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Along it’s banks, great fortunes have risen.

Amongst others- Peter Cooper (BO Railroad, Canton Iron, and Cooper Union), Charles Pratt (Astral Oil, and Pratt University), and ultimately John D. Rockefeller (Standard Oil)– all grew richer than the dreams of avarice in this place. Alongside them, the darkest mills of the industrial revolution- rendering plants, yeast distilleries, bone blackers, and acid factories provided tens of thousands of jobs to the immigrant populations of Brooklyn and Queens. Today- National Grid, BP, Amoco, ExxonMobil, and a host of other multinational companies still maintain an enormous investment in this valuable industrial canal.

There are still a few, and I mean “few” tickets left for this trip- get yours while you can.

Upcoming tour: Hidden Harbor Tours: Newtown Creek Exploration.

On July 22nd, Mitch shares his unique point of view and deep understanding of the past, present and future conditions of the Newtown Creek as the narrator and expedition leader for this years Hidden Harbor Tours: Newtown Creek exploration.

Our NY Water Taxi leaves from South Street Seaport at 11 a.m. (sharp) on a three hour tour of the Newtown Creek. From the East River we’ll move into the Newtown Creek where we’ll explore explore vast amounts of maritime infrastructure, see many movable bridges and discover the very heart of the Hidden Harbor.

Limited seating available, get your tickets today.

Tickets $50, trip leaves Pier 17 at South Street Seaport at 11a.m. sharp.

We will be traveling in a comfortable NY Water Taxi vessel with indoor and outdoor seating. There will be refreshments and snacks available for purchase at the bar.

Historic Tug at Newtown Creek

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Vintage Tugboat at Newtown Creek – photo by Mitch Waxman

A rare opportunity to ride up the Newtown Creek was recently enjoyed by your humble narrator, and on my journey up that maligned cataract I spotted an artifact of New York Harbor’s glorious past sneaking past Hunters Point.

from epa.gov

Blue-claw crabs, bluefish, weakfish, striped bass, and other species inhabit the creek, and fishing and crabbing for human consumption occurs [Ref. 7, pp. 2, 5; 8, p. 11; 21, p. 13; 22, pp. 1-2; 24, p. 143; 52, p. 93; 68, p. 3; 69, p. 1]. Subsistence fishing has been observed in Newtown Creek at Dutch Kills, and crabbing for consumption has been observed at the end of Manhattan Avenue in Brooklyn [Ref. 7, p. 5; 21, p. 13; 22, pp. 1-2; 68, p. 3; 69, p. 1]. These locations are both within the zone of contamination for the Newtown Creek site [Figure 2 of this HRS documentation record]. Therefore, Actual Contamination is documented, and the target fishery is evaluated for Actual Human Food Chain Contamination.

the W O Decker at Newtown Creek – photo by Mitch Waxman

Wooden hulled, its spitting steam boilers have long been replaced by modern diesel engines, this little (52 feet long) tugboat is the W O Decker.

also from epa.gov

Beginning in the late 1800s and continuing into the 1930s, Newtown Creek was widened, deepened, and lined with bulkheads to accommodate the growing traffic, leading to the destruction of all its freshwater sources [Ref. 8, p. 10; 12,

p. 52]. During World War II, the government commandeered factories along the creek to make military equipment, such as a factory that made aluminum for fighter planes [Ref. 11, p. 14]. At that time, Newtown Creek was the busiest industrial port in the Northeast, with tanker traffic lining its length [Ref. 7, p. 1; 11, p. 13]. The national highway system built after the war took business away from the nation’s waterways, leading to a rapid decline in the level of industry along Newtown Creek [Ref. 7, pp. 1-2].

the W O Decker passing by the “Greenpoint Manufacturing and Design Center” – photo by Mitch Waxman

A “historic place” the Decker was originally called the Russell 1 when it was built in 1930 for the Newtown Creek Towing Company, who were specialists in berthing and towing heavy cargo along the crowded and narrow waterway.

from gmdconline.org

The Greenpoint Manufacturing and Design Center (GMDC) started in the late 1980s as an innovative intersection of two interests: reclaiming derelict factories in North Brooklyn’s Greenpoint neighborhood and sustaining industry and manufacturing in New York City. The organization formally incorporated in 1992.

From its initial purchase and redevelopment of a large facility at 1155 Manhattan Avenue for use by light manufacturers and artisans, GMDC has since expanded and today is the only nonprofit industrial developer in New York City. The organization acquires, develops, and manages industrial real estate that provides small and medium-sized manufacturing enterprises with affordable, flexible production space.

In the shot above, The Decker is passing the Newtown Creek Waste Water Treatment Facility in Greenpoint, Brooklyn – photo by Mitch Waxman

The Decker is currently a high end tour vessel, operated by and out of the South Street Seaport in Manhattan.

from seany.org

The wooden tugboat W.O. Decker was built in Long Island City, Queens in 1930 for the Newtown Creek Towing Company, a firm specializing in berthing ships and barges in the creek that separates Brooklyn and Queens. Originally called the Russell I for the towing company’s owners, she was renamed the W.O. Decker in 1946 after being sold to the Decker family’s Staten Island tugboat firm.

The shield wall of the Shining City, framed by Long Island City on the right and industrial Brooklyn on the left with the Pulaski Bridge just at Horizon – photo by Mitch Waxman

The vessel I was aboard continued on toward the Greenpoint Avenue Bridge, but the Decker turned in the narrow part of the Newtown Creek near the confluence of its tributaries Whale Creek and Dutch Kills.

Check out this 1896 article at the NYTimes, which actually interviews the manager of Newtown Creek Towing Company, John Russell, for whom the Decker was originally named.

Our friends at the Working Harbor Committee are actually doing a few tours this summer on the Decker- click here for more

Written by Mitch Waxman

August 10, 2010 at 12:15 am

Newtown Creek, and the Mountains of Madness

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– photo by Mitch Waxman

A Friday, on March 19th the Hermetic Hungarian had left his laboratory workshop (a set of rooms on Manhattan’s decadent Upper West Side where he is exploring the deeper meanings and implications of esoteric 19th century clockworks) and ventured forth to Newtown.

The Hermetic Hungarian, referred to as HH from this point on, is a pale and sickly genius who has been intrigued by the presence of certain atavist religions and the persistence of modern adherents to these sects who remain extant along the poison shores surrounding an ancient industrial center called the Newtown Creek. HH had procured an automobile for the day’s exertions- as his fragile health precludes him from the long walks favored by your humble narrator which are so pedantically detailed at this- your Newtown Pentacle.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Returning from a day of exploration, which first described the extensive branching of the transportation network referred to as “The Great Machine“, we proceeded to the currently undefended border of Maspeth and storied Greenpoint and crossed the Grand Avenue Bridge. HH was searching for evidences of a grandiose clockwork mechanism which long hours of research and supposition have led him to believe existed in the days of Trolley and Rail. Influenced by his metaphysical beliefs, which are both Hasidic and Buddhist in nature, the HH’s itinerary required his trip to be brief- and after spending an afternoon exploring the ancient climes of Newtown, Bushwyck, and Greenpoint- and we headed back toward a transportation artery that would allow him egress back to the Shining City and his hierophant isolations.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

On our return, the bascule mechanisms of the Pulaski Bridge suddenly sprang to life, allowing egress to the Newtown Creek for shipping. The first watchtower on the Creek, the Pulaski is also the busiest of its bridges. While traffic on the Newtown Creek is a shadow of what it once was, there is still a significant industrial presence on the maritime highway that requires connection with the vast enterprises of New York Harbor- especially the petrochemical empires that line the shores of the Kill Van Kull in distant… Staten Island. Additionally the car shredders and other recycling facilities, which bless Newtown with their labor, utilize barges to move their wares to distant customers.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

In this case, it is the petrochemical shipping industry which commanded the opening of the Pulaski Bridge, as evidenced by the appearance of the DBL 28 fuel Barge, a 28,000 BBL double hull tank barge (which conforms to the Oil Pollution Act of 1990’s requirements- no mean feat) which was built in 2006 and weighs some 2,146 gross tons.

from allbusiness.com

The 28,000 bbl capacity DBL 28 measures 297.6-feet in length, with a 54-foot beam and 13-foot depth. The DBL 28 is the first of a series of eight units currently in production at BMF for K-Sea. DBL 28 is coupled with an existing K-Sea tug using the state-of-the-art Beacon JAK 200 tug/barge Push-Pin coupler system, which is designed to increase operating efficiency and enhance safety and reliability by operating as a dual mode ITB. The series of barges are manned, non self-propelled, double hulled with a raked shaped bow, with six cargo tanks. The barges are classed Lakes, Bays & Sound (Inland) Tank Barges, ABS +A1 Oil Tank Barge, and USCG certified. The barges are being constructed primarily for bunkering and harbor service in ports on the U.S. East Coast.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The fuel Barge was being guided by the K-Sea Davis Sea, a 2,000 HP 95 gross ton, 77 foot long tug whose mast spires nearly 57 feet over the water. Online sources describe the Davis Sea as possessing 6 foot diameter propeller screws, which are powered by twin engines, and as having been built in 1982.

from k-sea.com

K-Sea Transportation Partners L.P., headquartered in East Brunswick, New Jersey, is a leading provider of marine transportation, distribution and logistics services in the U.S. From locations in New York, Philadelphia, Norfolk, Seattle and Honolulu, K-Sea operates a large fleet of tugs and tank barges that serves a wide range of customers, including major oil companies, oil traders and refiners.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The Davis Sea, of course, is named for the oceanic area along the coast of Eastern Antarctica which abutts the Shackleton and West ice shelfs. Lying along the Indian Ocean side of the polar wasteland, it is the coldest, windiest and driest section of the southern pole. Eastern Antarctica is still largely unknown to man, except by aerial and satellite observation- although the Soviet and American hegemonies established scientific research bases as early as the 1950’s in the relatively ice free coastal areas. Today, all of the great nations are represented in scientific exploration of this final frigid frontier.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The Gamburtsev Mountain Range as well as the prominences of the Transantarctic Mountains, and the East Antarctica Ranges are amongst the oldest ranges on Earth, although some of these great structures are quite nearly buried beneath the glaciers they have formed. Hostile to normal terrestrial life, these mountains of madness are rumored to contain and house several obscure occult constructs including “The black pit,” “the carven rim,” “the protoShoggoths,” “the windowless solids with five dimensions,” “the nameless cylinder,” “the elder Pharos,” “Yog-Sothoth,” “the primal white jelly,” “the color out of space,” “the wings,” “the eyes in darkness,” “the moon-ladder,” “the original, the eternal, the undying,” and other queer occult concepts.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Of course, your humble narrator digresses, influenced by a day spent with the limitless intellect of the Hermetic Hungarian- and the Davis Sea pictured above is merely a tugboat making it’s way down an urban waterway, and is not the seat of some cosmic horror which would shatter our notion of civilization and man’s place in the universal order.

The HH began frantically gesturing at me as I stood on the roadway of the Pulaski Bridge just then, lost down the soda straw reality of a telephoto lens.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Its purpose accomplished, the drawbridge had returned to its vehicular roadway duties, and traffic flow between Greenpoint and Long Island City was about to resume. Angry at the inconveniences offered by the delay, anxious drivers were about to rocket forth into Queens, and would have hardly afforded a specimen such as myself the luxury of not being ground to paste beneath their spinning wheels.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The Davis Sea proceeded up the Creek, no paddles required or missed. She sauntered past FreshDirect and the Newtown Creek Waste Water Treatment Plant at Whale Creek, churning the languid gelatins which line the Newtown Creek as it went. This must be a difficult course, as there is so little room for error in piloting the narrow and tightly populated channel.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

That is Calvary Cemetery on the horizon, with industrial Queens occupying the left side of the image. Just beyond is the Greenpoint Avenue Bridge and the significant petrochemical facilities- recently upgraded and enlarged and enjoyed by those on the Brooklyn shore – that adjoin it.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Forced to begin speeding up, the Hermetic Hungarian allowed me one or two last shots of the Davis Sea as it passed into that world of ancient mariners and atavist custom which typify Newtown, while angry motorists behind us employed their horns to display displeasure at our lack of enthusiasm for leaving the scene. Their horns formed a mocking chorus, an antiphonal response to our absent haste whose sound can be described only as…

“Tekeli-li! Tekeli-li!” “Tekeli-li! Tekeli-li!” “Tekeli-li! Tekeli-li!”

Driven to madness by the sound, the Hermetic Hungarian began babbling madly, repeating the names of subway stops as we drove.

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