The Newtown Pentacle

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Archive for the ‘Forbidden North Coast’ Category

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Sludge Boats, baby, Sludge Boats.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

These shots are actually from the height of that shoulder injury period last month, and represent a desperate desire one acted upon to “shake it off” by indulging in a bit of exercise. The weather was less than cooperative from a light point of view, and the affected limb was less than pleased at the rest of my body moving around, so I decided that since I was in the “hell of pain” I’d simply head over to Hells Gate and indulge the horror.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Luckily for my diversion starved and somewhat depressed state of mind, the MV Red Hook was observed while debarking from the Wards Island dewatering facility across the river. Wards Island is the end point for the sewage sludge process, which is operated by the NYC DEP. Centrifugal machines are fed the material, which has the consistency of syrup or warm honey at the end of the thickening process at the various neighborhood sewer plants, which is carried here by the DEP’s fleet of “Honey” or Sludge boats. The dewatered material is compressed into “cakes” and sold for use as fertilizer on non food crops such as cotton and Christmas Trees.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

MV Red Hook is one of NYC’s older generation of Sludge Boats, although it’s the newest of its type – having come online in 2012. The newer class of Sludge Boats has been discussed here at Newtown Pentacle before.

from NYC.gov

The Red Hook sludge vessel was built over a three-year period in Brownsville, Texas by Keppel AmFELS. Once completed, it took seven days to make its way to New York City, arriving on November 19, 2008. The vessel has recently completed post-delivery dry-dock inspections and adjustments at the Brooklyn Navy Yard and is ready for service. Each six-person crew consists of a captain, chief engineer, assistant engineer, mate and two mariners. Crews work a 40-hour week divided into 14, 13, and 13 hour shifts. The Red Hook is slightly over 350 feet long, about 53 feet wide, with a depth of slightly over 21 feet. It has eight storage tanks with 150,000 cubic foot capacity equivalent to 1.2 million gallons. The Red Hook weighs over 2,098 long tons and is designed to travel at 12.75 knots or approximately 15 miles per hour. On a typical week, each vessel makes 14 round trips and visits eight wastewater treatment plants.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

All of the DEP’s honey boats will find themselves heading to or from Wards Island periodically, after making their rounds at one of the City’s 14 sewer plants. Hells Gate is a great place to spot them, and Shore Road along Astoria Park is a great place to observe Hells Gate.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There are many who would agree with me, in my assertion that the view from Shore Road rocks.

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The Forbidden Northern Coast of Queens, in today’s post.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

That’s Luyster, or Steinway, Creek in the shot above. The Steinway factory adjoins the waterway on its eastern side and legend has it that the piano manufacturer used to bring in logs of Mahogany and other hard woods from Long Island Sound via the Creek. On the western side, on a former manufactured gas plant’s grounds, is a Con Ed facility which hosts the shuttered Politi Power Plant.

I call the northern coast of Queens forbidden, because it is. A security cordon controls the shoreline pretty much from the East River to Flushing Bay – there’s power plants, sewer plants, Rikers Island, LaGuardia Airport – about five miles of forbidden waterfront which the general public is encouraged to avoid.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As is the case with my beloved Creek on the somewhat forbidden Southern coast of Queens, the waterfront is largely the property of private companies and governmental agencies. Another similarity to Newtown Creek is pollution, as Luyster Creek is blessed with open sewers like the one illustrated above.

Street gravy runs directly into the water, carrying trash and all sorts of horror along with it. You can actually feel your liver swelling up when standing on this spot, which is directly over the sewer outfall.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

You might recall that a group of teenagers died here at Luyster Creek last year, when they drove off of Queens and into the water at a rather high rate of speed. There’s lots of memorial graffiti scribe on all the concrete bits, and somebody erected this cruciform memorial to their memory.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

On the corner of Astoria Blvd. and Steinway Street, this unfortunately named hookah lounge was noticed. The lounge was open for quite a while before “Isis” became associated with beheadings and such, and I kind of feel sorry for the owners who must deal with crap all the time because of the name. Isis was, of course, an Egyptian goddess – and an analogue for what would evolve into the Christian “Mary.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Wandering continued through sunset, around the forbidden north coast, and one found himself in “Astoria, Astoria.” That’s how we refer to this still largely Greek and Italian section found north of Astoria Blvd. over on the southern borders of the neighborhood (Broadway etc.) where Newtown Pentacle HQ is found. The whole section is framed by the concrete arches of the New York Connecting Railroad, which leads to the Hell Gate Bridge over at Astoria Park. Western Queens is all about the rail.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Our Lady of the Pentacle was with me on this longish walk, and her roadway interfaces – she calls them her feet – were growing tender from the efforts. At 31st street, it was decided to hire a taxi to carry us the short distance back to HQ, where Zuzu the dog anxiously awaited.

On our return, of course, it was time for another walk – but what happened on that one… that’s between me and the dog. Zuzu is notoriously tight lipped (tight flewed, actually) and insists that her activities be kept quiet.

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Written by Mitch Waxman

December 9, 2015 at 11:00 am

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Take a breath every now and then. Shhh.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

My beloved Astoria can kick up quite a racket, which is my primary complaint at the moment. The not so accurate decibel meter on my phone tells me that the zone around my house is subsumed by a constant din of 60-70 decibels, which can amp up to as high as 80-95 on a regular basis. That’s just ambient noise, I’m not including the passing ambulance, fire engine, or police car in those calculations.

It’s enough to cause one to lose his last nerve, I tell you.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Sonic pollution is something that doesn’t seem to register with New Yorkers, and most folks try to “tune it out.” What can you do about it? “That business with the bank of refrigeration units in its yard was here before you were” was what one of my neighbors opined when we were having a “kvetch.” There’s actually a LOT that I can do about it, but I try not to use the relationships with environmental officialdom that I’ve got lightly.

Luckily, there’s always Astoria Park to escape to, but it’s actually pretty noisy there too.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Seeking quiet, I walked over to Luyster Creek with a couple of friends recently and found this impromptu memorial. Set up to commemorate the death of those poor kids who drove into it a couple of months back, I see too much of this sort of thing all over the neighborhood. You’ll recall that a group of high schoolers met their end back here, when their vehicle left the road and the car landed in the drink.

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There’s two FREE Newtown Creek walking tours coming up.

Sunday, June 15th, DUPBO – Down Under the Pulaski Bridge Onramp
A FREE tour, courtesy of Green Shores NYC, click here for rsvp info

Sunday, June 21st, America’s Workshop
A FREE tour, courtesy of Green Shores NYC, click here for rsvp info

Written by Mitch Waxman

June 13, 2014 at 11:21 am

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A brief visit to the forbidden north coast of Queens.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Recent obligations – involving a spate of home repairs demanded by Our Lady of the Pentacle – involved Hank the elevator guy, Our Lady, and myself making a journey over to the “Build it Green” warehouse found in Astoria on the forbidden northern coast of Queens. This is my personal nomen, incidentally, for the Bowery Bay and Flushing River side of the borough, which is largely occluded from the public space by industrial and municipal fence lines.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Recently, for my Brownstoner column, I detailed a trip to Luyster Creek- which can be accessed here. One generally doesn’t come this way on the long perambulations for which I am known, as my interests generally draw me in the direction of the Newtown Creek. Also, I do not enjoy walking the camera around in the more residential sections of Queens as it draws certain attentions from the locals which can be… ahem… less than salubrious.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Announced plans for the overdevelopment of this neighborhood by the Real Estate Industrial Complex, however, mean that I will be forced into spending some of my time this winter and spring recording the sights extant in this section. Wondering what I might find around the forbidden coast, or what might find me, keeps me awake at night.

Don’t tell the Creek, though, as she might think I’m cheating on her. It’s just the seven year itch, however.

Written by Mitch Waxman

October 22, 2013 at 11:42 am

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