The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

Archive for the ‘Borden Avenue Bridge’ Category

furry blasphemy

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Friday, it’s Shabbos to some, a nightmare for others.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

My initial reaction to the new camera system (the Canon R6) has been pretty positive so far, can recommend. Last night at three in the morning, I finally figured out how to use about half of my lens collection with the thing as well, so there’s that.

Also, the Montauk Cutoff should be open to the public, I can recommend that too. As promised, I did get up there last night, and I did a whole photographic walkthrough at night which you’ll see sometime in the near future.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I’ve often referred to the series of streets – 50th and 51st avenues in particular – shadowed by the steel truss carrying the Long Island Expressway’s “Queens Midtown Expressway” section as “the empty corridor.” In the shot above, you can see why.

Personally speaking, I’m kind of digging the reappearance of epic street graffiti in LIC. The old white washed “Giuliani time” streetscape has needed to reintroduce a bit of chaos and color, in my mind.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

So… I’m all geared up and ready to rock. Where do I go next? When leaving the house, after all these months of pandemic isolation, my feet are basically on autopilot and they turn the toes towards LIC and the Dutch Kills tributary of Newtown Creek. Either that or industrial Maspeth, and sometimes Greenpoint.

Just saw an ad on Facebook from the Empire State Building people, claiming that I can spend a bit of time on their observation deck in return for a fairly affordable and pandemic era discounted admission price, so I might just venture into the City at some point in the near future. Who can say?

Note: I’m writing this and several of the posts you’re going to see for the next week at the beginning of the week of Monday, November 30th. My plan is to continue doing my solo photo walks around LIC and the Newtown Creek in the dead of night as long as that’s feasible. If you continue to see regular updates here, that means everything is kosher as far as health and well being. If the blog stops updating, it means that things have gone badly for a humble narrator.

“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.

slackened metabolism

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Borden Avenue, Long Island City

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A humble narrator has nothing new to show you this week, so archived shots are on offer. Fear not, as you’re receiving this, one is running about the City whilst the camera is clicking and whirring away. In the meantime, enjoy yourself, as it’s probably a lot later than you think.

How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?

Regular posts resume next Monday, at this – your Newtown Pentacle.

“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

March 15, 2019 at 11:00 am

imaginative stimuli

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In today’s post- the chiaroscuro of Queens.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Visual splendor makes Queens remarkable, with its open vistas and relicts of vainglory. Whenever the City of New York, since its consolidation, feels itself broken or in need of some experimental improvement- Queens is the place where it has tinkered with rail and expressway, bridge and tunnel, or with municipal zoning and tax abatement schemes. The old girl supports a lot of people these days, and all signs point to the Queens family growing larger.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There are things which we aren’t talking about in this election cycle, like what happened to the Bowery Bay Sewage Plant during Hurricane Sandy, or the alarming antiquity of the electrical grid. If you spend as much time as I do around Newtown Creek, specifically the Dutch Kills tributary of that infamous ribbon of urban malfeasance and political neglect, the future of Queens is very much reflected in its past.

How long, I wonder, how long before the tinkering begins anew?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

My predictions for the future are dire, as one is pessimistic both by nature and through experience. The growing modern corridors of western Queens will require new power plants and a modernized waste water control system before long which “somebody” will have to pay for. How long before stainless steel digester eggs reminiscent of the type found in Greenpoint tower over Astoria? How long will it be before red and white smokestacks rise over Dutch Kills here in Queens?

When will the tinkering begin?

Things to do!

Working Harbor Committee presents: Great North River Tugboat Races and Competition, September 1st, 2013
9:30-11:30 a.m. at West 42nd Street and the Hudson River. Spectator Boat tickets now on sale.

The 2013 Spring and Summer Tours Schedule

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“follow” me on Twitter at @newtownpentacle


– photo by Mai Armstrong

Want to see something cool?

Odds are that a bunch of the folks who will be reading this might have no idea who Mitch Waxman is, why they should come along with him on a tour of some weird neighborhood in Brooklyn or Queens or Staten Island, nor what a Newtown Creek or Kill Van Kull are- let alone where. Who is this weirdo?

Check out the “bio” page here at Newtown Pentacle, or this profile of me from the NY Times published in 2012. My tours of Newtown Creek have garnered no small amount of interest from the fourth estate- whether it be, Queens, the 22blog,, or Queensnyc, and I’ve turned up in a bunch of media reports, documentaries, and been interviewed for multitudinous reports on the lamentable history of the Newtown Creek.

Most recently, it was National Geographic and Curbed. Attendees on my tours come from a variety of backgrounds- photographers, history and rail buffs, maritime enthusiasts, and there always seems to be an odd and welcome concentration of elected officials and journalists about.

What is with this guy?

I’m the Newtown Creek Alliance Historian, Official Photographer and Steering Committee member of the Working Harbor Committee, a member of the Newtown Creek Monitoring Committee and the Newtown Creek CAG, and am also a member of the Kosciuszko Bridge Stakeholders Advisory Committee. Newtown Pentacle, this blog, has been steadily published since 2009. I live in Astoria, Queens with my wife and our little dog, Zuzu.

In just the last few years, I have exposed thousands of people to the Newtown Creek, and its incredible history. This is where the industrial revolution actually happened, along this 3.8 mile long waterway that defines the border of Brooklyn and Queens.


– photo by Mai Armstrong

In 2013, continuing relationships with Atlas Obscura, Newtown Creek Alliance, and the Working Harbor Committee (as well as friends like the Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance, and others) allow me to offer the following schedule. Live ticketing links will be made available as they come online, and all dates are subject to cancellation or rescheduling due to weather or unforeseen circumstance. There are 6 unique walking tours listed here, and one boat trip in which I will be the principal speaker.

Private tours are possible, schedule permitting, and can be arranged by contacting me here. Last year, for instance, several private University classes engaged me for a day at the Creek, as did a few private groups. As mentioned, contact me and we will figure something out if you’ve got a meetup group, college class, or special request.

Here then, is my official schedule as it stands right now. There will likely be a few additions as time goes on, which I will let you know about as they occur. Best to subscribe to this blog (top right, email subscription)  or “follow” me on Twitter @newtownpentacle for news.

In April, 2013- There will be a brand new tour  of Greenpoint debuted, which I call “Glittering Realms.”

Glittering Realms Saturday, April 20, 2013
Newtown Creek walking tour with Mitch Waxman and Atlas Obscura, tickets now on sale.

In May, 2013- We start off with 13 Steps around Dutch Kills, go to the Insalubrious Valley, visit DUKBO, and finish off the month with a Working Harbor boat tour.

13 Steps around Dutch Kills Saturday, May 4, 2013
Newtown Creek walking tour with Mitch Waxman and Atlas Obscura, tickets now on sale.

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

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

Hidden Harbor: Newtown Creek tour with Mitch Waxman – Sunday, May 26,2013
Boat tour presented by the Working Harbor Committee,
Limited seating available, order advance tickets now. Group rates available.

NCA Birdwatch Bus tour- June 24, 2012

– photo by Mai Armstrong

In June, 2013- We visit the Poison Cauldron, return to the Insalubrious Valley, and check out the Kill Van Kull.

The Poison Cauldron- Saturday, June 15, 2013
Newtown Creek walking tour with Mitch Waxman and Atlas Obscura, tickets on sale soon.

Kill Van Kull- Saturday, June 22, 2013
Staten Island walking tour with Mitch Waxman and Working Harbor Committee, tickets on sale soon.

The Insalubrious Valley- Saturday, June 29, 2013
Newtown Creek walking tour with Mitch Waxman and Newtown Creek Alliance, tickets on sale soon.

In July, 2013- We visit Queens’s Hunters Point with a brand new tour. I might have another offering or two for you, but nothing I can speak about quite yet.

Modern Corridor- Saturday, July 13, 2013
Newtown Creek walking tour with Mitch Waxman and Atlas Obscura, tickets on sale soon.


– photo by Mai Armstrong

In August, 2013- We return to the Poison Cauldron, repeat the 13 steps, and the Kill Van Kull walks.

Kill Van Kull- Saturday, August 10, 2013
Staten Island walking tour with Mitch Waxman and Working Harbor Committee, tickets on sale soon.

13 Steps around Dutch Kills- Saturday, August 17, 2013
Newtown Creek walking tour with Mitch Waxman and Newtown Creek Alliance, tickets on sale soon.

The Poison Cauldron- Saturday, August 24, 2013
Newtown Creek walking tour with Mitch Waxman and Atlas Obscura, tickets on sale soon.

There are a few other dates coming in the fall, and a couple of more summer events which are still being discussed, but I’ll let you know more about them in coming posts.

Also, I will definitely be onboard but not on the microphone during the Working Harbor Committee “Beyond Sandy” Hidden Harbor tours on Tuesday nights, all summer. Hope you can come along.

Click here for more on “Beyond Sandy.”

universal prominence

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“follow” me on Twitter at @newtownpentacle

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Ribald exuberances and bruising melancholia have marked the passing of the winter months for a pitiful yet humble narrator, but this interval of inactivity is ended at last. Gird yourselves, lords and ladies, for the long threatened 2013 tour schedule is about to pierce its glistening caul and stand naked before you.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A few final details will delay the announcement of the full schedule until tomorrow, unfortunately, but at this moment I can say that 2013 will include a series of walking tours and a singular boat trip around and upon the Newtown Creek. In addition, there will be a couple of opportunities to return to the Kill Van Kull on… Staten Island…

Additionally, my beloved Working Harbor chums have cooked up a whole new schedule of tours and routes, which I’m not sure I’m allowed to tell you about yet- but they promise to be very cool.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

That Newtown Creek boat trip I mentioned, which will be conducted by the aforementioned Working Harbor Committee, already has a live ticketing page- which is available via the link found below. Group rates, a discount for parties of four or more, can be discussed with the WHC office at the phone number listed on said page.

This will be a three hour tour, and proceed all the way back to Metropolitan Avenue in East Williamsburg onboard a NY Water Taxi. Special emphasis will be paid, and discussion offered, about the maritime significance of the Newtown Creek in this first WHC boat tour of the troubled waterway “Beyond Sandy.”

Hidden Harbor: Newtown Creek tour with Mitch Waxman presented by the Working Harbor Committee, will be depart Pier 17 in Manhattan May 26 at ten a.m.

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