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Archive for the ‘Bronx’ Category

quiet denizens

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How I’m voting today, and why.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Andrew Cuomo, the Dark Prince of Albany, is terrifying in many ways. His management of the MTA is the biggest mark against him in my book, but in terms of the issue central to my life – Newtown Creek – he’s been perhaps the greatest champion that the waterway has ever had in high state office. As Attorney General, he forced ExxonMobil into court and beat them around the head and neck over the Greenpoint Oil Spill, and was a major player in terms of the waterway being named a Federal Superfund site back in 2010. His Kosciuszcko Bridge replacement project has been absolutely on schedule and budget. For no other reason than Newtown Creek, the big guy gets my vote. I hope he legalizes recreational Marijuana in his third term, as he hinted at when Cynthia Nixon pulled him to the left during the primaries, which will be a first step towards ending the mass incarceration of victimless criminals. Additionally, NYS really needs the revenue to first shore up the MTA, and then to pay the Medicare and Medicaid costs of the baby boomer generation.

Did you see the video of our Governor visiting Cynthia Nixon’s campaign HQ and congratulating her campaign volunteers on the night of his primary win? Click here for it. (note: the Governor appears 42 seconds in).

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Tish James gets my vote for NYS Attorney General. She’s got a proven record of standing up for the little people, and I’m a fan. One hundred and one years ago today, women finally had their legal right to vote in NYS acknowledged – after a long and often bloody struggle by the Suffragist movement – and I will take particular joy in voting for a lady to hold the second most powerful position in the state today. The NYS Attorney General’s office is considered to be the second most powerful prosecutor’s office in the country, after the Federal AG seat currently held by Jeff Sessions. That’s because the NYS AG has de facto regulatory authority over Wall Street. Given that Tish James is African American, that makes for a pretty interesting moment, historically. Normally, identity politics are something I abhor, but… Tish is sort of the person whom Dr. King was talking about back during the Civil Rights era.

Brian Barnwell is my NYS Assemblyman, and he’s done a great job in his first term for Woodside/Astoria, earning my vote for a second. I expect great things from Brian down the road, as he’s a young guy and just getting going in his career.

Alexandria Ocasio Cortez will get my vote as well, since I think it’s time to let somebody new take the wheel in Congress, and start shifting power to a different generation of people who couldn’t care less about Viet Nam or Freedom Fries. She’s electorally electrified my younger friends, waking them up out of a haze, and I’m interested in seeing what happens next with her.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The three charter revisions all come out of a lame duck City Hall, and are a wish list offered by the Mayor intended to eliminate criticism of his sophist policies. Can you trust anything that the Dope from Park Slope wants to happen? Three “no’s” and here’s why;

  • The Community Board term limits thing is meant to clear away “dead wood” from the CB’s. Community Board members are currently proposed by the local Council member and then nominated to the Borough President’s office. Should the BP decide to place a candidate on the board, they can serve as long as they wish to – officially. In the unofficial but true reality, the Council person or BP can bounce you out whenever they decide to. Every political action committee allied with the Mayor, from the “Bicycle Fanatics” to the “No Bail” and “Build Tall Buildings Everywhere” crowds, support this resolution. Ask yourself why? Can it have anything to do with the current CB’s regularly opposing the edicts of City Hall?
  • The Community Engagement Committee thing is another patronage mill for the Manhattan elites, which would take the form of a blue ribbon panel for political insiders and the children of the well off (or well connected) appointed by the Mayor’s office which which choose “friendlies” to staff the community boards. In addition to being yet another one of the Mayor’s spending sprees, it would cut the actual community off from decisions regarding their neighborhoods and replace them with recent transplants. Additionally, it would continue the emasculation of the Borough President’s already largely ceremonial offices and weaken the City Council’s options when the Executive Branch in City Hall makes a bad decision.
  • As far as the Campaign Funding item, do we really want to reinforce the franchise to elected office exclusively enjoyed by members of either of the Democratic or Republican parties, which is the only thing that the two organizations can actually agree on? That’s what this would do, by lowering the financial threshold at which they can fundraise before receiving your TAX MONEY to buy political advertising. The wording of this thing does nothing to close the LLC loopholes, PAC funding, or advocacy ads paid for by “concerned citizens.” All it does is lower the contributions which individual citizens can offer to a campaign, which diminishes the importance of individual citizens to the Political Industrial Complex. It also will tend to keep people from the Green Party, Libertarians, and other groups from ever managing to get their foot in the door.

A vote against all three is a rebuke of our vainglorious Mayor, who is likely to announce he’s running for President of the United States at some point in the near future.


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Written by Mitch Waxman

November 6, 2018 at 11:00 am

ceremonial mimicry

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Exquisite funerary monuments encountered at Woodlawn Cemetery.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The Long Monument at Woodlawn Cemetery is pictured above, a white bronze and black marble masterpiece. The oldest inscription on the stone is accredited to “Samuel Long, July 28, 1915.” There’s also “William G. Reynolds, July 30, 1950,” and “Alice Reynolds, December 17th, 1957.”

A bit of quick research on Samuel Long (of 137 Riverside Drive in Manhattan) reveals that he died without having left behind a proper will, and that his estate ended up being adjudicated in a court battle between his widow Alice (I have no idea did this is the aforementioned Alice who died in 1957), a business partner, and two unnamed brothers.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Samuel Long was a multi millionaire, in 1915 (the equivalent valuation of one million 1915 dollars is 24.4 million dollars in 2018, so…), who had made his fortune in the silent era movie business. He was only forty one years old when he died, after an illustrious career. He lived in the Clarendon Aprtments on 86th street and Riverside Drive, and had only arrived in NYC from Baltimore in 1897. He worked for the American Mutoscope and Biograph Company (later just Biograph) in a variety of executive roles until 1907, when he organized and became President of the Kalem Company, another film production outfit.

“White Bronze” is the trade term for a copper/zinc alloy that statuary such as the one seen adorning the Long memorial above is cast into. The ornamentation of mortuary stones and monuments with this material was fashionable for about a century from 1850-1950. Funeral Directors and “Stone” salesmen had catalogs of available castings available for plot owners to choose from. There are certain monuments which are entirely composed of this material, which – as mentioned innumerable times before – is worth a LOT of money in our copper hungry modern world.

Sneak thief and tomb robber alike would put some effort into dismantling and carrying off anything made of white bronze.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Another plot at Woodlawn which dates to a similar era as the Long Monument is the Miller Monument. The sculptural quality of the white bronze angel was spectacular and quite exquisite. This one used white granite instead of black marble for the base, and wasn’t too far from either Judge Schmuck (see yesterday’s post) or Samuel Long.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Dedicated to a fellow named David Miller (1839 to 1910), who didn’t leave many footprints behind that I could find, this monument was absolutely best of breed as far as representing figurative sculptural style from the “fin de siècle” pre WW1 era. Obviously cast in a mold, this white bronze angel was incredibly well executed.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Man, just look at that.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Nearby the grave of intrepid girl reporter Nellie Bly, the white bronze Caputo monument was centered around a cruciform of white bronze and was quite captivating. All the bas tableaus on its face depict “stations of the cross” scenes. It was surrounded by foot stones which carried individual interment information for the various members of the family.


Upcoming Tours and Events

June 22nd – The Birthplace of Mobil Oil: A Walking Tour
– with Newtown Creek Alliance.

Join NCA historian Mitch Waxman and NCA’s project manager Willis Elkins for walk through the birthplace of Mobil Oil, past the DEP’s largest Wastewater Treatment Plant and to the Kingsland Wildflowers green roof. The tour will also visit NCA’s Living Dock on the way; showcasing restoration efforts adjacent to major industrial operations and in the wake of legacies of pollution and neglect.
The tour will end at the 22,000 square foot Kingsland Wildflowers project, with panoramic views of the Newtown Creek and Manhattan skyline at sunset.

Tickets and more details
here.

June 30th – The Skillman Avenue Corridor
– with Access Queens.

Starting at the 7 train on Roosevelt Avenue, we will explore this thriving residential and busy commercial thoroughfare, discussing the issues affecting its present and future. Access Queens, 7 Train Blues, Sunnyside Chamber of Commerce, and Newtown Creek Alliance members will be your guides for this roughly two mile walk.
Skillman Avenue begins at the border of residential Sunnyside and Woodside, and ends in Long Island City at 49th avenue, following the southern border of the Sunnyside Yards for much of its path. Once known as Meadow Street, this colonial era thoroughfare transitions from the community of Sunnyside to the post industrial devastations of LIC and the Dutch Kills tributary of Newtown Creek.

Tickets and more details
here.


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Written by Mitch Waxman

June 19, 2018 at 11:00 am

Posted in Bronx

Tagged with ,

bewildered opening

with 3 comments

The Bronx, Woodlawn Cemtery, and Mr. Schmuck.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As is often the case, while researching a completely unrelated topic, I will happen across some important personage or event which will cause me to drop everything I’m doing and instead go down a historical rabbit hole. This time, the hole led one to the Bronx, and Woodlawn Cemetery. That’s where New York State Supreme Court Justice Peter Schmuck is buried,

Yes, Schmuck.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

NYS Governor Al Smith elevated Peter Schmuck from his role as Chief Justice of NYC Court to the NYS Supreme Court in April of 1928. A Manhattan born attorney, Schmuck replaced Charles D. Donohoue on the NYS Supreme Court and served that institution as a Justice until 1943. Afterwards he acted as “referree” and advisor to the next generation until his death in Ontario at age 80 in 1954.

1928-1943 are pretty much the years during which the “New Deal” reshaped the United States, with New York State having served as the laboratory for government programs that became Social Security, the Work Projects Administration, the Federal Highway Administration, and so on. That means the entire New Deal was decided on as being legally Kosher by a guy named Schmuck.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

After his appointment to the bench in 1928, Justice Schmuck successfully ran for two fourteen years terms of office on the Supreme Court. In his second term, his law secretary was future NYC Mayor Vincent Impelliteri. I’ve checked with a friend who is German, and he assures me that the Judge’s name wouldn’t be pronounced in the Yiddish manner – Shmuk – but would instead be read by a German speaker as “Shmook.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The Schmuck monument is a Mausoleum, one graced by an ornate sculptural bronze door. There’s some inexpert application of gold leaf paint on it here and there, but overall the thing was in excellent condition. One thing which struck me at Woodlawn Cemetery, in the Bronx, was how immaculate it was. The grounds and even the monuments were in fantastic condition. You didn’t see the accidental desecrations caused by inattentive groundskeepers that you do at the Calvary’s here in Queens, nor the sort of wholesale tomb raiding for white bronze and other semi precious metals by the recycling scavengers whom I call the crows at all of the “Cemetery Belt” institutions along the Brooklyn/Queens border.

Additionally, the staff and security personnel at Woodlawn were quite accomodating to my little triad of tapophiles when we arrived at their institution. I was asked to fill out a form, regarding permissions to photograph their grounds, which was straightforward and liberal. At no point did anyone randomly appear and forbid camera usage on spurious grounds.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

While there, the monuments and mortal remains of a few other NYC notables were visited. The minimalist Art Deco headstone indicating the final resting place of the restless Fiorello LaGuardia is pictured above.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The final address of Robert Moses is found at Woodlawn Cemetery as well. His tomb is a simple one, which is fitting somehow, as the grandiose monument he actually left behind is 20th century New York City. I’d imagine that if you had asked Robert Moses how he’d like to be remembered by modernity thirty seven years after his death, I imagine he’d ask you to visit the Triborough Bridge or Jones Beach instead of Woodlawn.


Upcoming Tours and Events

June 22nd – The Birthplace of Mobil Oil: A Walking Tour
– with Newtown Creek Alliance.

Join NCA historian Mitch Waxman and NCA’s project manager Willis Elkins for walk through the birthplace of Mobil Oil, past the DEP’s largest Wastewater Treatment Plant and to the Kingsland Wildflowers green roof. The tour will also visit NCA’s Living Dock on the way; showcasing restoration efforts adjacent to major industrial operations and in the wake of legacies of pollution and neglect.
The tour will end at the 22,000 square foot Kingsland Wildflowers project, with panoramic views of the Newtown Creek and Manhattan skyline at sunset.

Tickets and more details
here.

June 30th – The Skillman Avenue Corridor
– with Access Queens.

Starting at the 7 train on Roosevelt Avenue, we will explore this thriving residential and busy commercial thoroughfare, discussing the issues affecting its present and future. Access Queens, 7 Train Blues, Sunnyside Chamber of Commerce, and Newtown Creek Alliance members will be your guides for this roughly two mile walk.
Skillman Avenue begins at the border of residential Sunnyside and Woodside, and ends in Long Island City at 49th avenue, following the southern border of the Sunnyside Yards for much of its path. Once known as Meadow Street, this colonial era thoroughfare transitions from the community of Sunnyside to the post industrial devastations of LIC and the Dutch Kills tributary of Newtown Creek.

Tickets and more details
here.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

June 18, 2018 at 12:00 pm

half full

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An optimistic iguana.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As is occasionally the case, a humble narrator needs to take a short break. This week, single images will greet you, as is the case with the one of an Iguana above – which was observed in the Bronx.

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Written by Mitch Waxman

April 1, 2016 at 12:24 pm

Posted in animals, Bronx, reptile

Tagged with , ,

half seen

with one comment

In today’s post- the mysterious Bronx.

-photo by Mitch Waxman

I know little to nothing about the Bronx, and have probably only been in the Borough less than 20 times over the course of my entire life. Circumstance never carries me north, toward its heights. What I do know of this vast enigma has only been glimpsed from the edges of the place. I understand it to be quite an interesting place, but to one such as myself, it is enigma. I always say that “I’m saving it for the future,” meaning that someday I’ll start turning my attention that way.

There are definitely groups of people living there, as I’ve photographed them from the littoral periphery.

-photo by Mitch Waxman

Willful ignorance such as this assists me in maintaining a laser like narrow focus on a single subject, but there are large sections of the City for which little to no interest exists in me. I don’t care about downtown Brooklyn, for instance, and consider myself lucky to avoid being there. Nothing wrong with the place, just not my cup of tea. Also, I find the upper east side of Manhattan completely “meh.”

This unknown country of the north intrigues, but I’m not ready to look at it yet.

-photo by Mitch Waxman

Someday I plan to do a little exploring up here, and perhaps attempt some tremulous interaction with the dwellers therein. Supposedly, there is something to the place beyond the odd stadium, bridge, or rail yard.

Of course, its not going to be anywhere as close to cool as Queens is, but there might be some dark secret or two to be unearthed beyond the Hells Gate, and “winter is coming.”

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.

Written by Mitch Waxman

August 28, 2013 at 7:30 am

Posted in Bronx

Tagged with , , ,

long narrative

with one comment

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Today’s shots are from “da Bronx”, captured last year while following the estimable Kevin Walsh of Forgotten-NY fame around. Mr. Walsh was busy planning a walking tour of the area, and his companion at arms- Richard Melnick of the Greater Astoria Historical Society, was along as well. While they were debating the finer points of Bronx history and an overall narrative structure for the excursion, I made myself busy photographing the various sights.

To wit- the Van Cortlandt House museum.

from vancortlandthouse.org

The Van Cortlandt family were prominent members of New York’s mercantile class and its social and business milieus. The business of trade connected the Van Cortlandt’s with mercantile families in the West Indies, European ports, and other American port cities. Additionally, their Dutch heritage linked them with many wealthy and powerful New York families. Marriages forged strong ties between the Van Cortlandt’s and the Schuyler, Phillipse, Jay, DePeyster, and White families of New York.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The Knickerbocracy, a 19th century term used to describe the land and slave owning class of Dutch who stuck around after the English arrived and took over, is what the Van Cortlandts were a part of. No small amount of ennui was felt by the English and later the Anglo Americans towards the Dutch, who largely took off for northern and western New York State as the city began to grow.

Like Tolkien’s elves, they headed for the forests and quiet wooded sections of the country- gradually diminishing in prominence and social importance during their diaspora.

The English looked down upon them, describing them as superstitious and degenerate.

also from vancortlandthouse.org

After 140 years of occupancy by the Van Cortlandt family and their slaves, in 1889 the property was sold to the City of New York and made a public parkland. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1967 and became a National Historic Landmark in 1976. The house has been operated as a public museum since 1897.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Nearby the historic structure is a statue of a Civil War General, and one of the the founders of the National Guard- General Josiah Porter. Reports by those who knew him in life described the statue as bearing an uncannily accurate likeness to the actual fellow, and accolades were awarded to the sculptor for his skillful rendering.

from nycgovparks.org

This sculpture of General Josiah Porter (1830–1894) was created by William Clark Noble (1858–1938) and dedicated in 1902. It was commissioned at a cost of $20,000, and was a gift to the City of New York by the National Guard Association of New York State.

Porter is reputed to have been the first Harvard College graduate to enlist in the Union Army during the Civil War. He was made a first lieutenant in the Massachusetts Volunteers in 1861, and promoted to captain that same year. In 1865, he commanded the 22nd Regiment of the National Guard of New York (who would sponsor the statue), and in 1867, received the rank of major. Porter’s distinguished service led him to be promoted to colonel in 1869, and then to major general and adjutant general in 1886.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

General Porter met an undignified and messy end, dying in Manhattan on an elevated train line while on his way home from a party. The headline at the New York Times described the General as dying of “apoplexy”.

An archaic term, apoplexy is described by the redoubtable Wikipedia as “From the late 14th to the late 19th century, the word “apoplexy” was also used to describe any sudden death that began with a sudden loss of consciousness, especially one in which the victim died within a matter of seconds after losing consciousness. The word “apoplexy” may have been used to describe the symptom of sudden loss of consciousness immediately preceding death and not a verified disease process. Sudden cardiac deaths, ruptured cerebral aneurysms, certain ruptured aortic aneurysms, and even heart attacks may have been described as apoplexy in the past.”

from nytimes.com

“The train moved on, and I was left alone with the General, who was left lying on the platform near the edge. I asked the ticket chopper to help me carry the General to the waiting room. The man refused. He said something about the helpless officer ‘having a load.” which I indignantly denied. I explained that he had suddenly been taken sick. I tried to carry the General into the waiting room myself, but found that I could not do so. I then went inside the waiting room, where the ticket chopper had gone, and where the ticket agent was. I again asked help, but neither of the men would do anything. The result was that I was compelled to leave the sufferer stretched upon the platform in the cold night air while I went in search of a cab.

Written by Mitch Waxman

August 15, 2012 at 1:14 am

Posted in Bronx, Photowalks, Pickman

Tagged with ,

eery pinnacle

with 2 comments

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Until you’ve had a flock of baby birds vomit on you, you haven’t really lived.

It seems that such regurgitation is just part of the daily grind here on South Brother island, an unassuming prominence found on the East River. Heavily wooded, the island is owned and managed by the Government(s) and it is usually “verboten” for primates to even visit.

from wikipedia

South Brother Island is one of a pair of small islands in the East River situated between the Bronx and Riker’s Island, New York City and is 7 acres (28,000 m2) in size. It is uninhabited. The other island, larger and better known, is North Brother Island. Until 1964, South Brother Island was part of Queens County, but it is now part of Bronx County. It had long been privately owned, but was purchased by the city in 2007. Together, the two Brother Islands, North and South, have a land area of 81,423 square meters, or 20.12 acres (81,400 m2).

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Your humble narrator managed to insert himself into a scientific survey of the breeding colony of Cormorants, Herons, and Egrets which thrive upon the riverine island. The island has been allowed to go feral, and is positively overrun by seabirds. Upon arriving there via a Zodiac boat, one of the fellows employed by the NRG (Natural Resources Group) of the NYC Parks Dept. asked me if I knew what poison ivy looked like.

Informing him that he should just assume my general ignorance about all things, he remarked- you’re standing in it.

from wikipedia

Toxicodendron radicans, better known as poison ivy (older synonyms are Rhus toxicodendron and Rhus radicans), is a poisonous North American plant that is well known for its production of urushiol, a clear liquid compound found within the sap of the plant that causes an itching, or sometimes painful rash in most people who touch it. The plant is not a true ivy (Hedera).

Poison ivy can be found growing in any of the following three forms:

  • as a trailing vine that is 10–25 cm tall (4 to 10 inches)
  • as a shrub up to 1.2 m tall (4 feet)
  • as a climbing vine that grows on trees or some other support

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The party split into two groups, and the one I accompanied headed into the stand of trees which comprises the center of the island. Thick and overgrown, the darkness of the place was palpable, and a raucous chorus of bird calls was emanating from the canopy above. The mission was to count the number of nests installed (in this section by Cormorants) and whenever possible- to count the number of eggs and or hatchlings.

The other group was busy exploring Heron territory.

from wikipedia

The Black-crowned Night Heron (Nycticorax nycticorax), commonly abbreviated to just Night Heron in Eurasia, is a medium-sized heron found throughout a large part of the world, except in the coldest regions and Australasia (where replaced by the closely related Rufous Night Heron, with which it has hybridized in the area of contact).

– photo by Mitch Waxman

This was by no means an easy task, given the sort of terrain encountered.

Once- the Newtown Creek’s watershed would have resembled this scene, thought a humble narrator, when a half digested fragment of fish dropped out of the sky and bounced off my boonie hat. It was quickly explained to me that this was normal, expected, and part of their daily round. The floor of the place was a spongy mass of fallen branches, mulch, and guano.

An intense smell of ammonia forced me back to the beach a couple of times.

from wikipedia

Regurgitation is used by a number of species to feed their young. This is typically in circumstances where the young is at a fixed location and a parent must forage or hunt for food, especially under circumstances where the carriage of small prey would be subject to robbing by other predators or the whole prey is larger than can be carried to a den or nest. Some birds species also occasionally regurgitate pellets of indigestible matter such as bones and feathers. Penguins are known to regurgitate in order to feed their young ones.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Shooting conditions were difficult, with dense foliage and few clearings. The humidity was nearly unbearable. The instructions I had received from the group leader indicated that I should dress in long sleeves, full length pants, and wear heavy boots.

Conditions on the island indeed demanded such cautions, but heat and humidity plus the aforementioned ensemble worn with a hat while carrying a camera bag and around six pounds of camera and lens made for an uncomfortable morning.

Karmic justice, I suppose, for all the complaining about being cold I subjected you to during the winter at this- your Newtown Pentacle.

this page at nysl.nysed.gov lists all the complaint departments in New York State

Complaint Departments

New York State government information and resources on Complaint Departments.

Consumer Information

WWW.NY.GOV – cick on “Complaints.

Attorney General’s Office 

Consumer Frauds Bureau

Complaints – Includes a section on “Complaints for Other Agencies” to help people contact the appropriate agency…

– photo by Mitch Waxman

It should be mentioned that I absolutely detest camping out, abhor hikes in the woods, and am- by definition- a City Boy. Nature wants to eat you, and will at the very first chance it gets. You might be disarmed by the coy attractions of these baby birds, but give them the chance and they’d rip you to shreds.

Then they’d vomit the bits back out onto the next guy who visits this island.

It did occur to me that this might be a safe haven in case of a zombie apocalypse, but the nearby North Brother Island would probably be a better choice. Seriously, I’m not just being paranoid, nature can be messed up, and given several recent headlines– might be time to start formulating a plan for upcoming Nights, Dawns, and Days.

from wikipedia

The bird family Phalacrocoracidae is represented by some 40 species of cormorants and shags. /ˈkɔrmərənt/ Several different classifications of the family have been proposed recently, and the number of genera is disputed.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

In the real world, of course, such fancies fall before the hard materialism of the empirical mindset, and this mission I was accompanying dwelt naught upon such extravagant thinking. They were doing the hard work of field science, collecting data and samples for later analysis. The South Brother Island was acquired by the Parks people in 2008 and the notion of dedicating the tiny island(s) as a refuge for seabirds is actually pretty darned cool.

from nycgovparks.org

In 2001, the City assigned Parks jurisdiction over the publicly-owned lands extending outward from the shores of South Brother Island. The island itself was owned by Hampton Scows, Inc. The recent acquisition of South Brother Island was directly negotiated and completed with approximately $2 million in funds allocated by Congressman Jose Serrano through NOAA’s Coastal and Estuarine Land Conservation Program.

The acquisition was executed by The Trust for Public Land on behalf of the recipients of the NOAA funding, The Wildlife Conservation Society and The Point Community Development Corporation. The Trust for Public Land then donated South Brother Island to Parks for public ownership, management, and natural resource protection.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

An interesting auditory effect was noticed, incidentally, which rendered the vocalizations of the avian multitudes into something akin to that which you would hear coming from a crowded lunchroom full of school kids. This blended with a syncopated call and response of what sounded like calisthenics PE over at Rikers Island, a short distance away.

Note- the island is strictly off limits (said status is zealously enforced by several of the different harbor officialdoms and gendarmes). I was the guest of a highly trained and dedicated crew who catechized me on the rules of the place and watched my every step to insure that no harm came to anything living here. It is illegal, in the extreme, to visit this place without prior approval from the authorities.

Despite my dripping sarcasm and good natured kvetching about the trip, the folks I was with are really fighting the good fight here, gathering data in difficult conditions in order to understand the breeding habits of endangered wildlife to foment the survival of said species in the harbor of New York.

check out this 2007 report from harborestuary.org, which contains data supplied by some of the folks on this trip, and is an earlier iteration of what they were up to just a few days ago.

Also:

June 16th, 2012- Newtown Creek Alliance Dutch Kills walk

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The Newtown Creek Alliance has asked that, in my official capacity as group historian, a tour be conducted on the 16th of June- a Saturday. This walk will follow the Dutch Kills tributary, and will include a couple of guest speakers from the Alliance itself, which will provide welcome relief for tour goers from listening to me rattle on about Michael Degnon, Patrick “Battle Ax” Gleason, and a bunch of bridges that no one has ever heard of.

for June 16th tickets, click here for the Newtown Creek Alliance ticketing page

June 23rd, 2012- Atlas Obscura Thirteen Steps around Dutch Kills walk

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Additionally- the “Obscura Day” Thirteen Steps around Dutch Kills tour proved that the efficacy and charms of the Newtown Creek’s least known tributary, with its myriad points of interest, could cause a large group to overlook my various inadequacies and failings. The folks at Atlas Obscura, which is a fantastic website worthy of your attentions (btw), have asked me to repeat the tour on the 23rd of June- also a Saturday.

for June 23rd tickets, click here for the Atlas Obscura ticketing page

June 30th, 2012- Working Harbor Committee Kill Van Kull walk

– photo by Mitch Waxman

My various interests out on the sixth borough, NY Harbor, have brought me into association with the Working Harbor Committee. A member of the group’s Steering Committee- I also serve as the “official” group photographer, am chairman and principal narrator of their annual Newtown Creek Boast Tour, and occasionally speak on the microphone during other tours (mainly the Brooklyn one). This year, the group has branched out into terrestrial explorations to compliment the intense and extant schedule of boat tours, and I’m going to be leading a Kill Van Kull walking tour that should be a lot of fun.

The Kill Van Kull, or tugboat alley as its known to we harbor rats, is a tidal strait that defines the border of Staten Island and New Jersey. A busy and highly industrialized waterfront, Working Harbor’s popular “Hidden Harbor – Newark Bay” boat tours provide water access to the Kill, but what is it like on the landward side?

Starting at the St. George Staten Island Ferry terminal, join WHC Steering Committee member Mitch Waxman for a walk up the Kill Van Kull via Staten Islands Richmond Terrace. You’ll encounter unrivaled views of the maritime traffic on the Kill itself, as well as the hidden past of the historic maritime communities which line it’s shores. Surprising and historic neighborhoods, an abandoned railway, and tales of prohibition era bootleggers await.

The tour will start at 11, sharp, and you must be on (at least) the 10:30 AM Staten Island Ferry to meet the group at St. George. Again, plan for transportation changes and unexpected weirdness to be revealed to you at MTA.info.

For June 30th tickets, click here for the Working Harbor Committee ticketing page

Written by Mitch Waxman

June 5, 2012 at 12:15 am

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