The Newtown Pentacle

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Archive for the ‘Bronx’ Category

half seen

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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

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– 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 3 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

frenzied throng

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– photo by Mitch Waxman

As you may have noticed from the little flickr badge on the right hand side of this page, it’s been a rather busy few days for your humble narrator. The Working Harbor Committee Tugboat races were a hoot, as always, but I’ve had to develop and deliver the shots in a somewhat timely manner- despite the annoyance of a computer system crash and a concurrent setback in my overall schedule.

Such is life.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Some extremely exciting stuff is on the front burner right now, and October is looking to be another incredibly busy month. I can’t discuss any of it yet, but there will be several intriguing “events” which will be described to you in some detail in the coming weeks that I’m involved with.

Suffice to say- “Want to see something cool? Come with me, bring a camera and ID”.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

What does all this shadowy discussion and veiled promise have to do with shots of speedy trains and hidden trackbeds? Nothing at all, but this is a visual metaphor for what it feels like to be me at the moment.

A deer in the headlights, with a juggernaut hurtling ever closer.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Just in case you were wondering- the trains are Metro North at Spuyten Duyvel, LIRR at Woodside and then DUPBO near Hunters Point, and Amtrak at Sunnyside Yards.

Catching up on the latest round of research, getting the next series of postings together, getting back on track. Expect regular but rather short posts for the next few days as I pull together the next session of this, your Newtown Pentacle.

subtly vibrant

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– photo by Mitch Waxman

Having travelled to the unknown shores of New York’s borough of the Bronx for the recent Madison Avenue Bridge Centennial event, the municipality being a foreign territory to your humble narrator, one of my companions suggested we take advantage of circumstance and head over to the Oak Point Yard and see if anything interesting was happening there. Excitement was had when your humble narrator’s ignorance was punctured as to where the crossing of the Hell Gate Bridge leads to.

from wikipedia

The Oak Point Yard is a freight railroad yard located in the South Bronx, New York City. The yard is owned by CSX Transportation, but is used by CP Rail, New York and Atlantic Railway and the Providence & Worcester Railroad. Amtrak owns and operates two electrified tracks for the Northeast Corridor Line, on the west side of the yard. Freight traffic comes either from the Oak Point Link railway line, the Hell Gate Bridge from Long Island, or from Connecticut via the Northeast Corridor line to the northeast. Freight destined for the Hunts Point Cooperative Market also comes into the yard.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A freight railroad yard, Oak Point sits in a bleak industrial corridor, populated by weary looking laborers and is typified by heavy municipal infrastructure. High fences and admonitions of trespassing adorn tantalizingly photogenic acres of fuel depots, bridges, and high voltage equipment which are required to keep the larger City in business. This area, part of the infamous and much maligned Hunts Point, is what Newtown Creek must have looked like- back in its day.

from nycedc.com

Hunts Point is located at the confluence of the Bronx River, the East River and the Long Island Sound. Surrounded by water on three sides, the fourth side is bounded by the Bruckner Expressway and the CSX/Amtrak rail corridor. The Bruckner Expressway connects Hunts Point to Interstate-95, the Northeast, the Midwest and the ports of New York and New Jersey.

The Hunts Point peninsula has an area of approximately 690 acres, nearly half of which is occupied by the 329-acre Food Distribution Center. The Food Distribution Center feeds the New York region: fifteen million people in the region consume food distributed through the markets each day. The remainder of the peninsula comprises an industrial neighborhood where a diverse mix of food, manufacturing, construction, utility, municipal, auto-related and waste-related uses coexist. The northwestern portion of the peninsula contains a solid residential community, now home to roughly 12,000 residents.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Coincidental, as I really didn’t understand what I was looking at while I hung over the barbed wire fences, these are actually kind of interesting trains.

note: 9 times out of 10, the photos and postings exposed to you here- at your Newtown Pentacle- are just found in situ. Often, I have no idea what I’m shooting- it just looks like something that might be interesting and I’ll investigate its possibly dire meaning back at Newtown pentacle HQ later on. Luckily, your humble narrator has always had an eye for that which doesn’t belong, my curse is always to notice everything. Meeting me has often been compared to a cross between a military inspection and appointment with a probing psychologist, an unpleasant experience by all accounts. This is mentioned, solely because I’ve lately been accused of self aggrandizing agenda and political intent, which is not the case. That which is presented here is observable by all but noticed or commented on by few. Always… an Outsider.

It’s what’s known as an “Ultra Low Emission GenSet locomotive”.

from cleantechnica.com

But the new diesel GenSet switcher locomotives can be cranked up as quickly as a truck engine, avoiding the need to leave engines idling for long periods of time, resulting in drastic reductions in pollution and fuel consumption. The GenSet achieves its impressive 80% reduction in nitrous oxide and particulate matter emissions, in addition to approximately 50% CO2 savings capability by monitoring engine idling and switching to a sleep mode after a period of inactivity.

Under the hood of the GenSet are three 700 horsepower Cummins diesel engines. The engines run independently of each other and depending on the need of speed and amperage, 1, 2, or 3 of the engines will be used. When the need goes away, the third will shut down after one minute, after five the second will shut down, the third will go into sleep mode after 15 minutes.

CSX is only in the early stages of rolling out the $1.8 million locomotives, with a total of 9 GenSets in operation by 2009. The company plans to eventually replace the entire switching fleet with the low emission locomotives.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

That’s the actual declination of the ground down there, and the blue bridge observed represents the grade of the surrounding streets.

A cool set of photos of the GenSets by Michael Foley can be found here. And a great page at greenrailnews.com detailing the nitty gritty of the GenSet class can be had here.

from yournabe.com

The Oak Point Rail Yard, a major switching station for the Albany region of CSX, is located in Hunts Point.

The south Bronx, where the yard is located, has the highest rates of asthma of any community in America.

According to Congressman Jose Serrano, the creation of the GenSet locomotives help reduce emissions by requiring less fuel to transport freight than tractor-trailer trucks or even traditional locomotives with single, larger engines.

“I applaud the ongoing efforts of CSX Transportation to move freight through my district with a minimum amount of environmental impacts,” Serrano said. “The growing use of rail freight in the Bronx is already responsible for taking thousands of diesel trucks off the road each year. With this project, CSX is ensuring that its locomotive technology is not only cost effective and efficient but also earth friendly.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As commented on in the beginning of this post, the Bronx is unknown country to me. Having grown up in Brooklyn, lived in Manhattan and Queens, my travels have more often taken me to Long Island and Westchester than the Bronx. An intuition tells me that I’m going to have to look in on the place more often.

from csx.com

“Improving air quality and ensuring efficient movement of freight in our region do not need to be mutually exclusive,” said Joel P. Ettinger, Executive Director of the New York Metropolitan Transportation Council. “The technology that will power the new locomotives will reduce NOX and Particulate Matter (PM) emissions and in doing so, will bring us closer to reaching air quality improvement goals established in our Regional Transportation Plan. NYMTC is pleased to have been able to play a role in securing CMAQ funding for these new engines.”

CSXT’s introduction of the GenSet locomotives is part of an overall plan to reduce CO2 emissions associated with its operations by 8% per revenue ton mile by 2011. This commitment was made as part of its participation in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Climate Leaders Program, a voluntary program for businesses to inventory and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

CSXT has invested more than $1 billion to upgrade its locomotive fleet with technology that reduces fuel consumption and air pollutant emissions. Through these efforts, the company has improved its fuel efficiency by approximately 80 percent since 1980. By the end of 2009, an additional 1,200 CSX locomotives will be upgraded to further reduce emissions and lower fuel consumption by nearly 10 million gallons. CSX has a long standing commitment to air quality and clean operations.

CSX Transportation Inc. is a principal operating company of CSX Corporation. CSX Corporation, based in Jacksonville, Fla., is one of the leading transportation companies, providing rail, intermodal and rail-to-truck transload services. The company’s transportation network spans 21,000 miles with service to 23 eastern states and the District of Columbia, and connects to more than 70 ocean, river, and lake ports. More information about CSX Corporation and its subsidiaries is available at the company’s web site, www.csx.com.

Written by Mitch Waxman

May 19, 2010 at 11:02 pm

Posted in Bronx

Tagged with , , , ,

Madison Avenue Bridge Centennial

with 3 comments

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The last of the bridge centennial parades was held on Wednesday, May 12, 2010. The Madison Avenue Bridge spans the Harlem River and connects Manhattan with the Bronx.

from wikipedia

The Madison Avenue Bridge crosses the Harlem River connecting Madison Avenue in Manhattan with East 138th Street in the Bronx in New York City. The bridge is operated and maintained by the New York City Department of Transportation. It was designed by Alfred P. Boller and built in 1910 to replace and double the capacity of another earlier swing bridge dating from 1884.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

It rained, at this parade.

from nycroads.com

The Madison Avenue Bridge, which today is maintained by the New York City Department of Transportation (NYCDOT), provides two lanes of eastbound and two lanes of westbound traffic between Manhattan and the Bronx. On the Bronx approach, the bridge directly connects to the Major Deegan Expressway (at EXIT 3). On the Manhattan approach, motorists must take side streets to connect to the Harlem River Drive. According to the NYCDOT, the bridge carries approximately 45,000 vehicles per day (AADT).

– photo by Mitch Waxman

American Bridge Company? That was J.P. Morgan, wasn’t it?

from wikipedia

The Harlem River is a navigable tidal strait in New York City, USA that flows 8 miles (13 km) between the Hudson River and the East River, separating the boroughs of Manhattan and the Bronx. Part of the current course of the Harlem River is the Harlem River Ship Canal, which runs somewhat south of the former course of the river, isolating a small portion of Manhattan (Marble Hill) on the Bronx side of the river.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The indomitable DOT crew that provided electricity and made sure that tents were in place to shield the dignitaries and speakers from the weather. Notice their high visibility safety gear.

from wikipedia

The New York City Department of Transportation (NYCDOT or DOT) is responsible for the management of much of New York City’s transportation infrastructure. Janette Sadik-Khan is the current Commissioner of the Department of Transportation, and was appointed by Mayor Michael Bloomberg on April 27, 2007.

The department’s responsibilities include day-to-day maintenance of the city’s streets, highways, bridges and sidewalks. The Department of Transportation is also responsible for installing and maintaining the city’s street signs, traffic signals and street lights. The DOT supervises street resurfacing, pothole repair, parking meter installation and maintenance, and the management of a citywide network of municipal parking facilities. The DOT also operates the Staten Island Ferry.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The bridge itself is a rather straightforward swing bridge, with trusses and box girders forming the superstructure for the busy roadway.

from wikipedia

Harlem stretches from the East River west to the Hudson River between 155th Street; where it meets Washington Heights—to a ragged border along the south. Central Harlem begins at 110th Street, at the northern boundary of Central Park; Spanish Harlem extends east Harlem’s boundaries south to 96th Street, while in the west it begins north of Upper West Side, which gives an irregular border west of Morningside Avenue. Harlem’s boundaries have changed over the years; as Ralph Ellison observed: “Wherever Negroes live uptown is considered Harlem.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Two young fellows opened a large box and revealed this cake. As soon as I saw it, I knew what must happen next, for I know a secret about politicians…

from wikipedia

Cake is a form of food that is usually sweet and often baked. Cakes normally combine some kind of flour, a sweetening agent (commonly sugar), a binding agent (generally egg, though gluten or starch are often used by lacto-vegetarians and vegans), fats (usually butter, shortening, or margarine, although a fruit purée such as applesauce is sometimes substituted to avoid using fat), a liquid (milk, water or fruit juice), flavors and some form of leavening agent (such as yeast or baking powder), though many cakes lack these ingredients and instead rely on air bubbles in the dough to expand and cause the cake to rise. Cake is often frosted with buttercream or marzipan, and finished with piped borders and crystallized fruit.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

All Politicians love cakes and cameras, and are magnetically attracted to them from wherever they may be in the city.

from wikipedia

To balance local authority along with the centralization of government, the Office of Borough President was established with a functional administrative role derived by having a vote on the New York City Board of Estimate, which was responsible for creating and approving the city’s budget and proposals for land use. The Board of Estimate consisted of the Mayor, the Comptroller and the President of the New York City Council, each of whom were elected citywide and had two votes, and the five Borough presidents, each having one vote.

In 1989, the Supreme Court of the United States, in Board of Estimate of City of New York v. Morris (489 U.S. 688) declared the New York City Board of Estimate unconstitutional on the grounds that the city’s most populous borough (Brooklyn) had no greater effective representation on the board than the city’s least populous borough (Staten Island), this arrangement being an unconstitutional violation of the Fourteenth Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause pursuant to the high court’s 1964 “one man, one vote” decision.

The city charter was revised in 1990 and the Board of Estimate was abolished. The Office of Borough President was retained but with greatly reduced power. The borough budget reverted to the mayor or the New York City Council. A Borough President has a small discretionary budget to spend on projects within the borough. The last significant power of the borough presidents — to appoint a member of the New York City Board of Education — was abolished, with the board, on June 30, 2002.

The two major remaining appointments of a Borough President are one member of the city Planning Commission and one member of the Panel for Educational Policy. Borough Presidents generally adopt specific projects to promote while in office; but, since 1990, Borough Presidents have been seen mainly as the ceremonial leaders of their boroughs. Officially, they advise the Mayor on issues relating to each borough, comment on all land-use items in their borough, advocate borough needs in the annual municipal budget process, appoint Community Boards, chair the Borough Boards, and serve as ex officio members of various boards and committees They generally act as advocates of their boroughs at the mayoral agencies, the city council, the New York State government, public corporations and private businesses.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Borough President of Manhattan Scott Stringer arrived first, and seemed pleased with the confection.

from wikipedia

Scott Stringer (born 1960) is a New York Democratic politician and the current Borough President of Manhattan. His mother, Arlene Stringer-Cuevas, is a cousin of Bella Abzug and served on the New York City Council. Stringer grew up in the Washington Heights/Lower Inwood neighborhood of Upper Manhattan, attended Manhattan public schools and graduated from the John Jay College of Criminal Justice. In 1983, he became a legislative assistant to Assemblyman, and future Congressman, Jerrold Nadler. During these years, he supported Democratic candidates such as Governor Mario Cuomo. In 1992, Stringer ran for Nadler’s Assembly seat representing the Upper West Side when Nadler replaced deceased Congressman Ted Weiss.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr. arrived in a nearly simultaneous fashion, and the two exchanged pleasantries- while eyeing the pastry.

from wikipedia

Ruben Diaz, Jr. (born April 26, 1973) is a Democratic Party politician from the Bronx in New York City, and the son of New York State Senator Rubén Díaz.

Diaz became the Bronx Borough President in April 2009 after representing the 85th Assembly District in the New York State Assembly. When first elected in 1996 he became, at age 23, the youngest member of the New York State Legislature since Theodore Roosevelt.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The two BP’s electrified the crowd of well wishers, reporters, and invited guests. Diaz also maintained a certain vigil on the cake.

from wikipedia

On February 18, 2009, U.S. President Barack Obama appointed Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrión, Jr. to the position of Director of the White House Office on Urban Affairs.

When Mayor Michael Bloomberg declared a special election to choose his successor,[64] Diaz was considered the leading candidate for the position of Bronx Borough President.

The special election was held on April 21, 2009. Diaz defeated Republican Party candidate Anthony Ribustello by an overwhelming 87% of the vote, to become the 13th Borough President of the Bronx.

On July 1, 2009 Diaz appointed Delores Fernandez to the reconstituted New York City Board of Education. Fernandez is anticipated to be the sole member of the Board that will have a perspective independent of mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Diaz ended his first summer as borough president by recommending that the New York City Council reject Related Companies’ proposal to turn the Kingsbridge Armory into a shopping mall. In an editorial in the New York Daily News, Diaz wrote he is “fighting to make sure that this development includes ‘living wage’ jobs that offer health insurance.” Related’s proposal is still going through the city’s review process.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The ceremonies began with the national anthem as sung by members of (I believe) the Choir Academy of Harlem.

from wikipedia

Samuel I. Schwartz, a.k.a. Gridlock Sam, is one of the leading transportation engineers in the United States, and is widely believed to be the man responsible for popularizing the phrase gridlock. Educated at Brooklyn College and the University of Pennsylvania, he originally worked as a cabbie. He eventually held the second-in-command post of Deputy Commissioner in New York City’s transportation department for many years and now operates as a private consultant. One of Gridlock Sam’s newest developments is that of a plan to enhance truck traffic along the Detroit-Windsor border. Today he gives advice in his own column in New York City’s Daily News. He answers questions by mail and alerts readers about traffic patterns.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Master of ceremonies Sam Schwartz.

from gridlocksam.com

Some thirty-seven years ago I began my professional career as a New York City taxi driver. This provided basic training for maneuvering through the city’s streets. Though trained in science, I switched majors to transportation engineering in graduate school. I thought I would save the subways, but the Transit Authority wouldn’t offer me a job. I ended up as a junior engineer at the old Traffic Department.

Initially I worked developing neighborhood one-way plans but soon I was moved to “Special Projects”. John Lindsay was mayor and proposed many innovative and bold schemes to reduce traffic in Midtown. I spent a lot of time on these plans, working with an old-time traffic engineer named Roy Cottam. One day, Roy spoke of his fears if we closed the streets in the Theater District, the grid system would “lock-up” and all traffic would grind to a halt. Soon we simply juxtaposed the word, and the term gridlock was born.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There was a general feeling of happiness, despite the wet and cold. Of course, we were all under the tent.

from nycbridges100.org

In the spring of 2007, a group of civic minded individuals realized that several of New York City’s bridges were approaching their 100th anniversary. In order to commemorate the significance of these magnificent spans and their role in making New York City the greatest metropolis in the world, the group formed the NYC Bridge Centennial Commission, a 501 (c) 3 corporation.

The aim of the Commission is to promote the 100th year anniversary of six historic New York City bridges, to educate the public about the bridges’ role in the life of the city, to encourage respect for the history of New York City; to heighten the public’s awareness of the City’s infrastructure and the need to maintain it; and to stimulate the interest of the public in celebrating the centennial of these six bridges.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Out of nowhere, the Kevin C. Kane, NYFD Marine 6 appeared.

from limarc.org

Kevin C. Kane, N2MEI, was a New York City Firefighter, and a member of LI-MARC. Early on the morning of September 12, 1991, Kevin responded with Engine Com-pany 236 to a fire in at an abandoned apartment house in the East New York section of Brooklyn. Despite the knowledge that there might not be enough hose to reach all parts of the house, Kevin and his fellow firefighters entered the building in search of victims. Shortly thereafter, a section of burning ceiling fell on Kevin. Despite the frantic efforts of his colleagues, they were not able to reach him. Eventually he managed to jump from a window, into the bucket of a fire truck. Having been burned over most of his body, he died the next day. In his honor, The NYFD named a fireboat The Kevin C. Kane, and created the Kevin C. Kane Medal for bravery.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The kids from the Harry S Truman High School band, and I mean all of them, were just jumping with personality and enthusiasm.

from wikipedia

Marching band is a sport consisting of a group of instrumental musicians and usually dance teams / color guard who generally perform outdoors and incorporate some type of marching (and possibly onto other movements) with their musical performance. Instrumentation typically includes brass, woodwinds, and percussion instruments. Most marching bands use some kind of uniform (often of a military style) that include the school or organization’s name or symbol, shakos, pith helmets, feather plumes, gloves, and sometimes gauntlets, sashes, and/or capes.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Suddenly, all the spectators were looking south while I was looking west.

from wikipedia

Harry S. Truman High School is a public high school at 750 Baychester Avenue, in the Bronx, New York City, United States. The school is designated as an Empowerment School by the New York City Department of Education, which allows it more autonomy in choosing a curriculum.

Truman High School is one of the remaining large high schools in the Bronx that has not been broken up into a number of small schools. This trend which has been popular in the city has seen South Bronx High School, Evander Childs High School as well as Roosevelt High School split into a number of smaller schools that are still located in the same building.

Truman High is located in the Co-op City section of the Bronx, yet many of the students commute to school from areas as far away as the South Bronx.

The size of Truman High School (over 3000 students) does give it the benefit of having many sports programs and extracurricular activities.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Marine 6 was starting its own performance.

from wikipedia

Types of Apparatus:

MARINE or Fireboat is a specialized boat outfitted specifically for firefighting capabilities. Its responsibilities include suppression of all fires that occur on water, such as boat fires, pier fires, etc. A Marine Unit also assists land based companies with securing a water supply, as they have the ability to “draft” water from the rivers they operate in.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Red and blue colorant is added to two of the firehoses…

from wikipedia

The first bridge on this site was constructed by the New York and Harlem Railroad in 1841. It was composed of four 90-foot (27 m)-long box truss spans, three of which were fixed iron spans, while the remaining span was a wooden swing span. In the closed position, the bridge had a clearance of only seven feet above mean high water. Masonry piers supported the four box-truss spans.

In 1867, the wooden drawbridge was replaced with an iron one that gave a clearance of fifty feet. It was very busy. By the 1880s, the bridge was crossed by more than 200 trains a day.

The bridge was soon made obsolete by heavy traffic and dredging of the Harlem River Ship Canal. Alfred P. Boller worked with the railroad to create a new four-tracked swing bridge. The railroad and the city split the cost.

The new bridge was built in conjunction with the Army Corps of Engineers’ project to build the Harlem River Ship Canal. The Park Avenue railroad viaduct was also extended north of 115th Street at the same time. While the bridge was being built, a temporary bridge was built and the old span was demolished.

When the new bridge was finished, it had a 300-foot (91 m)-long steel truss span supported by masonry piers. The new span had a vertical clearance of 25 feet (7.6 m).

– photo by Mitch Waxman

… and a patriotic display is manufactured.

from nycroads.com

During the 1960’s and 1970’s, the Park Avenue Railroad Bridge passed through the hands of several financially ailing railroads, ranging from the New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad to the Penn Central Railroad. Today, the lift span is operated by the MTA Metro-North passenger railroad.

Recently, the MTA Metro-North Railroad announced a $10 million project to rehabilitate the Park Avenue Railroad Bridge. The bridge control, power and lift systems are now beyond their useful life, and will not be replaced. Instead, the project will remove the moveable elements of the bridge (such as the wire rope and counterweight), and will rehabilitate the foundation. The MTA Metro-North Railroad currently is seeking approval from the U.S. Coast Guard to make this a fixed bridge in order to minimize the cost of rehabilitation.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The announcement was made that the rest of the ceremony would be kicking off “Bronx Week”, so the entire crowd began to lurch toward the Bronx shoreline.

from wikipedia

In a marching band or a drum & bugle corps, the colorguard is a non-musical section that provides additional visual aspects to the performance. The marching band and colorguard performance generally takes place on a football field while the colorguard interprets the music that the marching band or drum & bugle corps is playing via the synchronized spinning of flags, sabres, rifles, or through dance. The color guard uses different colors and styles of flags to enhance the visual effect of the marching band as a whole. The number of members in a colorguard can vary- some only having a few members while others may have 41 or more. Within the band, colorguard is often referred to as flagline or simply guard.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The Truman kids led the march off the Madison Avenue Bridge toward the Bronx side.

from wikipedia

The size and composition of a marching band can vary greatly. Some bands have fewer than twenty members, and some have over 500. American marching bands vary considerably in their instrumentation. Some bands omit some or all woodwinds, but it is not uncommon to see piccolos, flutes, clarinets, alto saxophones, and tenor saxophones. E♭ clarinets, alto clarinets, bass clarinets, and baritone saxophones are less common, but can be found in some bands. Bassoons and oboes are very seldom found on a field due to the risk of incidental damage, the impracticality of marching with an exposed double reed, and high sensitivity to weather.

The brass section usually includes trumpets or cornets, mellophones or E♭ alto horns (instead of horns), tenor trombones, baritone horns or euphoniums, and Tubas or sousaphones. E♭soprano cornets are sometimes used to supplement or replace the high woodwinds. Some especially large bands use flugelhorns and bass trombones.

Marching percussion (often referred to as the drumline, battery, or back battery) typically includes snare drums, tenor drums, bass drums, and cymbals and are responsible for keeping tempo for the band. All of these instruments have been adapted for mobile, outdoor use. Marching versions of the glockenspiel (bells), xylophone, and marimba are also rarely used by some ensembles. Historically, the percussion section also employed mounted timpani that featured manual controls.

For bands that include a front ensemble (also known as the pit or auxiliary percussion), stationary instrumentation may include orchestral percussion such as timpani, tambourines, maracas, cowbells, congas, wood blocks, marimbas, xylophones, bongos, vibraphones, timbales, claves, guiros, and chimes or tubular bells,concert bass drums, and gongs, as well as a multitude of auxiliary percussion equipment. Drum sets, purpose-built drum racks, and other mounted instruments are also placed here. Until the advent of the pit in the early 1980s, many of these instruments were actually carried on the field by marching percussionists by hand or on mounting brackets. Some bands also include electronic instruments such as synthesizers, electric guitars, and bass guitar, along with the requisite amplification. If double-reed or string instruments are used, they are usually placed here, but even this usage is very rare due to their relative fragility. Unusual percussive instruments are sometimes used, including brake drums, empty propane tanks, trashcans, railroad ties, stomping rigs, and other interesting sounds.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Word went around that refreshments could be found, and other entertainments offered, upon our arrival in Deegan Rock Park.

from wikipedia

For parades, bands usually line up in a marching block composed of ranks (rows) and files (columns). Typically, each member tries to stay within his or her given rank and file, and to maintain even spacing with neighboring musicians. It is usually the responsibility of the people at the end of each rank and the front of each file to be in the correct location; this allows other band members to guide to them.

Band members also try to keep a constant pace or step size while marching in parade. This usually varies between 22 and 30 inches (56–76 cm) per stride. A step size of 22.5 inches is called 8-to-5 because the marcher covers five yards (about 4.6 m) in eight steps. A step size of 30 inches is called 6-to-5 because five yards are covered in six steps. Because yard lines on an American football field are five yards apart, exact 8-to-5 and 6-to-5 steps are most useful for field shows.

A drum cadence (sometimes called a walkbeat or street beat) is usually played when the band is marching, sometimes alternating with a song. This is how the band keeps time. Alternately, a drum click or rim shot may be given on the odd beats to keep the band in step. Between songs and cadences, a roll is usually given to indicate what beat in the measure the band is at. Cadence tempo varies from group to group, but is generally between 112 and 144 beats per minute.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The band played on, as the crowd crossed safely over the flow of Harlem River.

from wikipedia

A musical instrument is constructed or used for the purpose of making the sounds of music. In principle, anything that produces sound can serve as a musical instrument. The history of musical instruments dates back to the beginnings of human culture. The academic study of musical instruments is called organology.

The date and origin of the first device of disputed status as a musical instrument dates back as far as 67,000 years old; artifacts commonly accepted to be early flutes date back as far as about 37,000 years old. However, most historians believe determining a specific time of musical instrument invention to be impossible due to the subjectivity of the definition.

Musical instruments developed independently in many populated regions of the world. However, contact among civilizations resulted in the rapid spread and adaptation of most instruments in places far from their origin. By the Middle Ages, instruments from Mesopotamia could be found in the Malay Archipelago and Europeans were playing instruments from North Africa. Development in the Americas occurred at a slower pace, but cultures of North, Central, and South America shared musical instruments.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Apparently, the syncopated footsteps of marching bands cause bridge engineers no small amount of worry, but the sturdy old girl didn’t shake a bit.

from wikipedia

The Bronx is divided by the Bronx River into a hillier section in the west, closer to Manhattan, and the flatter East Bronx, closer to Long Island. The West Bronx was annexed to New York City (then largely confined to Manhattan) in 1874, and the areas east of the Bronx River in 1895. The Bronx first assumed a distinct legal identity when it became a borough of Greater New York in 1898. Bronx County, with the same boundaries as the borough, was separated from New York County (afterwards coextensive with the Borough of Manhattan) as of January 1, 1914. Although the Bronx is the third-most-densely-populated county in the U.S., about a quarter of its area is open space, including Woodlawn Cemetery, Van Cortlandt Park, Pelham Bay Park, the New York Botanical Garden and the Bronx Zoo in the borough’s north and center, on land deliberately reserved in the late 19th century as urban development progressed northwards and eastwards from Manhattan with the building of roads, bridges and railways.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Word was that the cake had already been transported down to Deegan Rock Park, and somehow- Diaz knew it.

from wikipedia

In 1997, the Bronx was designated an All America City by the National Civic League, signifying its comeback from the decline of the 1970s. In 2006, The New York Times reported that “construction cranes have become the borough’s new visual metaphor, replacing the window decals of the 1980s in which pictures of potted plants and drawn curtains were placed in the windows of abandoned buildings.” The borough has experienced substantial new building construction since 2002. Between 2002 and June 2007, 33,687 new units of housing were built or were under way and $4.8 billion has been invested in new housing. In the first six months of 2007 alone total investment in new residential development was $965 million and 5,187 residential units were scheduled to be completed. Much of the new development is springing up in formerly vacant lots across the South Bronx.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Other Bronx politicos also eagerly followed the charms of the baked goods.

from ilovethebronx.com

Saturday, May 15th through Sunday, May 23rd, 2010

Throughout Bronx Week, residents of the Bronx and visitors from the tri-state region come together to celebrate the people, places, history and businesses of the Bronx. Outdoor performances, trolley tours, health fairs, a salute to volunteers and business workshops are just some of the events in store.

The grand finale is on Sunday, May 23rd, when famous sons and daughters of the borough will return home for induction to the Bronx Walk of Fame on the Grand Concourse, followed by our annual Parade, Food & Art Festival and Concert on Mosholu Parkway.

Bronx Week is the ideal time to remind all New Yorkers that The Bronx is a great place to live, work and play.  Don’t Miss The Fun!

For more information on fun Bronx Week events happening in our borough, check back with us using our Bronx Week Calendar page or call 718.590.BRONX

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The lady who was holding this sign was chided by your humble narrator for hiding her face. That was the Madison Avenue Bridge Centennial Parade.

from nypost.com

Bronx Week 2010 kicked off yesterday, May 12, but fear not — all you’ve missed so far was a press conference.

This year’s festive celebration of the borough will include 22 events in only 12 days and culminate in a busy, exciting Grand Finale on Sunday, May 23.

“This time we have organized even more events, while keeping the traditional ones, to celebrate the beauty, culture, talent and development of our neighborhoods,” said Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr. “No Bronxite should stay home during these many days full of activities.”

Doris Quiñones, executive director of the Bronx Tourism Council, said that this year, for the first time, Bronx Week has been moved up one month earlier.

“We moved it from June to May to make it easier for schools to participate,” she said. “Eighty schools are already scheduled to march in the parade on Sunday, May 23.”

That day is the Grand Finale, which is the big culmination of Bronx Week. In addition to the parade, which starts at noon on Mosholu Parkway, that night will be the famous Bronx Ball, at which the borough’s best and brightest show up in formal attire to dance the night away. This year the ball is under a huge tent at Orchard Beach at 6 p.m. and, as in the past, will have a red carpet, Bronx high school cheerleaders, and will kick off when Borough President Diaz honors a special few.

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