The Newtown Pentacle

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Archive for the ‘Brooklyn Bridge’ Category

leaden coffins

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Monday, it affects us all.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Single shots will greet you this week, as a humble narrator plays catch-up and also spends his time exploring and shooting rather than worrying about the weather and delivering posts. Regular posts will resume next week.

Pictured above is the Brooklyn Bridge, as seen from lower Manhattan at night.


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Buy a book!

In the Shadows at Newtown Creek,” an 88 page softcover 8.5×11 magazine format photo book by Mitch Waxman, is now on sale at blurb.com for $30.

Written by Mitch Waxman

July 1, 2019 at 1:00 pm

curious designs

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Jarring, ain’t it?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One thing I love about traveling around NYC on the water is the perspective offered. When you’re on the streets, alleys, or highways of the megalopolis it’s hard to see the big picture. The fact that the Real Estate Industrial Complex has never managed to convince the Mayors of NYC to pave over the rivers (the developers have tried, several times over the centuries, as a note, and have occasionally succeeded as with “Battery Park City”) allows the opportunity to observe the changing skyline. In the last twenty years, there’s been so much change – both by unfortunate circumstance as in the case of the Freedom Tower World Trade Center above, or through avarice as in the case of that weird apartment building with the leaky windows situated just to the right of it.

Before you ask… there was a plan floated in the 1930’s to pave over the Hudson and create an airport. The fellow running the design process for the quixotic Sunnyside Yards deck proposed filing in the East River between Lower Manhattan and Governor’s Island during the Bloomberg years in pursuance of creating a new neighborhood called “Lolo,” and the current Mayor of NYC wants to expand Manhattan into the Hudson and East River by about a half mile in the name of climate resiliency. A protective wall of condominiums to protect the Financial District.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The skyline of LIC is one of the most altered places in the entire City. Ten years ago, when I started consciously documenting the place, there were four large residential buildings in Hunters Point, and there was the Citibank Sapphire Megalith. Today, it’s hard to point out the megalith to passerby, as it’s been obscured in its primacy by new construction. There’s no talk, yet, of expanding the land into the water in LIC, but that’s because a compliant political establishment here in Queens welcomes the presence of Real Estate Industrial Complex activity in upland properties. Keep an eye on Northern Blvd. between Steinway Street and Woodside Avenue in the coming years.

Just the other night, somebody I know who’s a “player” here in Queens was opining that the recent alteration in rent regulations law that occurred in Albany signaled the end of big development and an impending cessation of new construction. He said that “all the big projects are going to stop, and the developers would be pulling out of preexisting arrangements.” Pfah.

As if.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Personally, I look forward to some future era when it doesn’t rain every day – but I find it difficult to believe that after expensively manipulating the City Planning process, and striking deals with every donation hungry advocacy and political organization you can imagine, paying architects and engineers – you’d pull out of the chance to reap the dreams of avarice. You invest a dollar in pursuance of it turning into a thousand dollars overnight, and then pull away from the deal because you’re only going to make $999 off the project?

There’s no crying in baseball.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle


Buy a book!

In the Shadows at Newtown Creek,” an 88 page softcover 8.5×11 magazine format photo book by Mitch Waxman, is now on sale at blurb.com for $30.

dusty shelves

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East River in the dark.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One was invited to a holiday party in Lower Manhattan the other night, and a humble narrator fairly abhors holiday parties, but the reason I went was to “show my face” and then excuse myself so I could do some shooting. The party was lovely, filled with friends old and new whom I enjoy both working and personal relationships with. Thing is, and I have to remind myself of this periodically, I don’t belong amongst people. Every minute that I’m not out and about shooting is a waste of my time, essentially, but since there is a part of me that could still be considered human you need to “feed the beast” occasionally. Allowing what’s left of my soul a bit of convivial solace and warmth periodically is as necessary as eating meals or pooping, essentially, but when you really get down to it none of that personal stuff matters. Everybody dies, moves away, or just writes you off in the end and all that really matters is the work. Everybody secretly (or not so secretly) hates me anyway, and it’s always a relief for them to see me walking away into the dark.

Accordingly, one bundled up his filthy black overcoat and set off into the nighted streets of the Shining City.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The House of Moses is what I call the East River shoreline of lower Manhattan, which in recent years has seen a spartan park appear beneath Robert Moses’ grandiose FDR Drive. My singular superpower is the ability to see through time, which makes the POV in any shots captured along this byway depressing. Once upon, and long ago, this was one of the busiest maritime centers upon the planet, the destination of hundreds of thousand of ships. Today it’s a relic, a waterfront curiosity for lookie loos, and a window into the short term thinking of an era defined by terminologies like “stagflation.”

Pictured above is one of the remaining sandy beaches along the East River, and the only one I know about in this part of Manhattan. I called a couple of people I know who would be able to tell me exactly how many sandy beaches there are on the East River, as a note, but in both cases my call went directly to voicemail. That happens a lot to me these days, which sort of confirms the dire portent and bleak future thing currently embraced by one such as myself.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

That’s the Manhattan Bridge on the left, and the Brooklyn Bridge on the right in the shot above. For some incomprehensible reason, the FDR Drive framing the shot has recently been painted purple. I’m not quite sure about the choice of coloration, as in why they chose purple, but it’s probably a De Blasio thing (does purple equate to equity, or fairness, or just some other high handed and sanctimonious bullshit?). At least they didn’t use LED lights to saturate the atmosphere with garishly colored lighting.

As a note, it was freaking freezing out when I was shooting these, but the dissolute cold felt welcoming and mirrored that psychological and emotional vacuum which a humble narrator calls life.


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Written by Mitch Waxman

December 7, 2018 at 1:00 pm

night watchman

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Smooth, original flavors, in today’s post.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One has always had a tendency to ignore the diurnal nature of the human specie, preferring instead to exist in the darkness when the burning thermonuclear eye of God itself is occluded by the planetary body. Accordingly, when a humble narrator was in his early years, it was not uncommon to find myself employed during overnight shifts at Manhattan’s corporate salt mines. Other than putting a dent in an otherwise nonexistent social life, this particular style of life afforded one rare sights and uncommon experiences. It played to a certain sense of self, wherein one was out of sync with the rest of the world, wanting to eat dinner whilst the menu offered only breakfast fare. The weekends were difficult, as a note, since I was waking up on “Saturday morning” at about seven p.m.

If you want to experience hypnogogic hallucinations regularly, the night shift is the best way to get there.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There’s late night, as in one or two in the morning, and then there’s the “hour of the wolf” as its called by European peasantry. The latter are the fuligin depths experienced between three a.m. and the rising of the burning thermonuclear eye in the eastern skies. That’s when the animals of the Shining City have regency over the streets. One of my overnight jobs, which was an astounding number of decades ago, saw a humble narrator working in the complex of “international style” office buildings at Rockefeller Center adjoining that hive of villainy and perversion called Times Square.

Something I can tell you is that Rockefeller Center sits upon a connected complex, and that beneath the banal glass frontages of the office buildings is a subterrene series of basements, tunnels, and facilities that maintain the physical plant of the offices above. Many times I had occasion to enter this underground complex, as the company I labored for on the overnight shift maintained a small print shop down there which I’d periodically have to deliver and pick up work from. They have golf carts with flashy siren lights on them down below, and a small army of maintenance workers. I never saw a map, but this series of interconnected basements and underground floors has to cover at least five to six square city blocks.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I’ve been inside the Manhattan Bridge, officially. Never have I entered the vaults of the Brooklyn Bridge, nor the towers of Queensborough. “As above, so below” is something an occult scholar will tell you, and one of my obsessive desires is to gain nocturnal entrance to the dripping network of maintenance tunnels and underground caverns maintained by the City someday. How far down have we tunneled and chipped away? It’s always night underground, so I should fit right in.

Who can guess, all there is, that might be hidden down there?


Tours and Events


Canal to Coast: Reuniting the Waters Boat Tour. Only $5!
Thurs, August 30, 2018, 6:30 PM – 8:30 PM with Waterfront Alliance

Learn about the origins of Brooklyn’s Erie Basin as the Erie Canal’s ultimate destination, and its current role as a vital resource for maritime industry on this guided tour of Red Hook’s Erie Basin and the Brooklyn working waterfront, departing from and returning to New York Water Taxi’s Red Hook Dock. Tickets here.


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Written by Mitch Waxman

August 21, 2018 at 11:30 am

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It’s National Pickle Day, in these United States.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A variety of obligations and impediments have caused one to come up short on content this week. As is my custom, accordingly, whilst a humble narrator is out perambulating about the great city seeking to ameliorate his shortcomings – single shots which I like for one reason or another will be presented at this – your Newtown Pentacle.

Pictured above – a shot of the Brooklyn Bridge as seen from the East River.

Upcoming Tours and events

Calvary Cemetery Walking Tour, with Atlas Obscura – Sunday, December 10th, 11 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Explore NYC history, hidden inside sculptural monuments and mafioso grave sites, as you take in iconic city views on this walking tour, with Newtown Creek Alliance Historian Mitch Waxman details here.


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Written by Mitch Waxman

November 14, 2017 at 11:00 am

primal farmyard

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Today is the day, in 1909, that Geronimo died. His real name was Goyaałé.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Owing to other obligations and piss poor weather conditions for the last couple of weeks, one hasn’t got anything new to show you for this week. Accordingly, it has been decided to instead present a few archive shots of the various branches of NYC government which make life liveable for us here in “Home Sweet Hell.”

Today, the focus is on the NYC DOT – the bewildering New York City Department of Transportation, whom, as you might discern from some of their assets pictured above, are showoffs.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

NYC DOT handles and oversees NYC’s streets, highways, 788 roadway and pedestrian bridges (both major and minor, and with 25 of them moveable), and sidewalks. DOT also does street signs, traffic signals, street lights, street resurfacing, pothole repair, parking meters, and manages municipal parking. They’re also in charge of bike lanes, regulate private bus services, and spend about $700 million bucks a year doing all this – last time I checked.

They also run that big orange boat you see in the shot above. Money well spent, no?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Of course, there’s a lot of purely mundane stuff they do. With the help of a couple of large contractors, notably Weisbach, DOT oversees the care and maintenance of those fancy new parking meter kiosks, street lights, and road paving. They also work with and augment the DSNY during snow events with plows and road salt.


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Written by Mitch Waxman

February 17, 2017 at 1:00 pm

tapering arms

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Back in lower Manhattan.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Dover Street in Lower Manhattan is the stuff of historical legend. It starts its western path abruptly at South Street, and to the north is the tangled steel of the FDR Drive ramps and the always victorious Brooklyn Bridge. There are buildings on Dover which date back to the late 18th and early 19th centuries. The interesting thing is that they’re not churches, or government buildings, instead they’re shops with homes above.

As a note, when the British controlled Manhattan before and during the Revolutionary War, everything in the shot above was pretty much the East River. It’s all landfill, from the modern shoreline west to Front Street, which is coincidentally the corner this shot was captured on, meaning I was standing on the historic shoreline of the island. This is the northern extent of the South Street Seaport Historic District, and Peck Slip is about a block away. Governor Al Smith grew up in this neighborhood in the late 19th century, back when it was still a port, and Tammany ruled it all.

Al Smith is buried is buried in LIC’s Calvary Cemetery along the Newtown Creek.

Small world.

from wikipedia

The South Street Seaport is a historic area in the New York City borough of Manhattan, centered where Fulton Street meets the East River, and adjacent to the Financial District. The Seaport is a designated historic district, and is distinct from the neighboring Financial District. It is part of Manhattan Community Board 1 in Lower Manhattan, and is bounded by the Financial District to the west, southwest, and north; the East River to the southeast; and Two Bridges to the northeast.

It features some of the oldest architecture in downtown Manhattan, and includes the largest concentration of restored early 19th-century commercial buildings in the city. This includes renovated original mercantile buildings, renovated sailing ships, the former Fulton Fish Market, and modern tourist malls featuring food, shopping, and nightlife, with a view of the Brooklyn Bridge.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Water Street at Dover is where you’ll find a solid claimant to the title of oldest bar in NYC. It’s the Bridge Cafe, which I’m told is still recovering from Hurricane Sandy damages. The original shell and frame of the building went up in 1794, and was altered steadily until the 1880’s when it assumed its present form. Bridge Cafe has a nice history of the building at their site. Doesn’t mention the great fire of 1835, but there you go.

Just down the block, Kit Burn’s “Sportsman Hall” at 273 Water Street was a saloon where you could watch bare knuckled humans boxing, or bet on the canine and rodentine combatants that were fighting in the 250 seat (400 standing) octagonal rat pit Kit maintained in the basement. The Sportsman Hall was housed in what’s considered to be the third oldest building in Manhattan (1773), which is now called the Joseph Rose House and Shop. Kit Burns and his competitors in the rat pit game are a big part of the reason that the ASPCA was formed back in 1866. Kit died in 1870, and is buried in LIC’s Calvary Cemetery along the Newtown Creek.

Small world.

from wikipedia

Born Christopher Keyburn in New York City on February 23, 1831, Burns joined the Dead Rabbits as a young man and, by the late 1840s, co-led the organization with Tommy Hadden. Both men started their own businesses in the Bowery with Burns opening his Sportsmen’s Hall on Water Street. His establishment was widely known for holding illegal bare-knuckle boxing prize fights as well as featuring such entertainment as the infamous “rat pit” where blood sports such as rat and dogfighting took place. In these events, large gray wharf rats were captured and set against dogs. These dogs, mostly terriers, were sometimes starved for several days beforehand and set against each other as well.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Not too far away, over on Canal and Lafayette, is what was once known as the Bruce Building – 254-260 Canal Street. George Bruce was a rather successful printer when he started to build his NYC headquarters back in 1856. The Bruce Building was converted over to office space back in the late 1980’s, but what makes it really special are the iron works which dress the walls. They’re the (1850) patented work of James Bogardus, according to prevailing opinions. Bogardus was the guy who pioneered the cast iron facades commonly seen on Victorian era buildings in NYC and elsewhere.

James Bogardus is buried in Greenwood Cemetery, but he was a descendent of Dominie Everardus Bogardus, who died in a ship wreck in 1647. Dominie Bogardus was granted a piece of property by the Dutch colonial government across the river from Manhattan, a point of rocky land surrounded by swamps and salt marshes, which came to be called “Dominie’s Hoek.” It adjoined a fertile waterbody still called the Mispat, but which we know today as the Newtown Creek. The LIC saloon “Dominie’s Hook” is named after him. In 1825, the Hunter Family acquired the Hook, and its been called Hunters Point ever since.

Small world.

from wikipedia

The Reverend Everardus Bogardus (1607-1647) was the dominie of the New Netherlands, and was the second minister of the Dutch Reformed Church, the oldest established church in present-day New York, which was then located on Pearl Street (Manhattan) at its first location built in 1633, the year of his arrival. Bogardus was, in fact, the second clergyman in all of the New Netherlands. (The slightly obscure early history of the Dutch colony meant that he was often considered the first clergyman.


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Written by Mitch Waxman

November 15, 2016 at 11:00 am

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