The Newtown Pentacle

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final destinations

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This is tomorrow, as in Sunday the 22nd. Seriously- you can count the number of seats left with one hand. If you haven’t got your tickets yet, today is probably your last chance.

Many people know about the environmental issues facing Newtown Creek, but did you know that the Creek was once the busiest waterway in North America, carrying more industrial tonnage than the entire Mississippi River?

You’ll learn much more when Working Harbor Committee’s maritime historians and harbor experts
put it all in context during a Hidden Harbor Tours: Newtown Creek Exploration.

The heart of industrial New York, Newtown Creek was home port to hundreds of tugboats (one of which is the historic WO Decker). It was also an international destination for oceangoing ships and a vast intermodal shipping and manufacturing hub that employed hundreds of thousands of people. Forming the border of Brooklyn and Queens for nearly three miles, five great cities grew rich along the Newtown Creek’s bulkheads — Greenpoint, Willamsburg, Bushwick, Long Island City and Manhattan itself. The waterway is still a vital part of the harbor and the Working Harbor Committee (WHC) is proud to present this tour as part of the celebration of their tenth anniversary year.

Mitch Waxman, a member of WHC’s steering committee and the group’s official photographer, also serves with the Newtown Creek Alliance as its group Historian. In addition to working on WHC’s boat tours of the Creek, Mitch offers a regular lineup of popular walking tours, and presents a series of well-attended slideshows for political, governmental, antiquarian, historical and school groups. His website – newtownpentacle.com – chronicles his adventures along the Newtown Creek and in the greater Working Harbor.

He was recently profiled in the NY Times Metro section, check out the article here.

Upcoming tour: Hidden Harbor Tours: Newtown Creek Exploration.

On July 22nd, Mitch shares his unique point of view and deep understanding of the past, present and future conditions of the Newtown Creek as the narrator and expedition leader for this years Hidden Harbor Tours: Newtown Creek exploration.

Our NY Water Taxi leaves from South Street Seaport at 11 a.m. (sharp) on a three hour tour of the Newtown Creek. From the East River we’ll move into the Newtown Creek where we’ll explore explore vast amounts of maritime infrastructure, see many movable bridges and discover the very heart of the Hidden Harbor.

Limited seating available, get your tickets today.

Tickets $50, trip leaves Pier 17 at
South Street Seaport at 11a.m. sharp.

We will be traveling in a comfortable NY Water Taxi vessel with indoor and outdoor seating. There will be refreshments and snacks available for purchase at the bar.

groves and gardens

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– photo by Mitch Waxman

Yesterday, being the 10th of November, your humble narrator found himself at the Brooklyn Navy Yard for the opening of the Building 92 museum, a newly public space at that venerable institution found on the Wallabout.

from bldg92.org

The mission of the Brooklyn Navy Yard Center at BLDG 92 is to celebrate the Navy Yard’s past, present and future, and to 
promote the role the Yard and its tenants play as an engine for job creation and sustainable urban industrial growth. By providing access to exhibits, public tours, educational programs, archival resources and workforce development services, BLDG 92 reinforces the Yard’s unique bonds with the community and inspires future generations to become industrial innovators and entrepreneurs.

The Brooklyn Navy Yard Center at BLDG 92 is an exhibition and visitors center that is operated as a program of the Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corporation.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One of my associates from the Working Harbor Committee had brought me along, and upon arriving, I was handed a rather elaborate press kit. Said kit included facts and glad tidings about the new museum, which is housed in a renovated 1857 era structure.

from wikipedia

On the eve of World War II, the yard contained more than five miles (8 km) of paved streets, four drydocks ranging in length from 326 to 700 feet (99 to 213 meters), two steel shipways, and six pontoons and cylindrical floats for salvage work, barracks for marines, a power plant, a large radio station, and a railroad spur, as well as the expected foundries, machine shops, and warehouses. In 1937 the battleship North Carolina was laid down. In 1938, the yard employed about ten thousand men, of whom one-third were Works Progress Administration (WPA) workers. The battleship Iowa was completed in 1942 followed by the Missouri which became the site of the Surrender of Japan 2 September 1945. On 12 January 1953, test operations began on Antietam, which emerged in December 1952 from the yard as America’s first angled-deck aircraft carrier.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The press event began with a naval color guard and pledge of allegiance, after which a group of kids were led on stage. The aim of the museum is of an educational nature, which made their presence seem appropriate.

from wikipedia

The Wallabout became the first spot on Long Island settled by Europeans when several families of French-speaking Walloons opted to purchase land there in the early 1630s, having arrived in New Netherland in the previous decade from Holland. Settlement of the area began in the mid-1630s when Joris Jansen Rapelje exchanged trade goods with the Canarsee Indians for some 335 acres (1.36 km2) of land at Wallabout Bay, but Rapelje, like other early Wallabout settlers, waited at least a decade before relocating fulltime to the area, until conflicts with the tribes had been resolved.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

All the best people from the Manhattan establishment were there, including Mayor Mike Bloomberg and Christine Quinn, Speaker of the City Council.

from  “A history of the city of Brooklyn : including the old town and village of Brooklyn, the town of Bushwick, and the village and city of Williamsburgh” by Gabriel Furman, 1824, courtesy archive.org

John (George) Jansen de Ratalie, one of the Walloon emigrants of 1623, who first settled at Fort Orange (Albany), and in 1G26 removed to Amsterdam, on Manhattan Inland. On the lGth of June, 1637, Bapalie purchased from its native proprietors a piece of land called ” Hennegackonk,” lying on Long Island “in the bend of Mareckkawieck,” now better known as Wallabout Bay. This purchase, comprising about three hundred and thirty-five acres, now occupied in part by the grounds of the United States Marine Hospital, and by that portion of the city between Nostrand and Grand Avenues — although it may have been, and probably was, more or less improved as a farm by Bapalie — was not occupied by him as a residence until about 1654. 3 By that time, the gradual influx of other settlers, many of whom were Walloons, had gained for the neighborhood the appellation of the “Waal-Bogt,” or “the bay of the foreigners.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Mayor Bloomberg starting things off, describing the project and it’s significance to the crowd of dignitaries and veterans. He seemed to be in a particularly jocular mood.

from wikipedia

Michael Rubens Bloomberg (born February 14, 1942) is an American business magnate, politician, and philanthropist. Since 2002, he has been the Mayor of New York City and, with a net worth of $19.5 billion in 2011, he is also the 12th-richest person in the United States. He is the founder and eighty-eight percent owner of Bloomberg L.P., a financial news and information services media company.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Apparently, the Navy Yard is an object of some attention for City Hall and hizzoner described the various political twists and financial turns over the last decade which culminated at this ceremony.

from nyc.gov

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corporation President Andrew Kimball cut the ribbon today on BLDG 92, a $25 million exhibition and visitors center that documents the historic significance of the 300-acre Brooklyn Navy Yard, and announced new hiring commitments from Navy Yard tenants. Over the coming year, tenants including Steiner Studios, Shiel Medical Laboratories, B&H Photo, Duggal Visual Solutions, Cumberland Packing, Ares Printing and Mercedes Distribution have agreed to work with the Navy Yard’s expanded employment program – to be housed in BLDG 92 – to place over 300 local residents in new jobs. To date, more than 1,000 local residents have been placed in jobs over the past 10 years. The new program will make a special effort to place veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan in the new jobs.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A surprisingly large audience was present, including representatives of the various trade unions which worked on the project.

from wikipedia

A trade union (British English) or labor union (American English) is an organization of workers that have banded together to achieve common goals such as better working conditions. The trade union, through its leadership, bargains with the employer on behalf of union members (rank and file members) and negotiates labour contracts (collective bargaining) with employers. This may include the negotiation of wages, work rules, complaint procedures, rules governing hiring, firing and promotion of workers, benefits, workplace safety and policies. The agreements negotiated by the union leaders are binding on the rank and file members and the employer and in some cases on other non-member workers.

Originating in Europe, trade unions became popular in many countries during the Industrial Revolution, when the lack of skill necessary to perform most jobs shifted employment bargaining power almost completely to the employers’ side, causing many workers to be mistreated and underpaid. Trade union organizations may be composed of individual workers, professionals, past workers, or the unemployed. The most common, but by no means only, purpose of these organizations is “maintaining or improving the conditions of their employment”.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez spoke next, as the Brooklyn Navy Yard is contained within her district. I had an opportunity to chat briefly with her afterwards, but we talked mainly about Newtown Creek.

from wikipedia

Nydia Margarita Velázquez (born March 28, 1953) is the U.S. Representative for New York’s 12th congressional district, serving since 1993. She is a member of the Democratic Party. The district includes residential areas of three boroughs (Brooklyn, Queens and Manhattan). She is the first Puerto Rican woman to be elected to Congress, and the chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus until January 3, 2011.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Speaker Quinn spoke next, and described the managers of the project with great admiration.

also from nyc.gov

“The Navy Yard is a testament to New York City’s resilience and creativity,” said NYC Council Speaker Quinn. “Through thoughtful redevelopment efforts, what was once a thriving shipbuilding facility is now a model urban industrial park that houses some of the City’s most cutting edge companies. We are proud at the Council to have partnered with the Administration, State, Borough President Markowitz, and the Brooklyn Navy Yard to make BLDG 92 a reality and are thrilled to see that it will help connect local residents to more than 300 new jobs.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

This fellow was a State Senator, I believe, named Daniel Squadron.

from wikipedia

Daniel Squadron is the state senator for the 25th district of the New York State Senate. He is a Democrat. The 25th Senate District covers lower Manhattan and an area of Brooklyn down the East River from part of Greenpoint to Carroll Gardens, and eastward to part of Downtown Brooklyn.

Before his election to the state senate, Squadron attended the Fieldston School in Riverdale, New York. He later served as a top aide to U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer, and helped to write Schumer’s book “Positively American: Winning Back the Middle-Class Majority One Family at a Time”. He ran in the Democratic primary against 30 year incumbent Martin Connor on September 9, 2008, defeating Connor with approximately 54% of the vote.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Next up was Deputy Mayor Bob Steel.

from nyc.gov

Robert K. Steel is Deputy Mayor for Economic Development. He is responsible for the Bloomberg Administration’s five-borough economic development strategy and job-creation efforts, as well as its efforts to expand job training, strengthen small business assistance, promote new industries, diversify the economy, and achieve the goals of the New Housing Marketplace Plan, which is designed to build or preserve enough affordable housing for 500,000 New Yorkers by 2014. He spearheads the Administration’s major redevelopment projects, including those in Lower Manhattan, Flushing, Hunters Point South, Coney Island, Stapleton, the South Bronx, and Hudson Yards. Deputy Mayor Steel oversees such agencies as the Department of Housing Preservation and Development, Department of City Planning, Department of Small Business Services, NYC Economic Development Corporation and NYC & Company, and he serves as Chair of Brooklyn Bridge Park board.

Prior to his 2010 appointment as Deputy Mayor, Steel was the President and CEO of Wachovia. From 2006 to 2008, Steel was the Under Secretary for Domestic Finance at the U.S. Department of the Treasury. Prior to entering government service, Steel spent nearly 30 years at Goldman Sachs, ultimately rising to become co-head of the U.S. Equities Division and Vice Chairman of the firm. He is a graduate of Duke University and the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business, and has distinguished himself as Chairman of Duke’s Board of Trustees, Chairman of the Aspen Institute’s Board of Trustees, Senior Fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, a member of the FDIC Advisory Committee on Economic Inclusion, Chairman of The After-School Corporation, and Co-Founder of SeaChange Capital Partners, an organization dedicated to helping nonprofits grow.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Several military veterans were in attendance, as mentioned, these fellows had served on the USS Missouri which was launched from the Navy Yard during the second World War.

from wikipedia

USS Missouri (BB-63) (“Mighty Mo” or “Big Mo”) is a United States Navy Iowa-class battleship, and was the fourth ship of the U.S. Navy to be named in honor of the U.S. state of Missouri. Missouri was the last battleship built by the United States, and was the site of the surrender of the Empire of Japan which ended World War II.

Missouri was ordered in 1940 and commissioned in June 1944. In the Pacific Theater of World War II she fought in the battles of Iwo Jima and Okinawa and shelled the Japanese home islands, and she fought in the Korean War from 1950 to 1953. She was decommissioned in 1955 into the United States Navy reserve fleets (the “Mothball Fleet”), but reactivated and modernized in 1984 as part of the 600-ship Navy plan, and provided fire support during Operation Desert Storm in January/February 1991.

Missouri received a total of 11 battle stars for service in World War II, Korea, and the Persian Gulf, and was finally decommissioned on 31 March 1992, but remained on the Naval Vessel Register until her name was struck in January 1995. In 1998, she was donated to the USS Missouri Memorial Association and became a museum ship at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Another veteran was sitting on the dais, who was interviewed in a documentary on the project which accompanied and was distributed with the press kit.

from bldg92.org

Be among the first to walk through the gates of the Brooklyn Navy Yard when BLDG 92 opens to the public on 11/11/11. We will offer free tours, family fun and prizes to celebrate our grand opening.

Free shuttle service for opening weekend: From 12-6PM, the blue Brooklyn Navy Yard shuttle bus will make continuous loops between BLDG 92 and downtown Brooklyn (intersection: Jay Street and Willoughby Street) easily accessible from the Jay St/Metrotech station (A,C,F,N,R) and a quick walk from Borough Hall Stations (2,3,4,5)

Fri, Sat, Sun 12-6

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Along with the color guard, there was a military band present.

from wikipedia

The U.S. Navy School of Music was founded at the Washington Navy Yard by order of the Chief of the Bureau of Navigation on 26 June 1935. The school was originally run by the U.S. Navy Band, with members of the Navy Band teaching classes and private lessons in addition to their regular performance duties with the band. After the commencement of World War II, these duties were deemed too onerous for the Navy Band personnel and the school was separated from the band and relocated to the Anacostia Naval Receiving Station in Washington, D.C. on 24 April 1942.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I was particularly taken with the Sousaphone player for some reason.

from wikipedia

The sousaphone is a valved brass instrument with the same tube length and musical range as other tubas. The sousaphone’s shape is such that the bell is above the tubist’s head and projecting forward. The valves are situated directly in front of the musician slightly above the waist and most of the weight rests on one shoulder. The bell is normally detachable from the instrument body to facilitate transportation and storage. Excepting the instrument’s general shape and appearance, the sousaphone is technically very similar to a standard (upright) tuba.

For simplicity and durability, modern sousaphones almost definitively use three non-compensating piston valves in their construction, in direct contrast to their concert counterparts’ large variation in number, type, and orientation. It has been incorrectly noted that the tuba is a conical brass instrument and the sousaphone is a cylindrical brass instrument; actually both instruments are semi-conical—no valved brass instrument can be entirely conical, since the middle section with the valves must be cylindrical. While the degree of conicity of the bore does affect the timbre of the instrument much as in a cornet and trumpet, or a euphonium and a trombone, the bore profile of a sousaphone and most tubas is similar.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Within the structure, this is that 22,000 pound anchor that you’ve heard mentioned in other reports.

from wikipedia

The words ὀδὁντες and dentes (both meaning “teeth”) are frequently used to denote anchors in Greek and Latin poems. The invention of the teeth is ascribed by Pliny to the Tuscans; but Pausanias gives the credit to Midas, king of Phrygia. Originally there was only one fluke or tooth, whence anchors were called ἑτερόστομοι; but a second was added, according to Pliny, by Eupalamus, or, according to Strabo, by Anacharsis, the Scythian philosopher. The anchors with two teeth were called ἀμϕἱβολοι or ἀμϕἱστομοι, and from ancient monuments appear to have resembled generally those used in modern days except that the stock is absent from them all. Every ship had several anchors; the largest, corresponding to our sheet anchor, was used only in extreme danger, and was hence peculiarly termed ἱερά or sacra, whence the proverb sacram anchram solvere, as flying to the last refuge.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The museum offered few vantage points of the actual working Navy Yard, this was one of them.

from nydailynews.com

“This will be a way for the public for the first time since 1801 to penetrate our walls and learn about our history and what we’re doing now,” said Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corp. president Andrew Kimball. “We’ve worked really hard to break down that separation with the community.”

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