The Newtown Pentacle

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nitrous vault

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Friday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A few final Friday photos from the far away Gowanus greet you this morning. The shot above looks towards the Union Street Bridge from the Carroll Street Bridge.

Uncharacteristically, I’m sort of at a loss of words today. Obvious reasons, read the news. It’s not like this wasn’t obviously going to happen sooner or later.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

That’s Carroll Street Bridge, which is one of only two retractile bridges in the entire City. The other is Borden Avenue Bridge, crossing the Dutch Kills tributary of Newtown Creek in Long Island City.

I cannot fathom the attempts on social media to rebrand the group of white supremacists who stormed the Capitol as “Antifa.” You broke it, you bought it. Assholes. When you lie down in the street with wild dogs, you get bit.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

On the way home, a quick stop was made to get the shot above, depicting three DSNY trucks on a ramp with the Gowanus Expressway in the background.

Good times, these.

Note: I’m writing this and several of the posts you’re going to see for the next week at the beginning of the week of Monday, January 4th. My plan is to continue doing my solo photo walks around LIC and the Newtown Creek in the dead of night as long as that’s feasible. If you continue to see regular updates here, that means everything is kosher as far as health and well being. If the blog stops updating, it means that things have gone badly for a humble narrator.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle


Buy a book!

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

Written by Mitch Waxman

January 8, 2021 at 2:00 pm

outrageous conclusions

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Thursday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A few more from the Gowanus Dredging operation today, and since the pursuance of getting these shots required no small amount of physical hardship for a humble narrator, we’re staying on the subject for a bit longer.

As mentioned earlier in the week, one woke up a couple of hours before sunrise in Astoria on the literal other side of a very Long Island, then suffered frigid middle December conditions on the East River to get here, and having dodged heavy trucks the entire morning on the streets of Red Hook and Sunset Park, the two eggs with ham and swiss on a roll which I had for breakfast had long ago burned away. It had also been multiple hours since I had drank anything, and the combination of fatigue and an empty fuel tank were beginning to set in. The diesel exhaust didn’t help.

I go to these places so you don’t have to, Lords and Ladies.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The material being scooped out of the Gowanus Canal gets shipped elsewhere for processing. The Superfund people at EPA aren’t exactly forthcoming about where the material gets sent, but I’d venture a guess about that as being somewhere in New Jersey and likely not too far from Bayonne. I can offer a conjectured description about what happens to it afterwards, though.

First, excess moisture will be mechanically removed either by centrifuge or compression. The freed liquid is fed into a wastewater treatment process, one not dissimilar to what happens at a sewer plant. Pollutants and contaminants are filtered out, the water is cleaned up, and then released. The filtered contaminants are combined with the dewatered solids. Secondly, the solids are sterilized, dried, and combined with an inert material like concrete. The concrete is formed into blocks, the blocks get shipped off somewhere for disposal. That somewhere is likely a tapped out underground mine which will be sealed off once full of these now inert blocks.

When Newtown Creek’s process begins to manifest physically, it will look a lot like the shots in this week’s post, just on a grander scale.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The shot above is included, one which I’m fairly sure is of the Third Street Bridge, as I’ve never seen this particular span open before. This didn’t seem to be part of the dredge operation, rather it looked like the NYC DOT (owners of the thing) were performing some sort of maintenance on the thing.

A bit more of this Southwest Brooklyn action tomorrow.

Note: I’m writing this and several of the posts you’re going to see for the next week at the beginning of the week of Monday, January 4th. My plan is to continue doing my solo photo walks around LIC and the Newtown Creek in the dead of night as long as that’s feasible. If you continue to see regular updates here, that means everything is kosher as far as health and well being. If the blog stops updating, it means that things have gone badly for a humble narrator.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle


Buy a book!

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

Written by Mitch Waxman

January 7, 2021 at 11:00 am

beckoning vistas

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Wednesday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

It took leaving HQ in Astoria at 5:30 in the morning, freezing my falafels off on a ferry in middle December, and then walking about a mile and a half but I managed to get to the Gowanus Canal while superfund dredging was actually happening. Pictured above is the Gowanus, as seen from the Hamilton Avenue Bridge under the Gowanus Expressway. Normal circumstance, if such a thing exists anymore, would have found me taking the G train to the elevated structure at the top of the shot – which is the Smith/9th street station. The draw bridge it overflies is the 9th street Bridge. The bucket barge and fuel barge/tug at lower left aren’t part of the dredge operations, as a note, they were there for other business.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Named to the Federal Environmental Protection Agency’s CERCLA or “Superfund” list at the same time as my beloved Newtown Creek, Gowanus Canal involves a significantly smaller geographical and simpler pollution problem to solve than Newtown Creek does. The Gowanus Canal is analogous in terms of scale and circumstance to the Long Island City tributary of Newtown Creek called Dutch Kills, in fact. Since the problem is smaller and somewhat simpler, Gowanus got to this part of the process first, whereas Newtown Creek is still several years away from dredging. Saying that, it’s a real mess down there at Gowanus, under the water.

Before you ask – it really didn’t smell that bad. The most miserable thing, odor wise, was experiencing the exhaust pouring out of the stacks of the Tugs and other equipment as they performed their tasks. You’d suddenly find yourself standing in a pall of blue diesel exhaust when the wind bent in your direction.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There were distinct units working on the various “locks” created by the street bridges crossing the Gowanus. Pictured above is the operation that was stationed between the 9th street and Union Street Bridges. Gowanus Bay narrows into the canal, and it’s crossed by seven bridges; Union Street, Carroll Street, Third Street, the New York City Subway’s Culver Viaduct (Smith 9th street station), Ninth Street, Hamilton Avenue, and the Gowanus Expressway.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Dredging is something I usually see all the time, but I spend a lot of time on the water under normal circumstance. Maintenance of shipping channels in deeper water usually entails using a specialized rig with it’s own power plant that has steel “pods” which are lowered into the water and act as legs to stabilize the machine. What I saw at Gowanus were “materials handlers” with specialized grabbers on them, as pictured above.

The sediments are scooped off the bottom, the water is drained into one bucket barge, and then the solids go into another. It’s likely that the more liquid material will be decanted and then processed as wastewater or sewage would be.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

That’s the Hamilton Avenue lift bridge raising to allow a tug towing away one of those “solids” barges out of the canal. It’s called a lift bridge as the entire roadway lifts vertically to allow maritime egress.

As always – it doesn’t matter if the Tug is pushing, or pulling, or the barge is tied up “on the hip” it’s called “towing.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Same Tug, different bridge. This is the Hamilton Avenue Bridge, which you saw in the first shot from the other side. It’s a double bascule draw bridge, but the two movable sections are parallel to each other. A more traditional setup for this sort of structure would be the Pulaski Bridge at Newtown Creek, where the two bascules are in line with each other and form an arch when closed.

More tomorrow.

Note: I’m writing this and several of the posts you’re going to see for the next week at the beginning of the week of Monday, January 4th. My plan is to continue doing my solo photo walks around LIC and the Newtown Creek in the dead of night as long as that’s feasible. If you continue to see regular updates here, that means everything is kosher as far as health and well being. If the blog stops updating, it means that things have gone badly for a humble narrator.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle


Buy a book!

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

Written by Mitch Waxman

January 6, 2021 at 11:00 am

waking reality

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Tuesday.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

After debarking a NYC Ferry at the Brooklyn Army Terminal, with my destination at the Gowanus Canal beckoning, one picked his way northwards along the mean streets of industrial Sunset Park. I’m not going to pretend to be super knowledgable about the area, which was once known as the Bush Terminal but is now called “Industry City” by the fancy pants types in City Hall. I encountered rough streets, some of which were paved in belgian block or “cobblestone” and hosted seemingly defunct rail spurs.

When you’re into NYC History, people ask you the time machine question a lot. The answer for this area’s “if you had a time machine and could travel backwards in time to see it at its height” question would be the years of the Second World War and the decade or so afterwards. Presuming this time machine kept me safe in a bubble which the temporal locals would not be able to see or interact with me, I’d also like to pay a visit to the Bush Terminal sometime in the early 1980’s. This was very much one of the sections of Brooklyn which you’d ensure that the car doors were locked when you were driving through it during the crack years.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

After walking past a series of Industry City buildings which the NYC EDC is in charge of, and a large Federal Prison, one found his way to 3rd Avenue and the elevated Gowanus Expressway. One of Robert Moses’ less popular projects, the Gowanus Expressway is responsible for blighting this area in the 1930’s and reducing it down to a corridor between the Battery Tunnel and BQE on one side and the Belt Parkway and the Verazzano Bridge on the other.

The steel of the Gowanus Expressway is known to be a daytime nest for Vampires. A crew of laborers were getting busy up in the shadowed recesses of the high volume road, which suggests their profession is a risky one. Perhaps the laborers wear necklaces of garlic as a part of their workplace PPE.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

After a brisk walk on a particularly cold morning, one finally arrived at the “Gowanus Zone” where the hazy border of Sunset Park and Red Hook transitions from one neighborhood into another.

This is one of the most pedestrian unfriendly areas in the entire City of Greater New York. Heavy trucks whizzing by on local streets at highway speeds, people driving automobiles in an angry and frustrated fashion, and crossing the street involves making a mad dash across three or four lanes of traffic. It’s also very, very loud.

Given that personal security has become something to be concerned about again, the luxury I’ve enjoyed for years of having an audiobook or music playing through headphones has been largely abandoned in favor of listening for approaching wackadoodles or the slapping sound of sneakers on pavement of those who are running towards me with malign intent. This has added a new perceptual dimension to my walks through the City – unfiltered sound. More tomorrow.

Note: I’m writing this and several of the posts you’re going to see for the next week at the beginning of the week of Monday, January 4th. My plan is to continue doing my solo photo walks around LIC and the Newtown Creek in the dead of night as long as that’s feasible. If you continue to see regular updates here, that means everything is kosher as far as health and well being. If the blog stops updating, it means that things have gone badly for a humble narrator.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle


Buy a book!

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

Written by Mitch Waxman

January 5, 2021 at 1:15 pm

hypnotic fumes

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Monday is Monday, whatever year it is.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A couple of weeks ago, I decided that getting a few shots of the Superfund related dredging being conducted down at the Gowanus Canal in in South Brooklyn might come in handy down the line for my beloved Newtown Creek. Accordingly, I decided to head over to the Red Hook/Sunset Park area. Normally, I’d just hop on the Subway, but… y’know… plague times, so I took the NYC Ferry instead as I’d be able to hang out on the top deck in the open air rather than sitting on the thermos bottle like G train for an hour. My plan was valid, but the day I chose to go ended up being an incredibly cold one.

I spent the prior evening packing my camera bag, and laying out warm clothes. Slept on the couch so as to not terrify Our Lady of the Pentacle when my alarm went off at 4:30 in the morning. One woke, inhaled a bunch of coffee and a couple of glasses of water, then bathed and dressed. Left HQ at about 5:30, when it was still dark, and got an egg sandwich at the local bagel shop to provide fuel for the mission. Walked over to the East River, and boarded a southbound ferry as the burning thermonuclear eye of god itself rose in the eastern sky. Luckily, my forethought and preparation involved a secondary layer of thermal underwear, as it was bitterly cold out.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The NYC Ferry offers a free transfer within 90 minutes of activating (via the app) or buying your ticket. The service allows you to jump from one line to another at several locations, notably the 34th street and Pier 11 stops on the Manhattan side act as hubs where multiple ferry lines meet. I rode the Astoria line boat to Pier 11/Wall Street in lower Manhattan’s financial district and then transferred onto the South Brooklyn service. South Brooklyn Ferry now has a stop inside of Atlantic Basin, which is meant to serve the Red Hook neighborhood. In retrospect, I should have debarked there, but instead I went to the Brooklyn Army Terminal stop about a mile or so south.

Hey, I got up at 4:30 in the morning for this, you think I’m not going to walk through Industry City when I’m in the neighborhood? Sheesh.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

My ultimate goal was to get to the Gowanus Canal about 10 a.m., which is when my sources inside the Federal Superfund Operation told me that I’d most reliably see dredging operations at work. Thing is, it’s been so long since I’ve been out with the camera during daylight hours that I decided on making this one of my “adventures.”

Adventure and excitement are things which a Jedi does not crave, of course, but I am no Jedi. There are so many experiences which I was forced to leave on the table in 2020 due to the Pandemic that the notion of having an interesting day was just too much for me to pass up. More tomorrow, at this – your Newtown Pentacle.

Note: I’m writing this and several of the posts you’re going to see for the next week at the beginning of the week of Monday, January 4th. My plan is to continue doing my solo photo walks around LIC and the Newtown Creek in the dead of night as long as that’s feasible. If you continue to see regular updates here, that means everything is kosher as far as health and well being. If the blog stops updating, it means that things have gone badly for a humble narrator.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle


Buy a book!

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

Written by Mitch Waxman

January 4, 2021 at 1:00 pm

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