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inexpressibly more

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This actually and absolutely astounds one such as myself.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Wandering from Red Hook back to Astoria around a week ago, your humble narrator found himself on the south side of Williamsburg at the triangle formed by Wythe, Heyward, and Wallabout. This splinter of a building is rising up from a paved triangle which is created by the ancient paths surrounding it. A tiny three story house, it just seems… wow, in Williamsburg, every patch of soil will have apartments on it pretty soon. Wow.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Based on the number of entrances, this has to be a three unit building presumptively? A basement, a first floor, and then a duplex upstairs? Then again, the stairs on the Heyward (left) side might be a common entrance with internal stairs? Talk about an efficiency apartment. Sheesh. Check it out in google street view (this is a very new building, doesn’t even seem to have an address yet) to get an idea of the actual size of this lot – which is just bigger than five parking spots for cars.

Note: I did try to find a street address on this structure at NYC DOB, where I was easily defeated and gave up without trying too hard.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

By the way, there’s two cool Working Harbor Committee events going on this weekend you might want to attend.

Saturday, the 30th is a Port Newark excursion onboard the Circle Line with Captain John Doswell, Ed Kelly of the Maritime Association of Port of NY/NJ and Maggie Flanagan – Marine Educator South Street Seaport Museum. The boat boards at 10:30, sails at 11, and returns at 1:30. Click here for more info and tix.

Sunday, the 31st is the annual Great North River Tugboat Race and Competition. 10:00 AM – Parade of tugs from Pier 84 to the start line. 10:30 AM – Race starts – From South of 79th Street Boat Basin (near Pier I) to Pier 84. 11 AM – Nose to nose pushing contests and line toss competition. Noon – Tugs tie up to Pier 84 for lunch and awards ceremony. Exhibits, amateur line toss, spinach eating contest 1 PM – Awards ceremony. Tugs depart at about 2 PM.

For tix on the spectator boat, click here.

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relentless thing

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Heh. You may think I don’t know what you’re thinking, but you don’t know that I know what you’ve been told to think and by whom. Heh.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The south side of Williamsburg, where many bad things have occurred, was where a humble narrator recently found himself scuttling along when a series of very bad ideas began to infiltrate his thoughts. Perhaps it was brought on by the stares and pointing fingers offered by the crowds of Hasidic women and children, or their stifled gasps of horror and revulsion as one passed by. Perhaps it was merely remembrance of days gone by, and an iteration of North Brooklyn which only one such as myself seems to remember and acknowledge or admit.

from murderpedia.org

Known as the Williamsburg Strangler, Vincent Johnson, pleaded guilty to strangling five women and will serve life in prison without parole. Johnson’s 10-month killing spree began in August, 1999. The 31-year-old homeless crack addict admitted to the murders a week before prosecutors were to decide on whether or not to seek the death penalty.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

An uncomfortable sense that if one were to merely look through the cracked glass of a warehouse’s ground floor window, or notice what is going on beyond the aperture of an open doorway at some centuried factory building, a tidal wave of bad intentions and evil inclination would carry the observer into a world of unending and quite metaphysical horror. Intuition hints that evil is slumbering just beneath the surface, existing as some kind of psychic or spectral latency, and given enough time… It is simply best to focus on the pavement in this section of Brooklyn, and stray not from it, for there are things buried hereabouts that should remain unknown. Who can say what malevolent forces are combated, nightly, by Satmar Kabbalists or Palo worshipping Padrinos, hereabouts?

from wikipedia

Self-consciousness was characterized as an aversive psychological state. According to this model, people experiencing self-consciousness will be highly motivated to reduce it, trying to make sense of what they are experiencing. These attempts promote hyper vigilance and rumination in a circular relationship: more hyper vigilance generates more rumination, whereupon more rumination generates more hyper vigilance. Hyper vigilance can be thought of as a way to appraise threatening social information, but in contrast to adaptive vigilance, hyper vigilance will produce elevated levels of arousal, fear, anxiety, and threat perception.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Haven’t you ever wondered why, when they are constructing domiciles for their sect, the Hasidim in Williamsburg construct fortresses? They don’t do this in Monroe, or Borough Park or Midwood, which are other population centers in Brooklyn for the ultra orthodox. The senile and simple amongst them will tell you that Dibbuks rise from the Wallabout and East River when darkness falls, seeking to consume whosoever might be on the very streets which I was walking. Who can guess, all there is, that might be stalking the streets of the Boswijck Strand at night?

from wikipedia

Somatoparaphrenia is a type of monothematic delusion where one denies ownership of a limb or an entire side of one’s body. Even if provided with undeniable proof that the limb belongs to and is attached to their own body, the patient produces elaborate confabulations about whose limb it really is, or how the limb ended up on their body. In some cases, delusions become so elaborate that a limb may be treated and cared for as if it were a separate being.[

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Written by Mitch Waxman

August 19, 2014 at 11:00 am

lean notary

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Shots from all over the edge of a Long Island.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Over at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, a cargo ship was unloading a load of concrete manufacture supplies. The ship was performing the unloading process all by itself, with a series of swing out booms and cranes with mechanical buckets and shovels all busily employed. These shots were all gathered during the Solstice, when everything looks a bit ethereal, as the burning thermonuclear eye of god itself is in its position of annual primacy over the megalopolis.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

You can’t see the Williamsburg Bridge lit like this during winter time, as the angle of the burning thermonuclear eye of god itself is considerably less efficacious. My camera’s color and light meters were all over the place when I shot these, as what would normally be thought of as afternoon lighting lasted well past 6 pm – I think this particular shot was from around 6:30-7. Notice the wild angle that the light is falling at – longest day of the year light.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

This is from pretty late in the day, as the burning thermonuclear eye of god itself is finally slipping down past the shield wall of Manhattan. It depicts my beloved Newtown Creek, as shot from a familiar spot on the Pulaski Bridge. It’s a handheld shot, and is a bit grainy, but there was just something wonderful about the scene – couldn’t resist.

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There are two Newtown Creek walking tours coming up.

Saturday, June 28th, The Poison Cauldron
With Atlas Obscura, click here for tickets and more info.

Sunday, June 29th, The Insalubrious Valley
With Brooklyn Brainery, lunch included, click here for tickets and more info.

stress and hardships

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For a while there, I used to chew a lot of gum. These days, not so much.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As you may have guessed by this point, your humble narrator was all over Brooklyn in the last week. Pictured above is the view from (literally) DUMBO – Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Onramp. You may want to tell me that this drippy warren of pigeon shit stained and ankle turning cobbles is the very model of a modern major city if you like, but you can have it. It’s always dark down here and that’s precisely how you get a vampire infestation started. How’s that for a rumor – Did you know that there’s a Vampire problem in DUMBO? That would suck.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Vampires are silly, of course, and kind of passé. All the cool kids are into Lich’s these days, or so I’m told by the Moroccan kid downstairs. I did spot a tugboat floating by, but didn’t head down toward the ConEd substation at the waterfront to follow it. My path was not one of exploration, as mentioned earlier in the week, rather I was just walking from Red Hook to Astoria and keeping the river in sight the whole way. Next time, I’ll pick around the side streets and see what wishes to noticed.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One thing that I couldn’t help but notice was this CitiBike rack across the street from the Navy Yard, frozen in a three foot block of plow shaped ice. For some reason, this crystallized the period of turnover from Bloomberg to the current Mayor for me. Nothing cutting offered there, it just seems to be kind of emblematic. Good luck with the cold and snow today. Your humble narrator unhappily offers that a return to Red Hook, despite the blistering cold, is on his schedule for today – but I most assuredly will not be walking home.

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Written by Mitch Waxman

February 28, 2014 at 9:30 am

minute glimpses

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One last stop at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, this time with FDNY.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Over the years, there have been plenty of shots offered at this – your Newtown Pentacle – of the Marine 1 unit (and their boats) here at the Navy Yard, but all of those photos have been shot from the deck of a boat. For today’s post, here’s what you can see from the landward side.

from marine1fdny.com

Marine 1 was the first Marine Company formed in the City of New York. We have moved several times over the years (find out more on our history page). We are on call and respond to 560 miles of waterfront surrounding the City of New York. These waterways are among the busiest in the world, used for both shipping and enjoyment. Along with the other two fireboats and a total of four small rapid response boats, we protect the people of New York as well as those visitors who are just passing through.

Marine 1 is manned by a crew of seven; an officer, a pilot, two engineers, and two firefighters.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Like all boat yards, the winter is a great time to see what their “rolling stock” looks like, as a significant number of their boats are up on blocks awaiting the attention and repairs of ship wrights and mechanics. The large steel structure at the right of the shot is a boat crane, used for lifting vessels in and out of the water. Notice the fact that it’s in Fire Department red, and you’ll know who owns the thing.

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.

The US Navy took possession of PT 109 on 10 July 1942, and the boat was delivered to the Brooklyn Navy Yard for fitting.

This boat was sunk in the Pacific in August 1943 and became famous years later when its young commander, Lt. John F. Kennedy, entered politics.

At its peak, during World War II, the yard employed 70,000 people, 24 hours a day.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There was more than one SAFE boat on display at the pier, and these are vessels that I am just fascinated by. Every one of the “services” (Coast Guard, NYPD, even Park Police) has a version of this boat. It adheres to the modern procurement system followed by Federal authorities which describes individual vehicles as all purpose “weapons platforms” that can modified or customized, on a task specific basis, for a particular agency or entity. The Coast Guard has an M60 machine gun mount on theirs, NYPD has a towing system, the FDNY a water monitor (a fire hose).

from uscg.mil

Developed in a direct response to the need for additional Homeland Security assets in the wake of the September 11th terrorist attacks, the Defender Class boats were procured under an emergency acquisition authority. With a contract for up to 700 standard response boats, the Defender Class acquisition is one of the largest boat buys of its type in the world. The 100 boat Defender A Class (RB-HS) fleet began arriving at units in MAY 2002 and continued through AUG 2003. After several configuration changes, most notably a longer cabin and shock mitigating rear seats, the Defender B Class (RB-S) boats were born. This fleet was first delivered to the field in OCT 2003, and there are currently 357 RB-S boats in operation.

The 457 Defender Class boats currently in operation are assigned to the Coast Guards Maritime Safety and Security Teams (MSST), Maritime Security Response Team (MSRT), Marine Safety Units (MSU), and Small Boat Stations throughout the Coast Guard. With an overall length of 25 feet, two 225 horsepower outboard engines, unique turning radius, and gun mounts boat forward and aft, the Defender Class boats are the ultimate waterborne assets for conducting fast and high speed maneuvering tactics in a small deployable package. This is evidenced in the fact that several Defender Class boats are already in operation by other Homeland Security Department agencies as well as foreign military services for their homeland security missions.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Apologies are offered for the late posting today, for it seems that the heavy snowfall has affected the Time Warner Cable infrastructure which allows them to deliver Internet access to Newtown Pentacle HQ. The signal has been fading in and out for the last twelve hours or so, which I guess is kind of understandable given conditions here in the frozen zone.

Tomorrow, we go to the edge of the known world, see you then.

from wikipedia

The Yard has three piers and a total of 10 berths ranging from 350 to 890 feet (270 m) long, with ten-foot deck height and 25 to 40 feet (7 to 12 meters) of depth alongside. The drydocks are now operated by GMD Shipyard Corp. A federal project maintains a channel depth of 35 feet (10 m) from Throggs Neck to the yard, about two miles (3 km) from the western entrance, and thence 40 feet (12 m) of depth to the deep water in the Upper Bay. Currents in the East River can be strong, and congestion heavy. Access to the piers requires passage under the Manhattan Bridge (a suspension span with a clearance of 134 feet (41 m) and the Brooklyn Bridge (a suspension span with a clearance of 127 feet (39 m).

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Written by Mitch Waxman

January 22, 2014 at 12:16 pm

weird and alluring

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Relics and Ruins in today’s post.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The presence of the new DEP Sludge Boat Hunts Point, docked at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, was what got me out of Queens on a cold January day. The MTA introducing mid journey service alterations are what made me late. The weather was tolerable, but January and the East River are highly incompatible to one such as myself. A desire, for a strong cup of coffee, prevailed.

Vouched for, my escort allowed me a moment or two to observe that which lies within the ancient borders of this former ship yard, which once launched Battleships (thanks again R).

One thing that caught my attention, while waving the camera about, was a derelict rail transfer bridge.

from wikipedia

The United States Navy Yard, New York, also known as the Brooklyn Navy Yard and the New York Naval Shipyard (NYNSY), is a shipyard located in Brooklyn, New York, 1.7 miles (2.7 km) northeast of the Battery on the East River in Wallabout Basin, a semicircular bend of the river across from Corlear’s Hook in Manhattan. It was bounded by Navy Street, Flushing and Kent Avenues, and at the height of its production of warships for the United States Navy, it covered over 200 acres (0.81 km2).

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Often referred to as a gantry crane by most, the correct terminology (I’m told) is actually “a transfer bridge.” The rail guys don’t enjoy the rest of us using “Gantry,” so don’t go there.

The body of water which the Navy Yard is embedded into is Wallabout Bay, named for the vestigial Wallabout Creek. The specific section of the bay that this rusted relic abuts is actually Wallabout Channel, a canalized industrial channel with a CSO discharge on one side and the East River on the other. Supposedly, this canal roughly follows the path of a long ago Wallabout Creek, as it was known by a fellow named Joris back in the 1630’s.

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 full-time to the area, until conflicts with the tribes had been resolved.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

An impossible amount of effort, spent over multiple centuries, has been expended in this particular place and clustering in every corner are relics and reminders of the past. There isn’t a rusty screw on this property that’s not important, from the industrial archaeological point of view. In many ways, that’s the issue in ancient locations like the Brooklyn Navy Yard. Is this a museum, or an industrial complex?

The Navy Yard is actually both, but there are plenty of old skeletons lying about the place, like this rusted out 20th century rail transfer bridge.

from 1900’s “Annual Report of the War Department, Report of the Chief of Engineers Part 2“, courtesy google books

IMPROVEMENT OF WALLABOUT CHANNEL NEW YORK

Wallabout Channel consists of a waterway extending in a half circle around the inside of the island known as Cob Dock, which lies in Wallabout Bay, off the United States Navy Yard at Brooklyn, N.Y. and is a part of the United States property. Wallabout Channel connects with Wallabout Bay east and west of Cob Dock.

Wallabout Bay is a slight indentation of the East River at a point about opposite the navy yard.

Wallabout Channel is separated into two parts, called the east and west channels, by a stone causeway which connects the mainland with Cob Dock. The east channel which is about 2,000 feet long and from 250 to 350 feet wide and had available depths of from 15 to 20 feet along the line of deepest water, diminishing to 5 feet along the sides is the part now embraced in the approved project for improvement.

The mean range of tide is 4 5 feet

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The Brooklyn Navy Yard once hosted a small nation’s worth of rail infrastructure, connecting with the Brooklyn Eastern District Terminal and the Williamsburg waterfront tracks. Most of the internal Navy Yard rail, as far as I can tell, seemed to be about transporting materials from shore to ship and from place to place within the facility. I am no expert on this subject, so take a grain of salt with that statement, and click on the “trainweb.org” link below for the whole story.

Cryptically referred to as “Structure 713,” this railroad float bridge actually received a look, around a decade ago, from my pal John McCluskey – check his 2006 shots out here.

from trainweb.org

This float bridge was modified somewhat in 1983, when the overhead supported dual spans seen in the image above were replaced with a pontoon supported float bridge. Actually, there were two pontoon supported float bridges installed.

The first pontoon supported float bridge was a through plate girder type, believed to have been floated over from the Delaware, Lackawanna & Western Railroad’s Hoboken, NJ facility. However, this float bridge developed an as yet undetermined conflict before being use, necessitating a replacement. It is understood, that the float bridge or pontoon was too wide to between the gantry foundations, but this is unconfirmed.

The second pontoon supported float bridge, a pony truss would be installed instead, and the plate girder would be abandoned next to the bulkhead to the left. This pony truss float bridge was taken from the Brooklyn Eastern District Terminal’s North 9th Street location, following the closure of that facility in August 1983.

This float bridge was last used in 1995 by New York Cross Harbor RR for a subway car rebuilder that located to the Navy Yard.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Once upon a time, there were many locations on the western coast of Long Island wherein a rail car might find a spot to board a boat and head to points north and west, but 20-30 years ago the “powers that be” decided to turn their backs on industry, and expensive equipment like this float bridge was just allowed to rust away. Rail tracks were wrenched away from the ground to make way for residential real estate development, an action played out all across the greater harbor, and not just in Brooklyn and Queens.

from nyc.gov

At the time of its construction, the Brooklyn Navy Yard was one of six such yards commissioned by the United States Navy. In its initial years, the Brooklyn Navy Yard functioned primarily as a depot for supplies, but during the early 19th century, it served as the Navy’s primary shipbuilding and repair facility. Shipbuilding activity increased during the War of 1812, when the yard fitted out more than 100 naval vessels. During the mid-19th century, the growth of shipping and port activities in New York City further enhanced the Navy Yard’s development. During the Civil War, the Navy Yard served as a key depot for the distribution of stores and supplies to the Union fleet, and the Naval Laboratory prepared most of the medicines used by the Union Navy.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As mentioned in prior posts, your humble narrator attends a lot of meetings and presentations which are offered by the modern day “powers that be.” Other than their enormous affection for bicycling and an epic level of hubris, one of the topics often bemoaned by the planners and pundits is the inability suffered by modern industry to move their goods about by any means other than automotive truck. Serious investment in rail, and particularly rail to barge transportation, is something they’ll often mention as a curative for the congested nature of area roads.

from dlib.nyu.edu

The origins of the Brooklyn Navy Yard, officially known as the New York Naval Shipyard, date back to 1801, when the United States Navy acquired what had previously been a small, privately owned shipyard in order to construct naval vessels. Historic vessels constructed or launched at the Navy Yard include Robert Fulton’s steam frigate, the Fulton, the USS Arizona, the USS Missouri, and the USS Antietam. During the Civil War, the Navy Yard employed about 6,000 people. By 1938, it provided jobs for over 10,000 people. When the Defense Department ceased shipbuilding activities at the Navy Yard in 1966, 88 vessels had been manufactured at the facility. It had also grown to encompass 291 acres with 270 major buildings, 24 miles of railroad tracks, 23,278 linear feet of crane tracks, 18 miles of paved roads, 16,495 feet of berthing space, 9 piers, 6 dry docks, and 22 shops housing 98 different trades. In 1967, the Brooklyn Navy Yard was acquired by the City of New York and was converted for private commercial use.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

In modern times, the Navy Yard is run by a private entity, one which has embraced a somewhat asymmetrical viewpoint on how to best utilize the property. Movie production houses like Steiner Studios, warehousing businesses like BH Photo, even an urban farm operation are found within the gates of the Navy Yard. The friend who got me in through the security check has a small venture here, one which I’m going to describe in a future post at this – your Newtown Pentacle.

from panynj.gov

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PANYNJ) are preparing a NEPA Tier I Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) to evaluate alternatives to improve the movement of goods in the region by enhancing the transportation of freight across New York Harbor. Given the existing freight movement system, forecasted increases in demand translate directly into increased truck traffic in the freight distribution network. The region’s ability to serve its markets is increasingly threatened by its heavy reliance on trucking goods over an ageing and congested roadway network, while non-highway freight modes, particularly rail and waterborne, remain underdeveloped and underutilized.

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Written by Mitch Waxman

January 21, 2014 at 8:39 am

vital organs

with one comment

A boid at da Navy Yerd.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Happy Martin Luther King Jr. birthday day, a holiday officially observed on the third Monday in January, in compliance with the Federal “Uniform Monday Holiday Act.” King’s actual birthday was January 15th. As it’s a holiday, a single shot is offered today, captured at the Brooklyn Navy Yard just last week. This is looking southwest, towards lower Manhattan, depicting a seagull photo bombing my shot. I’ve got a couple of other interesting scenes which were observed at the Navy Yard, which will be examined at this – your Newtown Pentacle – in the coming week.

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