The Newtown Pentacle

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Archive for the ‘Flushing’ Category

rigidly classified

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Head east, old man.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

So, as the sky was still filled with milky clouds yesterday morning, my ambitions for a morning photo session were thwarted by ugly. Woke up early for nothing, essentially. Things cleared up nicely by the afternoon, which is when I found myself heading out to Flushing Meadow Corona Park in pursuance of shooting the iconic Unisphere. This is probably the most “iconic” thing that just screams “Queens” when you see it.

There you are. 

– photo by Mitch Waxman

While I was in the neighborhood, a few shots of the MTA’s Corona Yard were gathered as well, and there was an entire fleet of 7 train sets just sitting there in the sun.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Uneventful is how I’d describe my afternoon. Didn’t have to speak to anyone, or do anything annoying to please their delicate sensibilities. I was by myself, keeping my own counsel, and nobody was giving me advice or offering any tips on behavioral modification.

The way I like it. 


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Written by Mitch Waxman

July 19, 2018 at 1:00 pm

oddly enough

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

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Recent endeavor found one heading in the uncharacteristic direction of eastwards. The aperitif of my evening meal was found planning the journey from the rolling hills of Astoria via the IND R line, riding it out to the Roosevelt Avenue stop in Jackson Heights, where a transfer to the IRT Flushing Line would be enacted. The menu for the night offered but one entree, and it was called “Flushing.” The filthy black raincoat was flapping about as one entered the caverns below and traveled through a Queensican tunnel within a hurtling metal box stuffed to the gills with the huddled masses. My plan worked out, a lucky break in the big City.

Often has one opined that the 7 line is the most photogenic of NYC’s subway lines, and nobody has ever risen up to challenge the assertion to my face. She’s a looker, old Lucky 7, and always reminds me of that feeling you get when arriving home and smell a a roast chicken dinner hitting the table just as you unlock the door. She’s apple pie, the bees knees, but always remember that she’s complicated. The 7 ain’t no pushover, baby.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Whilst onboard the 7, assigning gender roles to subway lines and listening to an “old time radio” adaption of some Raymond Chandler style story on my headphones, one began to do what he does to pass the time whilst commuting. I set the camera to a fairly narrow aperture (f8) and fast shutter speed (1/1600th) and pointed it out the window. Focusing on a far away object, the “spray and pray” method of photographic endeavor was enacted. Wasn’t looking for anything in particular, mind you, other than a different point of view than you get at ground level.

The narrow aperture – by the way – involves an optical something called “hyperfocal distance,” the high shutter speed was to compensate for the movement of the train, and the ISO speed depended solely on the needs of exposure.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I’m fairly ignorant about Flushing, as has been mentioned more than once. I know the broad stroke stuff, of course. orchards, and remonstrances, and Flushing Creek, and the railroad. I’m just not “granular” about Flushing, which is where I like to be. Haven’t yet found my usual collection of oddities, occultists, or riddled occlusions in the historical record of Flushing that one such as myself thrives on. There’s got to be a necromancy story in Flushing history, I tell you.

Did you know that there have been several UFO sightings in Flushing Meadow Corona Park, going all the way back to the 1960’s? Y’see, that’s MY kind of thing.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

That’s Flushing Creek in the shot above, which makes Newtown Creek look like Coney Island in terms of free public access to the waterfront. This is one of the spots where the “House of Robert Moses” landed heavily and then just left. The highways, the park, the airport, even the Verrazano Bronx Whitestone Bridge on the horizon are the “House of Moses.”

The Flushing Creek (aka Flushing River) was the subject of three very early Newtown Pentacle posts from 2009. These postings describe what I saw while onboard a boat heading into the waterway – one, two, and three.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Arriving at the 7 line’s terminal stop at Main Street in Flushing, one scuttled through the throbbing masses of the downtown area. One thing I CAN tell you about Flushing is that it is packed to the gills with people, particularly in the zone around Main Street. Herds of humans staring into little rectangles of glowing glass stalk these parts, bolting forward in blind furies as soon as the street lights change, and if one is not wary he might become trampled by an incoming wall of meat.

My pal Dr. Jack, who is more conventionally known as Official Queens Borough Historian Dr. Jack Eichenbaum, lives nearby. On more than one occasion he’s pointed out how relatively narrow the sidewalks and pedestrian pathways here in Flushing are in comparison to the vehicle section of the public way. Add in a level of real estate industrial complex activity that rivals what’s happening in Long Island City, and you’ve got throngs of people and an actual pedestrian traffic problem.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

My eventual destination in Flushing was at a “Green Drinks Queens” get together at the Leaf Cafe rooftop bar.

Green Drinks Queens is being organized by my pal Erik Baard, and along a few of our mutual friends I’ve committed to attending and “doing” the events. Next one will be sometime in the first quarter of 2018, I think. I had to circulate amongst and probably annoy the folks who attended, acting as if I could carry a conversation with real people, and my main function was introducing people to other people. There was a pretty nice sized crowd, which was probably due to partnering up with the Greater Flushing Chamber of Commerce in producing the thing. The aforementioned Dr. Jack Eichenbaum was there, as were Dragon Boaters, and the “bicycle people” as well.

I did find a couple of minutes here and there to wave the camera about during the evening, and use that new mini tripod gizmo I mentioned a couple of days ago for a few long exposure shots looking westwards towards the Shining City of Manhattan.

Incidentally, I’ve been to precisely two of the new rooftop bar/lounges in Flushing, and the views from both have been absolutely spectacular – but causation is neither proof nor correlation. I now feel that I’ve a duty to visit more of them.


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.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

November 30, 2017 at 11:00 am

centuried landmarks

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

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The most consequential historical event of the 20th century in New York State had nothing to do with the building of great bridges, the digging of subway tunnels, nor the forging of business empires. In 1917, precisely one century ago, a seismic struggle that had begun with an upstate tea party in 1848 ended with the passing of a constitutional amendment in our Empire State acknowledging the right to vote for women.

Acknowledge is the correct word, by the way. The Constitution of our State or the Nation “grant” you nothing, they merely concede that individual rights are inherent and inalienable. When you boil it down, that’s the ultimate difference between “right and left” in politics. People on the “right” use the word “grant” whereas the left uses “acknowledge.” Women’s, and ultimately “universal,” suffrage was and is one of the political struggles which you don’t want to be on the wrong side of in the historical record. Women’s suffrage was passed nationally a couple of years later in 1919, and the world has never been the same, in a good way. A plurality of opinion and experience is required to have a functional Republic after all, and every citizen’s voice should carry the same weight whomever they are.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Also on this day, in 1894, what I refer to as “the great swindle” was voted into law, which resulted in the creation and consolidation of the City of Greater New York in January of 1898. This collossal mistake committed at the end of the 19th century rendered municipal supremacy unto Manhattan and eliminated its competitors in Richmond (Staten Island), Long Island City, and especially Brooklyn. It’s discussed in some detail in this 2011 post.

It’s when the term “Queens” was coined, and when Manhattan began to export its dirty industries, garbage, and sewage to the so called “outer boroughs.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

On a lighter note, and given that a humble narrator is deep diving into the recent American history of today’s date, today is the birthday (1854) of the legendary John Philip Sousa. Sousa was known as the “American March King” and pretty much set the compositional and performance standards which American marching bands since him have strived to achieve during parades and public events.

He also invented the Sousaphone, as the name of the musical instrument would imply. His best-known compositions include “The Stars and Stripes Forever” (National March of the United States of America), “Semper Fidelis” (Official March of the United States Marine Corps), and “The Liberty Bell” (which is the opening theme music for Monty Python’s Flying Circus).


Upcoming Tours and events

Exploring Long Island City, from Luxury Waterfront to Abandoned Factories Walking Tour,
with NY Adventure Club – Sunday, November 12th, 2:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.

Long Island City is a tale of two cities; one filled with glittering water-front skyscrapers and manicured parks, and the other, a highly active ground transportation & distribution zone vital to the New York economy — which will prevail? With Newtown Creek Alliance Historian Mitch Waxman details here.

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.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

November 6, 2017 at 11:00 am

general credence

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It’s National Frozen Yogurt Day, in these United States.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Not too much to tell you today, lords and ladies, other than to describe and share photos from a recent excursion which took me to Flushing for a social event. It’s on evenings like this, when I’m not consciously “working” that my pathologies are most fully on display. One just cannot stop taking pictures, as Queens is just too marvelous for words and nobody believes it until you show them. My journey from “Point A” in Astoria led me to Jackson Heights, where one secured a transfer from the sepulchral depths of the IND lines to the elevated IRT Flushing Line which carried me eastwards.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

My arrival in ancient Flushing, at the so called “Main Street” stop, coincided with the local gendarmes performing their duties. My assumption, based on observable behaviors, is that the small statured fellow in the shot above had overly indulged himself with intoxicating beverages. NYPD didn’t seem overly concerned about the situation, treating it with a characteristic world weariness and the laconic mannerisms one normally sees the City’s uniformed security forces display.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

At my destination, which was at a fairly new hotel that sits alongside the local precinct house which the fellows in the second shot would call “the office,” there was a rooftop deck – which despite frigidity – was available to visit and explore. The shot above was captured some nine stories up from Northern Blvd. in Flushing, and looks westwards across Queens towards the Shining City of Manhattan. That’s the Queensboro Bridge you see just to the right of center.


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Written by Mitch Waxman

February 6, 2017 at 1:00 pm

Posted in Flushing, Photowalks, Pickman, Queens, Subway

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rotarian path

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Burnt, literally and figuratively.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A humble narrator feels a bit swollen in the brain today, a sensation which is coupled with a mild case of sunburn. Yesterday found me onboard a boat for the Waterfront Alliance’s annual conference, and one took advantage of the fantastic weather as much as possible by being out on deck after I had captured the photos which the WA asked me to get. Accordingly, my skinvelope is exhibiting the characteristic radiation burns one might expect after exposure to the emanations of the burning thermonuclear eye of God itself.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As mentioned in earlier posts, a sudden flurry of activity has occurred in the last few weeks, which has been quite a distraction.

A recent event which I attended was here in Astoria – a visioning session conducted by the NYCEDC in pursuance of the BQX Street Car system as proposed by Mayor De Blasio – was actually quite interesting. I’m working on a fairly in depth series of posts exploring the idea, and next week I plan on walking the 16 mile route of the BQX to provide some sort of tangible visual documentation of the plan and route.

More on this one is coming.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Two events which I’m looking forward to will be occurring the weekend and week of the 21st – a walking tour of the Poison Cauldron of the Newtown Creek in Greenpoint with Atlas Obscura, and a boat tour of the Brooklyn waterfront with the Working Harbor Committee on the 26th.

Come with?

Upcoming Events and Tours

Saturday, May 21st at 3:30 p.m. –
A Return to The Poison Cauldron of the Newtown Creek,
with Atlas Obscura, in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. Click here for more details.

Thursday, May 26th at 6 p.m. –
Brooklyn Waterfront: Past & Present Boat Tour,
with Working Harbor Committee. Click here for more details.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

May 13, 2016 at 1:15 pm

heavy features

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A few shots from NYC’s most photogenic subway line.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Last week, a post was offered at this – your Newtown Pentacle – describing the 99th anniversary of the opening of the IRT Flushing Line’s Corona Extension. That’s the 11 stops between Queensboro Plaza and what’s now called 103rd Corona Plaza on the 7. My intention for that post was to show you every station, which I did in fact visit and shoot… but you know me… a week late and a dollar short.

Speaking of, I’m running a bit late today.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Large groupings of photos – in the case of the 7 line shots, I came home with something close to a thousand individual captures which have been boiled down to around 200 – create a sort of roadblock for me. They need to be treated as one continuous shoot during the developing process (I shoot in RAW format, so every shot gets a little love and attention). Procedurally, it works like this – an initial pass to cull out over and underexposed or just junk shots, followed by key wording and then cropping. At the end of the procedural stuff I finally get to do the “developing” stage which is the photoshop equivalent of what you film people used to do in the dark room when pulling prints. Once that’s done I can finally start spawning the final incarnations of the things you see, and upload them to the web for dissemination.

When you’re starting with a thousand individual images, this ends up taking a lot of time.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I ended up riding the 7 for several hours last week, between Willets Point and Queensboro Plaza. To me, at least, it was worth the effort.

Speaking of transit, tonight at 6:30 at Riccardos by the Bridge in Astoria, there’s a meeting to plan a centennial celebration for the Hell Gate Bridge which I intend on attending. Come with?

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Written by Mitch Waxman

April 26, 2016 at 1:00 pm

outer banks

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Flushing Cemetery, in Today’s Post.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

It seems that, back in 1853, the 20 acre Purchase Farm was bought and repurposed for usage as Flushing Cemetery. In 1875, the Whitehead Duryea Farm’s 50 acres were incorporated into the property, which more or less created the modern shape of the institution (there were a few minor additions added here and there). Flushing is a bit of the “unknown country” for me, and I usually just refer people to Queens Borough Historian and Flushing native Dr. Jack Eichenbaum when the subject arises.

Not too long ago, my pal Cav and I jumped into his “automobile” and went to check Flushing Cemetery out as the best curative for ignorance is investigation.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Cursory research reveal there to be around 41,000 people whose last address is here. There are several notables, including musicians, actors, and revered statesmen interred in Flushing Cemetery. The place was in a VERY good state of repair during my visit to the place during the last weeks of 2016’s winter.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The plots and sections we visited revealed a large number of German sounding names on them, and the dates on the monuments ran a gamut from the middle 19th to early 21st centuries.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The marble monuments showed the “rotting” sort of decay that is caused by acid rain and subsequent water infiltration, causing their carven screeds to be obscured, unreadable, or lost. You see this sort of thing in a more advanced form at Calvary Cemetery in Blissville, where certain monuments have the appearance of melted ice cream. Observationally, granite monuments seem to endure longer in NYC’s peculiar and polluted atmospherics.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The fellow who plotted out the cemetery back in 1853 was a Civil Engineer named Horace Daniels, and he seems to have embraced using a lot of curving paths. It’s likely there’s a ton of original design elements missing from the scene above – railings, statuary, plantings, etc.

Flushing used to be known for horticulture, “back in the day.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The Bowne plot was stumbled upon, specifically the Walter Bowne one. Yes, Bowne House, Bowne Street.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I won’t attempt to tell you anything else about the Bownes, as Flushing is outside of my area of expertise.

I just came here on a day trip, and would advise that you seek out and chat with Dr. Jack Eichenbaum. Dr. Jack can discuss the Bownes in greater detail and scope than I can. The East River and Newtown Creek coastlines are where my knowledge of Queens history is both detailed and well studied.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

“Quite Lovely” thought a humble narrator, upon noticing a surviving iron railing on the Bowne Plot, with its cast iron chains designed with the appearance of a tasseled rope.

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Written by Mitch Waxman

March 23, 2016 at 11:00 am

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