The Newtown Pentacle

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Archive for the ‘Court Square’ Category

anguished frenzy

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Cut and cover.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Let’s say that a humble narrator announces a tour of the fabulous Newtown Creek, or a boat excursion to some remote corner of the harbor, and I end up taking a bath on the endeavor and lose money. Did I take a risk that didn’t pay off? When I’m talking about my empty right hand pocket, do I pretend that the roll of hundred dollar bills and the bag of assorted gem stones maintained in my left pocket doesn’t exist? What if my left hand pocket assets included billions and billions of dollars of Manhattan real estate? Can I just confess that I didn’t market the tour properly, or manage its costs competently, or proceeded with the operation under some rose colored ideation that it would sell out and make me richer than Croesus? Did I employ the services of a bunch of incompetents who are related to or friends with various political party officials, using my project as a patronage mill?

Or do I just blame the audience, accuse them of trying to get one over on me, and then go further in debt to hire a small army of armed guards with marching orders to generate revenue via fines and tickets because I can’t be losing money unless someone is stealing from me? Of course not, I’m not the MTA.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The practice of blaming the ridership, accusing them of theft of service, pretending that your pocket is empty when in reality you are one of the biggest landlords in New York State… that’s the MTA. Need a few billion bucks? Maybe sell your office building on Jay Street in Brooklyn and move your operations to a less tony location in Nassau or Suffolk County, or maybe Westchester. I understand that Mount Vernon and Yonkers have several abandoned office parks which would be quite affordable to move your army of bureaucrats into. Still underfunded? How about selling off some of your investment properties in upper Manhattan while the real estate market is hot?

That, or you can just wait for the next video of a bunch of cops having a fist fight with teenagers over $2.75 to make the nightly news.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Me? I’d let the Wall Street guys have a go at MTA. Let the bean counters in there to look for redundancy and cost savings through consolidations. Funny thing is, this would barely be felt by the Union people who actually keep the system running. MTA loves publicizing the fact that some shlimiel on the LIRR collected an outlandish amount of overtime pay, but never discusses the number of empty suits populating the office cubicles at their Jay Street HQ. I’d like to smash the system over there, where the subways are still operated as if the IND and IRT were distinct. There’s multiple bus companies, LIRR and Metro North have virtually zero interoperability… it goes on and on. The MTA real estate and property manager folks operate in shadow, with virtually zero public awareness of their shenanigans.

If NYC is an organism, with DEP the liver and kidneys, MTA operates the venous system. Arteriosclerosis is something I’m familiar with. The best treatment, long term, for this sort of disease vector is lifestyle change.


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Come to the library!

In the Shadows at Newtown Creek – The Roosevelt Island Historic Society has invited me to present a slideshow and talk about my beloved Newtown Creek at the New York Public Library on Roosevelt Island, on November 14th, 6 p.m. Free event!

Click here for more information.!

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

November 7, 2019 at 11:00 am

spectacled stranger

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A few things to say, I have.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

To start with, this Saturday the 30th of March is the 110th anniversary of the opening of the Queensboro Bridge. It’s the official moment that you can stick a pin into for when Queens stopped being an agricultural backwater and began to develop into its modern form. Queens Plaza and the Sunnyside Yards occurred shortly thereafter, and then the subways began rolling and everything we know as Queens today began to get built up. If you’re crossing her on Saturday, tip your hat and offer the old girl a salutation. Extra karma points will be awarded if you say “Gustav Lindenthal.”

Lots of people cross that bridge everyday, unfortunately just last night that included the crew of loathsome sentience which calls itself the NYC EDC. They’re the ones who want to deck over the Sunnyside Yards. “Once in a lifetime opportunity,” they say. “Bring Queens into the 21st century” is also offered. Queens, and Queensboro made it just fine into the 21st century without the NYC EDC, although the bridge had to suffer the indignity of being renamed for Ed Koch. That wasn’t EDC’s fault, it was Bloomberg. The reason that the EDC was in Queens yesterday is sort of Bloomberg’s fault, as he elevated Dan Doctoroff to a position of influence and is a fellow whom our current Mayor (who is supposed to hate Bloomberg, right?) is under the sway of. Don’t forget, it was Doctoroff who kicked off this whole “deck the yards” thing in 2014.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Two evenings last week, I found myself in “private” meetings with members of EDC’s planning teams. Other folks were in the room, of course. We discussed open space and green space, transit and sewage, design and architecture. I insisted that our nomenclature for the conversations omitted usage of the word “will” in favor of “if” when referring to the possibilities of this project of theirs. There’s a few careers riding on this one, for the well bred and extremely well educated power brokers at the “public benefit” corporation called the New York City Economic Development Corporation. I’d point out, and I did during the meetings, that EDC doesn’t have the greatest track record. Amazon, the Staten Island Ferris Wheel, Brooklyn’s Bush Terminal… the list goes on and on.

At every juncture, I reminded them that I actually thought highly of the intellect and skills and pure moxy of their team, but that I view them as nothing more than an invading army sent in from Manhattan to destroy my home.

For some reason they were wounded by this statement. I guess that like any other abusive parent or bully, EDC wants you to thank them for and enjoy your beatings. It’s in your own best interest, as they’re doing this to help you, right?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I’ve told EDC multiple times that they will not be allowed to do to Queens what they’ve done to Manhattan. For any of y’all EDC people reading this, I haven’t even gotten started yet on ensuring that it won’t. You’ll hear drums, first. Then the bagpipes. That’s when you’ll know it’s officially begun. You should pick some other community to fuck with, or wait for us to die out. There’s a line here in Queens, the same one you stepped on with Amazon, and my neighbors and I are standing on the other side of it.

I’m going to be conducting a free walk in LIC on the 30th of March, this Saturday afternoon. The Sunnyside Yards project has roared back to life in the aftermath of the Amazon debacle, and since the Manhattan people are going to all sorts of effort to get this thing done… Click here for details on the “Skillman Corridor” walk.


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

March 27, 2019 at 12:00 pm

ritualistic innocence

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So off schedule these days…

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Apologies offered for inconsistent timing on these posts, but my rather nocturnal lifestyle these days means that I’m constantly out of sync with the rest of the world. What can I tell you, I’m basically living on Asia Pacific time. The thing in the megalith doesn’t care, it just laughs instead. Mortals and their foibles, huh?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There’s a whole lot going on, including a free walking tour or two coming up that I’m sealing up the details on, and which I’ll let you know about later on in the week. Meanwhile, I’m wandering around with the camera while you’re sleeping, capturing some of the wonders of Long Island City before they’re swept away.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Tomorrow, something a bit different, which I got the other night in Maspeth. Meanwhile, why not buy a photo book at the link below and help me support myself? I’ve got bills to pay, y’know.


“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.

noticed tendency

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Court Square, Long Island City

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A humble narrator has nothing new to show you this week, so archived shots are on offer. Fear not, as you’re receiving this, one is running about the City whilst the camera is clicking and whirring away. In the meantime, enjoy yourself, as it’s probably a lot later than you think.

Circus peanuts are not good candy and should be abolished.


“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

March 12, 2019 at 11:00 am

cyclopean portent

with 5 comments

Single shot today, from LIC.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Running a bit behind schedule today, and you lords and ladies suffer for it as a single shot from the Thomson Avenue Viaduct greets you today. This cold snap has absolutely shut my operation down in the last week, I tell you, and I’m hurting for new shots to show you. The good news is that next week promises to be more climatologically agreeable, and my schedule is packed with things to do that take place in interesting places, so…

Back tomorrow…


“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

March 7, 2019 at 2:30 pm

inquire what

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Things they didn’t tell Amazon.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The only definitive statement that you can make is about something that’s already happened, which is why I spend a lot of my time thinking about the past in pursuit of informing my journey through the present and into the future. Since the Mayor and Governor seem to have found common ground on the subject of Amazon coming to LIC, and announced their intentions to offer the company a kings ransom in tax breaks and other incentives to base their second HQ here in Long Island City, on a huge campus located adjacent to the so called Anable Basin, a lot of people have inquired as to my positions and thoughts on the matter. Dire implication of pending doom, or a bright future?

Let’s get to it then. The shot above looks down 44th drive, towards the East River and Manhattan.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Above is a fire insurance map section of Anable Basin’s (labeled “canal”) neighborhood in 1919, depicting the land use of one century ago. If you click it, the link will carry you over to Flickr, where a larger incarnation of the thing can be zoomed into for deeper perusal. The Standard Oil properties above were an operation called DeVoe, which I understand to have primarily been a canning and packaging facility for petroleum products and chemical byproducts that were refined at Standard’s several refineries to the east and south, and notably those along the nearby Newtown Creek.

The shots below depict scenes more recent, 2009 specifically.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Back when I first started wandering around LIC with a camera, I really didn’t understand the things I was looking at nor the complicated web of connections and tangents that were directly in front of me. Often I would gain a moment of insight, saying “that looks like it might be important to get some shots of,” as is the case with these now decade old shots. At the time, the land on the southern side of Anable Basin was an open field of post industrial rubble and construction equipment, fenced in with gated entrances that displayed signs saying “NYS DEC Brownfield Remediation site.” It took better than two years, and millions of dollars (and a bit of epic legal trickery) before environmental officialdom could sign off on Rockrose Development’s plans for the site.

The shots above and below are from December 6th in 2009, and were presented in a Newtown Pentacle post describing the Brownfield Remediation project on the southern side of Anable Basin which the following text was a part of:

9.5 acres, and owned by Rockrose Development (which has recently transformed itself into another corporate entity), this is the future home of four residential towers. As of April 2008, some 80,000 tons of contaminants had been removed from the site at a cost of $31 million. Standard Oil sited an oil refinery here in the 1860’s, and the soil is contaminated with Benzene, Petroleum Distillates, and volatile organic chemicals whose detected presence – in trace amounts- would cause the regular NYFD to evacuate and call in their HAZMAT teams.

Additionally, generations worth of untreated sewage and industrial pollution swirl and mix with the water table of the East River in the deeply cold gravels and blackened mud beneath the place. Sources also reveal that the “clean fill” being used to replace the contaminated substrates that were removed in the remediation process emanate from the tunnel being bored out from under the East River by the “East Side Access” project.

Additionally, the photo directly below is from a bit earlier in 2009, June 29 to be specific, and depicts the dozens and dozens of steel drums that contaminated material which had been removed from the ground in the first pass was stored in onsite.

If you live in that large residential tower in LIC that’s found at 45-45 Center Blvd, well… guess what?

They didn’t mention this, or any of the other inconvenient environmental truths about LIC, to you before you moved in? They’re probably not revealing it to Amazon or their employees either.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Looking north at the corner of 44th drive and 11th street, there’s a light industrial zone that has somehow survived having the real estate folks picking away at it over the last couple of decades. It’s been nibbled in at the edges, which I’d define as being 23rd street to the east, the Queensboro Bridge to the north, East River to the west, and 44th drive to the south. It’s an area composed of truck based warehouse businesses, light manufacturing, food preparation, construction contractors. 11th street’s southern end terminates in the onramp to the Pualski Bridge, the gateway to North Brooklyn.

Amazon’s presence will make this area “the next big thing,” development wise, and its presence will definitely heat up the already red hot real estate market of North Brooklyn as well as the similarly fevered one here in Queens. Don’t be surprised if this industrial zone is remade into Manhattan style office buildings and hotels. Also, don’t be surprised if nearby civic groups welcome it, in return for crumbs from Amazon’s table, and the hotels become homeless shelters after a year or two.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

That’s 44th Drive’s intersection with Vernon Blvd. which will all be part of the Amazon campus. Don’t ask how many feet of water were sloshing about here during Hurricane Sandy, or about the complaints often offered to the City DEP by residents about sewage backups that occur during ordinary storms. Certainly, don’t tell Amazon about it.

Until quite recently the goal of the Real Estate Industrial Complex, as led by the NYC EDC, was to develop this intersection as high density residential, and to give the government owned land away to a developer for the price of a handshake. Don’t worry about the developer, they’re the ones that are going to build the Amazon campus. They also got a sweetheart deal on a property adjoining Newtown Creek where they’ll be allowed to erect four twenty story tower apartment buildings. Win, win!

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The huge NYC owned building at the corner of Vernon Blvd. and 44th drive is officially a NYC Dept. of Education facility. Currently, it houses some 1,000 plus employees of the Office of Pupil Transportation (the School Bus people, who are coincidentally having their $1.2 Billion operation investigated by the FBI under charges of rampant corruption), the Division of School Facilities (responsible for construction of new schools and maintenance of existing structures), and the Office of Food & Nutrition Services (School Lunch people, who feed around 1.1 million students a day).

Now, if you’re someone like me (which is unlikely), when you look at 44-36 Vernon Blvd., you don’t see the Department of Education building, instead you see a late 1930’s Work Projects Administration built City of New York Department of Purchase and Bureau of Stores warehouse. Construction began in 1938, if you’re the curious type. I am.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Continuing west down 44th drive, you encounter a lonely and sort of scary street. While these shots were being captured, there was one automobile being utilized as a boudoir, and in another there was a group of teenagers who were experimenting with cannibinoids. A few workers sidled past me and shot “the hairy eyeball” in my direction.

This section of 44th drive, found between Vernon Blvd. and the East River, is a little scary at night but no different than many of the streets you find in the peninsular sections of Hunters Point.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Hunters Point is the actual name of this area, not Long Island City. Long Island City, as it were, encompassed a vast area which included parts of Middleburgh or LIC Heights (modern day Sunnyside), all of Astoria, Blissville, Hunters Point, Dutch Kills, and Ravenswood. If you live west of Woodside Avenue or 51st street and your zip code starts with a “111,” you live in the former municipality of Long Island City, which was absorbed into the City of Greater New York along with the rest of Queens back in 1898. Referred to at the time by citizens of what became the outer boroughs as “The Great Mistake,” Manhattan’s interests have been primal ever since.

Ravenswood, as a note, is the neighborhood on the other side of the Queensboro Bridge as you move northwards along Vernon Blvd., and Astoria starts somewhere between 35th and 34th avenues.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Roughly analogous to 5th street, the DOE building has a huge parking lot for its employees which will also become a part of the Amazon campus. This view looks north, through the open gates of the facility towards an empty property. Said property had a building on it which was demolished in anticipation of real estate development, but funding for the project fell through and it was allowed to grow wild with self planted vegetation.

The foundation of the former building filled in with rain and flood water, and the site is colloquially referred to as “Lake Vernon.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Looking south along 5th street, which is hardly a street and more of an access drive that’s one block long, is the intersection with 45th avenue (labeled as “Division Street” in the map at the top of the post). The area is defined by a large NYC DOT yard, one devoted to roadway resurfacing and asphalt spreading operations. When manufacturing declined as an economic sector in NYC during the 1960’s and 70’s a lot of formerly valuable waterfront property owners ended up either in bankruptcy or unable to pay their taxes, and the City ended up foreclosing on or just taking over their abandoned properties. In order to bring some sort of economic life to these depressed post industrial zones, and free up more valuable land in Manhattan, NYC began to base its’ service fleets in these centrally located areas.

Starting in the 1990’s, these waterfront lots and parcels began to be considered valuable again, but the City couldn’t afford to relocate them elsewhere as real estate valuation had risen. All over the Brooklyn and Queens waterfronts, you’ll find facilities like this DOT yard or the DOE building across the street. The so called “movement” to replace the jails complex on Rikers Island has nothing to do with “mercy” or “justice,” and everything to do with resiting municipal facilities operated by DEP, DSNY, NYPD, FDNY, and so on from valuable parcels in hot real estate zones.

You can’t build tower apartments on Rikers, it’s near an airport and very far from mass transit other than buses.

You can build one and two story garages and warehouses for City owned vehicle and equipment fleets, though, ones which will be safe from prying eyes at the end of a causeway bridge in East Elmhurst.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Continuing towards the waterfront, you encounter a recreational pier with seating and benches, after passing by the entrance to an “eating and drinking” establishment called the Anable Basin Sailing Bar and Grill. It’s seems to be a pretty popular destination during the summer, that bar and grill. Anable Basin itself is on its southern flank, which is bordered by that benzene laden construction site and the tower building built atop it on the other side of the canal.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Looking at the waterfront properties, from that recreational pier, which the Amazon Campus will be observed from by residents of Manhattan’s Upper East Side and visitors to Roosevelt Island’s Four Freedoms Park. The building at the right of the shot is one which our Mayor would likely celebrate the demolition of – the Waters Edge restaurant. The former owner of the restaurant testified to Federal Prosecutors about rampant political corruption at City Hall, and directly about his “pay for play” interactions and transactions with the Mayor himself.

Mayor De Blasio seems to have escaped charges “by the hair of his chiny chin chin” by exploiting the technicalities of election law. Read about it here.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

At the East River and looking south towards the NYC Ferry LIC north dock near the Pepsi sign, the aforementioned brownfield cleanup area, Anable Basin, and the LED countdown clock ticking away the remaining number of days that we still need to call Donald Trump “President.”

One of the many decisions undertaken by the Trump Administration which I disagree with was the firing of U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, who was in the process of investigating and tightening the prosecutorial noose – which jailed Sheldon Silver and Dean Skelos – on our Mayor and on our Governor as well. Bill De Blasio and Andrew Cuomo actually owe their reputations and freedom to Donald Trump firing Bharara, which would be an ironic fact at any other time.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Looking north along the East River coastline past Water’s Edge, Lake Vernon, a large Con Edison training facility, and the gas powered electric generation turbines found nearby the Queensboro Bridge and just south of the Queensbridge NYCHA houses.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The shot above looks up 44th drive, towards the Sapphire Megalith of Long Island City, and the Court Square area. It’s literally the other direction of the first shot in this long post.

The megalith, which has been occupied by Citi Group since it opened some 26 years ago, will be the temporary home of Amazon’s HQ2 until construction on the LIC campus winds up sometime in the middle 2020’s.

So? What do I think about Amazon coming to LIC? I still haven’t formed an intelligent opinion or gleaned any nuance, but now I can intelligently say what used to be and is here, and why. Now, you can say that too. What do you think about this subject? What else hasn’t Amazon been told by the snake pit of New York politics?


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Written by Mitch Waxman

November 29, 2018 at 11:00 am

intervening hours

with 2 comments

Friday has come at last, whew.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As I mentioned yesterday, my stated desire to get high in LIC received a few answers, and one of them presented an opportunity to access the roof decks at one of the titanic new residential towers in the Queens Plaza area. One was offered a fairly limited period of time in which to get busy with the clicking and whirring, as my friend’s generosity was limited by him having preexisting plans for later in the evening.

Pictured above is the zone found around and about the Court Square section, with the Sapphire Megalith at center.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Looking southeast towards Brooklyn, that’s the Kosciuszcko Bridge and the Brooklyn Queens Expressway at the top of the shot, and the dark mound just in front of it is Calvary Cemetery in the Blissville section. The bright line is the Long Island Expressway, and in the foreground is the Degnon Terminal nearby the Dutch Kills tributary of Newtown Creek.

This is how City Planners see things, I suspect. Neat little blocks and distanced “zones” devoid of the complications or existential realities of humanity. Personally, I spend so much time scratching around in the filthy substrate and granular truths of these places, this point of view is like an alien reality to me. Saying that, even all the way up here, there are construction cranes visible.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Looking west and slightly northwards towards Manhattan and the Queensboro Bridge, the Queensbridge NYCHA houses are filling the right hand side of the image and looking for all the world like charcoal briquettes on a BBQ.

Have a nice holiday weekend, lords and ladies, and I’ll be back Monday with something completely different at this – your Newtown Pentacle.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

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