The Newtown Pentacle

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Archive for the ‘Court Square’ Category

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.

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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

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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?


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

November 29, 2018 at 11:00 am

intervening hours

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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

momentus talk

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Thanks…

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Happy Thanksgiving to all, and to all an indigestion free night.

Shocking news arrived last night, when news of the death of State Senator Jose Peralta at age 47 arrived in my inbox. Sen. Peralta was a really nice guy, and 47 is way too young for anyone to check out. Condolences are offered to his family.

Pictured above is the view that the Amazon folks will be enjoying as they work late into the night in LIC. More on that next week.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

My clarion cry to “get high in LIC” was answered by my pal Joe, who lives in one of the tower buildings that have recently risen in the Queens Plaza area. Pictured above is a birds eye view of the same Queensboro Bridge pictured in the first shot, and the intertwining arterial roadways that feed into the span. Unfortunately, the Newtown Creek aerial POV I’m hungry for wasn’t available from this vantage point, but there you are.

A couple of others who live a bit further to the south have responded to my request, and I’m hoping to get the shots I want this weekend. Cross your fingers.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Same point of view, which is close to sixty stories above Queens, but is a bit more zoomed in. Tomorrow, I’ll show you some more of what I saw from up on high.

Happy Thanksgiving, lords and ladies.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

November 22, 2018 at 1:00 pm

horribly disturbed

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Don’t get fooled again… yeah…

– photo by Mitch Waxman

All anyone I talk to can talk about in Western Queens, at the moment, is the fall of Boss Crowley. “It’s a great day for Democracy” is what one elected official who often stood defiant in front of the Congressmen told me the other day. Shock waves are the best way to describe the sensation, as political hopefuls and operatives that had “paid it forward” into the Queens Machine realign themselves and attempt to figure out where the new center of gravity is. I can tell you who the big winner in all this derring do is, and it’s not Alexandria Ocasio Cortez (whom I’ve met, and she does live up to the hype).

The big winner of the Crowley primary is Bill De Blasio. Allow me to explain my perceptions on this…

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Boss Crowley was in league with several of the other borough honchos, notably the Democrat clubs and Civic organizations in the Bronx and Queens. The former boss of North Brooklyn, Vito Lopez, notably went down in flames a few years ago. Brooklyn’s centers of political power moved south to Borough Hall and to South, and Eastern Brooklyn. Staten Island is its own political entity, and power over there is centered around the Republican rather than Democratic Party. Manhattan is fairly weak, in terms of organization and turning out the votes, I’m told. What that all means has little to do with the public face of Government that you see on TV and read about – rather “power” is about who gets to be made a Judge, or County Clerk, or even the Speakers of the New York State Assembly and NYC Council and by whom. “You can have Corey Johnson or Carl Heastie, but I get to name who executes Estate Law in Queens, and name two Deputy Commisioners to Sanitation,” or elevate some promising new player from a connected family to become an assistant District Attorney in Brooklyn.” Ever wonder what the connection between David Patterson, Elliot Spitzer, and Anthony Weiner is? They were all protégés of Senator Chuck Schumer, and all were methodically brought down by public sex scandals. Who “outed” them? Good question, and I’ve always wondered if it involved a certain ex-President setting up shop in Harlem, and a former First Lady becoming a Senator. The answer doesn’t actually matter, what matters is that room at the top of the ash heap was made by clearing dead wood from somebody else’s vertical silo of political patronage. With Boss Crowley moved out of the picture, there’s now a vacuum of high level power in Queens, and the Bronx has been demoted as they’ve lost a powerful partner. Brooklyn’s political clubs are now elevated in position and importance, and so are Staten Island’s. A struggle for political primacy in Queens is beginning, and there’s only one unifying “Boss” left for NYC’s elites to gather around and trade horses.

That’s the Mayor.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A humble narrator, of course, has no skin in this game. Other kids collected baseball cards, I collected politician cards which had all their legislative stats on the back. I’ll trade you a rookie Donald Manes for a mint 2014 Gregory Meeks, nobody has ever said except me. The next election to watch the hijinks for is Gubernatorial in nature, as the Dark Prince of Albany uses all of his art and craft to crush a challenger rising from his southern left flank, with said challenger a firm ally and agent of the Mayor. Additionally, the “lefties” of Queens have already begun realigning their allegiances with City Hall. The “read” must be that since Ocasio Cortez was to the left of Crowley, the best way to realign themselves would be in that direction. They’re missing the truth, which is that just like Hillary Clinton, Joe Crowley ran a crappy (primary) campaign and failed as a Candidate. The Mayor is already capitalizing on this, as is the south Brooklyn political establishment that he’s the representative of. Thing is, he’s a fake “leftie,” and is in fact a neoliberal corporatist and “Gentrifier in Chief” who seeks to maintain the system exactly as it is right now (as he is at the top of said system), just with higher graduated income taxes on about two percent of the total population to pay for his unending expansion of government (20% in six years!) and to continue his spending spree. The Mayor has actually been a godsend for one particular group, whom upstate Republicans present as a boogie man to their constituencies while raising funds.

Meanwhile, as the left continues to eat its own arm, the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer.

All of this is just one idiot’s opinion, take it for what it’s worth.


Upcoming Tours and Events

June 30th – The Skillman Avenue Corridor
– with Access Queens.

Starting at the 7 train on Roosevelt Avenue, we will explore this thriving residential and busy commercial thoroughfare, discussing the issues affecting its present and future. Access Queens, 7 Train Blues, Sunnyside Chamber of Commerce, and Newtown Creek Alliance members will be your guides for this roughly two mile walk.
Skillman Avenue begins at the border of residential Sunnyside and Woodside, and ends in Long Island City at 49th avenue, following the southern border of the Sunnyside Yards for much of its path. Once known as Meadow Street, this colonial era thoroughfare transitions from the community of Sunnyside to the post industrial devastations of LIC and the Dutch Kills tributary of Newtown Creek.

Tickets and more details
here.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

June 29, 2018 at 1:00 pm

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