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Empty Corridor.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Were it not for political maneuvering and the inertia for which a certain NYS authority whose mandate involves metropolitan transit is famous for, you’d have some open space in Long Island City to visit during this interminable quarantine, namely the Montauk Cutoff. The cyclopean wall on the left hand side of the shot above supports a set of abandoned railroad tracks which several of my chums and I have been trying to turn into a public space for years at this point. Ennui abounds.

One found his way down here last week, to an area of LIC which I often refer to as “the empty corridor.” When the Long Island Expressway and the Queens Midtown Tunnel were installed here, eight decades of blight began. Devil’s advocate, though, says that the chemical and pharmaceutical factories, as well as the lead foundry and varnish plant which the LIE displaced weren’t exactly “not blight” but at least there were a lot of people with jobs hereabouts as opposed to a lot of people driving back and forth to office jobs in Manhattan.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The Empty Corridor is pure and utilitarian. Not a single thought was given to anything natural or “normal.” Anything green growing here is due to shrinking maintenance budgets on behalf of City and State authorities. It’s been decades since they sprayed herbicide, or sent in teams of arborists to clear cut the self seeded trees. Rodents walk around freely here, much to the joy of the residents of a nearby feral cat colony.

Illegal dumping is art. The streets are broken pavement, shattered automotive glass collects along the crushed curbs like rainwater, the air smells of burning wire insulation and automotive exhaust. The buzzing sound of failing electrical transformers echoes out from the manholes, infrequent local traffic rockets past at incredible speed, and half of the street lights are burned out.

I love it so.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

When this whole “social distancing” thing started up, I thought of this particular scene and place.

The immense street level loneliness of places like the Empty Corridor belie their actuality. Whereas in my mind, I was totally alone with my personal biome, in reality I was surrounded by crowds of people. The Long Island Expressway is descending into the Queens Midtown Tunnel at the left of the shot, and just beyond the tunnel is the population center of Long Island City at Hunters Point. On the right is the New York City Housing Authority Warehouse, and most of the street parking is occupied by their fleet of trucks. Biome wise, therefore, there’s probably a couple million people’s worth of cooties floating around in the air down here, or they’re stuck to some greasy smear.

I’m going to get the Montauk Cutoff done, as we need some more open space. Or, at least I’m going to reduce the number of streets in Western Queens without sidewalks. There’s no sidewalk on the left side of the street in the shot above, for instance.

Note: I’m writing this and several of the posts you’re going to see for the next week at the beginning of the week of Monday, May 25th. My plan is to continue doing my solo photo walks around LIC and the Newtown Creek in the dead of night as long as that’s feasible. If you continue to see regular updates as we move into April and beyond, that means everything is kosher as far as health and well being. If the blog stops updating, it means that things have gone badly for a humble narrator.


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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.

current crimes

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There’s always the 7 train.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Owing to the sudden departure of my mac, and the associated digital tumult, these shots are a few weeks old, so apologies. This seems to be the way my life operates – just when I managed to get a healthy rhythm going after the smashed toe drama ended, another disaster occurs. One should be out and about this evening, recording the sort of amazing landscape which Western Queens offers, but as far as right now and today goes – it’s a few archive shots of the 7 train coming and going in LIC.

Above, a Manhattan bound train is descending into the Hunters Point Avenue station off of the steel causeway that carries it over the Sunnyside Yards and the MTA’s Arch Street train maintenance facility.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Also at the Hunters Point 7 station, this IRT Flushing line train is Queens bound, and was the one which a humble narrator boarded on his way to Queensboro Plaza. Let’s face it, there’s a lot of “math” we New Yorkers do when using the MTA system. The particular equation one such as myself often calculates, which should simply be about the fastest way home, factors in “pain in the ass” variables. I will avoid a transfer at Herald Square at all costs, for instance, as the station sits on a hellmount. That’s why it’s always so hot there.

On this particular afternoon, sometime last month as I recall, I had just conducted a walking tour of Skillman Avenue for a group of Sunnyside Yards Deck opponents. It was fairly chilly out, and the 7 would carry me to Queensboro Plaza where I could transfer to an N line train which would turn up 31st street and deposit me on Broadway. A short walk would then find me walking in the door to HQ. I could have ridden the 7 out to Jackson Heights, and transferred at Roosevelt Avenue to an R train which would stop a few blocks closer to HQ, but that could have ended up being a “pain in the ass.” Especially so on the weekends.

Remember, the “A” in MTA is for “adventure.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Beside the “pain” factor, one of my absolute favorite shots in the entire subway system is that of the 7 pulling into Queensboro Plaza with the Silvercup Bakeries sign behind it. What’s a ten block walk as compared to a two block walk when there’s a photo worth taking involved with the former?

Pfagh.


“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 5, 2020 at 1:30 pm

efflorescent powder

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Thursday, it affects us all.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One encountered this beauty over in LIC last week, a burned out vehicle which the coppers had parked nearby the Queens Midtown Tunnel. Some other bloke was examining the wreck at the same time I was, but we didn’t talk. I prefer it that way. Without loneliness and isolation, I just can’t be happy.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A singular Christmas party is all that remains on my calendar for 2019, and then I’m free of having to pretend any sort of civility for a couple of weeks. This is awesome sauce, and what with the broken toe no longer broken (mostly healed, but still hurts) I can finally get back to wandering the concrete devastations of Newtown Creek like some mendicant in the new year.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

On my way home from LIC, I found myself at the Queensboro Plaza 7/N/W platform. The fog which had defined that particular day had broken and transitioned to a light rain. As is my habit, as the trains were coming and going – I was waiting for an N – the camera got waved around. I’m fond of this shot of the 7.


“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

December 19, 2019 at 1:00 pm

flung carelessly

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High flying, somewhat minimalist Wednesday is here.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Last week I had to conduct a walking tour of Newtown Creek, specifically my Infrastructure Creek tour, for Atlas Obscura. It was on that crazily misty day, and luckily I was able to conclude the thing before the fog broke and turned into a drenching rain. The walking tour ends at the waterfront in Hunters Point, where the final gyrations of the big real estate build out which have occupied the area for the last 15 or so years is playing out. Lots and lots of tower cranes are installed, and are busily at work on the new apartment buildings which will complete the Hunters Point South development.

These really are incredible machines, these cranes. Big, too.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A smaller, and self propelled, crane was available for inspection nearby the tower crane and construction site pictured at top. This would be one heck of a ride, in my eyes, and getting the weekly shopping and laundry chores up the stairs would be vastly simplified. I imagine it would be difficult to park, however.

Hey, are there any advocate groups out there fighting for dedicated “crane lanes”?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

This kind of fire hydrant has lived up to its design specifications exactly. The old school hydrants with the fluting and rounded tops are directly welded onto the pipe in the ground, and when they get knocked over by a truck or whatever, DEP has to shut off the main feeding the entire line. These new school ones, on the other hand, are connected to a valve above the pavement, and designed to pop off the pipe when a truck or car backs into them. All DEP has to do is shut the valve and file a work order for a crew to come and reconnect the hydrant.

Modern design, huh?


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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

December 18, 2019 at 2:00 pm

loosely paved

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Tower Town, and wandering through it.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A visceral need to “do my thing” will sometimes drive one out in search of interesting things to point the camera at. More often than not, I’ll find myself in Long Island City. Given the less than enjoyable climate offered in the last month or two, this activity has been curtailed, so whenever the universe is cooperative I’m out for a scuttle. After a rather busy recent day, I hopped on the train and took it to the Court Square stop to save myself some sweaty walking, emerging from the underground at the foot of the Sapphire Megalith. A short scuttle was engaged upon, and soon I was down at the East River waterfront.

Have to say, I’m really missing the old days when LIC was a desolate and unpopulated wasteland at night.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

At Hunters Point South Park, these two old utility poles are embedded in the shoreline. Decorative, they have the look and feel of former railroad signal poles, but I can’t say for certain if that’s what they actually are or not.

I got “fancy” with this one, setting up the tripod and using an ND filter in pursuance of a long exposure. That’s why the water has that weird misty look. The lavender cast isn’t from the filter, instead this shot was actually from the end of my walk in LIC, about an hour after the first and second were shot. Sunset does lovely things, colorimetric wise, to the East River.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Not sure where I’m going next, but LIC is always my “go to” when I’m looking for someplace that offers long horizons and interesting views. The H shaped thing blocking the Empire State Building is called the Copper Building, and you can see one of the hideous Hudson Yards buildings ruining ESB’s silhouette just behind it.

Doesn’t Hudson Yards look just like space borne debris that rained down and embedded itself on the west side of 34th street?


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Upcoming Tours and Events


Saturday, July 13, 10 a.m. – 12 p.m.

“Exploring the East River, From General Slocum Disaster
to Abandoned Islands” Boat Tour w NY Adventure Club

Onboard a Soundview route NYC Ferry – Join New York Adventure Club for a two-part aquatic adventure as we explore the General Slocum disaster, and historic sights and stories along the East River, all by NYC Ferry.

Click here for ticketing and 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

July 12, 2019 at 11:00 am

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