The Newtown Pentacle

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stayed on

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Monday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

May 4th was a pretty productive day for me. Caught a nice sunset from the Kosciuszcko Bridge, then began a fairly low key walk back to HQ in Astoria. Along the way, lots of things caught my eye.

43rd street offers a fairly “straight shot” for me to get back home, but I seem to prefer 39th street as that’s where my toes point.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

You have to get out of Blissville first, however, so a few scary and fairly deserted highway off ramp pedestrian pathways are followed on the way. It’s the deserted thing that makes them scary, incidentally.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Queens Boulevard forms a bit of a prominence, and one of my corny “dad jokes” revolves around announcing to anyone who might be accompanying me on a walk that “it’s all downhill from here” when passing under the elevated tracks of the 7 line subway.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The reason 39th street is my preferred path has to do with “hole reliable,” an aperture in the fencing around Sunnyside Yards at the Harold Interlocking which seldom disappoints as far as offering opportunity to photograph trains.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

On this particular evening, my timing was stellar, and I managed to get one coming from and one going to.

I never, ever tire of this particular composition. In many ways, “hole reliable” is where I learned how to capture low light photos.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A recent addition to Amtrak’s fence hole offerings allows for an unoccluded view of the “turnaround track” at Sunnyside Yards.

It’s a complicated shot, this one, given how dark it is in this corner of the yards. I had to shoot this at an unbelievably high ISO speed of 128,000.


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Written by Mitch Waxman

June 20, 2022 at 11:00 am

were well

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Tuesday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

April 26th brought one of those “I told you so” moments to Astoria. For literally ten years, I’ve been sounding the alarms about the ridiculous amount of dead wiring overhead – and the horrendous condition of often century old utility poles which carry them. Assemblymember Brian Barnwell heard my cry and his office tried shaking the tree at the NYS Utility commission, but just like every other part of New York State – that patronage mill called “Albany” saw no political gain in even conducting an inspection of the situation here in Queens.

A line of thunderstorms crashed through Astoria earlier in the evening, and shortly after the wind and rain stopped, the FDNY arrived on Astoria’s Broadway and began arranging caution tape.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

To no one’s surprise, the storm had caused a series of live wires to crack down onto the puddle choked street and yet another Astoria hullabaloo was underway. The 46th street Subway Station was right in the middle of this municipal chaos, as a note.

You ever get the sense that the people who run this City and State would make terrible roommates?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

On the 27th, after having completed all of my “have to’s” it was decided to take a fairly short walk. Recent habit has seen me circumnavigating the 183 square acres of the Sunnyside Yards on these short walks. I’ll leave Astoria and walk over to Skillman Avenue, which will be followed to its terminus at Hunters Point Avenue and 21st street, whereupon I’ll head over to Jackson Avenue and then follow it through Queens Plaza where it transmogrifies into Northern Blvd. at 31st street and scuttle back to HQ.

Along the way, there’s lots and lots of fence holes to poke the camera lens into, and observe what wonders there might be hidden within the colossal rairlroad coach yard. That’s the IRT Flushing 7 line train exiting Queens Plaza heading for points east.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

All winter and spring, I’ve been seeing the Long Island Railroad’s newest acquisitions being put through their paces. I don’t know if these trains have entered “revenue service” yet or if they’re still being tested out.

I’ve had a horrible realization recently… good lord, have I been rail fanning? Has it really come to this?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The 7 line exits Court Square Station on an elevated track, and this right of way descends down into the Hunters Point Station. Occasionally, on this particular route, I’ll actually hop on the 7 and take it back to Sunnyside or Woodside and walk home from there.

I stand on the assertion that the 7 is the most photogenic of all the subway lines.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

At Hunters Point Avenue, you’ve got an absolutely incredible eastward looking view of the Sunnyside Yards. That Long Island Railroad train was heading into Manhattan, and the entrance to the East River Tunnels is nearby.

Wonders, I tell you, wonders.


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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.

lute dancer

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Wednesday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The tunnels leading into Manhattan that are used by the Long Island Railroad are found within the Sunnyside Yards. On the south shore of Queens along Newtown Creek, however, you’ll find the LIRR’s Lower Montauk tracks which lead east. Used to be that the Lower Montauk could connect to the Yards via the Montauk Cutoff, but those tracks are now “abandoned,” and my friends and I have been working for a few years now to turn the cutoff into an “official” public open space – so no bueno for connecting anymore. The Montauk Cutoff is de facto “unofficial” public open space right now, but that’s another story.

Lower Montauk line starts at the LIRR’s Hunters Point Yard in Long Island City, found along Borden Avenue, which has been an active rail yard since the 1860’s.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A siding leaves the Lower Montauk and crosses Borden Avenue at street grade, after traveling under the Pulaski Bridge. This siding first enters the Hunters Point Avenue LIRR station about two blocks from the spot pictured above, and those tracks then offer connection to the Main Line and the tracks heading to Woodside, and Jamaica. These latter connections are beyond that which I can speak intelligently about, so if you think you know more about this than I do – you’re right, you do.

LIC, though, that’s my jam.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The Lower Montauk tracks almost always have a couple of idling engines sitting on them, which I’m told are kept ready to roll in case of an emergency or if a non functioning train on the busier parts of the system needs a rescue. They also tow work trains and “maintenance of way” equipment about.

That’s LIRR engine 105 pictured above, which was built sometime between 1968 and 1981. It’s a 1,000 HP locomotive engine.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Engine 164 is pictured above, which I can’t tell you much about. It’s gloriously rusty, and can really use a paint job – that’s all I’ve got.

The tracks they’re sitting on are on the Lower Montauk line. Eastwards, these engines can connect first to the Wheelspur Yard, or travel over the DB Cabin bridge spanning Newtown Creek’s Dutch Kills tributary leading into the Blissville Yard, on their way eastwards to the interlocking at Haberman or all the way to the Fresh Pond yard. Along the way, in Ridgewood, the LIRR Bushwick Branch intersects and connects.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

MTA stores their “rolling stock” in between rush hours at the Hunters Point Yard, and twice a day there’s an absolutely terrific amount of activity down here in DUPBO, Down under the Pulaski Bridge Onramp.

This is one of the most infrastructure heavy areas I know. The draw bridge above, rail and vehicles traffic on the surface, and the Long Island Expressway is feeding traffic into the Queens Midtown Tunnel below.

In my experience, between 4 & 6 in the afternoons, you’re almost guaranteed to see something LIRR related happening here.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Saying all that, my very productive day wasn’t over by a long shot, and I decided to crack out a “long shot” while climbing the Pulaski’s stairs and heading over towards Brooklyn’s Greenpoint section.

Wonders, I tell you, wonders.


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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.

budding branches

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Tuesday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

April 12th offered an extremely productive evening up to me. The weather was perfect – crisp and clear – and I had no obligations to hold me back from just wandering around the “study area.” A long walk was on the menu, so here we go…

First stop was at “hole reliable” along the fence lines of the Sunnyside Yards, where a Long Island Railroad train was hurtling through the Harold Interlocking on its way into Manhattan.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Next up was yet another visit to Long Island City’s 29th street to document the continuing collapse of a bulkhead into Newtown Creek’s Dutch Kills tributary.

Fill in the blanks: XXXXXXX matters, XXXXXX cares.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Yup, getting worse, every time it rains.

Can’t wait to call out the elected officials and agency personnel at the funeral of whomsoever ends up dying here when the street collapses. I will happily testify at the court case too.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One continued on his merry way, and decided that tonight would a good one to loop across the Newtown Creek at the Pulaski Bridge and then use the Newtown Creek Nature Walk to connect to the Greenpoint Avenue Bridge via Kingsland Avenue to get back to Queens.

As it turned out, this was a fortuitous idea, as you’ll see later on this week.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Checked in on my beloved tree of Paradise, which was just beginning to bud with spring time foliage.

I continued up to Borden Avenue.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Long Island Railroad 404 was crossing Borden Avenue, on its way to the Main Line tracks at Sunnyside Yards. There’s a bit of complicated rail infrastructure nearby.

I’ll attempt to talk about that in some detail tomorrow, at this – your Newtown Pentacle.


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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.

titanic chisel

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Monday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Back home in Queens, after my day trip to Philadelphia, and I’m sorry to report two things. First, a combination of obligation and precipitation conspired against me taking a single picture for a week after the 7th. The second is that the obligations took the form of an endless series of Zoom meetings which just happened to occur on the few days when it wasn’t raining in the second week of March.

The only good news about this series of Newtown Creek related, or non profit advocacy group focused, or Community Board meetings I participated in is that while the “blah blah blah” and virtue signaling was happening, I was developing all the shots from Philadelphia that you’ve seen over the last couple of weeks on a different screen.

Multi tasking!

– photo by Mitch Waxman

On the 14th of March, a Monday, a very long walk was undertaken. My pathway involved first crossing the Sunnyside Yards, and then scuttling along the Skillman Avenue corridor which follows the southern side of the vast Federally owned railroad coach yard.

Famously, a humble narrator has a catalogue of every hole in the fences which is large enough to allow a lens sized point of view. After a spate of outings during the winter months, ones which saw me going out in the early hours of the morning in pursuit of the rising of the burning thermonuclear eye of god itself, this was the first of several spring outings timed for the recession of the fiery orb to its receptacle somewhere behind New Jersey.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

“Hole reliable” is actually two holes. They appear to be surveyor’s points, and they are cleanly cut apertures punched out of the steel plate fences. There’s four kinds of fencing around the yards, with three of them being absolutely disastrous in terms of photos – save for these rare surveyor points.

The funny thing about the so called “security” situation here are the rail cops sleeping in their cars alongside wide open gates, contrasted with an abundance of “block the view” or “unclimbable” fences.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

This shot was gathered while lingering, unchallenged, at one of those open gates. There was a cop sleeping in his car directly behind me, with a tablet playing a TV program in his passenger seat.

I literally could have done anything I wanted here – walked right down to the tracks and waved at passing trains. Anything. It’s all theater – security kabuki.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

That’s the 7 line subway heading eastwards out of Queens Plaza towards Sunnyside pictured above. The tracks it travels on are suspended high above the ground level tracks used by Long Island Railroad and Amtrak. In between, there’s a truss bridge which carries vehicle traffic into and out of Queens Plaza, where the travel lane approaches to the Queensboro Bridge are found.

I moved on, the cop never woke up. Maybe he was dead.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Luckily, just as I arrived at my first actual destination, the sky lit up with oranges and yellows. I miss the old days in Long Island City, before big real estate crossed the river from Manhattan and stole the sky.

More tomorrow, from Long Island City, at this – your Newtown Pentacle.


“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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