The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

Archive for the ‘Long Island Rail Road’ Category

proper edge

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Monday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

October 27th found a humble narrator driving back from an assignation in Brooklyn’s Greenpoint section. As part of the big move to Pittsburgh, one decided to inventory literally every possession and scrap of paper which has accumulated into HQ over the years and decide whether or not I wanted to move it 400 miles west with me or not. This process revealed a staggering amount of electronics waste – cables, old computers which I’d been keeping for parts, gizmos and gadgets. Lots of stuff made of metal also didn’t make the cut. Thereby, several carloads of gear were transported to one of the local scrapyards for recycling or whatever. There’s also a lot of paper which went to a different recycling company found along Newtown Creek.

On my way back to Astoria from one of these junk yards one recent afternoon, one decided to try and grab a few last shots of places familiar and loved. The first two are from “DUPBO” or “Down Under the Pulaski Bridge Onramp.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Said onramp is pictured above. I get asked all the time about the off ramp to nowhere on the Pulaski, which I’m told was originally meant to connect to the Long Island Expressway. Apparently they ran out of money to complete that, in the late 1950’s when this bridge was erected.

Wish I could have lingered, but there’s been so much to do.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

On my way back to Astoria, I did find a minute or two while waiting at traffic lights to stick the camera up through the car’s moon roof.

Depicted above, the Queensboro Bridge and the nearby TerraCotta House, as seen from Vernon Boulevard.

More 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

November 28, 2022 at 11:00 am

brood capriciously

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Thursday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Sometimes you get lucky, as I did on September 29th.

It had been raining for a couple of days, and the clouds began to clear just before sunset. One set out for a short constitutional walk.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The light was staggering. Saturated and warm.

As soon as I got to Northern Blvd. I knew where I’d be heading.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Sunnyside Yards, which is within throwing distance of HQ.

Just as I got there, it looked like the sky had caught on fire.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I made my way to “Hole Reliable” just as an LIRR train set was passing beneath it.

Continued on, a humble narrator did.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Skillman Avenue at Honeywell, just as the light show was ending.

This was a short walk, stretching my legs, as it were, so I headed back to Northern Blvd. intending to head back to Astoria.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

By the time I got to another one of my catalog of fence holes, dusk was giving way to night.

“Every time might be the last time.”


“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

November 3, 2022 at 11:00 am

tenebrous others

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Tuesday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

On the 26th of September, one perpetrated a short scuttle around a long set of railroad fence lines. A hurricane was tearing up Florida, and we got lucky hereabouts in terms of spectacular skies for about a week. Eventually, NYC was going to get hit with 6 or 7 dreary rain days due to the weather system, but on the evening of the 26th it was perfect photo weather, so off I went.

A humble narrator crossed Northern Boulevard out of Astoria heading south along 39th street – aka the Harold Avenue truss bridge over Sunnyside Yards.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Progress was made towards “hole reliable,” a surveyor’s POV cut into the steel plate fences of the rail coach yard. There’s actually two holes there, reliable and “hole alright.” The shot above is from the alright one. It’s inferior to reliable because of that metal bar in the foreground. Reliable? Unoccluded!

That’s the Long Island Railroad, heading towards the City, at the Harold Interlocking. This is one of the top ten bits of infrastructure in New York City, in terms of importance on a National level.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

An LIRR train set heading eastwards and away from the City.

What makes Harold Interlocking so important is the commuter rail, pictured above, which connects Nassau and Suffolk Counties to the five Boroughs of NYC. What makes it even more important is Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor service used to share this route. Amtrak moves north bound trains through a tunnel under the East River, then emerges at Sunnyside Yards, travels through the yards to the New York Connecting Railroad, and then over the Hell Gate Bridge. This Harold Interlocking is one of the strategic pinch points in our National system, which is the sort of thing that should make the Homeland Security crowd unable to sleep at night.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One of the wonders which I’ve been privileged to get a LOT of photos of is due to the discovery of Hole Reliable. Since 2009, the East Side Access project has included an incredible amount of construction work at Sunnyside Yards. Part of that has been the addition of additional tracks here at Harold. Yeah, I know, I’m a nerd.

Saying that, a derailed LIRR train no longer shuts down rail traffic on the East Coast of the United States within a couple of hours as Amtrak’s resultant “situation” ripples out of Queens. LIRR service is fairly frequent, and actuaries will describe a predictable number of annual incidents of every type to prepare for – including derails.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One scuttled down Skillman Avenue and headed for the 7 train station at Hunters Point Avenue. On my way, yet another LIRR train was spotted, this one heading towards Manhattan.

As mentioned, short walk for me. A constitutional during which I cracked out a bunch of photos. Managed to find about 90 minutes or so to stretch my legs, in the midst of all the tumult back at HQ. Moving is always stressful, and you lose all sense of comfort at home due to constant “have to” and stacks of boxes. Also, there’s always something to do. Never ends.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The 7 train arrived, one boarded it, and whereas my plan was to linger around Queensboro Plaza for a bit while waiting for the N to arrive, my intended ride was arriving just as I did. Not wanting to look a gift subway in the mouth, I quickly transferred and headed back to HQ.

I had kind of a big thing coming up the next morning, after all.

More on that 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

October 25, 2022 at 11:00 am

local dangers

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Thursday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

First off – Newtown Creek Alliance will be honoring John Lipscomb of Riverkeeper, Christine Holowacz, and… your humble narrator… tonight, (the 20th) at the annual “Tidal Toast” fundraising event. Ticketing information can be found here, and the tax deductible donation of your ticket money will help to fund NCA’s ongoing mission to Reveal, Restore, and Revitalize Newtown Creek. NCA has been at the center of my public life over the last 15 years, and I hope you can make it. This is officially my finale, in terms of public facing events, and the end of this chapter of my life.

On the 23rd of September, a humble narrator set out for what ended up being an extremely long walk. Upon leaving HQ, a black cat with yellow eyes skated past me. Such an occurrence is always indicative of a good photo day coming. You have to learn how to listen to Queens, I always say, and recognize her omens.

The late model pick up truck pictured above was the first cool thing that she showed me. I’m going to miss Queens, but I don’t think she’ll miss me. I don’t think anyone in NYC is actually going to miss “me,” rather they’ll miss the idea of me. I think, on the other hand, that there will be a lot of people happy to see me go.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

My next stop was at “hole reliable” at Sunnyside Yards, which lived up to the name I’ve assigned it. Hole Reliable is a surveyor’s aperture cut out of the plate steel fencing over the Harold Interlocking.

Wonders, I tell you, wonders.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

My pathway continued on, south to Greenpoint Avenue and then into Blissville, which carried me over the Long Island Expressway.

Why do I think no one will miss me, and why some will be happy to see me go? Experience. It’s the way of NYC. When somebody leaves the megalopolis, or dies here, there’s a lot of hugging and handshaking for a little while but then life goes on. As far as the “happy to see me go” people, I’m either in their way right now, or perceived as a wizened scold whose knowledge of past events and the circumstances is inconvenient to the current dialectic on offer.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Down Under the Greenpoint Avenue Bridge Onramp, in Long Island City’s Blissville section, that’s where my next stop was. Railroad Avenue, specifically. I call it DUGABO.

Melancholy actually rules my roost at the moment. On the one hand, ebullient excitement for all of the challenges and opportunities that relocating to a different part of the country offers is undeniable. Conversely, I’m leaving behind everything I know and everything I’ve ever known. It’s manic and depressing – all at the same time.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There’s a reason that they named this particular street in Long Island City “Railroad Avenue.” During my travels on Amtrak last year, one of the realizations I enjoyed was the one that stated “Everywhere you go, there’s a Railroad Avenue.” Really. I found one along Lake Champlain in Burlington, Vermont, of all places.

I’ve been forced to craft a little speech in order to save time. It starts off with “Not to get all Doctor Who here, but we’re all different people at different times of our lives…” Deep thoughts have accompanied the underway diving expedition of ridding myself of the material detritus of a lifetime in preparation for this move. Over all, I like to think that I’ve done some good, in this most recent version of myself.

The trash bags in front of HQ have included yearbooks from schools that some early variant of me attended, the toys and tools acquired over a half century by several of the “me’s”, and clothing worn by a younger man which no longer fits.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Saying all that, a humble narrator is currently exhausted. A thousand thousand small but important details are being maintained in active thought, and a never ending landslide of physical task work, that I’ve scheduled around garbage pickup days, is underway at HQ.

There’s no way that NYC is going to let me go without an attempt at slamming some kind of whammy at me on the way out – that’s my governing terror. One of the reasons I’m so exhausted is that I have my radar on at full power every time I leave HQ just to buy a bagel.

More 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.

pompous inside

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Friday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

After an interminable number of days wherein a late July into early August heat wave saw me sheltering in place at HQ, August 10th saw atmospheric temperatures and humidity drop to comfortable levels. Thereby, off I went on a walk. After all the sitting around at HQ, my joints were creaking from a lack of exercise, and the camera was anxious to capture images of the wonders of Western Queens once again.

Alright, the Q66 bus ain’t exactly a “wonder,” but it’s still pretty cool. There’s a real disconnect in Queens regarding the bus system for a lot of people, and it’s one of those places where you encounter the “economic and cultural privilege divide” thing that the kids talk about. Neighborhoods where the primary form of transit service takes the from of Subway Train Lines are generally richer and more gentrified than those that are served primarily by buses. Buses, therefore, are fascinating to me as they represent a clear borderline between the social and economic classes. Personally, I make it a point of using all forms of available public transit, which – as my mother would have pointed out – “you’ve already paid for it with tax, don’t be an asshole.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I’ve famously been riding around the northeastern United States on Amtrak, since getting vaccinated for Covid, but I haven’t ridden on their “high speed” Acela service. I’m not in that big of a hurry to get somewhere to justify their premium pricing and ride the slower and cheaper service, and am entirely satisfied to just grab shots of their Acela trains at the Sunnyside Yards.

As stated hundreds of times, the 183 square Sunnyside Yards coach yard and rail complex is a few blocks from HQ, and sits squarely betwixt a humble narrator and his beloved Newtown Creek. I cannot resist utilizing the multitude of federal fence holes to record the elaborate heavy industrial ballet that is observable below.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The Long Island Railroad was rather busy on this particular evening, but then again I was passing by “hole reliable” about 6:30-7:00 p.m., and that’s literally LIRR’s busy time – so…

This was going to be a relatively short walk for me as I had an early morning assignation the next day, and the plan was to wander towards the Dutch Kills tributary of Newtown Creek and eventually end up at the 7 train at Hunters Point Avenue. My habit these days is to use the 7 to get back to Queensboro Plaza, and then transfer to an Astoria bound N or W. It’s more efficient for me to take the 7 to 74th street in Jackson Heights and then transfer to the downstairs R or M lines which offer a stop just two blocks from HQ. Saying that, I really don’t mind the ten blocks or so that I have to walk from 31st street after riding on that line.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I’ve always wondered about “hiding” something by attaching it to a train. You build a train car that’s securely lockable, paint it up to look like any other bit of rolling stock on whatever line you’re going to use, and the thing just travels from place to place and never stops moving. You want to fully fund rail travel in the United States, you say?

Here’s what you do – prison cars. You lock your felons up in locomotive passenger cars that are set up internally with jail cages, and then they spend their sentence traveling the country in a windowless steel box. How’s that for an abrogation of civil rights? Got to be cheaper than the current prison system we already have. I have several other suggestions for the sort of authoritarian dystopia that seems to be just over the horizon, many of which involve reclassifying “child labor” as “mandatory national service.” How’s that for cruel and unusual?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

For the authoritarian future, I favor Dante’s Inferno style punishments that are designed to be cruel, ones which are also inherently ironic in nature. You’re a drug dealer? Then your sentence involves Pfizer and Eli Lilly testing out new drugs on you without repercussions to their stockholders. Home invader? Well, my dear fiend, your mailing address is now a Rotary Jail. Capital crimes would be punished in a specifically cruel and unusual fashion – mobs of crazed Chimpanzees come to mind for pederasts. Americans would happily tune into to watch the Chimps dismember thought criminals and child diddlers, so there’s profit to be had in selling ad space on the broadcast to Taco Bell or Coca Cola. The ancient Persians reached great heights in this sort of arena – “The boats” torture comes to mind. Come on, America, we can do worse if we try.

In this near future of unfettered and profitable cruelty, men will become wild and free, and unattached to any previous morality. Society will learn new ways to enjoy itself.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Sigh…

One continued his scuttle, and since the burning thermonuclear eye of God itself was hanging pregnantly in the western sky, headed over to Queens Boulevard where shelter from the emanations of the vast radioactive fireball would be shielded by the aqueduct veranda of the 7 line subway tracks.

More next week, 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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