The Newtown Pentacle

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Archive for the ‘Manhattan’ Category

flashed farther

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Lower Manhattan is just freaky, yo.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Once, I found a hole in the wall sandwich shop set up in some alley in Lower Manhattan, and that’s where I purchased a delicious milk shake. When I returned to the spot just a week later, not only was the shop gone, but so too was the alley. A few weeks later, I spotted the alley a few blocks distant from its original location, and I was soon drinking another delicious milk shake, pondering how my spatial memory could be so “off.” As you may have guessed where I’m heading at this point, the alley and the shop has disappeared just a day later when I went looking for them.

I’ve been looking for the alley ever since, as that was one hell of a milk shake.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

After visiting the Standard Oil building, as detailed in yesterday’s post, one needed to get back to Queens and my little dog Zuzu. On my way home, however, I decided to walk to Fulton Street rather than just catch the 5 line at Bowling Green. The tripod was deployed several times along the way, and I decided to spend a few minutes at the beating heart of global capitalism. Also, I was hoping to run into the alley again, as I really want another one of those milk shakes.

Pictured above is arguably one of the most important places, historically speaking, on the entire planet.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

This is where George Washington was sworn in as the first President of the United States, after all.

Is it really possible that there’s an alley in the financial district which transposes itself from place to place? Is anything really impossible? The sandwich shop, as I’m describing it, is one of those old school NYC locations which is little more than a counter set in an open doorway. They had their offerings wrapped in wax paper, not plastic. In addition to little bags of potato chips, also offered in wax paper, they sold simple sandwiches of ham, turkey, or roast beef. A large coffee urn was extant, as well as two mixers used to produce the milk shakes. They also offered pastries – bear claws, the square variant of cheese danish, and cinnamon buns. The proprietors were named Chaim and Jose.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Just down the block at the corner of Broad Street is a building which the global economy is operated out of, I’m told.

The milk shake was a bizarre concoction – chocolate ice cream, syrup, whole milk, half a banana, and a shot of strong black coffee. It should have been cloying. Chaim made the first milk shake I had, Jose the second, but they were both on point and identical in flavor and consistency. I don’t get down to the financial district often, but everytime I am here, I search for that alley and the sandwich shop. Have you seen it? Where might that alley be today?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The sandwich shop with the delicious milk shakes found in that alley was called “J.C.’s,” which probably stood for Jose and Chaim. Next door was one of those old school Chinese laundry shops, the sort where you get your clean garments handed back all wrapped up in brown paper and tied off with string. Directly across the narrow pavement of the alley, which was asphalt with Belgian blocks peeking through it, was a shop that sold fishing equipment. Next door to that was a shoemaker whose window signage promised one hour service on reheelings. That’s a real need in the financial district, given the amount of time which people who work hereabouts spend grinding other people and things under their heels, a practice which causes real “wear and tear” on footwear.

The beating and fortified heart of American Capitalism’s grand facade is pictured above, as seen on the corner of Wall St. at Broad Street, which is a filled in canal that originally connected to the East River during the days of the decadent Dutch. The canal, which was known as “The Common Ditch,” was filled in by 1676.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One continues to search for the alley where that delicious milk shake was on offer. The last time it was encountered was at the start of Michael Bloomberg’s second term as Mayor. Ponderings and wonderings abound about this alley, the manner it which it seems to transpose its location from place to place, and ultimately about the mystery of the delicious milk shakes. In this neighborhood, it should be mentioned, you need to watch out as there’s always somebody who will grab at and drink your milk shake if you give them half a chance.

A humble narrator makes it a point to wander along the lesser byways and permanently shadowed warrens of lower Manhattan in search of it, while also wondering what else might be hidden away down here.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Largely forgotten in historical circles are the great fires of 1835 and 1845, which burned away much of what was left from colonial times in Lower Manhattan. Massive building projects during the Tammany Hall era eliminated the rest. Hushed bar room conversations with municipal workers hint at there being a world of secrets in Lower Manhattan’s underground. Sewer workers tell of masonry tunnels found during the pursuit of their duties whose floors are littered with clay pipes, and deeply seated caverns with rough hewn walls of dripping timber and nitre crusted stone which appear on no map. The only story I can offer them in response revolves around an alley which seems to change locations and where one can purchase a world class milk shake.

Who can guess, all there is, that might be buried down there?


Upcoming Tours and Events

April 14 – Exploring Long Island City – with NY Adventure Club.

Long Island City is a tale of two cities; one filled with glittering water-front skyscrapers and manicured parks, and the other, a highly active ground transportation & distribution zone vital to the New York economy — which will prevail?
Tickets and more details here.

April 15- Newtown Creekathon – with Newtown Creek Alliance.

That grueling 13 and change mile death march through the bowels of New York City known as the “Newtown Creekathon” will be held on that day, and I’ll be leading the charge as we hit every little corner and section of the waterway. This will be quite an undertaking, last year half the crowd tagged out before we hit the half way point. Have you got what it takes the walk the enitre Newtown Creek?
Click here to reserve a spot on the Creekathon.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

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Written by Mitch Waxman

April 10, 2018 at 11:00 am

burns best

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Visiting one of the seats of empire, in today’s post.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Long have my eyes wished to look upon this place, found in Lower Manhattan at Bowling Green nearby Battery Park, and literally across the street from that charging bull statue which is meant to represent capitalism. You can put up all the bronze monuments you want to capitalism that you’d like to, but nobody – and I mean nobody – can hold a candle to what “the man” built at 26 Broadway nearby “de Waalstraat.” This was the center of the American Imperium, ultimately. If you want to answer the question Americans were asking directly after the attacks of Septmber 11th, 2001 – “Why do they hate us?” – you can start weaving the answer to them right here at 26 Broadway.

As a note, a long time before this 31 story office building’s opening in 1928, 26 Broadway was Alexander Hamilton’s home address.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Like the entity which inhabited it, the building is an agglutination which solidified and agglutinated over time and was built by many hands.

The original building at 26 Broadway was ten stories tall and went up in 1885. It was expanded in 1895, and then again in 1921 (that construction took 7 years, finishing in 1928) which resulted in its current form. The original structure is contained somewhere within the 1928 version, which was the tallest building in Lower Manhattan when it was finished. 26 Broadway is crowned by a pyramid shaped structure that was once illuminated, meant to act as a beacon for ships entering New York Harbor, and said pyramid was modeled after the Mausoleum of Maussollos in the City of Halicarnassus – part of the 4th century b.c. Achaemenid Empire in modern day Turkey. “Maussollos” is where modernity derives the word mausoleum from, incidentally.

The master of the early modern world had moved his organization here to Bowling Green back in 1885, from Cleveland.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

We live in an era defined by the fact that he once walked amongst us. We live in an era during which the corporate leader is exalted as a princeps, and ruthless business tactics are celebrated. This was not so when he was born in 1839. In his lifetime, he was viewed as the epitome of American villainy. He is the model for Mr. Burns from the Simpsons cartoon, Mr. Potter from Frank Capra’s “it’s a wonderful life,” and Lex Luthor from the Superman mythos. His empire made him the richest person in recorded history, wealthier than all the kings and queens of England, the Pharoahs of Egypt, and all the Caesars of Rome – put together. Only Augustus Caesar enjoyed personal wealth and power that began to approach his. His instrument – “the organization” as he called it  – controlled better than 90% of American petroleum production, and 26 Broadway was his headquarters.

This is the former home and HQ of the Standard Oil Company, and it’s master was John D. Rockefeller.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One normally eschews visiting this section of Manhattan unless it’s absolutely necessary. A meeting I was invited to was being held “nearby Bowling Green,” as I was told. Once I consented to attend, and was then told the address where the gathering would be occurring, a broad smile broke out across my normally sullen and sunken countenance.

Esso, as Standard Oil’s New Jersey arm became known in the early 20th century – it’s Exxon now – was headquartered here until 1946. Greenpoint’s Mobil, the New York operation, was similarly managed out of the Standard Oil Building at 26 Broadway until 1956.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The views from 26 Broadway are exactly what one would expect in terms of being spectacular.

The crowded warrens of the lesser corporate towers fill the streets abundantly, and humanity is fairly removed from the equation, reduced to the status of crawling insects from this perpective. You see a few survivors of the Beaux Arts era from up here – the old Customs House (modern day Museum of the American Indian) pictured in the previous shot, the Cunard building, Castle Clinton over in Battery Park. The most important building in this area, saving the actual Stock Exchange – in terms of American History – is the Standard Oil building.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

In his lifetime, John D. Rockefeller was reviled. He was, personally, the “one percent.” A culture which celebrated the self made man nevertheless saw this self made man as a monster, despite his best efforts to demonstrate his humanity and Christian virtues. In his later life, seeking to salvage the family name from infamy, Rockefeller and his sons began a career of philanthropy which familial descendants continue to this day. Standard Oil was notoriously ruthless in the continental territories of the United States, but it’s when you look overseas that the true scope and infamy of their ambitions become clear. The company’s agents, operating in the smoking ruins of the Ottoman Empire after the First World War, began troublesome relationships with the Sheiks and Mullahs of the Arabian Penninsula (along with British Petroleum and Royal Dutch Shell) whose consequences continue to bedevil the American Imperium to this day.

Why hit the World Trade Center? It was the personal project of John D. Rockefeller’s grandson David. Memory is held long in the near east, and revenge is a dish best served cold.


Upcoming Tours and Events

April 14 – Exploring Long Island City – with NY Adventure Club.

Long Island City is a tale of two cities; one filled with glittering water-front skyscrapers and manicured parks, and the other, a highly active ground transportation & distribution zone vital to the New York economy — which will prevail?
Tickets and more details here.

April 15- Newtown Creekathon – with Newtown Creek Alliance.

That grueling 13 and change mile death march through the bowels of New York City known as the “Newtown Creekathon” will be held on that day, and I’ll be leading the charge as we hit every little corner and section of the waterway. This will be quite an undertaking, last year half the crowd tagged out before we hit the half way point. Have you got what it takes the walk the enitre Newtown Creek?
Click here to reserve a spot on the Creekathon.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

April 9, 2018 at 11:00 am

odd inquiries

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The Shining City.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Last week, I had to attend a seasonal setup meeting with the Working Harbor Committee over on the west side of midtown Manhattan, followed by meeting up with Our Lady of the Pentacle at Penn Station when she returned from a business trip. That gave me about an hour’s interval to play around with, which I used to do a few long exposure shots.

Funny bit was, regarding the shot above, the coppers pulled up next to me and parked their car. I figured I was about to have a conversation about what I was taking pictures of when one of the cops apologized and asked if they were blocking my shot. I laughed and explained that they had provided a beautiful bit of framing for me and thanked them.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

It was a pretty foggy night, and in all actuality I was wishing that I was anywhere but in midtown Manhattan. Saying that, I really started to groove on the way that the masses of tourists motion blurred into greasy smears as the always crazy traffic you encounter in these parts zipped about. You work with what you’ve got, after all.

Also, given that I generally don’t spend much time around these parts at night, I was startled at the return of the army of derelicts and addicts doing drug business right out in the open, just as they used to in the bad old days. “Giuliani Time” is over, it seems. Within an hour spent between 42nd and 34th, I was able to scope out the network of customer finders, the drug runners, the junkies assigned to delivery duty, and even figure out who was holding the stash and cash.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

For one reason or another, noticing this sort of thing has always been a talent of mine. Maybe it’s just that I grew up in 1970’s and 80’s New York. Maybe it’s a shame I never joined the police. I would have made a lousy cop, as I’d be shooting people for minor infractions and being a general hardass about every little thing – the kind of cop that other cops hate.

I actually do shoot at people all the time, but it’s with a camera.


Upcoming Tours and Events

April 14 – Exploring Long Island City – with NY Adventure Club.

Long Island City is a tale of two cities; one filled with glittering water-front skyscrapers and manicured parks, and the other, a highly active ground transportation & distribution zone vital to the New York economy — which will prevail?
Tickets and more details here.

April 15- Newtown Creekathon – with Newtown Creek Alliance.

That grueling 13 and change mile death march through the bowels of New York City known as the “Newtown Creekathon” will be held on that day, and I’ll be leading the charge as we hit every little corner and section of the waterway. This will be quite an undertaking, last year half the crowd tagged out before we hit the half way point. Have you got what it takes the walk the enitre Newtown Creek?
Click here to reserve a spot on the Creekathon.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

April 4, 2018 at 11:00 am

house below

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Me? I’m the curious type.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

To begin with, my understanding of such things is that the City’s water system offer sufficient pressure to carry water about six stories up from the water mains in the street. Anything higher than that requires one to get clever. In tall buildings, electric pumps bring the wet stuff up to the roof, where NYC’s iconic water tanks get filled up. The return pipe from the water tank goes down into the building and fills the plumbing that supplies both drinking water and fire suppression systems. The water towers themselves are apparently quite filthy inside, and seldom inspected. A NY Times investigation back in 2014 took samples from the sedimentation found inside these wooden tanks, which revealed the presence of Fecal Coliform and E. Coli bacteria in 5 of the 12 that they tested. Theoretically, the bacteria found in the water towers got there due to intrusion by critters (squirrels, birds, etc.). 

Who can guess, all there is, that might be sloshing around up there?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There are two firms who pretty much own the water tower business in NYC, Rosenwach Tank and the Isseks Brothers, or so I’m told. I’m also led to believe that the average load for these tanks are about ten thousand gallons, but it depends on the installation and the size of the building being served. You supposedly get about three to four decades of life out of a water tower, depending on conditions and regular maintenance.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Here’s a bit of water tower trivia for you, lords and ladies.

Notice how many steel rings there are at the bottom of the water tower as opposed to the top?

The uneven spacing is due to the aggregate weight of the water held within the thing. The weight of the water in the top third of the tank presses down on that found in the middle, both of which compress the stuff at the very bottom. Some fairly astronomical pressure exists at the very bottom of these big barrels, requiring extra structural support.


Upcoming Tours and Events

Newtown Creekathon – hold the date for me on April 15th.

That grueling 13 and change mile death march through the bowels of New York City known as the “Newtown Creekathon” will be held on that day, and I’ll be leading the charge as we hit every little corner and section of the waterway. This will be quite an undertaking, last year half the crowd tagged out before we hit the half way point. Have you got what it takes the walk the enitre Newtown Creek?
Keep an eye on the NCA events page for more information.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

March 28, 2018 at 11:00 am

latter saw

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To and from the Shining City, in today’s post.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Last week, I had an assignment to shoot some pics at a conference in Lower Manhattan. Nothing special, just the usual “kid gets award,” and “important people talking to crowded room” shots. Later in the day, actually the evening, I had to get to Greenpoint for a Newtown Creek Alliance event.

Knowing that the “A” in MTA stands for “adventure,” I gave myself a bit of extra time on the trip in, which involved the usual razzmatazz of getting on the R and transferring to the Lexington Avenue line at 59th street. Pictured above is the latter arriving at the station. For once, the commute was seamless and I was down at the Battery lickety split.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

After the conference gig was over, the last thing I wanted to do was chance fate by getting back on the Subway. To get to Greenpoint by Subway from Lower Manhattan would have been a dice throw involving connecting to the G in Brooklyn, so instead one shlepped over to Pier 11 and bought a ticket for the NYC Ferry.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One never misses a chance to travel by water rather than within the sweating concrete bunkers found below ground. During the winter months, my vulnerability to cold weather plays into avoiding this aquatic mode of transportation, but during the warmer months it’s hard to keep me off a boat.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The East River route offered by NYC Ferry goes to India Street in Greenpoint, so once onboard one was able to just relax and take a bunch of shots. A strange thing is that when I’m not doing the tour guide thing during the winter months it feels like alive forgotten everything.

Once I’m back on the boat, however, my eyes begin twitching and my head clocks back and forth as a well practiced narrative wells up behind the eyes and between my ears.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Normally, my “goal” on the Ferry is to get to LIC and walk back to Astoria. On this particular evening, NCA was screening a film by a fellow named Hank Linhart about the Blissville neighborhood. Mr. Linhart calls his Blissville film a “docu poem,” but I call it a film. One had to be at the Newtown Creek side of Greenpoint for the filming, but unlike the adventurous MTA, they know how to maintain a proper schedule.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

It was a particularly pretty night, last Thursday. Stark contrast to the stormy and snowy weather that had blown through the Shining City just 24 hours previously.

More tomorrow.


Upcoming Tours and Events

Newtown Creekathon – hold the date for me on April 15th.

That grueling 13 and change mile death march through the bowels of New York City known as the “Newtown Creekathon” will be held on that day, and I’ll be leading the charge as we hit every little corner and section of the waterway. This will be quite an undertaking, last year half the crowd tagged out before we hit the half way point. Have you got what it takes the walk the enitre Newtown Creek?
Keep an eye on the NCA events page for more information.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

March 26, 2018 at 1:00 pm

magic evening

with 5 comments

Nothing’s easy.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One hates going into the City, or Manhattan for those of you who didn’t grow up in Brooklyn or Queens, so very much that a tendency has developed in a humble narrator to cluster together errands and get them all done in a single go. Tax season is upon us all, so a trip to my “numbers guy” and his accountancy office was required. Additionally, a quick stop at “Beards and Hats” or the BH Photo store to purchase supplies for various endeavors was on the list.

When I left the neighborhood, I put the guy pictured above in charge, but I think a poor choice was made regarding my choice of deputy given that he was out cold before I even got on the R train.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A quick stop in Jackson Heights was executed first, wherein Our Lady of the Pentacle and myself indulged in a meal at one of the local curry shops. Our chosen dining location was of the buffet type, and while filling a plate with exotically spiced chicken and well cooked rice and vegetables, a humble narrator was approached by a strange woman.

She informed me that I was “going to purgatory” and walked away. Despite my questioning of her curious pronouncement, that was all she had to say. My theory is that she misread the Newtown Creek Alliance “NCA” hat I was wearing as NRA, but then again she was probably just another nutcase. I attract them flies to poop, after all.

After eating, Our Lady and myself climbed the stairs to the 7 line subway tracks and boarded a train heading towards the Shining City itself.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As is my habit, whilst on the 7, I found a relatively clean window and pointed the camera at various points of interest. Pictured above is the Sunnyside Yards, and the fleet of trains which LIRR, NJ Transit, and Amtrak store in Queens between peak demand periods – the so called “rush hours.”

To anyone reading this who works in Government, or the Transit sector, or in the Non Profit Industrial Complex – the old 9-5 concept only applies to you. Corporate America has long abandoned the “English week” of eight hour workdays. The rest of us are doing everything we can to keep our heads above water, and that involves staying late and coming in early as well as showing up sometimes on a Saturday to help out. Additionally, “rush hour” begins at about 5:30 a.m. and lasts till 10:30 a.m. due to staggered work shifts. In the afternoon, it actually starts around three and lasts till nine. Please staff accordingly.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

We arrived in Manhattan, and boarded the vertigo inducing escalators at the 7 line’s terminal stop at Hudson Yards.

“Beards and Hats” was – as always – a model of customer facing commercial efficiency, and even with a bit of browsing amongst the shelves we were out of there in about a half hour.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Being a relatively nice day, and knowing that lousy weather had been forecasted for the middle of the week, we opted to walk from BH photo at 34th street to our tax appointment with the Accountants nearby 72nd and Broadway.

Upon arrival at the office, however, we were told that our number cruncher was seriously behind schedule and we would have to cool our heels in the waiting room for at least an hour. Everybody else in the waiting room had “gone to the phones” as I descirbe it, including Our Lady of the Pentacle. I instructed her to text me if anything sped up, and that I’d be back in a little while if she didn’t mind waiting without me. She didn’t.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One didn’t want to wander too far afield, and I wasn’t fully equipped (or inspired) to do full on night shots, but – I did have a tiny little tripod with me. A couple of set ups followed, the one above is looking downtown along Broadway towards Columbus Circle.

Incidentally, has the Mayor considered the fact that if he pulls the statue of Columbus down and renames the roundabout at 59th and Broadway, he will be forced to then rename Columbus Avenue and compel Columbia University to change their name? Just saying…

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A long time ago, I used to live waaaaay north of “the Dorilton” building found at west 71st street. It’s a handsome beaux arts “block of flats,” built in 1902 and a landmark. It was originally called “the Weed” when it was built, after its developer Hamilton Weed. It’s architects were the firm of Janes and Leo.

For some reason, it’s always filled me with a sense of foreboding and seems to be pulsing with some latent occult potency. God only knows what goes in there, but who can guess what the moneyed classes do behind closed doors? There’s probably roasted baby being consumed in there. brrrr…

– photo by Mitch Waxman

After finally sitting down with the accountant, and working out exactly the financial tithe to war and waste which Our Lady and I owed to both the Federal and NYS political establishments, we decided that a quick trip back to Astoria was in order. Our little dog Zuzu had been alone all day waiting for us, and you don’t want to make an elderly dog angry. The plan was simple – get to 42nd street and then transfer to a Queens bound R.

Have I mentioned that the “A” in MTA is for “adventure?”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

After waiting for a period of time considerably in excess of my visit to “Beards and Hats” and which promised to approach that of my delayed appointment with the Accountant, we decided that the likelihood of an “R” showing up was slight. MTA hit us with a great fakeout when an N line train appeared using the rolling stock you normally see on the R line.

They have some sense of humor, I tell you, those guys and gals at the MTA.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Having resigned ourselves to walking from 31st street back to HQ, which is only two blocks from an R stop as a note, the N pulled into Queens Plaza and announced that the train was going to go express to the terminal stop at Ditmars and 31st. “Why do they do this” asked several of my fellow riders. Having zero barriers or inhibitions about talking to strangers, a humble narrator had to opine to my fellow commuters the probabile reason we were standing on a train platform in Queens Plaza at 8:30 p.m. after getting turfed off the one we were on.

Simply put, MTA rates its on time performance by measuring when a train leaves one terminal stop as compared to that of its arrival at the one on the other end of the line. Should a train set get delayed doing local stops, particularly common in Manhattan, MTA’s practice is to switch the train to express to make up the lost time. This is why you’ll periodically see the train you’ve been waiting for speed by the platform with no one on board. Their (MTA Bosses) job performance review is more important to them than yours, and you’ve been cited several times for showing up late to work because of their desire to be “on time.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

While we were waiting, one again waved the camera around at points of passing interest. Luckily, the 7 was sitting at the platform for a good ten minutes so I had something nice and static to photograph.

Were there a so called “walking transfer” available between Queens Plaza (upstairs) and Queensboro Plaza (downstairs) we would have tried our luck with catching an R or M back to our actual destination but c’est la vie. Unfortunately, MTA still operates the IRT and IND lines as if they the separate entities of the dual contract era, even when it comes to fare control.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

When a local stop N line train finally arrived, we boarded. A debate about which stations are currently under construction began, wherein Our Lady was forced to ask google about it. I know this is probably heresy, but if there was a single piece of signage explaining it to the ridership found in the cars…

Bah. I relieved the shopping cart guy from watch when I got home, and got back to my malingering amongst the rolling hills of almond eyed Astoria.

I did wonder a bit about that purgatory comment from the crazy lady back in Jackson Heights.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

March 9, 2018 at 11:00 am

gleaming dome

with 2 comments

The “A” in MTA is for “Adventure.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Inhuman and hideous, claustrophobic and filth ridden, the nest of Mammon and Asmodeus, home sweet hell. To say that one bears a certain disdain for Manhattan in his old age would indicate that an understatement is being offered. Manhattan? That’s not where you’ll find the solution, instead Manhattan is the problem. Vainglorious pride blinds.

These days, nobody you ask would say they “want to go” to the island of Manhattan from the other four boroughs, instead they’ll say “I HAVE TO go to Manhattan.” That’s usually when the MTA comes up.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One such as myself gets around a lot. There isn’t a standard commute these days, rather it’s a series of odd destinations which are often set against a patchwork of neighborhoods and places unfamiliar. How do you get from Maspeth to Red Hook, or Richmond Terrace to Elmhurst? Broadway Junction connects to which trains, and are there any that near Astoria? Best transit route from Rockaway to Greenpoint, or the Bronx Zoo?

These are the sort of questions which one asks himself regularly, but last Saturday morning my problem was a simple one – get from HQ in Astoria to Lower Manhattan to do a tour on a NYC Ferry for the NY Transit Museum. As mentioned, the “A” in MTA is for “adventure,” particularly on the weekends.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

An obvious path to Pier 11 would be taking the Astoria Ferry from Hallets Cove. Unfortunately, they were operating on a winter and weekend schedule, and I would have arrived at the pier for the tour nearly an hour earlier than my customary arrival (a half hour in advance of a tour) time. I also would have to have to factor in the mile long walk to the waterfront, meaning that my journey would entail me leaving HQ something like three hours in advance of arrival if I also wanted to get breakfast, and I did want breakfast.

I decided on chancing it with the MTA, and taking the train. Realization that the Subway is now the daily gamble set in.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I boarded an R at Steinway Street, which became an F in the tunnel. It let me off at the 63rd street station, where I had to leave the system and execute a walking transfer to get to the Lexington Avenue line’s 4/5/6 platform. There, I discovered that I had to take a 6 to 42nd street to then transfer to a 5. Luckily, the 5 got me to Fulton Street where the unpleasant miasmas of the Financial District were pulsing about in a bit of fog.

What the hell is it about Lower Manhattan with the garbage and the rats and the stink and those puddles of yellow/green bubbling water everywhere. What’s that greasy black stuff all over the sidewalks, or that liquid which just dripped on me from high above, and… blech… if you say the Newtown Creek is bad… try Fulton Street and lower Manhattan in general.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

If ever there was an area in which I’d like to set the Real Estate Industrial Complex absolutely loose, it’s a peninsular section of the Shining City just south of City Hall and north of Battery Park. Imagine it, all that filthy lucre to be made, and the developers could take turns bulldozing landmarks. The bike people could drive protected bicycling lanes right through the lobbies of buildings… What a time they’d have.

Thing is, whatever feeding frenzy might happen here will be limited evermore. Without reliable and predictable transit to carry people into Manhattan, the folks in outer boroughs might have to find other places to work that aren’t so disgusting.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

March 5, 2018 at 11:00 am

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