The Newtown Pentacle

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Wednesday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

That’s the Whale Creek tributary of the larger Newtown Creek pictured above. The nomenclature of “Whale Creek” harkens back to a fairly forgotten era in NYC, when illuminating fuels were derived from the distillation of cetacean fats rather than petroleum. Before Kerosene, which was more or less invented by a fellow named Abraham Gesner in 1854 and manufactured on the Queens side of the Newtown Creek, the way you conquered darkness in NYC was either by buying whale oil from a fellow in Brooklyn named Ambrose Kingsland (as in Kingsland Avenue) or manufactured gas from a variety of industrial outfits which were based on the east side of Manhattan. Manhattan’s “Gas Light District” was the zone currently occupied by Stuyvesant Town in the East River facing “teens and twenties.” A complex of gas manufacturing and storage was evident all the way up to “blood alley” in the high 30’s and low 40’s. Blood Alley was where you’d encounter abattoirs and slaughterhouses, and the United Nations complex is more or less sited in that zone.

Modern day Whale Creek is nestled entirely within the properties of the NYC DEP in Greenpoint, and it’s surrounded by the gargantuan sewer plant they’ve constructed, which handles about 900 million gallons of our corruption daily. Well, it’s Manhattan below 96th St.’s corruption, mainly.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The Court Square station in Long Island City is considered to be a “historic place” given that it’s one of the original elevated IRT Flushing Line subway stations that were erected in LIC, and it opened in 1916.

The modern day “Court Square Station” is actually a portmanteau of three different stations which were connected together back in 1990. The connections were part of a rezoning effort by NYC which began the build out of large scale buildings in LIC, notably the Citigroup tower which kicked off the building frenzy that continues to this day.

One yearns for perspective.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Looking eastwards towards Newtown Creek from the Empire State Building offers one such perspective, and allows you to view the region in the way that governmental entities do. There are not individual lives playing out in this area, rather there are trends and large infrastructure resources found therein.

Tomorrow and Friday, I’ll be showing you shots from this perspective, as I finally dropped the hammer on heading up to the 86th floor observation deck last week. The weather was right!

Back tomorrow, 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.

Written by Mitch Waxman

June 23, 2021 at 1:45 pm

abhorred necropolis

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Tuesday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Yup, still working on this shot at Queens Plaza. Just a matter of time till the right time and place collide. Unfortunately for me, a massive collection of “have to’s” and “I’d really like to but need to do this pedantic and boring thing instead’s” have obligated one to photogenically unproductive activities for the last couple of weeks. Boring.

I really want to get on a boat, or a series of boats, sometime in the next week and just relax on the water while shooting whatever N.Y. Harbor decides to send my way. Serendipity awaits.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

While stuck listening to a long and boring meeting, one noticed a thunderstorm approaching HQ and I was hoping that I might capture some lightning to punctuate the boredom of it all. I didn’t, but I did manage to record the weird color changes to the sky which such turbulent weather manifests. About a minute after this shot, the low clouds collapsed and inundated Astoria with heavy rain. No lightning, though.

I mentioned a fantastic offer that Amtrak was offering last week, which priced 30 “segments” of travel at $299. Given that two segments (and three days of travel) are enough to get me to California if I wanted, you can see the value of buying the package which I did. I have until the fall to activate it, whereupon I need to use it all within 30 days. Where am I going to go?

There’s definitely a day trip to the pretty city of Pittsburgh and it’s amazing collection of bridges coming up (there’s also a significant number of “connections” to Newtown Creek there), and it’s also likely that day trips to Washington D.C., Albany, Erie, and Boston are going to happen. My plan for all of them is to have a well designed shot list and route planned out. Leave NYC in the pre dawn and return late at night sort of things. Fun. I’ve been saying I need a vacation from “the zone” and now I have a very affordable and comfortable mode of travel. Probably going to execute all this moving about at the end of the summer when the light is a bit nicer.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Back at Newtown Creek, we had an in person get together for the fully vaxxed crew at Newtown Creek Alliance recently. We’ve all been interacting over zoom and phone during the pandemic, but it’s been a while since the staff and board members were all in the same room at HQ in Greenpoint.

Spotted a DonJon tug moving barges around at SimsMetal on the Queens side from the green roof at 520 Kingsland Avenue, where NCA is headquartered. See what I mean about N.Y. Harbor serendipity? You go to a gathering to inhale some pizza and beer, and there’s a maritime industrial show going on in the background.

Ahhh… my beloved Creek, she never disappoints.


“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

June 22, 2021 at 1:00 pm

mindless animal

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Monday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Sorry for the late update and single shot today, but what can I tell you other than that I’ve been about 24 hours behind schedule since Thursday of last week. Busy, busy, busy.

Back tomorrow with more, 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.

equally himself

with one comment

Tuesday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Wandering disdainfully through the universe’s garden spot, Brooklyn’s Greenpoint section, one struggles to maintain any sort of hope for the future. Jack ass Real Estate enthusiasts masquerading as altruists are the latest addition to the milieu that I have to deal with. Their entire point of view is built around a single disingenuous issue – “affordable housing” for people earning over $100,000 a year. When you point out that every bit of societal infrastructure (power, water, transit, education, healthcare) required to maintain a growing populace is currently failing and the installation of much of it dates back to an era before women were able to vote, they grow indignant. Everything is connected. NYC is complicated. The five boroughs are virtually a nation state unto themselves, and the NYPD’s headcount is larger than most country’s actual militaries. As an example, there are fewer active duty Royal Marines employed by the United Kingdom than there are NYPD officers. There’s 36,000 cops in NYC’s 5 boroughs versus 7,760 Royal Marines for all of Great Britain. I should mention that a Royal Marine is generally considered to be worth 20 regular soldiers, and that NYPD is trained for an entirely different mission so the numerical difference isn’t offered to suggest that the NYPD would win a fight with the British Royal Marines.

The entire British military establishment numbers about 200,000 active duty personnel. Their job is to protect the roughly 67 million people who live on the actual island, and the various bases and territories left over from the time of Empire. The Royal Marines are “tip of the spear” troops, meaning they are the equivalent of America’s Green Berets, Navy Seals, or Army Rangers in terms of training and lethality.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Where does “it” go when you flush your affordable toilet in your new condo? Who pays for the pipe and the sewer plant and what happens to “it” after it gets there? See those four pipes in the photo above? Largest single source of greenhouse gas in Brooklyn, bigger than all the highways and tunnels put together. What powers this sewer plant in Greenpoint and who does it serve? The answer to the former is a bit complex, but the latter is Manhattan below 96th street.

Much will be made of the “need” for affordable housing built close to the urban core along the East River. Few will discuss the need to build new and to fortify existing mass transit. If you understand NYC history, you can say with zero qualification that the Government is shit at building housing. Conversely, Government is great at building roads and train lines and sewer plants. Let’s talk about getting the Government out of the real estate business, and back into the building schools and hospitals and transit space.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Everything in NYC is interrelated. Nothing exists in a solitary silo. A new luxury apartment building, using modern construction technique, isn’t built here – it’s assembled here. Prefabricated sections are brought to the job site from a distant factory and lifted by crane into the correct spot. Those “wide load” sections have to get “here” from somewhere else. How do you do that, when the Real Estate people have eliminated port and rail infrastructure across the five boroughs in a systematic manner over the last fifty years? By heavy truck, of course. In a vastly interconnected system like NYC, a small change in one place causes ripples through others.

Those trucks, coming from distant factories, have to move through other people’s neighborhoods. They encounter obstacles like the elevated tracks of the 7 line on Queens Blvd. or the overpasses of highways. Since everyone is a fucking environmentalist these days, how about we calculate the amount of carbon these truck trips spend while idling in traffic in upper Manhattan on their way to the Triborough?


“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

June 1, 2021 at 11:00 am

stupefying remoteness

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Monday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The union guys have really “upped” their inflatable rat game during the pandemic. There’s a labor action currently underway against the Metro Oil operation, owned by grocery billionaire John Catsimatidis, over on Kingsland Avenue nearby the Greenpoint Avenue Bridge. Since the last time I observed the inflatable rat pictured above, it’s received a very nice paint job with lots of airbrushing.

One found himself in Greenpoint for an early in the day commiserate with the NYC DEP, Newtown Creek Alliance, and the various members of the Newtown Creek Monitoring Committee to attend the “soft opening” of Phases 2 & 3 of the Newtown Creek Nature Walk at the sewer plant in Greenpoint. My pal Nate Kensinger recently published a piece about this newly available parcel of public space – check it out here.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Phase 2 of the DEP’s project involved the creation of pedestrian bridges that cross the end of the Whale Creek tributary of Newtown Creek, whereas Phase 3 is a large corridor that connects to the end of Kingsland Avenue. This means that between dawn and dusk you can cross Newtown Creek into Brooklyn from Queens at the Pulaski Bridge, walk down Paidge Avenue and into the Nature Walk, then exit it and get back into Queens via the Greenpoint Avenue Bridge. Used to be that you’d need to walk the entire perimeter of the sewer plant to accomplish the same route and you can’t see the water or any of the cool stuff on Newtown Creek that way.

Pictured above is the NYC DEP’s Port Richmond Sludge Boat, at dock in Whale Creek, where the sewer plant people are pumping the “honey” into its tanks. The “honey” or sterilized sewer sludge, is sent over to another DEP plant on Randalls/Wards Island where it’s dewatered in centrifuges.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The Newtown Creek Nature Walk was designed by artist George Trakas, built in accordance with NYC’s “1% for art” charter requirement, and offers breathtaking views of Newtown Creek’s maritime industrial corridor. You’ve also got a not insignificant amount of skyline goodness there too.

That’s a DonJon tug moving barges around at the SimsMetal docks in Long Island City. The Nature Walk is officially “soft opened,” meaning that the official ribbon cutting hasn’t occurred yet but it’s welcoming visitors. Supposedly, they’re going to truck the Mayor out sometime soon to do so.


“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

May 24, 2021 at 11:00 am

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