The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

Archive for the ‘Grand Street Bridge’ Category

ominous potions

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Maspeth Monday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One scuttled over to the Grand Street Bridge “zone” one recent evening, an area found some 3.1 miles from the East River and straddling the lamentable Newtown Creek, to see what’s what. It was chilly, but it is – in fact – wintertime.

Eschewing a perambulatory tour of the Brooklyn side, one instead set his toes towards Industrial Maspeth, oft referred to as “my happy place.” Did I mention the cold?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One seems to recall this particular night as being a Sunday, as if the nomenclature of an individual day might matter during this dark and endless era of pandemic, sedition, and financial desperation. Frankly, I’ve lost track of how many days have passed here in the “after time” since March 13th of 2019. I could check with google to find out, but one tries to remember things rather than using technology for the basics.

Industrial Maspeth has received several new layers of graffiti paint, and more than a couple of its industrial businesses have flown the coop. The downed fence-line, pictured above, used to vouchsafe a large property that housed construction cranes and other heavy equipment. Don’t know if they went out out of business or just moved on to grayer pastures somewhere else.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Patrolling the lighting choked streets of the Newtown Creek like some sort of low rent Batman, one is constantly scanning the environment for potential threats and hazards. Recent weather events had deposited a fair amount of liquid onto the grease stained and quite concretized devastations of industrial Maspeth, which offered an extra layer of slippery hazard to my worries.

One interesting observation I can offer is that there are a large number of people who are living in RV’s and trailers and exploiting the long term parking rules of the industrial business zones nowadays. This is a trend I started noticing a couple of summers ago, but since we exited the “before time” it’s really kicked into gear.

More tomorrow.

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, January 18th. 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 here, 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.


“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

January 18, 2021 at 1:00 pm

triangular gulf

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Wednesday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As mentioned in the last couple of installments, a humble narrator recently perambulated aimlessly about in Industrial Maspeth while waiting for the burning thermonuclear eye of God itself to descend behind the skyline of Manhattan. Many were the poison acres which were crossed, and I managed to get in a few decent shots at the venerable Grand Street Bridge, spanning the fabulous Newtown Creek approximately 3.1 miles from the waterway’s intersection with the East River.

Ribald happiness abounds, for one such as myself, in such actions.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The appointed time was approaching and therefore one made his way to the Maspeth Avenue Plank Road where my intentions revolved around setting up the tripod and configuring the camera into landscape modality. It’s a simple process, there’s a checklist, and it’s just a matter of getting to the location a few minutes ahead of when the sky and light will be “just right.”

I mentioned this fire hydrant and the puddles surrounding it yesterday, and since I’m calling your attention to it again… suffice to say that this bit of urban street furniture will figure heavily into the narrative of tomorrow’s post at this – your Newtown Pentacle.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

In the meanwhile, one achieved the location and arrived at the timing of that which had carried me to Industrial Maspeth – a 6:39 sunset cue. I actually missed an important step on that camera checklist, which forced me to trash a few shots and start over. The whole point of a checklist, Mitch… ennui.

It was while I was actuating the shutter for the shot above that I heard a distant “POP” and then a “whoosh” but wasn’t sure where the sound came from. I soon found out. More tomorrow.

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, October 12th. 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 here, 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.


“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 14, 2020 at 11:00 am

gray veined

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Friday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One last shot of the NYC DEP’s aeration system at Newtown Creek’s East Branch in operation, with the MTA’s fortress like counting house in the background.

That’s one of the facilities which the transit agency uses to count the money from bus boxes and subway token booth collections. I’ve been told that workers who do this within the fortress are compelled to wear jumpsuits with padlocks on the zipper to discourage theft. The only theft allowed at MTA is at Jay Street in Brooklyn, or in Albany’s corridors of power.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Leaving Brooklyn, reentering Queens, one last look at the venerable Grand Street Bridge was enacted. This span is going to be replaced in the next few years, and there’s a considerable amount of work that the NYC DOT needs to do before that process can fully begin. There’s a long list of weekends and evenings during which the bridge will be closed to both vehicular traffic and to pedestrian or bicycle access this autumn and winter, so if you cross it on the regular like I do – plan alternate routes.

Industrial Maspeth, which I’ve long described as my happy place, was echoing with Mexican music on this particular night. One found himself pursuing the sound, which led me towards the Haberman section of the Lower Montauk tracks maintained by the Long Island Railroad.

It sounded great.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I won’t snitch on the various illegal parties, raves, concerts, and gatherings I’ve witnessed in the industrial zone during the pandemic months. As an old fart, I’ve actually been enjoying the opportunity to spend a lot of quality time at home with Our Lady of the Pentacle. We’ve been cooking at home, spending leisurely and sometimes boozy nights talking about things which concern and inform our days, and in general making the best of it all. My sympathies during this interval have been applied to those who are going it alone, and to the young.

I cannot imagine what it’s been like to be in your late teens or early twenties and endlessly trapped in the house with your parents. Somewhere out there – hidden in the preternatural darkness of the happy place, young people were finding ways to enjoy themselves.

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, September 28th. 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 here, 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.


“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.

correlated causeways

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Eleven bridges, one creek.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Pulaski Bridge is the first span you encounter, when you’ve left the East River and embarked on a journey down the fabulous Newtown Creek. A double bascule drawbridge, and electrically powered, the Pulaski Bridge connects 11th street in Long Island City with McGuinness Blvd. to the south in Brooklyn’s Greenpoint. Built in 1954, the Pulaski Bridge is owned and operated by the New York City Department of Transportation or “NYC DOT.” The Pulaski Bridge carries five lanes of traffic, plus a dedicated bicycle lane and a separate pedestrian pathway. It overflies the Queens Midtown Tunnel and Long Island Expressway, as well as active railroad tracks found on Borden Avenue.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

DB Cabin acts as a gatekeeper to the Dutch Kills tributary of Newtown Creek. It’s a railroad swing bridge owned by the Long Island Railroad, and connects two rail yards – the Wheelspur Yard (to the west, or left in the shot above) and the Blissville Yard – across the water. Both rail yards and the bridge itself are part of the LIRR’s Lower Montauk tracks. DB Cabin dates back to the 1890’s and is in a terrible state of repair. The swing bridge’s motors are nonfunctional, which isolates the Dutch Kills tributary from maritime traffic, and from the rest of the Newtown Creek.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Cabin M is just to the north of DB Cabin on Dutch Kills, and the single bascule drawbridge connects the Montauk Cutoff with the Blissville Yard mentioned above. The Montauk Cutoff is an elevated track which used to provide a connection between the LIRR’s Main Line tracks at the nearby Sunnyside Yards with the Lower Montauk tracks along the north (or Queens side) shoreline of Newtown Creek. The 2020 Capital Plan just released by the Long Island Railroad’s owner – The MTA – includes funding to demolish Cabin M.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Borden Avenue Bridge is owned by the NYC DOT, and is one of just two retractile bridges in NYC (the other being the Carroll Street Bridge over the Gowanus Canal). Built in 1908 to replace an earlier wooden drawbridge (1868) at the intersection of Borden Avenue and Dutch Kills, Borden Avenue Bridge received extensive upgrades and structural repairs in 2010 and 2011, and had its electronic components destroyed by flooding during Hurricane Sandy. Another round of repairs and upgrades began in 2019, which included asbestos abatement work.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The Long Island Expressway is 71 miles long, and is operationally managed in three sections. The Queens Midtown Expressway is how it’s owners, the New York State Department of Transportation, refer to the section found between the Queens Midtown Tunnel and Greenpoint Avenue in Long Island City. This section is elevated, rising to 106 feet above the waters of Dutch Kills. The LIE truss pictured above handles some 87.7 thousand daily vehicle trips, or 32 million annually, to and from Manhattan,

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Hunters Point Avenue Bridge is due north west of Borden Avenue Bridge and the LIE truss. It’s a single bascule drawbridge, owned by the NYC DOT. Replacing an earlier wooden draw bridge that was opened and closed by a donkey walking on a wheel, the Hunters Point Avenue Bridge was built in 1910. Back then, it was a double bascule bridge, but a rebuild in the 1980’s simplified the mechanism to a single bascule. The masonry of the bridge is original to the 1910 design.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The Greenpoint Avenue Bridge is found some 1.37 miles from Newtown Creek’s intersection with the East River, and roughly a half mile from the mouth of Dutch Kills. It’s a double bascule bridge, built in 1987, and owned and operated by the NYC DOT. There have been many Greenpoint Avenue Bridges, dating back to the first one built by Greenpoint’s town father Neziah Bliss back in 1850, but that one was called the “Blissville Bridge.” The Greenpoint Avenue Bridge is a traffic machine, carrying 28.3 thousand vehicle trips a day, or about ten million a year. Most of that traffic takes the form of heavy trucking.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The brand new Kosciuszko Bridge(s) replaced a 1939 vintage truss bridge that carried the Brooklyn Queens Expressway over Newtown Creek and are found some 2.1 miles from the East River. The NYS DOT is busy putting the finishing touches on the new cable stay bridge’s construction. In addition to the… ahem… high speed traffic lanes of the BQE, there is also a pedestrian and bicycle pathway found on the new Kosciuszko Bridge which connects 43rd street in Queens’s Sunnyside section with Meeker Avenue in Brooklyn’s Greenpoint.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The Grand Street Bridge is a swing bridge connecting Maspeth’s Grand Avenue in Queens with East Williamsburg/Bushwick’s Grand Street in Brooklyn. 3.1 miles back from the East River, in a section of Newtown Creek once called “White’s Dock,” the NYC DOT have recently announced plans to replace this 1909 beauty – which is actually the third bridge to occupy this spot. Damage from Hurricane Sandy, and the narrow roadways with height restrictions that the bridge offers, have pretty much sealed its fate. It will be missed.

This is where the main spur of Newtown Creek ends, as a note. Directly east is a truncated tributary called the East Branch, and another tributary called English Kills makes a hard turn to the south just before you encounter Grand Street Bridge.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Metropolitan Avenue Bridge is a double bascule drawbridge that crosses the English Kills tributary of Newtown Creek, and is owned by the NYC DOT. Metropolitan Avenue was originally built as a private toll road in 1813, and the first bridge here was a part of the “Williamsburg and Jamaica Turnpike.” The current Metropolitan Avenue Bridge was built in 1931, although it has received significant alterations in 1976, 1992, 2006, and again in 2015. The 2015 alterations?

You guessed it, Hurricane Sandy strikes again.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Montrose Avenue Rail Bridge is the final crossing found over the waters of Newtown Creek and its tributaries. Some 3.7 miles back from the East River, it’s the property of the Long Island Railroad and used for freight service on their Bushwick Branch tracks. A truss bridge, or trestle if you must, my understanding of things are that whereas the trackway and parts of the rail bridge date back to approximately 1924… there has been quite a lot of work done on the thing which I have not been able to fully document so rather than fill in blanks with assumptions – I’m just going to say that I don’t know everything… yet.

It’s an active track, it should be mentioned.


“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.

mechanically performed

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What I’m doing, while you’re asleep.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Given my particularly nocturnal activities of late, it was a shock to the system when I had to arrive at an assignment on the Greenpoint/Williamsburg border yesterday at 7:30 in the morning. It’s been quite common for the last couple of weeks for me to be retiring to the bed at about 4:30-5 a.m. after returning from scuttles about the Newtown Creek with an image packed camera card. Seldom have I been out that late, rather, I’ll get back to HQ sometime just after midnight and then sit down to handle the developing process on the freshly minted pixels.

Pictured above is the Grand Street Bridge as seen from one of the two arms of the East Branch tributary of Newtown Creek. One of the things I find “neat” about these night shots, long exposures all, are details which the limitations of human night vision occluded while in the field. Those whitish gray arcing streaks in the water are reflected light coming from the scales of fishes in the water, which were invisible to the naked eye.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A bit further up the Newtown Creek, this time along the English Kills tributary, and the Metropolitan Avenue Bridge is in focus. This sort of shot is possible only because of my long sought knowledge of every possible point of view on the waterway, which I’ve spent hundreds if not thousands of hours walking around when the burning thermonuclear eye of God itself is bobbing about in the sky. That’s why I’d recommend not attempting these sorts of shots “cold,” since daylight observations have revealed to me all the spots where various urban snares and dead falls into the water can be found.

In the case of the shot above, the shoreline surrounding the bridge is decidedly unstable, with soils that are subsiding into the water and held together only by tree roots and subsurface pipes.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Safe as houses, that’s how I’d describe the location this (rare for me) vertically oriented shot of the new Kosciuszcko Bridge was gathered, at the Maspeth Avenue Plank Road site. As above, so below, at the Newtown Creek.

As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve come to detest the LED lighting used on this and many other structures in modernity. This system of lighting creates an out of gamut series of colors, are far too bright, and give an otherwise nicely apportioned bridge the appearance of a garish Greek coffee shop back here in Astoria.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

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