The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

Archive for the ‘Maspeth Plank Road’ Category

shapeless robe

leave a comment »

Thursday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The Maspeth Avenue Plank Road allows for and offers a few fairly unique points of view, along that river of urban neglect called the Newtown Creek. It’s one of my favorite spots in Western Queens, and if you’re there at the right time of day there’s a spectacular display of light painting both the water and the industrial zone surrounding it in oranges and golds. Lovely.

As mentioned in yesterday’s post, while shooting at this location, a somewhat distant “pop” and then a “whoosh” was audible and echoed evidently.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

It turns out that the water main feeding a fire hydrant – one which has been mentioned a couple of times this week – had popped open while I was shooting. Back in May of this year, flowing water was encountered in this area, but that flooding was occurring because of a different reason. I jokingly called it “Furman’s Creek.”

Of course, while shooting that post, I wasn’t on the Newtown Creek side of the hill as the water was pushing through. In today’s shots, it was flooding right towards me, and I was basically caught between two waterways, feeling like a fool.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The channel carved out by the Furman’s Creek flow quickly filled and began to overflow. Normal persons would react to this sort of thing by getting out of the way of a torrent of water rushing down a hill at them, but I’m a seasoned urban photographer, so… schmuck with a camera mode.

I wasn’t being vainglorious, mind you, rather I was keeping a close eye on the flow and increasing depth of the cataract. A plan was hatched, and a benchmark level calculated, for escape. Saying that, I had a few minutes before the water was going to rise high enough for me to have to walk into it, so I got busy.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The flow ultimately was heading into Newtown Creek, flattening and spreading out over the concrete plinth found at the end of the Plank Road site. What you’re looking at above is a rapidly flowing bunch of water roughly a yard across and 2-3 inches deep.

By the time I made my escape, the water had subsumed the entire plinth and was about 5-6 inches deep and flowing rapidly. Hundreds and hundreds of gallons were ripping past me. Luckily, I was stationed on two concrete structures which offered me a bit of altitude over the flow.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Unfortunately, litter and garbage as well as motor oil and all sorts of industrial zone street “yuck” was being carried into the Creek by the flow.

After shooting this image and the one above it, wherein my back had been turned to the flowing water, I suddenly realized that my escape route had flooded. Not wishing to have to walk through the now ankle deep torrent, a rapid series of hops/leaps and jumps carried me over and out onto drier land, allowing egress back to the top of the hill and street level. I’m just like a goat, yeah.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

By the time I reached street level, the flowing water had pretty much flooded out the pathway used to get to the coastline of Plank Road. Oddly bucolic, thought I.

Exciting, no? I thought it was.

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 15, 2020 at 11:00 am

triangular gulf

with one comment

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

slantplanks rising

leave a comment »

Happy Place Tuesday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Like every other piece of wind blown trash in NYC, a humble narrator often finds himself turning up uninvited in Industrial Maspeth, which is my happy place. You need to be specific describing the sections of ancient Maspeth, as residential Maspeth is actually quite lovely and a fairly desirable place to live – especially if you’ve got kids. Industrial Maspeth, on the other hand, is a blasted heath where the fires of the industrial revolution(s) burned as hot as those in hell. You’ve got pollution of every kind everywhere you look hereabouts – the underground, air, soil, and Industrial Maspeth’s coastlines are defined by the canalized bulkheads of the fabulous Newtown Creek and its tributaries. Newtown Creek is, of course, a Federal Superfund site and is probably the most contaminated waterbody in North America.

Happy place, yo.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Recent endeavor found one wandering about aimlessly, waiting for sunset to arrive so I could set up my tripod and capture a few landscape style shots. I try not to waste time while in the field, and when opportunity to capture “study” shots with bright primary colors presents itself I take it.

I tell ya, the working stiffs have no idea how much I appreciate them randomly tossing together safety barriers like the one pictured above.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Our Lady of Perpetual Puddles is the patron saint hereabouts. Heavy trucking really does a job on asphalt and the underlying infrastructure here in the Happy Place. This particular fire hydrant and the water it oozes into the street will play kind of big role in a post you’re going to see later on in the week, but for today’s purpose I just love the pastel colors it was reflecting from the vaulted sky.

I do hope you’ve subscribed to Newtown Pentacle if you’re new to the site. Generally speaking, I update with new material 5 times a week. I promise you won’t receive advertisements for weird stuff that have nothing to do with me, or at least any ads I’m inserting are for my photo books and or tours of the Newtown Creek which I’m the creator of. You can have the posts delivered to an email address you fill in above, for free, or you can follow me on Twitter – @newtownpentacle – to receive updates on that platform.

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 13, 2020 at 11:00 am

mental disturbance

with 3 comments

Flowing water.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Funnily enough, I was just saying to a friend of mine that I’d really like to find some flowing water and photograph it. This was part of me pining for a walk in the woods, or the sort of natural setting which I’m currently unable to reach due to the shut down. Pedestrian distances, for me, involve a lot of interesting things to photograph, but flowing water? Not so much.

My beloved Newtown Creek must have heard me, as I discovered during a recent midnight walk through my happy place – Industrial Maspeth.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One of the industrial lots seemed to have a broken water main or something, and what must be hundreds of gallons of water an hour are pouring out from under their fenceline onto the street. The DEP sewer grates in this area are nearly always clogged up, and street flooding is fairly ubiquitous here on the corner of 58th road and 47th street, nearby the DSNY’s Queens West 5 Garage.

At the end of the street is the Maspeth Plank Road historic site, which I had walked over from Astoria to visit this particular evening.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The flowing water was following its natural gravity driven course, towards Newtown Creek. Not wishing to soak my shoes, a short scuttle saw me on dry land along… the temporary tributary? Let’s call it Furman’s Creek for now.

About three people are going to get that reference, so here you are – this part of Maspeth used to be an island called Furman’s Island. Another island in Newtown Creek called Mussel Island was demolished at the start of the 20th century, and its spoils were used to connect Furman to Maspeth.

Below is a section from an undated map of smell nuisances that was likely drawn in the 1890’s depicting Mussel Island, Maspeth Creek, and Furman’s Island. As you can see, the coastline of Queens was VERY different in the relatively recent past.

Just as a point of interest for my fellow NYC history nerds, the shaded in smell nuisance site labeled as #17 was Peter Cooper’s Glue Factory in Greenpoint.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Here, I negotiated my way over to the flowing water which I had so desired to photograph, and set up the camera in what was fairly pitch darkness. From the look of it, this flow of water has been going on for a while. Normal rainfall flows have long created a hydrologic “shape” in the ground at Plank Road through which street precipitant runoff has been flowing for years.

The constant flow of water off of the industrial compound has deepened that “shape” into sort of a gorge. There really isn’t any sort of firmament to the soil here – it’s rip rap, boulders, gravel, and the only thing holding all that together are the shallow roots of self planted weeds and grasses.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Furman’s Creek, now flowing through Furman’s Gorge, was carrying a lot of street litter in its flow towards Newtown Creek. This is normal, unfortunately, but until we start putting social pressure on each other not to litter…

There was a soothing sound coming from the flowing water though, so that was nice. Quite tranquil, really. I said Industrial Maspeth is my happy place, and I mean it.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As you may have noticed, there’s a lot of photos on offer today, as opposed to the usual trio. Just couldn’t stop myself. As mentioned, I was desirous of finding a bucolic waterfall in the middle of some pristine forest to point the camera at.

Then along comes Furman’s Creek.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The flow, as mentioned, had created a gorge of sorts for the flowing water. Unfortunately, the gorge has made getting down onto the concrete bulkhead at the Maspeth Plank Road impossible without the usage of rubber boots. There was a good 4-8 inches of rapidly flowing earth juice moving towards the fabulous Newtown Creek in this section, surrounded by either gravel or super slippery mud.

Super slippery, not just slippery. Also – Now, more than ever.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

From what I could see, there seemed to be a buildup of material in the mud flat to the right of the shot above. Saying that – it was dark, after midnight, and I was as socially isolated as you can get here at the Plank Road, so the discretion/valor internal discussion I had with myself determined that I wasn’t going to try and negotiate a path down to the edge to find out.

Under normal circumstance, I’d probably have tried, but given that I still had to walk back to Astoria…

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I did scuttle over to the eastern side of Plank Road for the shot above, looking roughly westwards towards Brooklyn’s Greenpoint section and the Kosciuszcko Bridge. The large tanks in the center of the shot are on the National Grid property, and the dark shape in lower right foreground are pieces of wood that have somehow survived there since 1875, during the Presidency of Ulysses S. Grant.

No, really, here’s an illustration of this scene from Harper’s Weekly in 1881.

I’m fairly sure I’ve got other shots of the Plank Road throughout the decades, but just can’t seem to find them at the moment. Back 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, May 4th. 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 as we move into April and beyond, 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

May 6, 2020 at 12:00 pm

cracked voice

with one comment

Maspeth Plank Road, in today’s post.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A recent walk through the sunless corridors of Industrial Maspeth found a humble narrator at the Maspeth Plank Road site. The City of Greater New York, in its infinite desire to complicate the environmental cleanup of Newtown Creek, has recently been working on a plan to replace the Grand Street Bridge. That’s a good thing, as Grand Street Bridge is a causal factor in terms of the bumper to bumper traffic one experiences on Metropolitan Avenue in East Williamsburg, Flushing Avenue in Maspeth and Ridgewood, and so on. Unfortunately, a particular and long standing dream of some yahoo at the NYC DOT has been to build a crossing of Newtown Creek at the end of 54th road which would connect to Maspeth Avenue in Brooklyn.

Beyond obliterating whatever historicity remains at the Plank Road, this new drawbridge would only make things worse, in terms of heavy traffic. That’s a lesson Robert Moses refused to learn. It would be a cannon firing fleets of heavy trucks directly at the NYCHA Cooper Houses campus in Greenpoint, and at New York City Parks’ Cooper Park. This would also need to be a drawbridge so it’s extra expensive.

Don’t worry, I’m on it, and have already laid down the law with a deputy commissioner or two. There’s a couple of City Councilmembers who are about to hear from me as well, and I’m getting ready to cause everybody involved a lot of trouble.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

My pals at Newtown Creek Alliance have spent a not inconsiderable amount of effort on cleaning up, planting, and performing maintenance at the Plank Road. There’s actual historical signage there now, believe it or not, describing the site. Unfortunately, during the winter months, hydrological deposition carries a literal “shit ton” of garbage down the hill to Plank Road. The place is currently a real mess.

I’ll let y’all know when we plan a clean up party, and arrange for one of our partners to land a dumpster nearby. This is one of the things NCA does on the regular, street end cleanups with crews of volunteers – who are often college students – that pulls tons and tons of garbage off of the banks of Newtown Creek.

If you think the imminent plastic bag ban in NYC is some sort of “libtard foolishness to further the climate lie,” come down to Newtown Creek with us sometime for one of these clean ups and you can start peeling carrier bags off of the rocks and trees. We will argue afterwards about fake news and libtards.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A friend of mine… well, an online friend as we’ve only met once in the flesh… recently posted something to the effect of the plastic bag ban as being foolish policy and some sort of plot to tax the populace. The requirement in the new ban for the return of paper grocery bags is actually a jobs bill, when you get down to it. Recyclable in the extreme, the paper bags economic supply ecosystem will become a source of needed blue collar employment if it’s handled correctly. By creating a government mandated market for the things, private interests will compete to profit from said market. It will also raise the per ton value of recyclable paper and cardboard pulp. Nothing survives in the United States which doesn’t make money, profit, or dangle the lure of avarice.

Environmentalist people reading this, pay attention to that statement.


“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

February 4, 2020 at 11:00 am

%d bloggers like this: