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Archive for the ‘Queens Plaza’ Category

vague presentiment

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Mighty, Queensboro… and I guess I’m a troll now.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One of my recent jaunts, carrying the camera about, found me wandering around the footings of the Queensboro Bridge in LIC. The amount of wasted space under here, which is frankly squandered by the NYC DOT, is colossal. DOT has the whole area gated off, with utilitarian fencelines of the chain link type bearing signage warning passerby of non existent security, and the city block sized lots under the bridge are used as parking lots for DOT’s municipal vehicle fleets, storage areas for various sorts of equipment like bike racks and tables, or they just sit empty.

For an area that’s so visually interesting, and so close to the largest of the NYCHA campuses, not having some combination of playgrounds and sitting areas… or even a single sign talking about Lindenthal and 1909… bah.

Trolls hang out under bridges, right?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I’ve got a special place in my three sizes too small heart for Queensboro, as the centennial for her was the first time that I participated in a public event. A humble narrator was a Parade Marshal for that event, and in fact, the very first post at this – your Newtown Pentacle – carried a shot from the upper roadway shot on that day. That’s the first and only time I got to meet Mayor Bloomberg, the first time I interacted with Congresswoman Caroline Maloney, Borough President Helen Marshall, or then DOT Commissioner Jeanette Sadik Khan.

In many ways, it was my coming out party.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Now, I’ve been bringing the thunder to Western Queens ever since, of course, but yeah Queensboro’s Centennial was the first time I stood up out of the shadows and said “Hi.”

Pictured above is one of those monumental wastes of space discussed above, a mostly empty parking lot for some of DOT’s fleet of passenger cars. Ever wonder why the DOT doesn’t require its people to ride bikes? I mean, institutionally speaking, they are the ones pushing the whole “bike lane agenda” in cooperation with the almighty TA Bicycle Lobby. You’d think they’d be providing some sort of moral example by abandoning their cars and riding bikes. The bike lobby is pushing the slogan that “street parking is theft,” right? So… what would you call that parking lot pictured above? Wouldn’t something else be a better use of the public land?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There’s an intricate web of ramps leading onto and off of Queensboro Bridge at the western side of Queens Plaza. You’ve also got structural steel aqueducts that carry subway lines to and from the area. The streets are pretty high volume as far as private vehicle traffic goes as well. It’s not terribly pedestrian friendly down here.

Ever notice how the pedestrians always get left out of the argument? Most people walk to and from either their cars or their bikes, as a note, and there’s some like myself for which walking is their primary manner of getting around. Saying that, it’s all about parking versus bike lanes.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

On the bike lane front, a significant amount of conversation in the coming months is going to involve Crescent Street. The bike people, and the elected officialdom crowd, have started a process which is calling on the NYC DOT to study creating a “bridge to bridge” bike lane on Crescent Street which will negate a lot of parking, reduce the number of vehicle lanes on the southern side of the street down to one, and create a protected bike lane. It’s not necessarily the end of the world, as some would offer, and not necessarily the solution to all things as others would say. What it is, however, is problematic in terms of engineering the street’s ultimate flow of both motor vehicles and bikes onto Queensboro.

Pity me, I’m going to be right in the middle of this on Community Board 1’s Transportation Committee.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

That’s the 7 line subway tracks pictured above, and the streak of light exiting stage left is the line itself. Cannot tell you how long I stood on this corner waiting to get this shot, but I can tell you it was pretty chilly out and that shortly after the capture above, rain started to drizzle down. One headed over towards the north side of Queens Plaza, whereupon I discovered that the R line had been shut down for the night due to repairs and that MTA was running a shuttle bus instead. Luckily for me, that shuttle wasn’t asking for a swipe of the old Metro Card, so I got a free ride home.

Tomorrow, back to the fabulous Newtown Creek, at this – your Newtown Pentacle.


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Written by Mitch Waxman

February 17, 2020 at 11:00 am

nameless hybrids

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In the end, there is only one question.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I’ve asked it time and againwho can guess, all there is, that might be buried down there? A recent scuttle found one headed towards Queens Plaza and discovering that a subterranean parking garage had been recently constructed that offered one a partial answer to that question. Cars. There’s cars down there.

Y’know, if you’re moving to a high rise building located at the destination point of nearly every bus and subway line in the Borough of Queens, and a couple of blocks from the Queensboro Bridge, a question to ask yourself is “do I really need to have a car, instead of renting one when I need one, since I live one subway stop from Manhattan”? Pfagh!

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One remains endlessly fascinated by the visual splendors of Queens Plaza. Long exposure shots such as the one above, which captured the quick passage of a bus past the camera, are the sort of thing I’m after these days. When I see a bus coming, an attempt is made to get the shot set up and framed before it passes me by, as a matter of fact. That streak of light in the middle of the shot above is actually an N train entering the Queensboro Plaza station on the elevated track, so for once my timing worked out perfectly, MTA wise. I always say “the A in MTA is for adventure.”

This was a particularly cold night, but the recent desire for a return to physical and photographic discipline after the long convalescence related to that broken toe at the end of 2019 is something which I cannot deny myself. Also, by staying busy in the slack time of my year, I’ve avoided the depressed mood and doldrums which normally afflict me during the winter months.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Since the air temperatures were in the high twenties, and it was quite breezy, the only logical choice I could make was to visit the Queensboro Bridge bike and pedestrian path, since a cold January night is exactly when you want to find yourself about ten stories over the East River – right?

Used to be that I’d find myself walking over Queensboro a couple of times a week, but for the last few years not so much. I also never used to drink tea, but these days I look forward to a good “cuppa” now and again.


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acrid scent

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I’m the thing on your doorstep at night.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Want to have people notice you? Stand on the corner of Skillman Avenue behind a tripod, while photographing scenes like the one above. People will literally walk directly in front of the camera lens and good naturedly ask you what you’re recording. “Right now, madam, your midsection” is something you can say. That’s why I had to stand there for about twenty minutes the other night, waiting for another 7 train to transit above. Shot needed the 7, after all, not some random woman’s abdomen. If you happen across a photographer who is set up with a tripod and all the other junk, and you’re feeling conversational, maybe it would make sense for you not to stand directly in front of their camera? As mentioned, hate for everyone and everything at the moment.

My goal, as mentioned in yesterday’s post, was to get down to Dutch Kills in LIC, which is one of my happy places. I need happy places at the moment.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

“Hell is other people” as the saying goes. Of course, without the other people, these shots would have been gathered in a primeval and legendarily mosquito rich swamp that was supposedly avoided by the native americans. This section of LIC was historically undeveloped until the early 20th century, when the fields of both construction technology and financial capital management had finally attained levels sufficient to not just conquer but totally annihilate the natural environment. You can destroy an ecosystem the old fashioned way (Rome was great at this task), but to totally erase any trace of flowing or flooding water, you need modern tools and lots of money. The Pennsylvania Railroad, Michael Degnon, and the City of Greater New York itself had both requirements sorted out back “in the day.”

This corner is where, instead of some nosey lady, I got to smile and wave at a couple of cops who were mildly curious about my activities. Not curious enough to roll down the window, or get out of the car, just curious enough to stare at me for a few minutes. I waved, smiled, and flipped the tail of my filthy black raincoat at them. Shaking their heads, they drove off.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Finally. When I say that I can only be happy when I’m in places like 29th street in LIC, a blasted railroad access route that masquerades as a proper city street. The bulkheads along the water side of the street have been collapsing for a couple of years now, but no one cares. The waters of the industrialized canal called Dutch Kills, which have tested positive for both Gonorrhea and Typhus, are poison but no one cares. Sick little trees line the banks, wicking up the heavy metals and other pollutants from the landfill used to conquer the swamp. I care.

Nepenthe.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle


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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.

hardly fitting

Cacophonies of tumult.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Having staggered and stumbled down Northern Blvd.’s Carridor, and then down the vampire infested expanse of Jackson Avenue, one made the turn away from Queens Plaza, towards Skillman Avenue and onto one of the truss bridges carrying pedestrian, bicycle, and vehicle traffic over the narrow part of the Sunnyside Yard while wearing a too tight hat.

This is a pretty busy byway, as a note, with thousands of vehicle trips an hour passing through, and since LaGuardia Community College is just a few blocks away there’s also a considerable amount of pedestrian and bike movement. This is another one of those spots where utilitarian concerns trumped all other considerations, including esthetics, when it was created. Unfriendly is the word.

Far and away this is one of the most unwelcoming, ugly, and down right hostile passages in all of NYC for perambulatory pursuits, in my experience. It’s also badly lit, and there’s a hundred places for a bad actor to lie in wait for passerby. Luckily, since there’s running water in the ground below, no vampires are found above.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Just as the truss bridge ends at Skillman Avenue, the street officially gets listed as Queens Blvd., but “technically speaking” the actual Boulevard of Death begins at the corner of Van Dam Street and Thomson Avenue. There’s spots like this all over Queens where an overpass above (the one pictured today carries the IRT Flushing or 7 Line Subway) obscures the actual street name below and cartography gets vague. One interesting thing about the design of Queens Plaza is that if makes you want to get out of Queens Plaza just as quickly as possible. It’s not the sort of place where you look around for a cafe with out door seating, where you’d want to sit down to enjoy an espresso.

This was the “turn around” point in my scuttle, where I orient my steps back towards HQ in Astoria. An eastwards turn onto Skillman Avenue was executed.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I had to “Frankenstein” the shot above, or I should say “shots.” One of the problems often encountered while gathering these night photos is the uneven illumination. The exposure for the gas station was literally half of what was required for the rest of the shot. Accordingly, it’s actually two shots welded together, which you can get away with doing if you’re using a tripod and the camera is in a fixed position. Luckily, the 7 was delayed during the longer exposure so it renders as something other than a streak of lights.

Formerly common commercial establishments seen in NYC were gas stations. When the fires of gentrification begin to be stoked in any neighborhood, large footprint businesses like gas stations are usually amongst the first to go. Supermarkets too. A point has been made in recent years to record their location and appearance.


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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 22, 2020 at 1:00 pm

looming up

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Continuing a night time stroll down Jackson Avenue.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

For generations have the children of Queens cried out in anguish and despair that they were denied their birthright – a chance to live in a small to medium sized but quite expensive apartment in or near Queens Plaza. Luckily, the powers that be over in Manhattan heard the children’s pleas and have answered their prayers. The under construction structure pictured above will be capped off by an “infinity pool,” which should answer another group’s longings – specifically the statistically relevant number of people who have always wanted to swim in a pool high above Queens Plaza. It’s a magical place, after all.

I get nostalgic for the porn shops and hookers, personally. They really dressed the place up, back in the day.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The stretch of Jackson Avenue lying betwixt Queens Plaza and 31st street is just horrible. You’ve got security fences and fortress walls on one side of the street, and long featureless construction fences on the other. A dizzying amount of automotive traffic occupies the center, and above there’s the tormenting sound of steel subway wheels grinding against the elevated rails. Jackson Avenue is too dark, and too bright, all at the same time. Everything is a confusion. It’s terrifying crossing the street, as every intersection is rumbling with traffic waiting to spring forth. Also, there’s vampires hiding up there in the steel.

God almighty, how I love places like this.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Dormitory style living awaits just a few blocks away, where all of that traffic – both automotive and locomotive – is coincidentally heading towards. Queens Plaza is where an automotive choke point turn off of Jackson Avenue carries you towards the onramps of the Queensboro Bridge. It’s also where the Flushing line subway conjoins with the Astoria service, so you’ve got that extra bit of steel rail sound to contemplate. I could not hear anything playing on the headphones jammed in my ears while shooting these photos, which indicates just how loud Queens Plaza actually is.

There’s lots and lots of new construction here, so the kids of Queens can finally live the dream. There’s that.


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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 20, 2020 at 11:00 am

torturing appliances

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Why are you people always sleeping.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Sometimes, a humble narrator suffers from insomnia, so what’s a man to do but pack up the camera and wander around the streets in the middle of the night until he’s tired enough to fall asleep? Recently, one left the house at 4 a.m. on a Monday morning. It was the first time in a couple of months that I was carrying the “whole magilla” with me, as in the largish knapsack filled with camera lenses and all the other junk which one likes to have available when out and about. For the last couple of months, due to the broken toe you’re all so sick of hearing about, I’ve been traveling as light as possible. Now that the medically advised “take it easy” period is over, one is rattling the bars of his cage and is ready to go.

Funny thing is that I barely used all the crap I had with me, but I knew that when leaving the house. Wanted to see how my foot reacted to carrying the extra load on my back, and also start the process of getting back some muscle tone.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

My eventual destination was the BH camera shop on 34th street, so by leaving five hours earlier than they open, even the MTA wouldn’t be able to hamper my progress. One shlepped down Broadway through the urine and vomit puddles (the bars had just closed) towards the Astoria line tracks in expectation of riding an N or W into Manhattan, but while waiting for my chariot to arrive, I was puzzled at the presence of a J train sitting – seemingly abandoned – on the center track. I know, the J line icon in the shot above is all glowed out and unreadable. It was a J, here’s another shot of it which I executed in a different fashion.

Most of the people I saw waiting at the station seemed to be construction workers and people wearing security guard uniforms, which answers the question about who is taking the Subway from Astoria into the city in the wee hours. Them, and a wandering mendicant with a camera.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I transferred at Queensboro Plaza to the 7, which was just entering the station as I debarked the N. That’s the first missed shot of the night, and there were a few. One can not explain the logic behind a certain thought process, but sometimes a “little bird” starts singing to me about either not lingering someplace or just coming back another time. Call it “Spidey Sense” but… something was just telling me to go and not wait for the next 7. Over the years I’ve learned to listen to that voice in my head, and ignore the other ones. I actually didn’t have my headphones stuck in my ears all night, due to my desire to maintain “situational awareness” while shooting. Also, I had Rush’s “Tom Sawyer” playing in my head. A little paranoia is a good thing, in the dark of night. So’s a little Rush “ear worm,” every now and then.

New York City, folks, New York City. Pay attention to what’s going on around you.


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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

December 30, 2019 at 11:00 am

correlated little

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Rounding the week out with the trains

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One is just about done with 2019 here, as I imagine most of you are. It hasn’t been a great year, but there you are. As my old man used to say, if you’re able to complain about it you’re still alive so there isn’t that much to complain about. He’d then indicate that I was probably bored if I had time to complain and offered to fill my time with some chore. Nobody has wished me a Fun Festivus (which is Monday the 23rd, btw) at any of the holiday parties I attended, which I’m upset about. It’s good though, as I’m a little “partied out” at this point in time, and don’t have the bandwidth to gather around the aluminum pole and air my grievances this year.

What can I say, I’ve always been a grumpy loner, now I’m a grumpy old man.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Where am I going next? It’s an existential question I keep asking myself, and the answer is ultimately “where the world takes me.” One of the bits of sage wisdom this grumpy old man can offer is to not try to force things into happening. Paradoxically, I’ll also offer that the world only makes sense when you force it to do so.

To put it into mundane analogical terminology – it makes no sense to lean over the platform edge looking for the subway, as it won’t force the subway to appear. The train is going to get there when it gets there. Making good use of your “dwell time” in the station (as MTA refers to it) is forcing the world to make sense somehow. In my case, that means taking a lot of photos.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A recent encounter, which wasn’t the particular moment I was shooting this set of photos, involved the “what and why are you taking pictures of” trope down in one of the sweating concrete bunkers under Manhattan. This encounter wasn’t with law enforcement, members of which I had a couple of notable “in the field” conversations with in 2019, it was just some fellow commuter. I explained my activities to this particular petitioner by asking if she ever saw any of those cool old photos of NYC depicting subways or trolleys in BW photos from the 1930’s or 40’s on her Facebook feed. When she responded yes, I said “I’m the one whose photos your grandkids will be looking at.” She chuckled.

On that note, the 2020’s are coming and I plan on doing a lot of roaring in the next decade.


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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

December 20, 2019 at 2:30 pm

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