The Newtown Pentacle

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Archive for the ‘Roosevelt Island’ Category

fungus eyelets

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Always a first time for everything.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Normally, if one wished to visit Roosevelt Island (which is an occasional fancy), it’s a fairly short walk from the rolling hills of almond eyed Astoria to the East River and then over the estimable Roosevelt Island Bridge. Given the novel form of broken toe infirmity one is currently enjoying, alternative means were required to get to the NYPL Roosevelt Island Library branch to deliver my Newtown Creek lecture there last week. I took the train!

I’ve never taken a train to Roosevelt Island! Ferry? Tram? Walked? Yes to all three, but as far as the train – first time.

A short hop over to Jackson Heights on the R line found me awaiting the F line at the Roosevelt Avenue station, and soon I was positively hurtling towards the former Welfare Island. It went well, and the people on the train seemed nice.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There’s some debate about which subway station is most deeply buried. It’s not exactly a raging debate, but there’s a stop in upper Manhattan which is a contender due to the altitude of the land it sits under, and there’s the Roosevelt Island stop which is also a contender due to its relationship to sea level. At any rate, I was just glad that the escalators were functioning so that I didn’t have to limp my way up and out of the 63rd street tunnel.

One found his way to the library, got my gear set up, and told the story of Newtown Creek and my recent nocturnal explorations thereof. Afterwards, I was unwilling to chance entering the system due to the endemic repairs and service alterations familiar to the current era, and decided on using a cab to return to Astoria. Of course, I was on Roosevelt Island… so I opted to take a short walk over the Roosevelt Island Bridge and find a car on the Queens side of the river.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Truth be told, I saw an opportunity to brandish the camera for a few minutes on my way, a desire which trumped the toe drama for a few minutes. That’s the Roosevelt Island Bridge pictured above, looking towards the Ravenswood section of Long Island City in Queens.

Back tomorrow with something different, at this, your Newtown Pentacle.


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Buy a book!

Limited Time 25% off sale – use code “gifts25” at checkout.

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

November 19, 2019 at 1:00 pm

burying dust

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Ferry rides never get old, man.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Wednesday last, one spent the late afternoon riding around on a couple of the NYC Ferry system’s routes. My desire was to freshen up my recollections for this Saturday’s tour, which will play out on the Soundview route. To get from “A” to “M,” the Astoria line was accessed at Hallet’s Cove nearby the NYCHA Astoria houses. This particular line’s terminal stop is at the location above, then it stops at the east side of Roosevelt Island beneath the Queensboro Bridge, LIC North nearby Anable Basin, 34th street in the City, a new stop at the Brooklyn Navy Yard has just been added, and then it proceeds to Pier 11/Wall Street in Lower Manhattan. If you time it right, and I did, a free transfer is available to the Soundview line which carries you up to the Bronx.

There’s all sorts of amenity and inducement onboard to encourage the comfort of riders, but for me, the NYC Ferry is a cheap way to offer my camera a weapons platform for remote deployments. Pictured above are the Roosevelt Island Bridge and a section fo the Big Allis power plant in Queens’ Ravenswood section.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The view from the Brooklyn Navy Yard is offered above.

As of right now, it doesn’t look like the sort of boat tours which I’ve normally offered and or participated in during the last ten summers will be possible. The popularity of the NYC Ferry during the summer months has seen the service reserving or leasing every single boat in NY Harbor to buttress their own fleet, and its “taken the air out” of the rental boat market. There’s still plenty of higher end vessels you can hire, but they are either too large and expensively risky – Circleline, for instance – or are floating catering halls which are far too slow and costly. There’s also a few vessels which are just out of my price range, or would necessitate ticket prices that are stratospheric.

It’s funny, actually. What my friends and I have been advocating for over the last decade (and change) has come to pass. New Yorkers are once again embracing their waterways, and using maritime transit to get around. There’s no shortage of “normal people” advocating for waterfront access these days, not just us “harbor rats,” and there’s so many people paddling around in kayaks and canoes that it’s actually become quite crowded in certain parts of the harbor. Imagine that.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Here’s something I’ve learned over the last decade, take it for what it’s worth.

In the world of “tours,” you’ve got a couple of basic delineations; vehicle tours, site tours, walking tours. My pals at Turnstile Tours, who essentially have a franchise at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, offer the very definition of “site tours.” The folks who do the Grand Central Station tours also do “site tours,” or the extremely successful Empire State Building operation. That’s when you’ve got exclusive access to a particular place. Walking tours, which I offer regularly during the summer months, follow a particular route that expresses a certain narrative or story. Vehicle tours take a variety of forms, from the bus operations that feed off the tourist trade in Manhattan to CircleLine or even the sort of boat tours which I usually offer during the summer months that go to some out of the way but interesting place like Port Newark or Newtown Creek.

Then, there’s the “subway tour,” which take advantage of preexisting transit infrastructure to cover a large distance quickly. The NYC Ferry tour I’m conducting tomorrow, links below, will follow the model of a subway tour. If it works out, and so far there’s been quite a lot of interest in this one, I’m planning on doing more of them on the less travelled routes. The Rockaway line, for instance, is far too popular to even consider doing one during the summer months.

There’s just so much to see and talk about on the Soundview and Astoria lines, it boggles the mind.


Upcoming Tours and Events

June 15th – Exploring the East River,

From General Slocum Disaster to Abandoned Islands – with NY Adventure Club.

June 15th is one of those days in NYC history. In 1904, more than a thousand people boarded a boat in lower Manhattan, heading for a church picnic on Long Island — only 321 of them would return. This is the story of the General Slocum disaster, and how New York Harbor, the ferry industry, and a community were forever altered.

Join New York Adventure Club for a two-part aquatic adventure as we explore the General Slocum disaster, and historic sights and stories along the East River, all by NYC Ferry.

Tickets and more details
here.


“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 14, 2019 at 1:30 pm

mental cast

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A few more odds and ends today.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One is still attempting to dig himself out of a self created content hole; wherein a combination of weather, personal ennui, and “busy doing other stuff” factors have seen me record a historic low number of images in the month of March. I’m working on a couple of follow up books to the “In the Shadows at Newtown Creek” volume, as well as trying to figure out a tour schedule for the summer months. I’m behind on every possible schedule you can name, as a note.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The shots in today’s post are actually from February, which were captured on a NYC Ferry ride. Today’s post is a placeholder, offered in place of a “regular” posting which would might offer some proverbial meat on the bone.

Hopefully, by next week I’ll be all current and caught up on my backlog. I currently have a few hundred raw file photos that I haven’t even looked at yet on my hard drive, so once I slog through that…

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There really isn’t enough coffee to drink these days…


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possible cure

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On the boat.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As mentioned yesterday, I took a ride on the new Soundview line of the NYC Ferry recently in pursuance of scouting out a tour which I’m going to conduct along its route. Soundview is a long ride by the standards of the new Ferry system, some 46 minutes. It takes you north from Pier 11 Wall Street along the eastern shoreline of Manhattan with stops at 34th street and then at 90th street. Its path carries you along the rather familiar sights of the great bridges section of the East River (Brooklyn to Queensborough) and then proceeds into the River’s west channel between Roosevelt Island and Manhattan.

Pictured above is a tug towing an empty fuel barge southwards along the waterway. How do I know it’s empty? Look at how high the barge is riding in the water… that’s how.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The west channel of the East River is preferred for the passage of larger ships and maritime industrial traffic for a couple of reasons, most notably the absence of height restrictions due to the Roosevelt Island Bridge and the “no wake” zone around the Big Allis power plant in Queens’ Ravenswood section. The Soundview ferry uses this channel to proceed northwards, passing by notable Upper East Side landmarks like Rockefeller University in the East 60’s.

That’s another huge articulated tug and fuel barge in the shot above, operated by the Reinauer company. Articulated means that there are cabling connections which allow the Captain of the tug to operate the two entities as a single vessel. There is also a large cutout notch in the bow of the barge which the tug nestles into.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Last stop in Manhattan is at East 90th street, whereupon the ferry route heads across the East River to the east channel, and heads into Hells Gate. Those of you with a historical mindset might already have an inkling of what this tour will be talking about, but let’s just say that a little bit more than a century ago on a nice morning in mid June, a large group of people boarded a boat just north of Wall Street at Peck Slip, and more or less followed this route. Things did not go as planned for them, and bad things happened. Very, very bad things.

More tomorrow, at your Newtown Pentacle.


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Written by Mitch Waxman

February 26, 2019 at 1:30 pm

mingled fear

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Roosevelt Island and Bigfoot, in today’s post.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Just the other day I came across a web page offering advice under the headline “So you want to become a Bigfoot hunter?” which discussed the sort of equipment needed for the job and laid out the wilderness survival skills which you’d be obliged to cultivate. I have a lot of the gear, but I’d probably die of fear and exposure within 48 hours out in the woods. The region of Brooklyn I grew up in was part of “Flatlands” which is next door to “Flatbush.” Not a lot of conifer forests, nor mountains, and the wildest animal was a guy named Larry who lived over on Clarendon Road. Nature wants to kill and eat me, I believe, so I stay in the place where humanity has had nature held tightly by the throat for centuries and where we routinely kick it in the balls just to remind it who’s boss – the City of Greater New York.

Saying that, I got to join a group of urban planners recently on a walk that started at Hallets Cove in Astoria and terminated at the new Cornell University Campus on Roosevelt Island.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

That’s the new Bloomberg Center pictured above, on the Cornell Campus. They’re still building over there, but what’s gone up so far looks a great deal like either the HQ of Star Trek’s Federation or the 31st century base used by the Legion of Super Heroes in DC Comics. It’s actually quite pleasing, visually, and I’m just being snarky about it. Go check it out, it’s worth the lookie loo.

As far as the Bigfoot Hunter gear, the recommendations included all sorts of camera and audio recording equipment which I’ve got. There were flashlights (got them too) and fancy hiking shoes (a-yup) on the list, and all kinds of camping gear which I suppose you’d need if you were foolish enough to say “Hey, I’ve got a perfectly good house with locking doors which I’m going to leave behind and go sleep alone in the woods where there are hungry animals and biting insects” while in pursuit of North American megafauna.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Thing about NYC that sucks is a complete lack of Sasquatch. Well, I don’t know “for sure” if there aren’t any, but last time I checked the ethnic breakdown offered by the United States Census Bureau for Astoria, there were zero Sasquatch mentioned. It’s possible that they registered as “Native American” or something, but I think that a family of Bigfoot living off Ditmars in a third floor Astoria walk up would elicit some special mention.

What I’m saying is that I’d love to be a professional Bigfoot Hunter, but the commute would really suck. I mean, seriously, what train would you take to get to Washington State, the “A” or something?


Upcoming Tours and Events

June 9th – 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.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

May 30, 2018 at 11:00 am

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