The Newtown Pentacle

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Archive for the ‘St. George’ Category

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– photo by Mitch Waxman

Back in the saddle again, as it were.

It seems, after returning from my various journeys, that a humble narrator has had a bit of a fire lit in the seat of his pants. Within three days of returning to NYC, circumstance demanded that I needed to travel all over the place, and that’s when the malevolent sentience of NYC penalized me for leaving her behind for the interval.

A City based memorial get together in honor of a recently departed friend saw me standing on the subway platforms at Queens Plaza afterwards, which is when the 7 train shot above was captured. I got to talk to the cops about this one, while some asshole was smoking a joint about twenty feet away from us. I don’t care that he was smoking weed, mind you, it’s that he was smoking anything at all on the freaking platform at Queens Plaza and the cops decided to hassle me for taking a photo – which is 100% legal – instead of the other guy who was doing something 100% illegal.

“Why are you taking pictures of the subway”? I dunno officer, maybe it’s cause I’m the Chair of the Community Board’s Transportation Committee, or that I’m part of a transit advocacy group called Access Queens which focuses on problems that happen on this line? Maybe it’s because I can do whatever the hell I want to, and I wouldn’t have to explain myself to you even if I am in the middle of committing a crime let alone not committing one? If it was the former situation, you’d have already added a pair of steel bracelets to my accoutrements prior to getting me to say something stupid enough for you to take me back to the Station House. Grrrr.

“Dystopian shithole,” that’s what I kept on repeating to myself after the N line arrived across the platform and carried me into Astoria. Covid seems to have applied the icing to De Blasio’s seven year long layer cake of municipal despair, indifference, and “less than.” Pfah.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Another occasion found me walking through the blight and wasteland blocks surrounding Manhattan’s horrific Hudson Yards development. The section of midtown nearby Hudson Yards, and the similarly ill conceived Javitz Convention Center, has long been a dangerous and lonely section of the city inhabited by scalliwags, truants, muggers, drug enthusiasts, and whatever the hell “woke” people call street prostitutes these days. Hudson Yards has somehow made this worse by luring future victims to the area. Luckily for them, the wealthy can afford private security. Cops ain’t doing shit for shinola until De Blasio is out of office, so if you’re not rich enough to afford a body man, keep your guard up lords and ladies. Turbulence is ahead.

Luckily, the traffic gendarmes were there to ensure the smooth flow of New Jersey bound automobile traffic through the zone. Wonder how long it’s going to be before somebody comes up with the bright idea to knock down that church (Sts. Cyril & Methodius & St. Raphael’s Catholic Church Croatian Parish) and replace it with a 30 story Walgreens because a) progress, b) affordable housing, c) ride a bike asshole, d) you’re a racist if you disagree with anything that might have just popped into my head right now.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Finally, seeking some sort of quiet time and communion with my arrival “back home,” I rode the ferry out to Staten Island hoping for some tugboat time. I got some of that, but was again thwarted by NYC teaching me a lesson for leaving her behind for a few weeks.

It seems that on my way back to the City, I had to stop off to get sniffed by the security theater labradors stationed therein while rushing through the terminal to catch the Staten Island Ferry. A momentary delay, the sniffing nevertheless caused me to miss the boat, since the ferry guy had already partially closed the sliding glass door he spends his life sliding open and closed, and he would have had to reopen it, and since he’s a city employee who’s already dead inside… there went a half hour of my life, which I spent being cased by a rip off crew that hangs around the SI Ferry terminals.

I’ve seen and noticed this particular pack of “clown shoes” before, a group of scaly looking early to mid 20’s guys who work as a unit. One guy spots the “vic,” and then texts his buddies. They move in through the crowd from different angles, and before you know it you’re standing in the middle of a huddle of dim witted muggers who work you over – picking your pockets and grabbing whatever they can before scattering. I noticed them noticing me (and especially the camera) immediately, and began a fun game of moving about the terminal to give them some exercise while playing dumb about the situation. They would text each other when I stopped moving, and then begin collecting nearby me again. Then I’d move again, and then there they were. So bad at crime, the millennials are. So incredibly bad.

To the cops at Queens Plaza – there’s a heroin operation which uses the Staten Island Ferry to move product between New Jersey and Manhattan. Has been going on for years. Look for what you boys in blue refer to as “skels” when on the big orange boat. Noticing things like this is quite literally your job. Stop hassling photographers.

Bah. Back next week.

“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 for $30.

Written by Mitch Waxman

November 19, 2021 at 11:00 am

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Post Cards memorial, Staten Island

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A humble narrator has nothing new to show you this week, so archived shots are on offer. Fear not, as you’re receiving this, one is running about the City whilst the camera is clicking and whirring away. In the meantime, enjoy yourself, as it’s probably a lot later than you think.

Paper cuts can be far more dangerous than conventionally thought.

“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 for $30.

Written by Mitch Waxman

March 13, 2019 at 11:00 am

business section

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Everything backfires, all the time.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

After crossing over that primal mystery through which even thought cannot penetrate which are the waters of New York Harbor, and arriving on… Staten Island… one got busy with the tripod and camera. I was in pursuit of some iteration of the shot above, which I would mention I’m not 100% satisfied by, depicting the whole shebang visible from St. George. Jersey City in the left of the shot, Manhattan in the middle, and the East River on the right. This is just about twenty minutes after sunset, incidentally. I plan on heading back out there when the skies, and the stars, are right.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The shot I was most happy with, and which sort of made the entire journey to… Staten Island… worth it was the one above, which is a long exposure looking westwards towards the Kill Van Kull. That concrete thingamabob is the 2004 “Postcards” 911 memorial, if your curious, commemorating the memories of the 274 Staten Islanders who lost their lives in the 1993 and 2001 World Trade Center attacks. The Postcards monument is shaped like a combination of two wings and a pair of hands praying, and there are profile sculptures of the victims inside it with their names, birth dates, and where they worked.

I, for one, don’t want to be remembered for where I worked but rather for where I lived.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Arriving back in Manhattan, my pathway home involved the MTA, and wouldn’t you know it… It took close to forty minutes for this work train to clear itself out of the South Ferry station, which in turn allowed the “R” line to transit through from Brooklyn and get me back to Astoria. Life is a joy, in a city which never sleeps.

As I’ve said many times, the “A” in “MTA” is for “Adventure.”

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

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delighted astonishment

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A short trip off of a Long Island to… Staten Island.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Over at the St. George Ferry terminal, on the… Staten Island… side of the harbor, one is treated to magnificent views of Lower Manhattan and it’s a pretty sure bet that you’ll see some maritime traffic. Pictured above is the Vane Brothers Sassafras towing a fuel barge, for instance.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One such as myself is always eager to witness a DEP Sludge Boat splashing by. That’s the MV North River heading towards the Port Richmond sewer plant found a mile or so up the Kill Van Kull.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Marjorie B. McAllister also happened by, and the bright red tug was towing a fuel barge. Even when it seems that a tug is pushing a barge, it’s still called “towing.”

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The 2013 Spring and Summer Tours Schedule

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– photo by Mai Armstrong

Want to see something cool?

Odds are that a bunch of the folks who will be reading this might have no idea who Mitch Waxman is, why they should come along with him on a tour of some weird neighborhood in Brooklyn or Queens or Staten Island, nor what a Newtown Creek or Kill Van Kull are- let alone where. Who is this weirdo?

Check out the “bio” page here at Newtown Pentacle, or this profile of me from the NY Times published in 2012. My tours of Newtown Creek have garnered no small amount of interest from the fourth estate- whether it be, Queens, the 22blog,, or Queensnyc, and I’ve turned up in a bunch of media reports, documentaries, and been interviewed for multitudinous reports on the lamentable history of the Newtown Creek.

Most recently, it was National Geographic and Curbed. Attendees on my tours come from a variety of backgrounds- photographers, history and rail buffs, maritime enthusiasts, and there always seems to be an odd and welcome concentration of elected officials and journalists about.

What is with this guy?

I’m the Newtown Creek Alliance Historian, Official Photographer and Steering Committee member of the Working Harbor Committee, a member of the Newtown Creek Monitoring Committee and the Newtown Creek CAG, and am also a member of the Kosciuszko Bridge Stakeholders Advisory Committee. Newtown Pentacle, this blog, has been steadily published since 2009. I live in Astoria, Queens with my wife and our little dog, Zuzu.

In just the last few years, I have exposed thousands of people to the Newtown Creek, and its incredible history. This is where the industrial revolution actually happened, along this 3.8 mile long waterway that defines the border of Brooklyn and Queens.


– photo by Mai Armstrong

In 2013, continuing relationships with Atlas Obscura, Newtown Creek Alliance, and the Working Harbor Committee (as well as friends like the Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance, and others) allow me to offer the following schedule. Live ticketing links will be made available as they come online, and all dates are subject to cancellation or rescheduling due to weather or unforeseen circumstance. There are 6 unique walking tours listed here, and one boat trip in which I will be the principal speaker.

Private tours are possible, schedule permitting, and can be arranged by contacting me here. Last year, for instance, several private University classes engaged me for a day at the Creek, as did a few private groups. As mentioned, contact me and we will figure something out if you’ve got a meetup group, college class, or special request.

Here then, is my official schedule as it stands right now. There will likely be a few additions as time goes on, which I will let you know about as they occur. Best to subscribe to this blog (top right, email subscription)  or “follow” me on Twitter @newtownpentacle for news.

In April, 2013- There will be a brand new tour  of Greenpoint debuted, which I call “Glittering Realms.”

Glittering Realms Saturday, April 20, 2013
Newtown Creek walking tour with Mitch Waxman and Atlas Obscura, tickets now on sale.

In May, 2013- We start off with 13 Steps around Dutch Kills, go to the Insalubrious Valley, visit DUKBO, and finish off the month with a Working Harbor boat tour.

13 Steps around Dutch Kills Saturday, May 4, 2013
Newtown Creek walking tour with Mitch Waxman and Atlas Obscura, tickets now on sale.

Parks and Petroleum- Sunday, May 12, 2013
Newtown Creek walking tour with Mitch Waxman and Newtown Creek Alliance, tickets on sale soon.

The Insalubrious Valley- Saturday, May 25, 2013
Newtown Creek walking tour with Mitch Waxman and Atlas Obscura, tickets on sale soon.

Hidden Harbor: Newtown Creek tour with Mitch Waxman – Sunday, May 26,2013
Boat tour presented by the Working Harbor Committee,
Limited seating available, order advance tickets now. Group rates available.

NCA Birdwatch Bus tour- June 24, 2012

– photo by Mai Armstrong

In June, 2013- We visit the Poison Cauldron, return to the Insalubrious Valley, and check out the Kill Van Kull.

The Poison Cauldron- Saturday, June 15, 2013
Newtown Creek walking tour with Mitch Waxman and Atlas Obscura, tickets on sale soon.

Kill Van Kull- Saturday, June 22, 2013
Staten Island walking tour with Mitch Waxman and Working Harbor Committee, tickets on sale soon.

The Insalubrious Valley- Saturday, June 29, 2013
Newtown Creek walking tour with Mitch Waxman and Newtown Creek Alliance, tickets on sale soon.

In July, 2013- We visit Queens’s Hunters Point with a brand new tour. I might have another offering or two for you, but nothing I can speak about quite yet.

Modern Corridor- Saturday, July 13, 2013
Newtown Creek walking tour with Mitch Waxman and Atlas Obscura, tickets on sale soon.


– photo by Mai Armstrong

In August, 2013- We return to the Poison Cauldron, repeat the 13 steps, and the Kill Van Kull walks.

Kill Van Kull- Saturday, August 10, 2013
Staten Island walking tour with Mitch Waxman and Working Harbor Committee, tickets on sale soon.

13 Steps around Dutch Kills- Saturday, August 17, 2013
Newtown Creek walking tour with Mitch Waxman and Newtown Creek Alliance, tickets on sale soon.

The Poison Cauldron- Saturday, August 24, 2013
Newtown Creek walking tour with Mitch Waxman and Atlas Obscura, tickets on sale soon.

There are a few other dates coming in the fall, and a couple of more summer events which are still being discussed, but I’ll let you know more about them in coming posts.

Also, I will definitely be onboard but not on the microphone during the Working Harbor Committee “Beyond Sandy” Hidden Harbor tours on Tuesday nights, all summer. Hope you can come along.

Click here for more on “Beyond Sandy.”

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