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It’s National Pretzel Day, in these United States.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Last Friday, the 21st, was the centennial of the opening of the IRT Flushing line from Queensborough Plaza to 103rd street Corona Plaza. Access Queens, a transit advocacy group which has grown out of the 7 Train Blues Facebook group (which I’m a steering committee member of) produced a celebration for “Our Train” with the cooperation of the NY Transit Museum. Here’s the Access Queens page describing the effort.

It was a very Queensican kind of day.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Pictured speaking above are Jodi Shapiro of the Transit Museum, who is curating an exhibit for the museum about the 7 line which will open in late July, and Subway historian Andrew Sparburg. Also present, but out of frame were Subway historian Joe Raskin and Forgotten-NY webmaster Kevin Walsh. The whole Access Queens crew were on scene, as were 40-50 transit enthusiasts.

Our template for the event was found in a NY Times article from 1917, which can be accessed here, describing the events surrounding the opening of the line which built modern Queens. Basically, this boiled down to gathering at the Grand Central platform in Manhattan, boarding the train at two in the afternoon, and then riding out to what was the final stop on the 7 back then – 103/Corona Plaza (or as it was known back then, Alburtis Avenue).

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The cool bit was that when the NY Transit Museum got involved, they brought their own ride with them. The “Train of Many Colors” arrived shortly after two and we all boarded it. As mentioned above, there was a small legion of folks along for the ride – many of whom were youngsters that were transit nerds who knew more about the system than even MTA employees do – that attended. Everybody expressed their love for “Our Train,” even though the Grand Central Station platform was filling with smoke during the event due to a fire in Queens.

The FDNY who arrived on scene seemed to enjoy the event, at least.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The train left Manhattan, and the Access Queens and Transit Museum folks rode it out to 103rd street. Luckily, one of my buddies – Mark Christie from the Hunters Point Park Conservancy – was aboard, and as Corona was where he landed when he originally moved to Queens from Belize – knew where to find the good eats. Mark guided us to a fantastic restaurant thereabouts where an “Al Pastor Torta” was awaiting a humble narrator.

I love it when a plan comes together.


Upcoming Tours and events

First Calvary Cemetery walking tour, May 6th.

With Atlas Obscura’s Obscura Day 2017, Calvary Cemetery Walking Tour – details and tix here.

MAS Janeswalk free walking tour, May 7th.

Visit the new Newtown Creek Alliance/Broadway Stages green roof, and the NCA North Henry Street Project – details and tix here.


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Written by Mitch Waxman

April 26, 2017 at 11:00 am

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It’s National Egg Cream Day, in these United States.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One has always had an odd dream, inspired by that old television series “The Wild, Wild, West.” The two leads of the show lived on a train which carried them to their adventures, specifically in a sleeper car that had been modified for their usage. One has always wondered about the specialized rolling stock which might be attached to the end of a subway train. I’ve seen some of MTA’s more esoteric kit over the years – their work trains, a specialized unit which analyzes the tracks, once or twice I saw the actual “money train” shooting by on an express track. I’ve always desired a private sleeper car on the Subway. This would be selfish, and more than I deserve or could afford, so it would need to operate like a hotel. 

So, here’s my idea: we attach a car to each and every subway train that has blacked out windows and a custom interior, whose doors only open with a key card swipe. There can be several types of these private units, used for a variety of purposes which currently elude officialdom on the surface. 

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A certain percentage… say 70%… of these Subway rooms would be luxury units (the LUX line). The State would list availabilities for these units on AirBNB type sites, and found within would be all the amenities expected at a high end hotel. The walls are lined with mahogany panels, the floor lushly carpeted. There’s a king size bed, a heart shaped hot tub, and a commode with fine finishes. Naturally, there’s a mini bar as well. 25% of these short stay residential cars could also be set up as dormitory style hostel cars (the ECON line), designed for students and European tourist cheapskates. 

The remaining 5% would take its interior design cues from either 19th century slave ships or Soviet era army barracks, and these could function as homeless shelters – accomplishing the “out of sight, out of mind” policies of both Mayor de Blasio and Governor Cuomo nicely. The Mayor doesn’t take the train, and neither does the other guy. 

Alternatively, should Riker’s Island ever get closed down and cleared of jails so that the real estate guys can develop it, a couple of cars on each train could repurposed to serve as mobile jails. This would be the “DFPS line,” named for the Mayor, our very own Dope from Park Slope. The big guy would probably love this, as it would completely eliminate NIMBY’ism from the creation and placement of homeless shelters. “It’ll only be in your neighborhood for 3 minutes…”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

On a non sarcastic note, I finally filled in one of the two holes in my photographic catalog of NYC’s Subway lines with a shot of the Times Square Shuttle, as seen above. I just need to get to Brooklyn to get a shot of the elusive Z and then I can move on to other things. Perhaps, someday, when this current cold waste has retreated…

Go have an egg cream, lords and ladies.


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Written by Mitch Waxman

March 15, 2017 at 2:25 pm

escaped patient

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It’s National Pizza Day, in these United States.

One seems to get around a lot, visiting all of these distaff corners of New York City, and always traveling either on foot or by Subway or some combination of the two. It occurred to me, suddenly, to take stock of my “ABC’s” and figure out which Subway lines have escaped my camera. As it turns out, I seem to have zero shots of the “Z,” “L,” “6,” or the Staten Island lines in my library, and there doesn’t seem to be anything representing the Times Square shuttle in there either. I do seem to have most everything else, and will make it a point in the coming weeks to fill in the missing stuff. Hey… it’s not like I just ride the trains taking pictures… well, OK, I do that occasionally… I get these shots when I’m going back and forth to places.

OK, this post is going to display a towering amount of nerd.

A is for aardvark, I’m told. It’s also the designation for the IND Eighth Avenue Express of MTA’s B Division, and the A ranges between 207th street in Manhattan and either Far Rockaway or Richmond Hill in Queens – depending on its mood. Service on the A line started on the 10th of September in 1932.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The B line, over in Brooklyn’s Sheepshead Bay Road station.

Another IND line, the Sixth Avenue Express has an extremely complicated schedule that changes at seemingly random parts of the day and week. On weekdays, between nine in the morning and eleven at night it’s likely going to be somewhere between Brighton Beach in Brooklyn and 145th street in Harlem, but then there’s the rush hour exception which takes it to the Bronx. Service on the B line started on the 15th of December in 1940.

It’s all very complicated, and B is Byzantine, and for B Division.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The C, at some transfer station deep under central Brooklyn.

Nineteen miles long, the route of the IND Eighth Avenue Local is. One end of the line is all the way uptown in Manhattan’s Washington Heights at 168th street, the other is at Fulton Street in Brooklyn. It’s also in the MTA’s B Division. C is for counting the days until the MTA finally retires these 1964 era “R32 model” trains from service. Service on the C line started on the 1st of July in 1933.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The D, out at Coney Island in Brooklyn.

B Division, R68 cars, IND, incredibly long route to service – that’s the Sixth Avenue Express, or D train, at a terminal stop in Brooklyn, and the other end is found up in the Norwood section of the Bronx at 205th street. D is for “damn, there’s 41 stations on the D.” Service on the D Line started on December 15th, in 1940.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The E, rolling into LIC’s Court Square in Queens.

Service on the E, or IND Eighth Avenue Local, line started on the 19th of August in 1933. It goes from Jamaica in Queens to lower Manhattan (with a couple of late night extras, depending on time and such) and is part of MTA’s B Division. E is for “Express” when it’s running along the IND Queens Blvd. tracks.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The F at 34th street, over in Manhattan.

Another IND B Division train, the Sixth Avenue Local or F line is a local train that has an impossibly long route. It spans from Jamaica in Queens to Coney Island in Brooklyn, crossing through 45 stations. Service on the F line started on the 15th of December in 1940. F is for “how ‘effin long is this ride to Coney going to take?”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Franklin Avenue Shuttle, Brooklyn.

A BMT line, this four stop long shuttle itself was created in 1963, and formally became called “Franklin Avenue Shuttle” on the 1st of November in 1965. The cool thing here is that these tracks were part of the original BMT Brighton Beach line which opened in 1878. FS is for “fs, how long am I going to wait here, I could have walked it by now.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The G entering Smith/9th street, high over Red Hook and the Gowanus Canal, in Brooklyn.

The G Crosstown Local is only 11.4 miles long, is an IND line in MTA’s B Division, spanning from Queen’s Long Island City to Brooklyn’s Church Avenue. The G has 21 stations to hit, and opened for business on August 19th of 1933.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A twofer, with the J and M side by side on the Williamsburg Bridge over the East River.

The Nassau Street Local/Express is what the MTA calls the J train, which goes from Jamaica Center to Manhattan’s Broad Street, covering some 30 stations along the route it shares with the Z. The B Division train follows the route of an original 1893 BMT route, but J service as we know it didn’t exist until November of 1949. J is for “Jesus, how do I not have any shots of the Z?”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A proper shot of the M, under Astoria’s Broadway.

The M, or Sixth Avenue Local, in another IND B Division line. It starts and ends in Queens, at Forest Hills on one side and Middle Village on the other, but along the way it loops through midtown Manhattan and Brooklyn while servicing some 36 stations. Service started on July 14th in 1914. M is for “Marcy,” and “Myrtle,” and “Metropolitan.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Also on Broadway in Western Queens’ Astoria, that’s the N entering its elevated station.

The BMT Broadway Express runs from Ditmars Boulevard in Queens to Stillwell Avenue in Brooklyn’s Coney Island, serving 45 stations. The line opened on June 22 of 1915. N is for “Nice lighting up there.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The Q, at Brooklyn’s Coney Island.

The BMT Broadway Express used to live in Astoria, with the N, but when the Second Avenue Subway opened it started hanging around with the rich kids on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. It travels from 96th street – along the Second Avenue Subway tracks – then switches to the Broadway Line tracks, and heads all the way out to Coney Island. There’s another complicated 1878 story I could tell you, but the modern day Q started service on the 1st of August in 1920. Q is for “damnit, I get a Q every damn time I play scrabble.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The R, entering Queens Plaza.

The IND Broadway Local has another huge route, moving between Forest Hills in Queens and Bay Ridge in Brooklyn, covering 45 stations. Service on this B Division line started on January 15th in 1916. R is for “aging rolling stock.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The Rockaway Park Shuttle, out on some sandbar in Jamaica Bay.

It’s only got 5 stations to cover, and is a relative newcomer to NYC having come into service on June 28 in 1956, but this IND shuttle line connects the western end of the Rockaway Penninsula to the A line. I haven’t got anything an “RPS” is for…

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The 1 line, at 14th street in Manhattan.

Moving between Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx and Manhattan’s South Ferry, this A Division train started service on October 27th of 1904. It’s the IRT Broadway–Seventh Avenue Local if you ask the MTA.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The 2 line, on elevated tracks in the Bronx.

The IRT Seventh Avenue Express is an A Division line. Providing service between 241st Street/Wakefield in the Bronx and the Flatbush Avenue Juction nearby Brooklyn College, the 2 covers 61 stations.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The 3 line, entering either the 72nd or 96th street station on Manhhattan’s Upper West Side.

The IRT Seventh Avenue Express moves between 148th street in Manhattan’s Harlem and New Lots Avenue in Brooklyn. Service on this A Division line began in 1904, on the 23rd of November.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The 4, entering the Bowling Green station in Manhattan.

That’s the IRT Lexington Avenue Express, an A Division line which services traffic between Crown Heights in Brooklyn and Woodlawn in the Bronx. Service began on June 2, 1917.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

That’s the 5, heading south into Manhattan’s 59th st./Lexington Avenue station.

IRT Lexington Avenue Express, that’s what MTA calls this A Division line. It’s another one of the lines which has differentiated routes depending on what day or time it is – but it goes from either Nereid or Dyre Avenue in the Bronx to Flatbush Avenue Junction or New Lots Avenue in Brooklyn after passing through all of Manhattan and services 45 stations. Service began on October 27th, 1904.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Last – but never least – the most photogenic of NYC’s subway lines, the 7 as it curves out of LIC’s Court Square station in Queens.

The IRT Flushing Local and Flushing Express are A Division trains, operating between Flushing in Queens and Hudson Yards in Manhattan. Service started on June 22 of 1915.

Now – it seems that I need to conjure up some reason to go to Staten Island, ride and photograph the L, Z, and 6 lines, then take that shuttle at Times Square… and then I think I’ve got them all… am I blanking out on anything – oh Internet hive mind?


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Written by Mitch Waxman

February 9, 2017 at 1:00 pm

Posted in Subway

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It’s National Frozen Yogurt Day, in these United States.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Not too much to tell you today, lords and ladies, other than to describe and share photos from a recent excursion which took me to Flushing for a social event. It’s on evenings like this, when I’m not consciously “working” that my pathologies are most fully on display. One just cannot stop taking pictures, as Queens is just too marvelous for words and nobody believes it until you show them. My journey from “Point A” in Astoria led me to Jackson Heights, where one secured a transfer from the sepulchral depths of the IND lines to the elevated IRT Flushing Line which carried me eastwards.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

My arrival in ancient Flushing, at the so called “Main Street” stop, coincided with the local gendarmes performing their duties. My assumption, based on observable behaviors, is that the small statured fellow in the shot above had overly indulged himself with intoxicating beverages. NYPD didn’t seem overly concerned about the situation, treating it with a characteristic world weariness and the laconic mannerisms one normally sees the City’s uniformed security forces display.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

At my destination, which was at a fairly new hotel that sits alongside the local precinct house which the fellows in the second shot would call “the office,” there was a rooftop deck – which despite frigidity – was available to visit and explore. The shot above was captured some nine stories up from Northern Blvd. in Flushing, and looks westwards across Queens towards the Shining City of Manhattan. That’s the Queensboro Bridge you see just to the right of center.


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Written by Mitch Waxman

February 6, 2017 at 1:00 pm

Posted in Flushing, Photowalks, Pickman, Queens, Subway

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baffling lack

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It’s Setsubun Day, in the nation of Japan.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As described in yesterday’s post, the 21st of January was a pretty foggy day, which is something I consider pretty. One made it a point of visiting several distaff locations around Long Island City to capture the scene. The shot above is something that all of you reading this will be able to personally enjoy sometime in the very near future, when the Smiling Hogshead Ranch expands its operations up to the abandoned trackway of the Montauk Cutoff.

The photo above depicts the most photogenic of NYC’s subway lines – the IRT Flushing, or 7 line – exiting the elevated tracks of the Court Square Station and traveling on its way to Manhattan.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One spent a bit of time up on the tracks, as I ran into an old friend while making my way up there and we spent some time catching up while I waved the camera around. The cutoff is brutally bare during the winter months, as all of the self seeded vegetation surrounding it is deep in hibernation. During the warmer months, it’s positively verdant up here – an island of green amidst the concrete devastations of Western Queens.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Disturbingly, the Queens Cobbler seems to have visited the Cutoff recently, leaving behind one of the totemic “single shoes” signaling that he or she was here. The “Queens Cobbler” is the name I’ve assigned to a likely serial killer who claims human lives all around the Newtown Creek watershed, leaving behind a single shoe to announce that their latest hunt has been successful.

Someday, the NYPD will happen upon a hidden warehouse room in LIC or Maspeth filled with footwear and gore, and on that day – the metaphorical and literal “other shoe” will truly fall. Back next week with something completely different at this – your Newtown Pentacle.


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It’s National Tater Tot Day, in these United States.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

For a maritime city, New York doesn’t actually seem to get foggy all that much. Sure there’s mist and murk occasionally, but it’s actually pretty seldom that we get a full on “inversion” and the sky fills with straight up pea soup. Whenever fog conditions do occur, however, one makes sure that the camera is out and about.

Nothing I like more than some atmospheric diffusion.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

These shots were gathered on the 21st of January, when just such an atmosphere permeated and propagated across the neighborhood. As I’m wont to remind everyone around Newtown Creek – constantly – if you can smell it, you’re breathing it. On this foggy Saturday in January, we were all breathing New York Harbor for a day.

Speaking of Newtown Creek, check out how the new Kosciuszcko Bridge’s cable stay towers are visible from the corner of 39th street and Skillman Avenue in Sunnyside.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One left HQ relatively late in the day, hoping to catch that particular moment when the burning thermonuclear eye of God itself would angle itself properly to create sculptural lighting for the industrial landscape of LIC. Win!

The shot above looks down 47th avenue, as you travel down off the shallow ridge that Sunnyside and Woodside straddle towards the alluvial flatlands surrounding the Dutch Kills tributary of Newtown Creek, just for the curious.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As part of my “winter strategy,” which allows for taking some sort of transport in one direction to or from “Point A” in Astoria, a short ride on the “7 line” carried me to Queensboro Plaza where I transferred over to the Astoria bound “N line.” Glad that I did so, as the photo above was my “shot of the day” for the fog occluded 21st of January.


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Written by Mitch Waxman

February 2, 2017 at 2:00 pm

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It’s National Cheese Fondue Day, here in these United States.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As described in yesterday’s post – one left Point A (A is for Astoria) for a walk around LIC’s construction zone, ate an egg sandwich, and swiped his Metrocard to vouchsafe a journey to Manhattan’s Hells Kitchen in pursuance of attending a holiday gathering. While awaiting the arrival of the 7 line subway, the hair on the back of my neck went up, and it occurred to me that the thing – which does not breathe or think or live – that persists in the cupola of the Sapphire Megalith – had fixed its three lobed burning eye in my direction. Brrr.

Luckily, I didn’t have to wait long, and that inhuman intelligence didn’t have time to send any members of its army of acolytes to investigate, proscribe, or accuse. This will likely surprise regular riders of the 7 – the “not waiting long” part. Nobody will be surprised about the thing which cannot be that exists in the cupola of the Sapphire Megalith of Long Island City.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Arguably, the 7 is the most photogenic of NYC’s subways. There’s a lot to be said about various examples of the lettered lines – notably the G and F entering and leaving Smith 9th street in Red Hook – but to me, the 7 is the visual champ.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Even if I’m on the train, I keep flipping the shutter, which causes no end of concern for my fellow riders. It always seems as if my fellow New Yorkers experience difficulty in distinguishing the difference between an assault weapon and a camera, based on the masked expression of apprehension they assume upon spying the thing. Mind you, they’ve all got their smart phones deployed – which sport cameras directly connected to the web – but nobody seems at all concerned about that. Old weird guy in a filthy black raincoat with a DSLR? Clearly terror related, so cancel all National Cheese Fondue Day events just in case. .

Of course, I’m the nervous type, so I’m terrified of everybody else. What’s wrong with you people? Eeek!

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The 7 continued along its well worn path, entering the subterrene and the dilapidated Vernon Jackson stop. If you feel like googling “Hunters Point South FEIS,” it’ll take you to a document prepared by NYC’s Dept. of City Planning which discusses the need for the platforms at this stop to be widened and the station to be thoroughly rebuilt in order to handle the burgeoning population of LIC, btw.

NYC City planning ain’t perfect, but you have to be a real dummy not to listen to their advice and shoring up the transportation infrastructure of an area that you intend on adding thousands of people to.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

My destination was in Hells Kitchen, over in Manhattan. Given that I was a couple of hours early to attend the Holiday party I was invited to – and I really can’t imagine why ANYONE would want to spend time with one such as myself, as a note – the 7 was ridden all the way to its western terminal stop at the brand spanking new Hudson Yards station.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Hudson Yards is the first of the “new style” subway stops which sports a mezzanine that’s one flight of steps up from the tracks. It’s pretty airy in here, but this mezzanine represents a not insignificant investment at the Hudson Yards station. Wonder how much it cost to create a cavern here.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Hudson Yards is DEEP, and there’s a couple of sets of industrial meat grinders escalators which carry you up to the surface. The leading lines of the tunnels which the escalators carry you through are fairly vertigo inducing, in my experience.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

It’s actually a bit nauseating. 

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Speaking of nauseating, on the Manhattan side of the 7, the western mirror of LIC’s mega projects is underway – the Hudson Yards development project. Funny, how it often seems that the 7 line – from Flushing all the way to LIC in Queens and all the way down 42nd and then to 34th in Manhattan – seems  to be the singular focus of the Real Estate people.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

January 4, 2017 at 11:00 am

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