The Newtown Pentacle

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Archive for the ‘Woodside’ Category

common tongues

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The angle between…

– photo by Mitch Waxman

For a long time, I’ve been using the term “angle” to describe those spots which form the borders of neighborhoods in Western Queens, which are actually historic remnants of the pre consolidated City of Greater New York. One of them is found where the steel of the elevated IRT Flushing line sweeps off of Queens Blvd. and instead overflies Roosevelt Avenue. This is the former border of Long Island City’ Middleburgh (alternatively LIC Heights) and the town of Woodside, and is today the border of the neighborhoods of Sunnyside and Woodside. Recent endeavor found a humble narrator negotiating his way home well after midnight, and just as it was starting to rain.

What sucked was that I didn’t have an umbrella.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I posted the shot above to a couple of my social media accounts, so sorry if you’re seeing it twice, but I stand by the text that accompanied it declaring that NYC looks best when it’s wet. Given my lack of an umbrella, and the startling amount of electronic devices affixed to my person, some care was exercised in my path down Queens Blvd. in the pursuit of not becoming soaked by the sudden downpour. There’s two ways to do this – one is to walk so fast that you’re actually dodging raindrops (which is illogical and doesn’t actually work), and the other is to utilize the “rain shadow” offered by the built environment. It had been around eight hours since my last meal at this particular moment, and given that I wasn’t going to be hitting the sack until the wee hours of the morning, the only option available at the particular time involved a fast food chain. Lemmee tell ya, Lords and Ladies, the denizens of the City who inhabit fast food restaurants after midnight in Sunnyside are an interesting demographic.

My high fat and calorie hamburger consumed (have you noticed what the fast food people consider a “small” coke is these days?), and with the rain actually having intensified, I decided to hire a taxi for the short jaunt across the Sunnsyide Yards and back to HQ in Astoria.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Having grown up in a solidly blue collar section of Brooklyn, my first instinct is always to support the working people rather than big corporations. That’s how I found myself standing in a bus shelter and trying to hail a cab. For the last couple of years, I’ve had a taxi app – Lyft – on my phone which I’ve been using for the occasional cab ride. I like it because the cab comes to me, and given the weird places and transit deserts like industrial Maspeth that I spend my time you’re not going to have many opportunities for street hails so Lyft is my go to for those sorts of spots. Queens Blvd. and 40th street, however? Use a yellow or green cab, one will be by in a minute or two. That’s what I thought, and when a yellow cab pulled up and rejected any other destination but Manhattan, I was reminded why I don’t care about the dying medallion cab industry nor its asshole drivers. Yellow cab drivers in particular would seem to prefer it if they just rolled down the window for you to throw money into the front seat before they spit at you and drive away.

I fired up the Lyft app and was home in about ten minutes.


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Written by Mitch Waxman

January 15, 2019 at 1:30 pm

stolen skies

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Day late, dollar short.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Lost the opportunity to post a proper post today, as I was up late (I mean LATE), writing about the history of Irish emigration and the creation of the NY Archdiocese last night – as you do. It won’t be long now before I reveal the secret project I’ve been working on to y’all, and why I’ve been so nocturnal for so long.

The shot above was gathered at the Woodside/Sunnyside border, one recent evening.


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Written by Mitch Waxman

January 11, 2019 at 3:16 pm

hyper glycemic

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Get off my lawn.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Oh, industrial Maspeth… the only place these days where a humble narrator can find any peace. Unfortunately, the Real Estate Industrial Complex has noticed the place in recent months, and there’s been series of flurried exchanges of industrial properties taking place thereabouts which have involved eye watering amounts of cash. This is never a good sign for an industrial neighborhood, and it means that City Hall’s officiates must be receiving visits from their paymasters in the banking and bond industries of Manhattan. I’ve always believed industrial Maspeth to be “proofed” against artisanal anything, except for a beat down, but a humble narrator is getting a bit worried about my happy place. When the REIC shit flies begin to gather, it never ends well for any neighborhood.

All the poisons in the mud will hatch out eventually, I presume.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The Coca Cola plant on Borden has been bought by Home Depot, I’m told. Additionally, Fed-Ex and UPS continue to acquire properties in the area. A warehouse on the corner of Grand and Rust just changed hands for forty two million buckaroos. Magnification of truck and auto traffic is therefore on the menu for this already busy area and the neighborhoods surrounding it. Nobody is talking about protected bike lanes in industrial Maspeth, yet, as the particular group of busy bodies who push that agenda seem to be currently focused on Sunnyside.

I would offer that there are places in industrial Maspeth where you won’t find sidewalks, and others where the sidewalks are de facto parking lots for semi trucks.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A conversation yesterday with a friend who works in officialdom occurred, which was focused on the first of two Blissville homeless shelter protests (yesterday was at Gracie Mansion, today’s will be at City Hall at noon. I’ll be there, and wearing a suit!) and eventually drifted over to definitions of political terminologies. The term “progressive” came up, which is a particular bugbear for a humble narrator. A lot of modern politicos use that one to describe themselves and their stance. I remind them that “progress” was the watchword used by Robert Moses when he was justifying the sacrifices of local communities who needed to get out of the way of his highways. New Yorkers who lived in the age of “progress” saw whole neighborhoods disappear in the name of urban renewal, or slum clearance, and Moses had no ethical problem with digging up graveyards to make way for his roads in its name. Today’s “progressives” call themselves that because the word “liberal” has been so thoroughly and successfully demonized by the other side of the national political argument that it’s become political suicide to describe yourself as such. Their take is that the tax burden should be increased on the well off to aid the less lucky. That isn’t progress, that’s socialism, and under that philosophic approach to things the revenues collected by the state in the name of helping the poor usually end up getting spent on the expansion of the government bureaucracy which administers the process. This was the ultimate failing of the New Deal, which allowed people like Robert Moses to run amok in places like industrial Maspeth. It also gave rise to Barry Goldwater, Reagan, and the modern day conservative movement. Institutional memory is entirely absent in the modern world, I tell you.

I favor the Eleanor Roosevelt definition of progressivism – “We all do better when we’re all doing better.” I interpret that to mean that by setting the stage for all tiers of the economic spectrum to succeed, the “raft” is lifted for all.


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.

May 17th – Port Newark Boat Tour – with Working Harbor Committee.

For an exciting adventure, go behind the scenes of the bustling Port of NY & NJ on our Hidden Harbor Tour® of Port Newark! Get an insider’s view of the 3rd largest port in the nation, where container ships dock and unload their goods from around the world. See how the working harbor really works and learn about what all those ships and tugs do. See giant container terminals, oil docks, dry dock repair, and more! Tickets and more details here.


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Written by Mitch Waxman

May 15, 2018 at 11:00 am

luring skylines

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Only the lonely…

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Girt in filthy black outer wear, with camera dangling, recent endeavor found a humble narrator scuttling in the general direction of Bushwick from Astoria. Crossing the Newtown Creek at just the right spot is critical, as the various street grids of the ancient communities which surround it are often at odds with each other and can be described as dangerously heterogenous. Walk over the wrong bridge and you could have easily added a half hour to the journey.

In the case of walking from Astoria to Bushwick, the best path to follow is actually one through Sunnyside, Woodside, and Maspeth. You want to aim yourself at the Grand Street Bridge, where you’ll get a nice view of the Koscisuzcko Bridge if you get there at the right time of day.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Using knowledge of the old municipal grids which signified the borders of the independent towns and villages, one threw himself inexorably south and east. Crossing the former Thomson Avenue, now called Queens Blvd., nearby its intersection with Greenpoint/Roosevelt Avenue vouchsafed me passage out of the street pattern of the Middleburgh section of Long Island City now known as Sunnyside. The natural turn one would make at this point is about ten blocks eastwards at 58th street nearby the so called “Big Six” buildings, which is less than pedestrian friendly and visually “meh.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Instead, one cut through the funereal properties of the Roman Catholic Church called “Second Calvary Cemetery,” a path which guaranteed one a bit of quietude and solace. One always feels at home amongst the tomb legions, for their condemnations and judgment are always silent. There are four Calvary Cemeteries, by the way, which share common supervision under an organization called “the Trustees of Old St. Patrick’s cathedral.” The local manager – over the groundskeepers, interments, office, and all other existential issues is provided by a fellow named Joe.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As is the case with many cemeteries in Queens, a highway bisects the property. In this case, it’s the Brooklyn Queens Expressway, and although the local street below it has no street signs or other demarcations – it’s Laurel Hill Blvd. The Calvary’s on the southern extent of the highway are Calvary #’s three and four. You end up on 58th street anyway, at the end of this street, where a southern or right turn is exacted. You’re still in Woodside at this point, incidentally.

The sidewalks stop about halfway between 58th street’s two corners, and it’s a long block between the BQE and the Long Island Expressway, I tell ya, and there ain’t no sidewalks for most of it.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Along 58th, on the east side of the street, is Mount Zion cemetery. Third Calvary is across the road, on the west side. Mount Zion is a Jewish cemetery, and was primarily set up for folks who lived on the crowded Lower East side of lower Manhattan. This graveyard uses every possible square inch of space for interments.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

It was on 58th street, along the wrought iron gates of Mount Zion Cemetery, that the latest trophy of the Queens Cobbler was observed. The Queens Cobbler is – of course – a local serial killer who leaves behind single shoes as ghastly trophies of his or her nefarious activities.

One couldn’t linger though, as a particular form of psychological torment was awaiting me in Bushwick and I didn’t want to be late.


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Written by Mitch Waxman

February 6, 2018 at 2:30 pm

atrocious mannerisms

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It’s National Pineapple Upside Down Cake Day, in these United States.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A short one today, captured whilst wandering through the “House of Moses” in Woodside recently. You’re getting shortchanged on the post today, as I need to spend no small amount of time writing a concise series of comments and observations on the history and cultural significance of the IRT Flushing Line instead, for the celebratory events surrounding the centennial of the Corona Extension, which are tomorrow.

Do normal people ever say things like this?


Upcoming Tours and events

7 Line Centennial Ride, April 21st.

With Access Queens and NYC Transit Museum, Free event, except for subway fare – details here.

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 20, 2017 at 12:15 pm

unholy centuries

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It’s Rush Limbaugh and Rob Zombie’s birthdays today, and the day that Saint Aelred of Rievaulx died.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Wandering through Woodside one fine day, I happened across this bit of memorial statuary at the corner of 65th place and Laurel Hill Blvd. Technically speaking, I wasn’t in Woodside, this is actually Winfield. The Real Estate shit flies have more or less eradicated that name from current discourse, calling this area “East Woodside,” but it’s Winfield. Winfield was named for Mexican and Civil War General Winfield Scott, if you’re curious, who died in 1866.

The statue commemorates 7 local soldiers lost to combat in the First World War, and was erected and paid for by the people of Winfield.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Originally installed at the corner of Fisk Avenue and Queens Blvd., Robert Moses’s people moved it here when they were building the Brooklyn Queens Expressway back in the 1950’s. It’s bronze, and was sculpted by Italian-American sculptor James S. J. Novelli. Seven feet tall, the statue’s official nomen is “Winfield War Memorial and Victorious America.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The statue has not had an easy time of it over the last century, particularly since 1958 owing to its location at an on ramp for a highway, according to the NYC Parks Dept. who maintain it and whom I gleaned the information for this post from.

from nycgovparks.org

Due to its location at 65th Place and Laurel Hill Boulevard adjacent to the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, the Winfield Memorial has suffered various indignities over the years. In 1958, completion of the nearby section of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway bisected the community, and orphaned the monument to this park triangle located perilously close to an off-ramp. In 1969 and 1989 the statue was knocked from its perch by vehicles, and on the second occasion the head was severed from the body and reattached. The monument suffered from weathering, frequent attacks of graffiti, and other assaults by vandals; it received an in-house reconditioning in the 1990s by Parks crews.

In 1999 a City Capital contract restored the monument, replaced its damaged granite base with a replica, and the surrounding plaza was upgraded in an attempt to beautify its setting and better protect the sculpture. Unfortunately, in December 2001 the sculpture was again injured in a horrific car accident that dragged the sculpture several hundred feet into the expressway. In 2010-11 Parks’ Citywide Monuments Conservation Program repaired the damages and reinstalled the artwork at its rightful place.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The Novelli bronze, which is seven feet and four inches tall above the base, seems to be in fairly fine fettle these days. Why not take a walk or ride your bike over to check it out, and contemplate the war to end all wars that happened a century ago. You can also muse about the Powerbroker, just like I do everytime I visit the “House of Moses.”


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Written by Mitch Waxman

January 12, 2017 at 11:00 am

terrible keenness

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The southern side of Woodside, in today’s post.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

On the 27th of December in 1657, the Flushing Remonstrance was presented to Peter Stuyvesant, over in the City. That’s your Queens history factoid of the day. I’m going to a holiday party in the City tonight, and I can virtually guarantee that nothing quite so earth shattering as the emergence of the legal precursor of Constitutionally protected religious freedom will emerge from the endeavor. There will likely be soft cheeses, crackers, and wine however.

Life is shit. 

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Recently, whilst wandering along the fence lines of and through the “House of Moses” in Elmhurst, Winfield, and Woodside the other day I got to thinking about something that bugs me. During political type conversations with various folks in the last couple of years, a common statement has been offered to me which states that the U.S.’s Constitutional Bill of Rights “grants” me this and that (including the notion of the freedom of conscience which was first clarified to Peter Stuyvesant way back in 1657 Queens). If you check the actual language of the thing – it “acknowledges” “certain inalienable human rights.”

“Grant” means that it gives you these rights, and that it can take them back if warranted. That’s “stinking thinking” if you ask me, but what do I know? I’m no law scholar, just some idiot with a camera and an afternoon off, which I spent walking along a highway in Queens. I do know what “inalienable” means, however, and that “acknowledge” is better than “grant.”

Think about it in terms of acknowledging the right you have to live another day without being murdered, versus being granted another murder free day. This is the sort of stuff which keeps me up nights, incidentally.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Anywho, the little path I picked for myself was quite hilly. I followed Laurel Hill Blvd. in Woodside while trailing the BQE on my way back to Astoria from Elmhurst. My pal Kevin Walsh from Forgotten-NY could probably have built around a hundred posts out of the area I wandered through, but as I’ve mentioned in the past – residential neighborhoods ain’t my thing.

I like the wastelands, which is why I was walking along a highway. I picked the hilly path just for the cardio.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There are numerous scenarios which I can envision that would explain the shot above. I prefer the one involving modesty, wherein a naked hydrant was somehow offensive and one of the neighbors decided that it needed some dress up.

You don’t ask, in Queens.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I’ve been looking and looking for the last few months, and finally I’ve spotted another type of manhole or access cover which I haven’t previously recorded. On the whole subject of trade, international deficits, and so on – why aren’t we forging these things in the United States? I’m positive that “made in Pittsburgh” would fit if a smaller font was used.


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Written by Mitch Waxman

December 27, 2016 at 1:00 pm

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