The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

Mitch Waxman Bio

with 15 comments

– photo by Steven McCann

Mitch Waxman was raised in Brooklyn, attended the School of Visual Arts in Manhattan, and worked for many years as a comic book writer and artist. He also worked in advertising production and as a photo retouching specialist for several advertising agencies. He has always had a certain fascination with historical material.

After a health scare several years ago, medical personnel advised him that he should start running to improve his health. Having grown up, as aforementioned, in Brooklyn – Mitch cannot run unless something is chasing him so he began to walk the earth and brought the camera along to keep things interesting. Soon, he found the occluded reality of the Newtown Creek and hasn’t left the place since.

Mitch started the Newtown Pentacle website in 2009 to document his adventures along the Newtown Creek (and in the greater harbor and city beyond). He has served the City of New York as a Parade Marshall three times, has been named the Newtown Creek Alliance’s group historian, is a Steering Committee member of the Working Harbor Committee, and offers regular walking, bus and boat tours of the Newtown Creek Watershed. He resides in Astoria, Queens, with his wife Catherine and their little dog.

His photography and unique point of view have attracted no small amount of attention, and Mitch has appeared in several documentaries about the Creek and is often quoted in news articles about the subject. A book collecting his photos and discoveries- Newtown Creek for the Vulgarly Curious, is available for order at, and a second book will be published soon.

Tours and public events

  • Parade Marshall, Queensboro Bridge Centennial Parade- City of New York
  • Parade Marshall, Manhattan Bridge Centennial Parade- City of New York
  • Parade Marshall, Hunters Point Avenue Centennial Parade- City of New York
  • Narrator, Hidden Harbor Senior Tours- Working Harbor Committee
  • Narrator and producer, Hidden Harbor Newtown Creek boat tours- Working Harbor Committee
  • Narrator and producer, Hidden Harbor Walking Tours- Working Harbor Committee
  • Official Photographer- Working Harbor Committee
  • Narrator and Producer, Walking tours, Atlas Obscura “Obscuraday”
  • Narrator and Producer, Walking tours, Open House New York
  • Narrator and producer, City of Water Day Newtown Creek boat tours- Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance
  • Associate producer and art director, Forgotten-NY walking tours-
  • Magic Lantern show presentation, City of Water Day- Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance
  • Magic Lantern show presentation- Greater Astoria Historical Society
  • Magic Lantern show presentation- Ridgewood Democratic Club
  • Magic Lantern show presentation- New York City DEP Speaker Series
  • Producer and Creative, Williamsburg Bridge toll event- Sam Schwartz Engineering
  • Member- Newtown Creek CAG
  • Observer- Newtown Creek Monitoring Committee
  • Writer, photographer- Newtown Pentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

June 12, 2012 at 9:09 pm

15 Responses

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  1. Hey Mitch. In China but will be back in NYC in July. Have been Working on history tugboat McAllisters for years for them. They began on Newtown Creek. Would love to meet and swap notes.

    Stephenie Hollyman

    June 16, 2012 at 10:08 pm

  2. Mitch:

    Are you aware of how Newtown Creek was identified as a tributary of interest? In the late 70’s, NYC, represented by the Dept. of City Planning and the DEP, conducted a 208 Areawide Water Quality Plan for the entire Harbor. Most of the work was done by Hazen & Sawyer and Hydroqual. Part of the Plan, studied the tributaries to the harbor (the 500 series reports). One of the results was to identify Gowanus Canal for rehabilitation using the existing flushing tunnel. Newtown creak was also studied in a separate 500 report but nothing came of it then. Note, Hydroqual’s flushing tunnel proposals for Newton Creek in 1994, not a coincidence

    Dr. B.

    Barry J. Berdahl, PhD

    June 17, 2012 at 11:10 am

    • The hydroqual studies are an amazing resource, which I refer to all the time (and often offer links to). The “flushing tunnel”, believe it or not, was originally proposed by DeWitt Clinton. We refer to it as the 100 year plan, as every hundred years or so, it’s proposed and then shot down due to cost. Clinton wanted to create a “grand canal” in Queens, linking together the flushing river and Newtown Creek which would provide tidal action to both and also create a shipping channel from LI Sound to East River, bypassing the dangerous passage of Hells Gate.

      Mitch Waxman

      June 17, 2012 at 11:40 am

  3. 425 Greenpoint Ave. was the home of the Manhattan Adhesives Corp. My father, Pasquale Leone, was a chemist there until it closed sometime in the late 1960’s early 1970’s. You could see the Manhattan Adhesives sign on the tower portion of the building from the Kosciuszko Bridge. They made adhesives for books, magazines, labels, etc. One of their customers at the time was Reader’s Digest. The glue was animal based and it smelled pretty bad. I visited him there when I was a kid and he let me play with the beakers, test tubes, bunsen burners in his lab.

    Robert Leone

    July 21, 2012 at 2:39 pm

  4. Very interesting site!!!!!
    I am a model railroader and found it by accident, as I was looking for photographs and information on the former “Jack Frost” sugar refinery (National Sugar, formerly New York Sugar Refinery) that was located on Newtown Creek. I am trying to model the complex (saw your photographs of the property) and surrounding area including the float bridge (saw the photographs of the remains of it), the trackage down Pigeon St, and the wharf . I did find some drawings of the site (Sanborn Fire Insurance maps and a page from an old 1919 NYC atlas, but no photographs of the complex. Any help in locating some photographs would be greatly appreciated.
    Plattsburgh NY

    Frank Dietz

    September 22, 2012 at 6:46 pm

    • Hi Frank!
      Super interesting- would love to see the materials you’ve compiled. I’m working on a site along the mouth of the creek and am intrigued by any historic imagery you’ve found.

      Let me know if you’re open to share!

      Nick Shannon
      landscape designer

      Nick Shannonn

      July 24, 2019 at 8:43 am

    • Hi- super interesting! I’d love to see what you’ve found. I’m currently working on a site in the mouth of the creek. If you’re open to sharing let me know.

      landscape designer

      Nick Shannon

      July 24, 2019 at 8:45 am

  5. […] 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 […]

  6. […] writers (and personalities!) as Forgotten NY’s Kevin Walsh and the Newtown Pentacle’s Mitch Waxman. Montrose Morris, who’s been writing about Brooklyn history and architecture for years on […]

  7. 9 minutes ago
    Mr. Waxman, I just found some pictures you had taken of the “Hubert Bays” tug/push boat. It was so great to see the nice comments you made about this vessel. You see, the vessel was built by my brother, his partner and another man. There was minimal subcontracting done for the final touches. I am always looking for more pictures of “Hubert Bays” on the internet. You have some nice ones. The vessel looks nice now, but you should have seen it with the original paint scheme, a masterpiece! I would love to forward a picture or two to you if you are interested. My email is

    Evelyn Golenski Walton

    July 7, 2014 at 7:12 pm

    • I’d love to see what you’ve got, and thanks.

      Mitch Waxman

      July 7, 2014 at 9:59 pm

      • If you email me with your email, will forward you some pics.

        Evelyn Walton

        July 8, 2014 at 10:26 pm

  8. […] thought that I was done with my research on Wallabout Creek but then there’s Mitch Waxman, historian, photographer, Newtown Pentacle blogger, and tour guide for Newtown […]

  9. Hi, I’m wondering if you may do a tour with a college class from LaGuardia?

    Anne Kornfeld

    July 5, 2019 at 6:41 pm

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