The Newtown Pentacle

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Posts Tagged ‘7 line

oddly enough

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

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Recent endeavor found one heading in the uncharacteristic direction of eastwards. The aperitif of my evening meal was found planning the journey from the rolling hills of Astoria via the IND R line, riding it out to the Roosevelt Avenue stop in Jackson Heights, where a transfer to the IRT Flushing Line would be enacted. The menu for the night offered but one entree, and it was called “Flushing.” The filthy black raincoat was flapping about as one entered the caverns below and traveled through a Queensican tunnel within a hurtling metal box stuffed to the gills with the huddled masses. My plan worked out, a lucky break in the big City.

Often has one opined that the 7 line is the most photogenic of NYC’s subway lines, and nobody has ever risen up to challenge the assertion to my face. She’s a looker, old Lucky 7, and always reminds me of that feeling you get when arriving home and smell a a roast chicken dinner hitting the table just as you unlock the door. She’s apple pie, the bees knees, but always remember that she’s complicated. The 7 ain’t no pushover, baby.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Whilst onboard the 7, assigning gender roles to subway lines and listening to an “old time radio” adaption of some Raymond Chandler style story on my headphones, one began to do what he does to pass the time whilst commuting. I set the camera to a fairly narrow aperture (f8) and fast shutter speed (1/1600th) and pointed it out the window. Focusing on a far away object, the “spray and pray” method of photographic endeavor was enacted. Wasn’t looking for anything in particular, mind you, other than a different point of view than you get at ground level.

The narrow aperture – by the way – involves an optical something called “hyperfocal distance,” the high shutter speed was to compensate for the movement of the train, and the ISO speed depended solely on the needs of exposure.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I’m fairly ignorant about Flushing, as has been mentioned more than once. I know the broad stroke stuff, of course. orchards, and remonstrances, and Flushing Creek, and the railroad. I’m just not “granular” about Flushing, which is where I like to be. Haven’t yet found my usual collection of oddities, occultists, or riddled occlusions in the historical record of Flushing that one such as myself thrives on. There’s got to be a necromancy story in Flushing history, I tell you.

Did you know that there have been several UFO sightings in Flushing Meadow Corona Park, going all the way back to the 1960’s? Y’see, that’s MY kind of thing.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

That’s Flushing Creek in the shot above, which makes Newtown Creek look like Coney Island in terms of free public access to the waterfront. This is one of the spots where the “House of Robert Moses” landed heavily and then just left. The highways, the park, the airport, even the Verrazano Bronx Whitestone Bridge on the horizon are the “House of Moses.”

The Flushing Creek (aka Flushing River) was the subject of three very early Newtown Pentacle posts from 2009. These postings describe what I saw while onboard a boat heading into the waterway – one, two, and three.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Arriving at the 7 line’s terminal stop at Main Street in Flushing, one scuttled through the throbbing masses of the downtown area. One thing I CAN tell you about Flushing is that it is packed to the gills with people, particularly in the zone around Main Street. Herds of humans staring into little rectangles of glowing glass stalk these parts, bolting forward in blind furies as soon as the street lights change, and if one is not wary he might become trampled by an incoming wall of meat.

My pal Dr. Jack, who is more conventionally known as Official Queens Borough Historian Dr. Jack Eichenbaum, lives nearby. On more than one occasion he’s pointed out how relatively narrow the sidewalks and pedestrian pathways here in Flushing are in comparison to the vehicle section of the public way. Add in a level of real estate industrial complex activity that rivals what’s happening in Long Island City, and you’ve got throngs of people and an actual pedestrian traffic problem.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

My eventual destination in Flushing was at a “Green Drinks Queens” get together at the Leaf Cafe rooftop bar.

Green Drinks Queens is being organized by my pal Erik Baard, and along a few of our mutual friends I’ve committed to attending and “doing” the events. Next one will be sometime in the first quarter of 2018, I think. I had to circulate amongst and probably annoy the folks who attended, acting as if I could carry a conversation with real people, and my main function was introducing people to other people. There was a pretty nice sized crowd, which was probably due to partnering up with the Greater Flushing Chamber of Commerce in producing the thing. The aforementioned Dr. Jack Eichenbaum was there, as were Dragon Boaters, and the “bicycle people” as well.

I did find a couple of minutes here and there to wave the camera about during the evening, and use that new mini tripod gizmo I mentioned a couple of days ago for a few long exposure shots looking westwards towards the Shining City of Manhattan.

Incidentally, I’ve been to precisely two of the new rooftop bar/lounges in Flushing, and the views from both have been absolutely spectacular – but causation is neither proof nor correlation. I now feel that I’ve a duty to visit more of them.


Upcoming Tours and events

Calvary Cemetery Walking Tour, with Atlas Obscura – Sunday, December 10th, 11 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Explore NYC history, hidden inside sculptural monuments and mafioso grave sites, as you take in iconic city views on this walking tour, with Newtown Creek Alliance Historian Mitch Waxman details here.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

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Written by Mitch Waxman

November 30, 2017 at 11:00 am

cryptic formulae

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

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The Newtown Pentacle in back in session.

Aimless, a wandering mendicant found himself recently at a juncture. It’s always been my practice to follow instinct when out on a photowalk, but during those times when my schedule is tightly packed, the efficiency of a given route often trumps the voice of that little birdy that instructs one to turn left or right. Binary logic trees tumble forth from out of these choices – if I go left it takes me towards… – if I go right, I’m heading for… – and so on. Recent interludes have allowed one the temporal freedom to acknowledge and follow the advice of the voices in my head, which is how I ended up on the 7 train one recent afternoon.

This section of the glorious IRT Flushing – or 7 line – was built in a few distinct stages, here in Queens. It wasn’t until 1928 that the line reached its modern terminal destination in Flushing. The stops between LIC and the City (Grand Central Station in Manhattan, Hunters Point Avenue, Court Square, Vernon Jackson, and Queensboro Plaza) having opened in 1915. The second section to open was the QB Plaza to 103rd st./Alburtis Avenue section, and that happened on the 21st of April in 1917. I helped organize the centennial event for that anniversary, btw, with Access Queens and the NY Transit Museum.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A productive habit one has acquired over the years, while researching and writing about the garlands of municipal wonder stitched large across the geographies of the Newtown Pentacle, is to take note of historic anniversaries recorded in the historical record and then to set up a calendar item on my phone which repeats annually. After all this time, I seem to have developed the beginnings of an “On this day in NYC history…” database. So much of what we think of as “nyc” was built or created in the 1900-1940 era, one predicts that attending centennial celebrations are about to become quite a common experience.

I’ve been lucky enough to be at the center of several of these sorts of events over the years. I worked on the Queensboro Bridge and Madison Avenue Bridge centennials, was a parade marshall for the Manhattan and Hunters Point Avenue Bridge events, and as mentioned – helped organize the Access Queens IRT Flushing Line Corona Extension event.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Digressions aside, my impulse to climb up the stairs to and purchase a ride on the 7 train towards Queens Plaza allowed a visual vantage point to photograph the Sunnyside Yards, which is always a plus. Often, when riding elevated lines, I’ll pick out the cleanest window on the side of the subway which is shadowed by the sun and set the camera to an infernally fast shutter speed and narrow aperture (with commensurate compensation for ISO, of course) for a “spray and pray” series of shots recording whatever is passed by. Adoption of a weird physical posture is called for, during which one’s body is used as little more than a shock absorber and camera support. The particular one used by a humble narrator usually results in more than a little discomfort in the lower back and the beginnings of a cramp in my right foot.

Most of what you get are throwaway shots, incidentally, but with digital photography you’ve got no reason not to experiment constantly except when available card memory is short or battery life is limited.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There’s a few shots in today’s post, notably the first and last, which were “experimental” in terms of using a newly acquired bit of kit. In recent years, work on developing the skill set, and collecting the “bright” lenses, to negate the necessitude of using camera supports like tripods has been undertaken. One has been somewhat successful in this endeavor, so a minor investment at a recent camera show resulted in the acquisition of a truly transportable tripod. This sturdy gizmo barely qualifies as a “tabletop” unit, but it weighs virtually nothing and can be carried around in a coat pocket. Despite its dimunition; the unit has a ball head, supports the weight of my standard carry around lenses, and sets up rather quickly.

As mentioned above – the Newtown Pentacle is, indeed, back in session.


Upcoming Tours and events

Calvary Cemetery Walking Tour, with Atlas Obscura – Sunday, December 10th, 11 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Explore NYC history, hidden inside sculptural monuments and mafioso grave sites, as you take in iconic city views on this walking tour, with Newtown Creek Alliance Historian Mitch Waxman details here.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

November 27, 2017 at 11:00 am

old diarists

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

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The “ideation” (if it’s not some vision or prophetic message) came upon me again, the one wherein a humble narrator finds himself moving about and through a city of titanic oozy blocks of elder masonry – dripping with decay – whose ruinous facades nevertheless speak to the former habitancy of some race of giants within it. In these visions that occur when a sudden wave of physical weakness and psychic discohesion overcome a humble narrator – a condition which has recurred daily since childhood – inducing both unconsciousness and an accompanying series of wild hallucinations. One is aware of himself, as a wandering mendicant clad in a filthy black raincoat, lost and wandering along the shadow blasted streets. 

Half remembered snippets of barely realized imagery, sense shattering revelations harvested during these usually nocturnal hallucinatory episodes leave one with a sense of disquiet, even long after awakening from these daily lapses of consciousness. Groggy and congested upon the return of cognizant wakefulness, one will often try to jot down the experience but this is a usually fruitless enterprise. 

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Towers of cylcopean scope occlude the sky in this place, like daggers thrust violently upwards towards the soft belly of the heavens. The burning thermonuclear eye of God itself hangs wanly above the scene in these hallucinatory visions, irradiating and illuminating the dispossessed, the barren, the broken. Great cylinders rise into the sky, carrying poison effluents, as do enormous concrete and steel waste conduits snake greasily to the surrounding waters of the City. 

All is fouled, filthy, and fecund.

Great metallic insect like things roll about noisily in the open air and and stealthily hidden in burrows beneath the ground, accepting and vomiting forth the fleshy inhabitants of a city of dark secrets both cherished and kept. There is always a sense that the metropolis itself is sentient, an ancient coiling dragon possessed of a macabre sense of humor and dire intent, displaying naught but cynicism and contempt for those who dwell within the subaqueous boundaries of her archipelagic territory. 

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Disquieted, depressed, and disillusioned – a humble narrator’s dream avatar, wandering about in this shifting miasma of sound and image, found itself entering one the gargantuan metallic centipede “things” and surrendering to its destination. The chromium skin “thing” with the two glowing eyes I boarded was headed for the sclerotic heart of this metropolitan entity, where the psychic power and tumult of the City waxed rather than waned. Horror overtook this alternate reality’s narrator, as realization that the belly of the noisome beast was empty save for himself. 

Was this some sort of snare? A ruse?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As the great centipede picked up speed and hurtled upon its course, observation revealed no other living soul within the segment ahead of mine, and in the segment behind there was similarly no occupation. Panic began to set in, as the disconnect was realized. You are never alone within the belly of this particular beast, after all. Was this charonic conveyance contrived simply to corral and control one such as myself? Producing a pocket tool, attempts were made to extricate, but the great metal beast was held together with some sort of proprietary headed screws which were impossible to budge.

Throwing ones body against both plasticine armored glass or polished metal wall was both futile and somewhat painful. Whatever the sentience of the city wanted of me – or wanted to do to me – acceptance of it was my only option. 

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A tunnel was entered, and the gargantuan metallic insect thing sped into the gelatinous darkness of the subterrene. Without its metal shell, weird shadowed entities were glimpsed in the tunnel only briefly, but it was enough to drive one into a fit of wild panic. Organisms – both micro and macroscopic – beyond counting have been reported by scientific observers as inhabiting these subterrene bolt holes, punched through the very flesh of this sentient metropolis or “magna mater.” Collectively, these beings are her bridegroom, slithering in and scratching away at her decay in the safety of the dark. It is said that there are things which fester, and crawl, and slither, and even some that walk about on two legs – down there.

It is only when the glowing eyes of the metallic centipede flashes in their direction that can that they can be glimpsed, and even then, only dimly. But… I mean… this was only a vivid hallucination, experienced while passed out… right… I mean… right? A place like this… it cannot be…

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Familiar locations were observed in the dreamscape… but the great hurtling metal insect like thing did not stop in them, despite the presence of the City’s loathsomely abundant population therein. This population, disturbingly heterogenous individually – and as a group willfully ignorant of their surrounding, due to a societal preference for staring into small glowing rectangles of handheld polished glass – barely noticed as the centipede thing shot past them. 

None seemed cognizant of a terrified face, nor the panicky pounding of fists on the window being offered by a strange man in a filthy black raincoat, instead preferring to stare blankly at the little slabs of glass that illuminate their faces with a peculiar and quite pale bluish glow. The tunnel ahead swallowed this metallic leviathan one had been trapped in, and the sudden air pressure differential offered by billions of gallons of river water outside the tunnel suddenly caused one’s eardrums to compress. 

This altered the timbre of hearing for that alternate or dream avatar of my own personality, trapped in this lucid landscape of existential dread and daemonic dementia. 

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One wonders, and more than wonders, if what I remember hearing was more than just a combination of the metallic centipedes many steel feet striking against the tunnel floor, combined with both the scalar reflections of its speedy passage through the tunnel and accompanying atmospheric compression, mixing seamlessly with the rythmic thrumming of my own terrorized pulse which was omnipresent in my ears. 

There should be nothing down there which can speak, in those rock hewn tunnels beneath the river of sound – or East River as it is known in modernity…

There is nothing down there that can speak, damnit… nothing… 

This is not some charnel house of horror, redolent of the foulest abominations of the pit and absent from the sight of the burning thermonuclear eye of God itself, this is… but I heard what I heard… and it deeply struck terror in my quickly beating heart as I began to realize that this was no idle nocturnal vision, but that instead I had been fully awake the whole time. 

“Ia, Ia, shug nigguarth,” the sounds seemed to say, which was followed by “Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn.” 

Then the worst thing of all was vocalized, and the ultimate horrorific revelation arrived, when a voice suddenly said: 

“This train is being held due to Police action, and a sick passenger at Grand Central…”


Upcoming Tours and events

Exploring Long Island City, from Luxury Waterfront to Abandoned Factories Walking Tour,
with NY Adventure Club – Sunday, November 12th, 2:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.

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? With Newtown Creek Alliance Historian Mitch Waxman details here.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

October 30, 2017 at 1:00 pm

glowing ember

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

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As the shots from my latest adventure are still deep in the developing process, a single shot greets you today, at this – your Newtown Pentacle. Depicting the IRT Flushing Line – or 7 train – approaching the Roosevelt Avenue stop in Jackson Heights, I got this one while on my way to Flushing last week. A humble narrator stands by the oft repeated assertion that the troubled 7 line is the most photogenic of all of NYC’s subway trains.


Upcoming Tours and events

The Poison Cauldron of the Newtown Creek Walking Tour, with Atlas Obscura – July 22nd, 11 a.m. – 2 p.m..

Explore the hellish waste transfer and petroleum districts of North Brooklyn on this daring walk towards the doomed Kosciuszko Bridge, with NCA Historian Mitch Waxman details here.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

July 20, 2017 at 12:30 pm

finest effects

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

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One of those new “wifi kiosk” thingamabobs that have been turning up all over Queens recently flashed a bit of NYC trivia at one as a humble narrator scuttled past its screen recently, proclaiming that “15,152 forms of life have been detected on the NYC Subway.” That’s 15,151 non human critters, lords and ladies. One is positive that the vast majority of those are bacteriological, viral, or some other microscopic entity – but it does cause one to wonder… and more than wonder…

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Back in January of 1905, it was discovered and reported on that a “Subterranean Dog” had taken up permanent residence at the Bleecker Street station.

  • “BELEAGUERED DOG IN A SUBWAY STATION; Animal Firmly Intrenched in a Pipe Gallery. HAS LARGE STORES OF BONES Army of Trainmen Makes Afternoon Attack, but Fails to Dislodge Determined Garrison.”

Check out a 1905 NY Times article about encountering “Subterranean Dog” here.

This one discusses the capture of the outlaw pup.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I mean… yeah… we’ve all seen, critters that the subway has carried. I can attest to dogs, cats, iguanas, snakes, rabbits, rats, mice, and all manner of birds, with critter either accompanied by a person or just out on their own for a ride. There’s probably raccoons, possums, it’s likely that all sorts of higher mammals have wandered onto a train during the last century and ended up in Hicksville, Armonk, or Bay Ridge. No doubt there’s all manner of flying insects, worms, and beetles who regularly commute as well. A while back, MTA found a dead shark onboard one of their trains.

Just last year, Gothamist reported on an N train car that was full of live crabs.

Who can guess, all there is, that might be buried down there?


Upcoming Tours and events

The Poison Cauldron of the Newtown Creek Walking Tour, with Atlas Obscura – July 22nd, 11 a.m. – 2 p.m..

Explore the hellish waste transfer and petroleum districts of North Brooklyn on this daring walk towards the doomed Kosciuszko Bridge, with NCA Historian Mitch Waxman details here.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

July 19, 2017 at 11:00 am

perfect triumph

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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.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

April 26, 2017 at 11:00 am

general credence

with 3 comments

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.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

February 6, 2017 at 1:00 pm

Posted in Flushing, Photowalks, Pickman, Queens, Subway

Tagged with ,

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