The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

Posts Tagged ‘7 line

efflorescent powder

with one comment

Thursday, it affects us all.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One encountered this beauty over in LIC last week, a burned out vehicle which the coppers had parked nearby the Queens Midtown Tunnel. Some other bloke was examining the wreck at the same time I was, but we didn’t talk. I prefer it that way. Without loneliness and isolation, I just can’t be happy.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A singular Christmas party is all that remains on my calendar for 2019, and then I’m free of having to pretend any sort of civility for a couple of weeks. This is awesome sauce, and what with the broken toe no longer broken (mostly healed, but still hurts) I can finally get back to wandering the concrete devastations of Newtown Creek like some mendicant in the new year.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

On my way home from LIC, I found myself at the Queensboro Plaza 7/N/W platform. The fog which had defined that particular day had broken and transitioned to a light rain. As is my habit, as the trains were coming and going – I was waiting for an N – the camera got waved around. I’m fond of this shot of the 7.


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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 blurb.com for $30.

Written by Mitch Waxman

December 19, 2019 at 1:00 pm

wholly allied

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A Jedi craves not these things…

– photo by Mitch Waxman

My hermitage and recovery period for the broken toe has been, frankly, driving me nuts with boredom. Given the diminished capacity one is experiencing on the walking around front, a humble narrator evolved a plan which would involve a fairly minor amount of scuttling about while also putting the camera in front of picturesque locales. A quick limp over to my local subway stop ensued, whereupon a transfer to the IRT Flushing or 7 Line subway line was accomplished in Jackson Heights – pictured above.

A long standing assertion of mine is that the 7, of all NYC’s subway lines, offers the most interesting and picturesque set of views to be found in the entire system (Ok, I’ll admit that Broadway Junction over in Brooklyn is pretty amazing as well).

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Given that I have been a caged animal and literal cripple of late, I haven’t been able to shoot anything intentional in awhile. What I’ve been offering for the last few weeks here at Newtown Pentacle has either been shots from the archives or “catch as catch can” snapshots gathered when I absolutely positively had no choice about being “out there” despite the broken toe and badly swollen left foot. Last week, I finally got to think out a route – and plan in advance – a few shots I was desirous of capturing.

The one above represents around a thirty second exposure from the 40th/Lowery stop, looking down on the northern side of Queens Blvd. from the elevated station. I was using that ultrapod gizmo I’ve been rattling on about, which is small enough to allow me to skate around MTA’s rules about using a tripod on their properties without a permit. Saying that, I did have the photo bag kit and kaboodle with me, gear which was used at other locations with less restrictive rules.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The shot directly above is from the 33rd/Rawson stop on the 7, looking again towards the northern side of Queens Blvd., and that factory building with the inflatable tennis dome on it is the former Swingline Staplers factory. One of the things I find interesting about the long exposure stuff is the way that traffic patterns get visualized by the long streaks of brake light as automobiles shoot through the frame. When you talk to transportation advocates or the city planner types, they always spout about “should be’s” and “design intents.” I usually offer them unwanted feedback about “desire paths” and “the best laid plans of mice and men.”

Whatever these characters want people to do on these roads, pictured above is a graphic representation of what actually happens.


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Come on a tour!

With Atlas ObscuraInfrastructure Creek! My favorite walking tour to conduct, and in a group limited to just twelve people! December 14th, 1:30-3:30 p.m.

Click here for more information and tickets!

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 blurb.com for $30.

Written by Mitch Waxman

November 25, 2019 at 11:00 am

magic evening

with 5 comments

Nothing’s easy.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One hates going into the City, or Manhattan for those of you who didn’t grow up in Brooklyn or Queens, so very much that a tendency has developed in a humble narrator to cluster together errands and get them all done in a single go. Tax season is upon us all, so a trip to my “numbers guy” and his accountancy office was required. Additionally, a quick stop at “Beards and Hats” or the BH Photo store to purchase supplies for various endeavors was on the list.

When I left the neighborhood, I put the guy pictured above in charge, but I think a poor choice was made regarding my choice of deputy given that he was out cold before I even got on the R train.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A quick stop in Jackson Heights was executed first, wherein Our Lady of the Pentacle and myself indulged in a meal at one of the local curry shops. Our chosen dining location was of the buffet type, and while filling a plate with exotically spiced chicken and well cooked rice and vegetables, a humble narrator was approached by a strange woman.

She informed me that I was “going to purgatory” and walked away. Despite my questioning of her curious pronouncement, that was all she had to say. My theory is that she misread the Newtown Creek Alliance “NCA” hat I was wearing as NRA, but then again she was probably just another nutcase. I attract them flies to poop, after all.

After eating, Our Lady and myself climbed the stairs to the 7 line subway tracks and boarded a train heading towards the Shining City itself.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As is my habit, whilst on the 7, I found a relatively clean window and pointed the camera at various points of interest. Pictured above is the Sunnyside Yards, and the fleet of trains which LIRR, NJ Transit, and Amtrak store in Queens between peak demand periods – the so called “rush hours.”

To anyone reading this who works in Government, or the Transit sector, or in the Non Profit Industrial Complex – the old 9-5 concept only applies to you. Corporate America has long abandoned the “English week” of eight hour workdays. The rest of us are doing everything we can to keep our heads above water, and that involves staying late and coming in early as well as showing up sometimes on a Saturday to help out. Additionally, “rush hour” begins at about 5:30 a.m. and lasts till 10:30 a.m. due to staggered work shifts. In the afternoon, it actually starts around three and lasts till nine. Please staff accordingly.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

We arrived in Manhattan, and boarded the vertigo inducing escalators at the 7 line’s terminal stop at Hudson Yards.

“Beards and Hats” was – as always – a model of customer facing commercial efficiency, and even with a bit of browsing amongst the shelves we were out of there in about a half hour.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Being a relatively nice day, and knowing that lousy weather had been forecasted for the middle of the week, we opted to walk from BH photo at 34th street to our tax appointment with the Accountants nearby 72nd and Broadway.

Upon arrival at the office, however, we were told that our number cruncher was seriously behind schedule and we would have to cool our heels in the waiting room for at least an hour. Everybody else in the waiting room had “gone to the phones” as I descirbe it, including Our Lady of the Pentacle. I instructed her to text me if anything sped up, and that I’d be back in a little while if she didn’t mind waiting without me. She didn’t.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One didn’t want to wander too far afield, and I wasn’t fully equipped (or inspired) to do full on night shots, but – I did have a tiny little tripod with me. A couple of set ups followed, the one above is looking downtown along Broadway towards Columbus Circle.

Incidentally, has the Mayor considered the fact that if he pulls the statue of Columbus down and renames the roundabout at 59th and Broadway, he will be forced to then rename Columbus Avenue and compel Columbia University to change their name? Just saying…

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A long time ago, I used to live waaaaay north of “the Dorilton” building found at west 71st street. It’s a handsome beaux arts “block of flats,” built in 1902 and a landmark. It was originally called “the Weed” when it was built, after its developer Hamilton Weed. It’s architects were the firm of Janes and Leo.

For some reason, it’s always filled me with a sense of foreboding and seems to be pulsing with some latent occult potency. God only knows what goes in there, but who can guess what the moneyed classes do behind closed doors? There’s probably roasted baby being consumed in there. brrrr…

– photo by Mitch Waxman

After finally sitting down with the accountant, and working out exactly the financial tithe to war and waste which Our Lady and I owed to both the Federal and NYS political establishments, we decided that a quick trip back to Astoria was in order. Our little dog Zuzu had been alone all day waiting for us, and you don’t want to make an elderly dog angry. The plan was simple – get to 42nd street and then transfer to a Queens bound R.

Have I mentioned that the “A” in MTA is for “adventure?”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

After waiting for a period of time considerably in excess of my visit to “Beards and Hats” and which promised to approach that of my delayed appointment with the Accountant, we decided that the likelihood of an “R” showing up was slight. MTA hit us with a great fakeout when an N line train appeared using the rolling stock you normally see on the R line.

They have some sense of humor, I tell you, those guys and gals at the MTA.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Having resigned ourselves to walking from 31st street back to HQ, which is only two blocks from an R stop as a note, the N pulled into Queens Plaza and announced that the train was going to go express to the terminal stop at Ditmars and 31st. “Why do they do this” asked several of my fellow riders. Having zero barriers or inhibitions about talking to strangers, a humble narrator had to opine to my fellow commuters the probabile reason we were standing on a train platform in Queens Plaza at 8:30 p.m. after getting turfed off the one we were on.

Simply put, MTA rates its on time performance by measuring when a train leaves one terminal stop as compared to that of its arrival at the one on the other end of the line. Should a train set get delayed doing local stops, particularly common in Manhattan, MTA’s practice is to switch the train to express to make up the lost time. This is why you’ll periodically see the train you’ve been waiting for speed by the platform with no one on board. Their (MTA Bosses) job performance review is more important to them than yours, and you’ve been cited several times for showing up late to work because of their desire to be “on time.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

While we were waiting, one again waved the camera around at points of passing interest. Luckily, the 7 was sitting at the platform for a good ten minutes so I had something nice and static to photograph.

Were there a so called “walking transfer” available between Queens Plaza (upstairs) and Queensboro Plaza (downstairs) we would have tried our luck with catching an R or M back to our actual destination but c’est la vie. Unfortunately, MTA still operates the IRT and IND lines as if they the separate entities of the dual contract era, even when it comes to fare control.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

When a local stop N line train finally arrived, we boarded. A debate about which stations are currently under construction began, wherein Our Lady was forced to ask google about it. I know this is probably heresy, but if there was a single piece of signage explaining it to the ridership found in the cars…

Bah. I relieved the shopping cart guy from watch when I got home, and got back to my malingering amongst the rolling hills of almond eyed Astoria.

I did wonder a bit about that purgatory comment from the crazy lady back in Jackson Heights.


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Written by Mitch Waxman

March 9, 2018 at 11:00 am

oddly enough

with 3 comments

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

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

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