The Newtown Pentacle

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Posts Tagged ‘Astoria Park

great bridge

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It’s both National Crabmeat Day, and National Meatball day, in these United States.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Happy official anniversary of the first train crossing of the Hell Gate Bridge! Personally, I’m going to attend the celebratory soirée at Greater Astoria Historic Society tonight, where Dave “the Bridgeman” Frieder is going to be talking. Dave Freider is a photographer and historian who probably knows more about this subject than anyone else alive, and he was featured in a recent NY Times article on the subject as well.

I’ve been talking about the Hell Gate bridge since Newtown Pentacle started. This recent post, commemorating the day on which the steel of the bridge was finished, for instance. As an aside, here’s a post on it’s neighbor to the south, the Triborough Bridge, and one of the many where a humble narrator described ships and other vessels passing beneath it. There’s that time I spotted an experimental combat vessel at Hells Gate, described here. The esoteric history of Hells Gate was discussed in this 2010 post, and the largest explosion in human history prior to the atomic era as well as why its called “Hells Gate” was offered way back in this 2009 post, and in this one as well.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

It’s actually because of all the rattling on I’ve done over the years about Hell Gate that the decision to largely shut up and let you look at the pictures is offered today. Of course, since I’m a “Chatty Cathy,” that doesn’t mean I’m not going to fill the dead air.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Mose the fireboy is said to have strangled a sea serpent to death at Hell Gate in the early 19th century, a creature whose skin was draped over the bar at McGurk’s Suicide Palace during the legendary era of the Bowery B’hoys.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Hell Gate Bridge is federal property, specifically Amtrak, who acquired it out of the (then) largest bankruptcy in American history. It was the Pennsylvania railroad that built the thing, which eventually merged with their arch rivals at New York Central Railroad. The combined company, Penn Central Transportation Company (and its assets like Hell Gate), also collapsed into bankruptcy (in 1970) and were federalized by Richard Nixon into Amtrak and Conrail.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

This bridge is pretty much the only way off of a Long Island and onto the continent for freight rail. There’s a second and quite smaller structure called Little Hell Gate which isn’t not too far away, and that span carries rail traffic into the Bronx and from there all points north and west. On the other side of this connected track system, which is called the New York Connecting Railroad, is the Sunnyside Yard. That’s where the passenger links are, which lead to the east river tunnels, Penn Station, and the Hudson River tunnels.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The Hell Gate Bridge hurtles over Astoria Park, and fills the background of much of it. It’s a rite of passage for the “utes” of Astoria to find their way up to the tracks, I’m told, and there’s a legend they propagate that there’s a phantom train which emerges along the unused fourth trackway to chase and claim the unwary.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The arches of the NY Connecting Railroad continue eastwards, and as they do, begin to intersect with residential properties. There are dozens of homes in which the back yard plots include geometries formed by these cylcopean structures.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Astoria legend also describes a homeless serial killer of children who once lurked within the bridge’s Queens side tower. As the story goes, there’s a room in there where photos of the killer’s young victims are displayed. The 114th pct will deny that such a person ever existed, but will mention the occasional “ultra violence” that happens around the bridge – like the homeless man who had his skull crushed here a couple years back.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The New York Connecting Railroad tracks continue on through Astoria, heading eastwards toward the edge of Woodside and then crossing Northern Blvd. Local community organizations sponsor the creation of murals on the street facing sections.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

After 31st street, there is naked steel again, with the massive concrete structures giving way to columns and posts. There is still quite a bit of collossal concrete arch and balustrade along the route, of course.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

It’s such a part of the Astoria landscape that seldom is it commented upon, the passing of the railroad.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Happy birthday, Hell Gate Bridge. I’ll be thinking of you at Greater Astoria Historic Society’s “do” tonight.


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Written by Mitch Waxman

March 9, 2017 at 11:00 am

to assent

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Take a breath every now and then. Shhh.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

My beloved Astoria can kick up quite a racket, which is my primary complaint at the moment. The not so accurate decibel meter on my phone tells me that the zone around my house is subsumed by a constant din of 60-70 decibels, which can amp up to as high as 80-95 on a regular basis. That’s just ambient noise, I’m not including the passing ambulance, fire engine, or police car in those calculations.

It’s enough to cause one to lose his last nerve, I tell you.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Sonic pollution is something that doesn’t seem to register with New Yorkers, and most folks try to “tune it out.” What can you do about it? “That business with the bank of refrigeration units in its yard was here before you were” was what one of my neighbors opined when we were having a “kvetch.” There’s actually a LOT that I can do about it, but I try not to use the relationships with environmental officialdom that I’ve got lightly.

Luckily, there’s always Astoria Park to escape to, but it’s actually pretty noisy there too.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Seeking quiet, I walked over to Luyster Creek with a couple of friends recently and found this impromptu memorial. Set up to commemorate the death of those poor kids who drove into it a couple of months back, I see too much of this sort of thing all over the neighborhood. You’ll recall that a group of high schoolers met their end back here, when their vehicle left the road and the car landed in the drink.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

There’s two FREE Newtown Creek walking tours coming up.

Sunday, June 15th, DUPBO – Down Under the Pulaski Bridge Onramp
A FREE tour, courtesy of Green Shores NYC, click here for rsvp info

Sunday, June 21st, America’s Workshop
A FREE tour, courtesy of Green Shores NYC, click here for rsvp info

Written by Mitch Waxman

June 13, 2014 at 11:21 am

lost struggle

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A walk alongside the park.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Astoria Park is bordered on its western side by a quite busy road called Shore Blvd. Under normal circumstance, you’ll see families enjoying a riverfront promenade along Hells Gate, spanned by the Triborough and Hell Gate Bridges. There will also be codgers with deck chairs taking the sun, an occasional fisherman, and lots of people with cameras wandering about. Walking in the middle of Shore Blvd. on a normal day would result in quick death, as you would be accidentally ground into the pavement beneath the wheels of a Greek teenagers SUV in short order.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Luckily, this year the Green Shores NYC people are conducting the “5th annual Astoria Park Shore Fest target” in conjunction with the Astoria Park Alliance. Our Lady of the Pentacle had other plans, and a humble narrator had a rare weekend day off from my schedule of Newtown Creek tours, so I opted to shamble over and take a look at what was going on.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The big deal for me, of course, was the ability to shoot the two bridges from a normally unavailable vantage without having to worry about the aforementioned Greek teenager obliterating me, but a lot of people turned out for this event. There were kids and dogs and all sorts of stuff happening, I even ran into my pal Richard Melnick from Greater Astoria Historic Society whom I seldom get to see due to our mutual tour obligations that play out over the weekends.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The Shore Fest had all sorts of attractions- there was a blues band, all sorts of Eco friendly and green vendors selling or promoting their products, and almost all the kids I saw had painted faces. There was food as well, and as you see in the shot above- Ukelele lessons. The event is happening again this Sunday, and if you are lucky enough to be in Astoria- why not go check it out?

Want to see something cool? Summer 2013 Walking Tours-

13 Steps around Dutch Kills Saturday, August 17, 2013
Newtown Creek walking tour with Mitch Waxman and Newtown Creek Alliance, tickets now on sale.

The Poison Cauldron of the Newtown Creek – Saturday, August 24, 2013
Newtown Creek walking tour with Mitch Waxman and Atlas Obscura, tickets now on sale.

Written by Mitch Waxman

August 16, 2013 at 7:30 am

sinister family

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“follow” Mitch on Twitter at @newtownpentacle

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Note: Mitch is taking the day off today, and welcoming a guest blogger for commentary on these shots. They were captured recently at Astoria Park while on a “family walk” with Our Lady of the Pentacle and Zuzu the dog. Zuzu the dog, everyone tells us, has gotten fat (even considering the fact that she has a thyroid issue, she has nevertheless put on weight over the winter) and an increased amount of exercise has been called for. Accordingly, we took her on the first of several long weekend walks to Astoria Park, and everything from this point springs from the pen of today’s guest blogger.

Squirrel!

from wikipedia

The word “squirrel”, first specified in 1327, comes from Anglo-Norman esquirel from the Old French escurel, the reflex of a Latin word sciurus. This Latin word was borrowed from the Ancient Greek word σκίουρος, skiouros, which means shadow-tailed, referring to the bushy appendage possessed by many of its members.

The native Old English word, ācweorna, survived only into Middle English (as aquerne) before being replaced. The Old English word is of Common Germanic origin, with cognates such as German Eichhorn, Norwegian ekorn, Dutch eekhoorn, Swedish ekorre and Danish egern.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Squirrel!!! Squirrel!!! SQUIRREL!!!

from wikipedia

Astoria Park, a 59.96-acre (242,600 m2) park located along the East River in the New York City borough of Queens,contains one of the largest open spaces in Queens. The park is operated and maintained by the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation. Situated in Astoria and adjacent to the Triborough Bridge and Hell Gate Bridge, the park contains New York City’s oldest and largest swimming pool. The outdoor 54,450-square-foot (5,059 m2) pool, planned by Robert Moses, was used for qualifying events for the 1936 and 1964 Summer Olympics.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

SQUIRREL, SQUIRREL, SQUIRREL!!!

from wikipedia

As with other wild game and fish species, the consumption of squirrels that have been exposed to high levels of pollution or toxic waste poses a health risk to humans. A recent example of this took place in 2007 in the northern New Jersey community of Ringwood, where the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services issued a warning to anyone who eats squirrel (especially for children and pregnant women) to limit their consumption after a lead-contaminated squirrel was found near the Ringwood Mines Landfill. Toxic waste had been illegally dumped at this location for many years, before authorities cracked down on this practice in the 1980s. The warning especially affects the local Ramapough Mountain Indians, who have hunted and consumed squirrels from before European contact. The hunting and eating of squirrels is considered to be one of this people’s time-honored traditions, linking them through a process of cultural identity to their ancestors, and to each other. On learning of the ban on squirrel meat consumption, one member of the Ramapough Tribe told a reporter, “I feel my ancestry is disappearing, my heritage”.

Today’s guest blogger, as you might have guessed by now, has actually been the increasingly hungry Zuzu the dog. Her keen observations on urban wildlife, as told from a knee high perspective, are always enlightening.

Also: Upcoming Tours!

13 Steps around Dutch Kills Saturday, May 4, 2013
Newtown Creek walking tour with Mitch Waxman and Atlas Obscura, tickets now on sale.

Parks and Petroleum- Sunday, May 12, 2013
Newtown Creek walking tour with Mitch Waxman and Newtown Creek Alliance, tickets now on sale.

The Insalubrious Valley Saturday, May 25, 2013
Newtown Creek walking tour with Mitch Waxman and Atlas Obscura, tickets now on sale.

Hidden Harbor: Newtown Creek tour with Mitch Waxman – Sunday, May 26,2013
Boat tour presented by the Working Harbor Committee,
Limited seating available, order advance tickets now. Group rates available.

Written by Mitch Waxman

May 3, 2013 at 12:15 am

sensitive shadow

with 3 comments

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Almost immediately following the appearance of the MV Newtown Creek sludge boat described yesterday, the Sea Wolf tug appeared at Hellsgate, making it ineffably clear that there is no place for me to escape from Newtown Creek and its world. Sea Wolf is a regular sight on the Creek, and the barge it was handling no doubt came from the recycling facilities of SimsMetal also found on the troubled waterway which defines the currently undefeated border of Brooklyn and Queens.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Although my life seems to be some sort of permanent vacation, albeit one lived on an art students budget, it has been too long a time since one has left New York City and viewed something unspoiled- or just different. Part of this is due to work, and an inability to get away for any protracted length of time, but there is something else at work in my mind. One might actually have grown afraid to leave the megalopolis.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Like any prisoner, your humble narrator has become institutionalized, and cowers before the unknown world beyond the palisade walls of the Hudson or the crashing waves of Jamaica Bay. Rationalizations abound… there are a few places I’d like to visit- mainly in Europe (financially and culturally impossible), a few in Asia (similarly unattainable), and many in North America. Traditional vacation destinations don’t work for me, as personal descriptions of hell involve sitting in a chair on a beach and doing absolutely nothing while staring at empty horizons.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The manner in which my mind works, an admittedly byzantine and muddled process, breaks words down to find their true meanings. Recreation is “re-creation” and one has no desire to be recreated in any manner. Vacation is “vacant”. There is no break, no moment of rest for one such as myself. Enough of this idle, sitting in Astoria Park and watching the ships slide by. Clearly it is time to go back to my world of pain and misery along the Newtown Creek- where I belong.

Also- Upcoming tours…

for an expanded description of the October 13th Kill Van Kull tour, please click here

for an expanded description of the October 20th Newtown Creek tour, please click here

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