The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

Posts Tagged ‘Astoria Park

diverse states

with one comment

Full throttle Thursday, and Merry Christmas.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As mentioned in some detail yesterday, I’m playing around with the settings on the new camera, and trying to do so in visually interesting but lonely places. Part of this endless drivel about photographic process has mentioned the concept of combining multiple shallow depth of field and varied exposure shots into a single image, like the one above.

There are 38 individual photos incorporated into the shot above, and that’s what it looks like when a tugboat goes by at Hells Gate… what… how are you filling all the empty pandemic hours you’re experiencing? Sheesh, on Xmas eve, too.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

My plan for the holiday involves rewatching several episodes of the Star Wars “Clone Wars” series. As I’ve got the time this year, I’m trying to watch all of Star Wars in the order of story continuity, and having suffered through the first two of the prequels, its time to nestle into the winter with the cartoon series (which is arguably the best Star Wars ever done, imho). Don’t judge, I was a nerd before it was cool to be a nerd. The hipsters are nerd poseurs. Imagine giving a shit about how you look or what people think of you. Haircuts, the lot of them.

Pictured is another focus stacked but entirely different shot, depicting the Hell’s Gate Bridge.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Mission accomplished, the camera was converted back to handheld mode, which is a process so incredibly simplified with the new unit that I kept on thinking that I missed something. My walk home involved crossing Astoria Park. It was an uneventful crossing with no wackadoodle interaction. I had to pee, and the air smelled like marijuana smoke. After finding a tree to water, and breathing in the atmospherics deeply, one was able to relax and slouch roughly into the scuttle back to HQ.

Merry Christmas, y’all, from the other fat guy with a white beard – the one in the filthy black raincoat.

Note: I’m writing this and several of the posts you’re going to see for the next week at the beginning of the week of Monday, December 21st. My plan is to continue doing my solo photo walks around LIC and the Newtown Creek in the dead of night as long as that’s feasible. If you continue to see regular updates here, that means everything is kosher as far as health and well being. If the blog stops updating, it means that things have gone badly for a humble narrator.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle


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 24, 2020 at 11:00 am

great bridge

with 4 comments

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.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

March 9, 2017 at 11:00 am

to assent

with 3 comments

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

with one comment

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

leave a comment »

“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

%d bloggers like this: