The Newtown Pentacle

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Posts Tagged ‘Bayonne

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How many times a week can you say it’s Monday, huh?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As described last week, my pal Val drove her Valmobile – with myself and a libertarian named Scott within it – out to a photogenic spot on the Kill Van Kull waterway which forms a busy martime shipping channel as well as the border betwixt… Staten Island… and Bayonne, New Jersey. After visiting this spot – known to my circle as “Skelson’s Office,” it was decided to make like a chicken and cross to the other side. Our path carried the Valmobile over the newly reconfigured Bayonne Bridge.

By reconfigured, I mean that the Port Authority has just finished spending multiple millions of bucks to raise the roadway from its original height in pursuit of allowing ever larger cargo ships access to the Port Elizabeth Newark complex in Newark Bay.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

In Bayonne, which is largely the unknown country for a humble narrator, we floundered around a bit but managed to find a couple of opportune spots that largely looked westwards towards the port facilities. We were becoming increasingly apprehensive about weather, which as you see from the shot above, was forming up an afternoon thunderhead of the type you expect to see in late August around these parts.

If I was a superhero, my nom de plume would be “Captain Vocabulary.” On that note, the beams of light at the left side of the shot are referred to as “crepuscular rays.” Scott the Libertarian didn’t care, which is a big part of that particular political philosophy – not caring – and he was busy trying to figure out a spot where we could buy lunch in the surrounding neighborhood on his phone while Val and I waved our cameras about.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

That’s the control tower at Newark Airport just left of center, which kind of suggests where this shot was gathered. The blue tug is part of the DonJon outfit, and it was wrestling a seemingly empty group of barges into place.

More tomorrow at this – you Newtown Pentacle.

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, August 24th. 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.

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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 for $30.

Written by Mitch Waxman

August 24, 2020 at 1:00 pm

Project Firebox 53

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– photo by Mitch Waxman

Rounding out the distinctly New Jersey oriented series of posts this week, captured during a day trip which ended in Bayonne, is a Project Firebox. Kevin Walsh and I both spotted this alarm box at the same time, which evinced an “oooohh” from your humble narrator and a sharp intake of breath from the webmaster of Forgotten-NY. This is a fairly early Gamewell Telegraph Alarm Box, which still seems to be employed.

from wikipedia

In 1855, John Gamewell of South Carolina purchased regional rights to market the fire alarm telegraph, later obtaining the patents and full rights to the system in 1859. John F. Kennard bought the patents from the government after they were seized after the Civil War, returned them to Gamewell, and formed a partnership, Kennard and Co., in 1867 to manufacture the alarm systems. The Gamewell Fire Alarm Telegraph Co. was later formed in 1879. Gamewell systems were installed in 250 cities by 1886 and 500 cities in 1890. By 1910, Gamewell had gained a 95% market share.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Saying that you’ve seen a Gamewell is a bit like saying that you’ve seen a Ford or a Chevy, of course, as the Massachusetts Company has dominated the market for well more than a century. Still, running across one of these on the street in such a totally random manner is what this blog is all about. Our little party began to madly photograph the thing, which no doubt caused the local Bayonnicans no small amount of puzzlement.

from 1914’s Report on the city of Bayonne, N.J., By National Board of Fire Underwriters. Committee on Fire Prevention and Engineering Standards. -courtesy google books

Of automatic type and Gamewell make, installed in 1907, and includes the following: An 18-circuit protector-board, arranged for 10 fire alarm circuits and 8 police signaling circuits; a 10-circuit battery charging board for the police system; a 10-circuit fire alarm battery charging board, with the usual testing and charging devices; a 7-circuit non-interfering automatic repeater; a punch register for registering all alarms, connected to a box circuit; a stop clock; a non-interfering break-wheel transmitter with a wheel for each box number and each assigned number, and a J4-K. W. motor-generator for charging storage batteries. A motor-generator is held in reserve in the storeroom. Switchboards are marble on wooden mountings. A gong and pen register on a direct line from the A. D. T. office in Jersey City is located in the hall adjoining the operating room. The department telephone switchboard is in the operating room.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Apparently, there is a large collectors market for this sort of device, largely driven by former firefighters who wish to preserve them as historical artifacts.


In today’s world, the only company still manufacturing telegraph fire alarm boxes is the Gamewell Company, owned by Honeywell, Inc. While no one is purchasing new complete telegraph fire alarm systems, there are some towns that still add to their existing systems. Thus, there is still a need for Gamewell to produce these boxes.

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