The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

Posts Tagged ‘Birds Eye

crunching teeth

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Getting high in Manhattan, in today’s post.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Occasion saw me and mine traveling into the City the other day to attend yet another Newtown Creek Superfund meeting, this time with the Feds (EPA) and the folks who represent the energy companies identified as “PRP’s” or Potentially Responsible Parties in the Newtown Creek Superfund situation. Newtown Creek Group, as the energy companies have styled themselves, were presenting an idea they’ve come up with to the CAG (Community Advisory Group) which I’m a steering committee member of. This plan of theirs will be discussed more fully, and publicly, at a future CAG meeting after we’ve had a chance to discuss and process it.

The meeting was in a law office at Jared Kushner’s 666 Fifth Avenue, on the 26th floor, so I took the opportunity to wave the camera at the windows after the meeting had ended. Check out those supertall’s going up. People somehow believe this to be a good thing… what do I know, though, Manhattan has been lost for twenty years at this point. It’s become a hell for the oligarchs, and the rich always like building castles for themselves. Trump Tower is just down the block, so you get what I’m saying.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

What I can tell you is this – it was fiendishly hot the day I went there. My pal Will bought a milkshake from an Ice Cream truck on the corner. The air conditioning at 666 Fifth was fantastically strong, and that the last time I was in this building was when DC Comics still maintained offices there. In the meeting room upstairs, there were snacks and soft drinks. I had a packet of Doritos, and drank a Dr. Pepper with a ton of ice in the glass.

I don’t drink soda pop too often, so that was a nice sugary treat on a hot day. It was no milkshake, however. Saying that, I’m a huge fan of the Daniel Day Lewis movie “There will be Blood,” so if I’m meeting with people who work for oil companies I avoid bringing up milk shakes.

If you haven’t seen the flick, or don’t get the reference – here you go. (spoilers)

– photo by Mitch Waxman

It’s all so banal in Manhattan these days, antiseptic, and cruelly edged. That current of energy which used to run through the place is just gone. All flash, zero substance, no creative inspirado or “juice.” If Jakob Riis was alive today, his book about the City would be titled “How the Other 1% live.”

Bah. It’s always a pleasure to come home to the last remaining part of the real NYC, which is found out here in Queens.

“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 for $30.

Written by Mitch Waxman

August 1, 2019 at 1:00 pm

to overtake

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Glamorous thrill in today’s post.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Not once, but twice, have I been invited to ride along with people in their automobiles in the last week. Motor coaches were once a significant part of a humble narrators life, when jaunts and journeys would carry one across the megalopolis, but my current incarnation is that of the pedestrian so when an opportunity to hurtle along in a steel motor box comes along – I take it. Of course, that doesn’t stop me from waving the camera around. Pictured above, the Penny Bridge section of my beloved Newtown Creek as witnessed from the high flying Kosciuszko Bridge captured while traveling at about 30 mph.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One of my destinations was over at the border of Bushwick and Williamsburg in infinite Brooklyn. While gathering this shot of a “sweet pete” truck, one had to work quickly as my presence had awoken the pack of dogs that patrol this yard. Didn’t wish to set them off, so I shot and ran. That’s the thrilling part.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Last Tuesday’s fog lent a certain atmospheric quality to another shot gathered while hurtling over the Kosciuszko Bridge. A dream of mine is to actually have some time to linger up here, but that would close lanes on the busy Brooklyn Queens Expressway, and I’ve already pissed off enough of my fellow New Yorkers over the years.

“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

unreasonable impulse

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– photo by Mitch Waxman

Occasion called for your humble narrator to find himself one thousand and fifty feet above Manhattan recently, staring down at the much maligned Newtown Creek. Kryptonian perspective notwithstanding, it was strange to see how small all of it seemed, stretching back a mere four miles from the East River. Always lost in the hidden minutia of the place, it was very odd to see all of it laid out so neatly for inspection.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The big construction job at Hunters Point South, just getting underway, looks like a child’s sandbox from this height- with an adorable little rail yard next to it. Across the water in Greenpoint, an itsy bitsy sewer plant with its gleaming digester eggs shining in the light of the burning thermonuclear eye of god itself. Others may see only what’s there now, but I see Jack Frost Sugar and Chelsea rope and Newtown Creek Towing Company.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

That green patch is Calvary, with the thrice damned Kosciuszko framing it. Dutch Kills and the SimsMetal Newtown Creek Dock would be at the “9” position were the above shot a clock face, with Pulaski Bridge at the bottom. The Petroleum District in Greenpoint is about where the three would be, and you can just make out the Greenpoint Avenue Bridge. About where the “5” would be- notice the barge at TNT scrap metal on Manhattan Avenue?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Dizzying, the extreme altitude began to work on my delicate constitution and the shooting session had to be cut short. Additionally, all I was able to think about was the Newsboy Governor and the Knickerbocracy’s Four Hundred for some reason.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

This is the sort of view of the Newtown Creek which I prefer, up close and personal, rather than from atop the world’s fourth largest building. The biggest problem with the Empire State Building’s observation deck, after all, is that you can’t see the Empire State Building.


Click for details on Mitch Waxman’s
Upcoming boat tours of Newtown Creek

July 22nd, 2012 NEXT SUNDAY- There are Just a few tickets left, don’t miss out

Working Harbor Committee Newtown Creek Boat Tour

Written by Mitch Waxman

July 19, 2012 at 7:50 am

certain villagers

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– photo by Mitch Waxman

Recent business brought me to the Greenpoint section of infinite Brooklyn, which offered your humble narrator an opportunity to get high.

Pop cultural references aside, what that meant was a trip to the roof of the so called Pencil Factory, and the chance to slide my lens around the unobstructed vista of the alluvial plane which lies between Newtown Creek, the former Bushwick Creek, and the East River.

from wikipedia

An alluvial plain is a largely flat landform created by the deposition of sediment over a long period of time by one or more rivers coming from highland regions, from which alluvial soil forms. A floodplain is part of the process, being the smaller area over which the rivers flood at a particular period of time, whereas the alluvial plain is the larger area representing the region over which the floodplains have shifted over geological time.

As the highlands erode due to weathering and water flow, the sediment from the hills is transported to the lower plain. Various creeks will carry the water further to a river, lake, bay, or ocean. As the sediments are deposited during flood conditions in the floodplain of a creek, the elevation of the floodplain will be raised. As this reduces the channel floodwater capacity, the creek will, over time, seek new, lower paths, forming a meander (a curving sinuous path). The leftover higher locations, typically natural levees at the margins of the flood channel, will themselves be eroded by lateral stream erosion and from local rainfall and possibly wind transport if the climate is arid and does not support soil-holding grasses. These processes, over geologic time, will form the plain, a region with little relief (local changes in elevation), yet with a constant but small slope.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The pencil factory of the Eberhard Faber company, recently converted to luxury apartments, from above. Often has it occurred to me that this most be how the elites of Manhattan perceive the North Brooklyn and Western Queens communities, as if from above and with the perspective of Olympians.


The native Keshaechqueren originally inhabited this part of Brooklyn. Dutch mercantilists and farmers, arriving in 1638, rapidly developed it into a hub of seafaring commerce. In the 1850s, the community swelled with new residents, of primarily Irish and English descent, when two ferry lines began regularly scheduled runs from the Greenpoint coastline to Manhattan’s East Side. With the almost simultaneous addition of big businesses like the shipbuilding firm Continental Iron Works and fuel provider Astral Oil Works, Greenpoint began to compete on a national level with older naval foundries in Boston and Norfolk.

From the decades following the Civil War through the 20th century, Greenpoint’s population has steadily grown. In the early 1950s, the community began to suffer strain as several waves of immigration met with limited economic opportunities in the neighborhood.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The red building in the right of the shot, for instance, houses one of my favorite saloons in this section- also known as the “Pencil Factory”. They serve hard cider in a pint glass with ice during the summer, and that’s what’s known as “local knowledge”. Can’t see that from up here.

Of course, this angle of view precludes one from understanding the truth of these places, the life and cultural norms of the street, and reduces the population housed therein to statistical groups with the status of mere tenants (from a macro historical and sociological point of view) in a “district”. This isn’t a district, this is a neighborhood.

Hmmm, I guess these Eberhard Faber folks must have been a big deal.


The company first opened a factory in Manhattan near 42nd Street and the East River in 1861 as the U.S. branch of Germany’s A.W. Faber Company, a pencil manufacturing company dating to the mid-18th century. In 1872, Eberhard Faber, the great grandson of the company’s founder, moved the operation to Brooklyn after the Manhattan plant – the first pencil manufacturer in the United States — was destroyed by fire.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The shapes on the far horizon in the shot above are all in Queens, and the dark dome of vegetation are those trees fed by the morbid nutritions of Calvary Cemetery. The reason why this part of Greenpoint Avenue is so wide is that it was built to accommodate the street car lines going to and from Calvary, which met the ferry docks not too far from where the so called “transmitter park” is found today.

from “A history of the city of Brooklyn By Henry Reed Stiles” courtesy google books

The Green-point Ferries are from the foot of Green-Point Avenue, Brooklyn, E. D., to the foot of East Tenth and East Twenty-Third streets, New York. The first named route was established in 1852 (lease dated 1850), by the efforts of Mr. Neziah Bliss, of Green-Point; and was soon transferred to Mr. Shepard Knapp, being now held by G. Lee Knapp. The Twenty-Third street route was established in 1857, and held by St. Patrick’s Cathedral, per G. Lee Knapp. Rent of the Tenth street ferry, $1,300, and of the Twenty-Third street, $600 per annum, both expiring in 1874.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Remains of the Greenpoint Terminal Market, immolated just a few years ago, persist on the riverfront. They await the application of venture capital and the blade of earth moving equipment, and will begin a conversion to towers of steel and glass.

Soon, one will not be able to see the spectacle of the Shining City of Manhattan from Greenpoint, except via regulated and officially decided “sight lines” or “visual corridors” offered by gaps between high rise apartment buildings- or if you happen to live in one of them.

Just like in Long Island City.

from the “DIGEST OF SPECIAL STATUTES By THE CITY OF NEW YORK” courtesy google books

1865: This act incorporates the Green Point and Calvary Railroad Company, and authorizes the construction of a railroad, to be operated by horse power only, from at or near the Green Point and Tenth street ferry, at the foot of Green Point avenue, in the city of Brooklyn, thence along Green Point avenue to Green Point avenue plank road, across the bridge over Newtown creek; thence easterly along said road to the easterly side of Calvary cemetery at or near the point where the, said road intersects the main road leading from Calvary cemetery to Hunter’s Point; thence to Central avenue; thence along Central avenue and Commercial street to Franklin avenue, to Freeman street, to Washington street, to the place of beginning.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One view which will remain unoccluded for the foreseeable future, of course, is that which is enjoyed by some hideous thing which cannot possibly exist or lurk within the cupola of a Sapphire Megalith in Long Island City.

Such an entity- with its singular and unblinking eye casting about rapaciously, a global army of loyal acolytes and fanatic employees, and a desire to devour all the wealth that there is, was, or ever will be- this hungry and impossible thing which would be “too big to fail”- were it not entirely mythical- what perspectives on the transformations of North Brooklyn could it offer from atop its hildskjalf?

Of course, such paranoid wonderings often occur, when one spends his time getting high in Greenpoint.


Greenpoint is generally defined as the district bounded by North 7 Street on the south, the East River on the West, Newton Creek on the north and the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway on the east, corresponding approximately to the area of ward 17 in the 19 century. th

Once also known as Cherry Point, Greenpoint, got its name from the eponymous spit of grassy land that extended into the East River near the foot of what later became Freeman Street. The name came to designate all of the 17 ward when Greenpoint, Bushwick, and Williamsburg were joined to Brooklyn in 1854. At that time, the 17 ward was home to approximately 15,000 inhabitants. A sandy bluff, over one hundred feet high in some parts, overlooked the shoreline between Java and Milton Streets, but it was leveled before the middle of the 19 century for use as building material and landfill both in New York and locally. The original Greenpoint spit disappeared between 1855 and 1868 when the western half of the blocks along the once white sandy shoreline west of West Street were created by landfilling. During this period, the blocks west of Commerce Street between Ash and Eagle Streets were also created or in the process of being filled.

Written by Mitch Waxman

May 18, 2012 at 12:15 am

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