The Newtown Pentacle

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Posts Tagged ‘Bridge

short work

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Today’s post is part of the Maritime Sunday series.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Recent business carried me to the tony DUMBO section of Brooklyn, and having accomplished my meeting, your humble narrator made for the East River Ferry stop at Fulton Landing to get home to Queens. It was a foggy day, with the mist seemingly on the edge of unleashing precipitants, and the always picturesque Brooklyn Bridge was vamping for the camera while I waited for the ferry, so…

– photo by Mitch Waxman

That’s when the NYC DEP Skimmer boat “Jamaica Bay” appeared. SV Jamaica Bay was new in 2005, Its service area is reported tersely as “Tributaries,” it is 50 feet long, and can carry a capacity of 3,000 -12,000 lbs of wet material.


Floatable debris consists of a wide assortment of plastic, wood, paper, glass, rubber, metal and organic waste materials that float or are suspended in the water column and may eventually be deposited on shorelines and beaches. Floatable debris originating from street litter, combined sewer overflow (CSO) discharges, storm water discharges, decaying shoreline structures, pleasure boaters, and littering beach goers, can harm the marine environment and cause area beaches to close.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

For the benefit of those of you who don’t spend all of your time puzzling out the make and model of things which randomly navigate past you, a “skimmer” is a kind of work boat which travels along and scoops up “floatables.” This can mean anything from tree limbs to trash, and the NYC DEP operates just one several of skimmer fleets on the harbor. NJDEP and US Army Corps of Engineers also perform this task. The gizmo at the front of the thing opens up and forms a boom, and onboard conveyor systems draw flotsam and jetsam out of the water column and into a bin.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Skimmer boat “Jamaica Bay” is one of several “small” skimmers operated by DEP, and the big one is called “Cormorant.” One thing about which jumps at me whenever I look at the NYC DEP… as a department… is just how GIGANTIC it is.

A hearty maritime Sunday shout goes out to the Captain and crew of SV Jamaica Bay.

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Want to see something cool? June 2013 Walking Tours-

The Poison Cauldron Saturday, June 15, 2013
Newtown Creek walking tour with Mitch Waxman and Atlas Obscura, tickets now on sale.

Kill Van Kull– Saturday, June 22, 2013
Staten Island walking tour with Mitch Waxman and Working Harbor Committee, tickets now on sale.

The Insalubrious Valley Saturday, June 29, 2013
Newtown Creek walking tour with Mitch Waxman and Newtown Creek Alliance, tickets now on sale.

Experiments 1

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– photo by Mitch Waxman

Inspirado strikes in funny ways. To wit, Our Lady of the pentacle returned from one of her periodic expeditions to area thrift and secondhand stores with a used Viewmaster and several of the little travelogue reels which typified the gadget (The Petrified Forest, or Alcatraz, or Grand Canyon- there were thousands of these things, and it was a very popular diversion in the pre digital days).

For those of you born into the digital age, a viewmaster was a “toy” featuring a binocular sighting gizmo that focuses in on a tiny transparency contained on a ratcheted disc which is rotated into position via a lever. The whole device is held in front of an illuminated light source, and whatever the presented image is appears in the sights.

The Viewmaster people perfected the trick of a certain dimensionality, not true 3d of course, but the sort of analog stereoscopic illusion which you might be familiar with because of Disney animation with it’s multi plane camera work. This effect is something I had forgotten about, wherein comes the “inspirado”. There’s got to be a way to suggest that dimensionality, the “jump” as it were, in photoshop.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Not quite as simple as “tilt-shifting“, the effect I’m trying to get (which I haven’t yet achieved, although these 2 images are fairly close) involves stacking the various layers of background with certain alterations to density and saturation. That “pop” isn’t quite there yet, which might represent a shortcoming in the actual photograph of course, but it’s fairly close.

Of course, there are those who do actual stereographs- YTF from the Newtown Pentacle group at Flickr has mastered the technique for instance- but I’m trying to achieve it in a single image.

Experiment, fail, theorize, experiment, fail- it’s all empirical- I’ll keep y’all posted…

Written by Mitch Waxman

December 20, 2010 at 3:32 pm

Another Lucky shot

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– photo by Mitch Waxman

Social gatherings and year end meetings consume the evening hours of twilit December, and recently, I had occasion to be at the Pier 17 complex at South Street Seaport. Upon arriving at my destination in the cavernous building, this scene greeted me.

Luckily, I had my trusty “old” camera- the Canon G10 with its magnetic tripod gadget attached which allows me to make “on the fly” long exposures. Even so, this was a lucky shot.

A 15 second exposure, looking north along the East River at the Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Williamsburg Bridges, on December 7th, 2010 at 7:50 PM.

Hunters Point Avenue Bridge Centennial, Dec. 11

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– photo by Mitch Waxman

Gaze upon it, lords and ladies, a risible talisman of permanence amidst an ever changing industrial landscape… The Hunters Point Avenue Bridge.

A recent post was offered for consideration at this, your Newtown Pentacle, which hinted at certain remarkable events about to occur in its environs and discussed a small part of the rather expansive history of this largish bit of motile steel which spans Dutch Kills.

Glory then, in the announcement of a free walking tour celebrating its centennial.



The New York City Bridge Centennial Commission (NYC BCC) and Newtown Creek Alliance announced today that they will sponsor a free walking tour of the Hunters Point Avenue Bridge in Long Island City on Saturday, December 11, 2010 at 11 a.m. to celebrate its 100th birthday.
“It’s important to celebrate these milestones as a way to show how much we rely on all these crossings in our day-to-day lives,” said NYC BCC President Sam Schwartz.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Your tour guides for this centennial event will be Newtown Creek Alliance and Working Harbor Committee’s Bernard Ente, and a certain humble narrator will be assisting him in meager ways.

This location is awfully close to both legendary Greenpoint and to the heart of Long Island City, and quite close to Manhattan via subway. Here’s a google map with the location of the Bridge, and the meet-up point at 21st street and Hunters Point Avenue is called out.


The original Hunters Point Avenue Bridge dates back to 1874 when the bridge was a wooden structure. From 1874 to 1907 an iron bridge was in place before being replaced in 1910 by a double-leaf bascule bridge. It was again rebuilt in the early 1980s as a single-leaf bascule bridge. Bascule bridges are designed with a counterweight that balances the span as it swings upward (a single leaf lifts up from one end while a double leaf lifts up from both sides in the middle of the span).

The bridge is located between 27th and 30th streets in Long Island City and is situated four blocks east of the Borden Avenue Bridge. The span is 21.8 meters long and has two lanes, one in each direction. It has experienced higher traffic volumes over the last year and a half while the Borden Avenue Bridge has been closed for construction in this heavily industrialized area.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Spectacular views of Dutch Kills, as well as knowledgeable and unbiased narration, can be had for the price of attendance alone. Attendees are advised to bring cameras, as this is a particularly photogenic section of the Newtown Creek watershed.


The meeting point for the tour will be at Hunters Point Avenue at 21st Street outside the 7 train station. If you would like to participate, please email tour guide Bernie Ente at

About the NYC Bridge Centennial Commission

The NYC Bridge Centennial Commission is a 501 c 3 non-profit comprised of public and privateorganizations to commemorate the centennials of several NYC bridges and raise infrastructure awareness.

About the Newtown Creek Alliance

The Newtown Creek Alliance represents interests of community residents and local businesses who arededicated to restoring community health and vibrant water dependent commerce along Newtown Creek.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Dutch Kills is a familiar sight to regular readers of this, your Newtown Pentacle, but must be experienced first hand by all interested in the story of the Newtown Creek. This will not be a rigorous walking experience- sneakers or other comfortable shoes should be sufficient as we won’t be leaving the sidewalk- but if icy conditions occur- use good judgement.

Undoubtedly, it will be cold, and the event will be happening rain, shine, or snow- so gauge your outerwear according to forecasted weather conditions.

For those interested in further discussion with other antiquarians and enthusiasts, we are planning an after event visit to a local diner for coffee, luncheon, and conversation.


Hunters Point Avenue is a two-lane local City street in Queens. Hunters Point Avenue is oriented east-west and extends from 21st Street to the Long Island Expressway/Brooklyn Queens Expressway interchange in Queens. The avenue is parallel to and approximately one block south of the Long Island Expressway. The Hunters Point Bridge over Dutch Kills is situated between 27th Street and 30th Street in the Long Island City section of Queens, and is four blocks upstream of the Borden Avenue Bridge. It is a bascule bridge with a span of 21.8m. The general appearance of the bridge has been significantly changed since it was first opened in 1910. The bridge provides a channel with a horizontal clearance of 18.3m and a vertical clearance, in the closed position, of 2.4m at MHW and 4.0m at MLW. The bridge structure carries a two-lane, two-way vehicular roadway with sidewalks on either side. The roadway width is 11.0m, while the sidewalks are 1.8m wide. The width of the approach roadways vary from the width of the bridge roadway. The west approach and east approach roadways are 13.4m and 9.1m, respectively.

The first bridge at this site, a wooden structure, was replaced by an iron bridge in 1874. That bridge was permanently closed in 1907 due to movement of the west abutment, which prevented the draw from closing. It was replaced in 1910 by a double-leaf bascule bridge, designed by the Scherzer Rolling Lift Bridge Company. The bridge was rebuilt in the early 1980′s as a single-leaf bascule, incorporating the foundations of the previous bridge.


a photo in the same series as the one below was recently exhibited here- in the “from some point in space” posting about Dutch Kills and the Hunters Point Avenue Bridge.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

While doing supplemental research about the place, I came across the following shot embedded in a scanned “google book”, and the two images form an interesting parallel. The BW shot, you see, is from 1921.

Coincidence abounds, but I believe my forebear was shooting from a similar if not same vantage as I would be at some four score and nine years or 24,855 days later.

– Photo from “The Newtown Creek industrial district of New York City By Merchants’ Association of New York. Industrial Bureau”

Written by Mitch Waxman

December 3, 2010 at 3:26 am

lucky shot

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– photo by Mitch Waxman

Luckily, there seems to be some effort underway to paint the Brooklyn Bridge. A sheathing of reflective metal scaffolding recently heralded a fortuitous confluence of solar azimuth and camera vantage point as evidenced above.

Luck, pure luck. Check out the larger sizes at flickr by clicking the image (as always).

Written by Mitch Waxman

September 17, 2010 at 2:34 am

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