The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

Posts Tagged ‘Bridge

Madison Avenue Bridge Centennial

with 3 comments

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The last of the bridge centennial parades was held on Wednesday, May 12, 2010. The Madison Avenue Bridge spans the Harlem River and connects Manhattan with the Bronx.

from wikipedia

The Madison Avenue Bridge crosses the Harlem River connecting Madison Avenue in Manhattan with East 138th Street in the Bronx in New York City. The bridge is operated and maintained by the New York City Department of Transportation. It was designed by Alfred P. Boller and built in 1910 to replace and double the capacity of another earlier swing bridge dating from 1884.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

It rained, at this parade.


The Madison Avenue Bridge, which today is maintained by the New York City Department of Transportation (NYCDOT), provides two lanes of eastbound and two lanes of westbound traffic between Manhattan and the Bronx. On the Bronx approach, the bridge directly connects to the Major Deegan Expressway (at EXIT 3). On the Manhattan approach, motorists must take side streets to connect to the Harlem River Drive. According to the NYCDOT, the bridge carries approximately 45,000 vehicles per day (AADT).

– photo by Mitch Waxman

American Bridge Company? That was J.P. Morgan, wasn’t it?

from wikipedia

The Harlem River is a navigable tidal strait in New York City, USA that flows 8 miles (13 km) between the Hudson River and the East River, separating the boroughs of Manhattan and the Bronx. Part of the current course of the Harlem River is the Harlem River Ship Canal, which runs somewhat south of the former course of the river, isolating a small portion of Manhattan (Marble Hill) on the Bronx side of the river.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The indomitable DOT crew that provided electricity and made sure that tents were in place to shield the dignitaries and speakers from the weather. Notice their high visibility safety gear.

from wikipedia

The New York City Department of Transportation (NYCDOT or DOT) is responsible for the management of much of New York City’s transportation infrastructure. Janette Sadik-Khan is the current Commissioner of the Department of Transportation, and was appointed by Mayor Michael Bloomberg on April 27, 2007.

The department’s responsibilities include day-to-day maintenance of the city’s streets, highways, bridges and sidewalks. The Department of Transportation is also responsible for installing and maintaining the city’s street signs, traffic signals and street lights. The DOT supervises street resurfacing, pothole repair, parking meter installation and maintenance, and the management of a citywide network of municipal parking facilities. The DOT also operates the Staten Island Ferry.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The bridge itself is a rather straightforward swing bridge, with trusses and box girders forming the superstructure for the busy roadway.

from wikipedia

Harlem stretches from the East River west to the Hudson River between 155th Street; where it meets Washington Heights—to a ragged border along the south. Central Harlem begins at 110th Street, at the northern boundary of Central Park; Spanish Harlem extends east Harlem’s boundaries south to 96th Street, while in the west it begins north of Upper West Side, which gives an irregular border west of Morningside Avenue. Harlem’s boundaries have changed over the years; as Ralph Ellison observed: “Wherever Negroes live uptown is considered Harlem.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Two young fellows opened a large box and revealed this cake. As soon as I saw it, I knew what must happen next, for I know a secret about politicians…

from wikipedia

Cake is a form of food that is usually sweet and often baked. Cakes normally combine some kind of flour, a sweetening agent (commonly sugar), a binding agent (generally egg, though gluten or starch are often used by lacto-vegetarians and vegans), fats (usually butter, shortening, or margarine, although a fruit purée such as applesauce is sometimes substituted to avoid using fat), a liquid (milk, water or fruit juice), flavors and some form of leavening agent (such as yeast or baking powder), though many cakes lack these ingredients and instead rely on air bubbles in the dough to expand and cause the cake to rise. Cake is often frosted with buttercream or marzipan, and finished with piped borders and crystallized fruit.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

All Politicians love cakes and cameras, and are magnetically attracted to them from wherever they may be in the city.

from wikipedia

To balance local authority along with the centralization of government, the Office of Borough President was established with a functional administrative role derived by having a vote on the New York City Board of Estimate, which was responsible for creating and approving the city’s budget and proposals for land use. The Board of Estimate consisted of the Mayor, the Comptroller and the President of the New York City Council, each of whom were elected citywide and had two votes, and the five Borough presidents, each having one vote.

In 1989, the Supreme Court of the United States, in Board of Estimate of City of New York v. Morris (489 U.S. 688) declared the New York City Board of Estimate unconstitutional on the grounds that the city’s most populous borough (Brooklyn) had no greater effective representation on the board than the city’s least populous borough (Staten Island), this arrangement being an unconstitutional violation of the Fourteenth Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause pursuant to the high court’s 1964 “one man, one vote” decision.

The city charter was revised in 1990 and the Board of Estimate was abolished. The Office of Borough President was retained but with greatly reduced power. The borough budget reverted to the mayor or the New York City Council. A Borough President has a small discretionary budget to spend on projects within the borough. The last significant power of the borough presidents — to appoint a member of the New York City Board of Education — was abolished, with the board, on June 30, 2002.

The two major remaining appointments of a Borough President are one member of the city Planning Commission and one member of the Panel for Educational Policy. Borough Presidents generally adopt specific projects to promote while in office; but, since 1990, Borough Presidents have been seen mainly as the ceremonial leaders of their boroughs. Officially, they advise the Mayor on issues relating to each borough, comment on all land-use items in their borough, advocate borough needs in the annual municipal budget process, appoint Community Boards, chair the Borough Boards, and serve as ex officio members of various boards and committees They generally act as advocates of their boroughs at the mayoral agencies, the city council, the New York State government, public corporations and private businesses.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Borough President of Manhattan Scott Stringer arrived first, and seemed pleased with the confection.

from wikipedia

Scott Stringer (born 1960) is a New York Democratic politician and the current Borough President of Manhattan. His mother, Arlene Stringer-Cuevas, is a cousin of Bella Abzug and served on the New York City Council. Stringer grew up in the Washington Heights/Lower Inwood neighborhood of Upper Manhattan, attended Manhattan public schools and graduated from the John Jay College of Criminal Justice. In 1983, he became a legislative assistant to Assemblyman, and future Congressman, Jerrold Nadler. During these years, he supported Democratic candidates such as Governor Mario Cuomo. In 1992, Stringer ran for Nadler’s Assembly seat representing the Upper West Side when Nadler replaced deceased Congressman Ted Weiss.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr. arrived in a nearly simultaneous fashion, and the two exchanged pleasantries- while eyeing the pastry.

from wikipedia

Ruben Diaz, Jr. (born April 26, 1973) is a Democratic Party politician from the Bronx in New York City, and the son of New York State Senator Rubén Díaz.

Diaz became the Bronx Borough President in April 2009 after representing the 85th Assembly District in the New York State Assembly. When first elected in 1996 he became, at age 23, the youngest member of the New York State Legislature since Theodore Roosevelt.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The two BP’s electrified the crowd of well wishers, reporters, and invited guests. Diaz also maintained a certain vigil on the cake.

from wikipedia

On February 18, 2009, U.S. President Barack Obama appointed Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrión, Jr. to the position of Director of the White House Office on Urban Affairs.

When Mayor Michael Bloomberg declared a special election to choose his successor,[64] Diaz was considered the leading candidate for the position of Bronx Borough President.

The special election was held on April 21, 2009. Diaz defeated Republican Party candidate Anthony Ribustello by an overwhelming 87% of the vote, to become the 13th Borough President of the Bronx.

On July 1, 2009 Diaz appointed Delores Fernandez to the reconstituted New York City Board of Education. Fernandez is anticipated to be the sole member of the Board that will have a perspective independent of mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Diaz ended his first summer as borough president by recommending that the New York City Council reject Related Companies’ proposal to turn the Kingsbridge Armory into a shopping mall. In an editorial in the New York Daily News, Diaz wrote he is “fighting to make sure that this development includes ‘living wage’ jobs that offer health insurance.” Related’s proposal is still going through the city’s review process.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The ceremonies began with the national anthem as sung by members of (I believe) the Choir Academy of Harlem.

from wikipedia

Samuel I. Schwartz, a.k.a. Gridlock Sam, is one of the leading transportation engineers in the United States, and is widely believed to be the man responsible for popularizing the phrase gridlock. Educated at Brooklyn College and the University of Pennsylvania, he originally worked as a cabbie. He eventually held the second-in-command post of Deputy Commissioner in New York City’s transportation department for many years and now operates as a private consultant. One of Gridlock Sam’s newest developments is that of a plan to enhance truck traffic along the Detroit-Windsor border. Today he gives advice in his own column in New York City’s Daily News. He answers questions by mail and alerts readers about traffic patterns.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Master of ceremonies Sam Schwartz.


Some thirty-seven years ago I began my professional career as a New York City taxi driver. This provided basic training for maneuvering through the city’s streets. Though trained in science, I switched majors to transportation engineering in graduate school. I thought I would save the subways, but the Transit Authority wouldn’t offer me a job. I ended up as a junior engineer at the old Traffic Department.

Initially I worked developing neighborhood one-way plans but soon I was moved to “Special Projects”. John Lindsay was mayor and proposed many innovative and bold schemes to reduce traffic in Midtown. I spent a lot of time on these plans, working with an old-time traffic engineer named Roy Cottam. One day, Roy spoke of his fears if we closed the streets in the Theater District, the grid system would “lock-up” and all traffic would grind to a halt. Soon we simply juxtaposed the word, and the term gridlock was born.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There was a general feeling of happiness, despite the wet and cold. Of course, we were all under the tent.


In the spring of 2007, a group of civic minded individuals realized that several of New York City’s bridges were approaching their 100th anniversary. In order to commemorate the significance of these magnificent spans and their role in making New York City the greatest metropolis in the world, the group formed the NYC Bridge Centennial Commission, a 501 (c) 3 corporation.

The aim of the Commission is to promote the 100th year anniversary of six historic New York City bridges, to educate the public about the bridges’ role in the life of the city, to encourage respect for the history of New York City; to heighten the public’s awareness of the City’s infrastructure and the need to maintain it; and to stimulate the interest of the public in celebrating the centennial of these six bridges.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Out of nowhere, the Kevin C. Kane, NYFD Marine 6 appeared.


Kevin C. Kane, N2MEI, was a New York City Firefighter, and a member of LI-MARC. Early on the morning of September 12, 1991, Kevin responded with Engine Com-pany 236 to a fire in at an abandoned apartment house in the East New York section of Brooklyn. Despite the knowledge that there might not be enough hose to reach all parts of the house, Kevin and his fellow firefighters entered the building in search of victims. Shortly thereafter, a section of burning ceiling fell on Kevin. Despite the frantic efforts of his colleagues, they were not able to reach him. Eventually he managed to jump from a window, into the bucket of a fire truck. Having been burned over most of his body, he died the next day. In his honor, The NYFD named a fireboat The Kevin C. Kane, and created the Kevin C. Kane Medal for bravery.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The kids from the Harry S Truman High School band, and I mean all of them, were just jumping with personality and enthusiasm.

from wikipedia

Marching band is a sport consisting of a group of instrumental musicians and usually dance teams / color guard who generally perform outdoors and incorporate some type of marching (and possibly onto other movements) with their musical performance. Instrumentation typically includes brass, woodwinds, and percussion instruments. Most marching bands use some kind of uniform (often of a military style) that include the school or organization’s name or symbol, shakos, pith helmets, feather plumes, gloves, and sometimes gauntlets, sashes, and/or capes.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Suddenly, all the spectators were looking south while I was looking west.

from wikipedia

Harry S. Truman High School is a public high school at 750 Baychester Avenue, in the Bronx, New York City, United States. The school is designated as an Empowerment School by the New York City Department of Education, which allows it more autonomy in choosing a curriculum.

Truman High School is one of the remaining large high schools in the Bronx that has not been broken up into a number of small schools. This trend which has been popular in the city has seen South Bronx High School, Evander Childs High School as well as Roosevelt High School split into a number of smaller schools that are still located in the same building.

Truman High is located in the Co-op City section of the Bronx, yet many of the students commute to school from areas as far away as the South Bronx.

The size of Truman High School (over 3000 students) does give it the benefit of having many sports programs and extracurricular activities.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Marine 6 was starting its own performance.

from wikipedia

Types of Apparatus:

MARINE or Fireboat is a specialized boat outfitted specifically for firefighting capabilities. Its responsibilities include suppression of all fires that occur on water, such as boat fires, pier fires, etc. A Marine Unit also assists land based companies with securing a water supply, as they have the ability to “draft” water from the rivers they operate in.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Red and blue colorant is added to two of the firehoses…

from wikipedia

The first bridge on this site was constructed by the New York and Harlem Railroad in 1841. It was composed of four 90-foot (27 m)-long box truss spans, three of which were fixed iron spans, while the remaining span was a wooden swing span. In the closed position, the bridge had a clearance of only seven feet above mean high water. Masonry piers supported the four box-truss spans.

In 1867, the wooden drawbridge was replaced with an iron one that gave a clearance of fifty feet. It was very busy. By the 1880s, the bridge was crossed by more than 200 trains a day.

The bridge was soon made obsolete by heavy traffic and dredging of the Harlem River Ship Canal. Alfred P. Boller worked with the railroad to create a new four-tracked swing bridge. The railroad and the city split the cost.

The new bridge was built in conjunction with the Army Corps of Engineers’ project to build the Harlem River Ship Canal. The Park Avenue railroad viaduct was also extended north of 115th Street at the same time. While the bridge was being built, a temporary bridge was built and the old span was demolished.

When the new bridge was finished, it had a 300-foot (91 m)-long steel truss span supported by masonry piers. The new span had a vertical clearance of 25 feet (7.6 m).

– photo by Mitch Waxman

… and a patriotic display is manufactured.


During the 1960’s and 1970’s, the Park Avenue Railroad Bridge passed through the hands of several financially ailing railroads, ranging from the New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad to the Penn Central Railroad. Today, the lift span is operated by the MTA Metro-North passenger railroad.

Recently, the MTA Metro-North Railroad announced a $10 million project to rehabilitate the Park Avenue Railroad Bridge. The bridge control, power and lift systems are now beyond their useful life, and will not be replaced. Instead, the project will remove the moveable elements of the bridge (such as the wire rope and counterweight), and will rehabilitate the foundation. The MTA Metro-North Railroad currently is seeking approval from the U.S. Coast Guard to make this a fixed bridge in order to minimize the cost of rehabilitation.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The announcement was made that the rest of the ceremony would be kicking off “Bronx Week”, so the entire crowd began to lurch toward the Bronx shoreline.

from wikipedia

In a marching band or a drum & bugle corps, the colorguard is a non-musical section that provides additional visual aspects to the performance. The marching band and colorguard performance generally takes place on a football field while the colorguard interprets the music that the marching band or drum & bugle corps is playing via the synchronized spinning of flags, sabres, rifles, or through dance. The color guard uses different colors and styles of flags to enhance the visual effect of the marching band as a whole. The number of members in a colorguard can vary- some only having a few members while others may have 41 or more. Within the band, colorguard is often referred to as flagline or simply guard.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The Truman kids led the march off the Madison Avenue Bridge toward the Bronx side.

from wikipedia

The size and composition of a marching band can vary greatly. Some bands have fewer than twenty members, and some have over 500. American marching bands vary considerably in their instrumentation. Some bands omit some or all woodwinds, but it is not uncommon to see piccolos, flutes, clarinets, alto saxophones, and tenor saxophones. E♭ clarinets, alto clarinets, bass clarinets, and baritone saxophones are less common, but can be found in some bands. Bassoons and oboes are very seldom found on a field due to the risk of incidental damage, the impracticality of marching with an exposed double reed, and high sensitivity to weather.

The brass section usually includes trumpets or cornets, mellophones or E♭ alto horns (instead of horns), tenor trombones, baritone horns or euphoniums, and Tubas or sousaphones. E♭soprano cornets are sometimes used to supplement or replace the high woodwinds. Some especially large bands use flugelhorns and bass trombones.

Marching percussion (often referred to as the drumline, battery, or back battery) typically includes snare drums, tenor drums, bass drums, and cymbals and are responsible for keeping tempo for the band. All of these instruments have been adapted for mobile, outdoor use. Marching versions of the glockenspiel (bells), xylophone, and marimba are also rarely used by some ensembles. Historically, the percussion section also employed mounted timpani that featured manual controls.

For bands that include a front ensemble (also known as the pit or auxiliary percussion), stationary instrumentation may include orchestral percussion such as timpani, tambourines, maracas, cowbells, congas, wood blocks, marimbas, xylophones, bongos, vibraphones, timbales, claves, guiros, and chimes or tubular bells,concert bass drums, and gongs, as well as a multitude of auxiliary percussion equipment. Drum sets, purpose-built drum racks, and other mounted instruments are also placed here. Until the advent of the pit in the early 1980s, many of these instruments were actually carried on the field by marching percussionists by hand or on mounting brackets. Some bands also include electronic instruments such as synthesizers, electric guitars, and bass guitar, along with the requisite amplification. If double-reed or string instruments are used, they are usually placed here, but even this usage is very rare due to their relative fragility. Unusual percussive instruments are sometimes used, including brake drums, empty propane tanks, trashcans, railroad ties, stomping rigs, and other interesting sounds.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Word went around that refreshments could be found, and other entertainments offered, upon our arrival in Deegan Rock Park.

from wikipedia

For parades, bands usually line up in a marching block composed of ranks (rows) and files (columns). Typically, each member tries to stay within his or her given rank and file, and to maintain even spacing with neighboring musicians. It is usually the responsibility of the people at the end of each rank and the front of each file to be in the correct location; this allows other band members to guide to them.

Band members also try to keep a constant pace or step size while marching in parade. This usually varies between 22 and 30 inches (56–76 cm) per stride. A step size of 22.5 inches is called 8-to-5 because the marcher covers five yards (about 4.6 m) in eight steps. A step size of 30 inches is called 6-to-5 because five yards are covered in six steps. Because yard lines on an American football field are five yards apart, exact 8-to-5 and 6-to-5 steps are most useful for field shows.

A drum cadence (sometimes called a walkbeat or street beat) is usually played when the band is marching, sometimes alternating with a song. This is how the band keeps time. Alternately, a drum click or rim shot may be given on the odd beats to keep the band in step. Between songs and cadences, a roll is usually given to indicate what beat in the measure the band is at. Cadence tempo varies from group to group, but is generally between 112 and 144 beats per minute.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The band played on, as the crowd crossed safely over the flow of Harlem River.

from wikipedia

A musical instrument is constructed or used for the purpose of making the sounds of music. In principle, anything that produces sound can serve as a musical instrument. The history of musical instruments dates back to the beginnings of human culture. The academic study of musical instruments is called organology.

The date and origin of the first device of disputed status as a musical instrument dates back as far as 67,000 years old; artifacts commonly accepted to be early flutes date back as far as about 37,000 years old. However, most historians believe determining a specific time of musical instrument invention to be impossible due to the subjectivity of the definition.

Musical instruments developed independently in many populated regions of the world. However, contact among civilizations resulted in the rapid spread and adaptation of most instruments in places far from their origin. By the Middle Ages, instruments from Mesopotamia could be found in the Malay Archipelago and Europeans were playing instruments from North Africa. Development in the Americas occurred at a slower pace, but cultures of North, Central, and South America shared musical instruments.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Apparently, the syncopated footsteps of marching bands cause bridge engineers no small amount of worry, but the sturdy old girl didn’t shake a bit.

from wikipedia

The Bronx is divided by the Bronx River into a hillier section in the west, closer to Manhattan, and the flatter East Bronx, closer to Long Island. The West Bronx was annexed to New York City (then largely confined to Manhattan) in 1874, and the areas east of the Bronx River in 1895. The Bronx first assumed a distinct legal identity when it became a borough of Greater New York in 1898. Bronx County, with the same boundaries as the borough, was separated from New York County (afterwards coextensive with the Borough of Manhattan) as of January 1, 1914. Although the Bronx is the third-most-densely-populated county in the U.S., about a quarter of its area is open space, including Woodlawn Cemetery, Van Cortlandt Park, Pelham Bay Park, the New York Botanical Garden and the Bronx Zoo in the borough’s north and center, on land deliberately reserved in the late 19th century as urban development progressed northwards and eastwards from Manhattan with the building of roads, bridges and railways.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Word was that the cake had already been transported down to Deegan Rock Park, and somehow- Diaz knew it.

from wikipedia

In 1997, the Bronx was designated an All America City by the National Civic League, signifying its comeback from the decline of the 1970s. In 2006, The New York Times reported that “construction cranes have become the borough’s new visual metaphor, replacing the window decals of the 1980s in which pictures of potted plants and drawn curtains were placed in the windows of abandoned buildings.” The borough has experienced substantial new building construction since 2002. Between 2002 and June 2007, 33,687 new units of housing were built or were under way and $4.8 billion has been invested in new housing. In the first six months of 2007 alone total investment in new residential development was $965 million and 5,187 residential units were scheduled to be completed. Much of the new development is springing up in formerly vacant lots across the South Bronx.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Other Bronx politicos also eagerly followed the charms of the baked goods.


Saturday, May 15th through Sunday, May 23rd, 2010

Throughout Bronx Week, residents of the Bronx and visitors from the tri-state region come together to celebrate the people, places, history and businesses of the Bronx. Outdoor performances, trolley tours, health fairs, a salute to volunteers and business workshops are just some of the events in store.

The grand finale is on Sunday, May 23rd, when famous sons and daughters of the borough will return home for induction to the Bronx Walk of Fame on the Grand Concourse, followed by our annual Parade, Food & Art Festival and Concert on Mosholu Parkway.

Bronx Week is the ideal time to remind all New Yorkers that The Bronx is a great place to live, work and play.  Don’t Miss The Fun!

For more information on fun Bronx Week events happening in our borough, check back with us using our Bronx Week Calendar page or call 718.590.BRONX

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The lady who was holding this sign was chided by your humble narrator for hiding her face. That was the Madison Avenue Bridge Centennial Parade.


Bronx Week 2010 kicked off yesterday, May 12, but fear not — all you’ve missed so far was a press conference.

This year’s festive celebration of the borough will include 22 events in only 12 days and culminate in a busy, exciting Grand Finale on Sunday, May 23.

“This time we have organized even more events, while keeping the traditional ones, to celebrate the beauty, culture, talent and development of our neighborhoods,” said Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr. “No Bronxite should stay home during these many days full of activities.”

Doris Quiñones, executive director of the Bronx Tourism Council, said that this year, for the first time, Bronx Week has been moved up one month earlier.

“We moved it from June to May to make it easier for schools to participate,” she said. “Eighty schools are already scheduled to march in the parade on Sunday, May 23.”

That day is the Grand Finale, which is the big culmination of Bronx Week. In addition to the parade, which starts at noon on Mosholu Parkway, that night will be the famous Bronx Ball, at which the borough’s best and brightest show up in formal attire to dance the night away. This year the ball is under a huge tent at Orchard Beach at 6 p.m. and, as in the past, will have a red carpet, Bronx high school cheerleaders, and will kick off when Borough President Diaz honors a special few.

Circumnavigation 3

with one comment

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Hailing from the Brooklyn neighborhoods of first Flatbush, then Flatlands and Canarsie, my driving into “the City” habits always focused on the red haired step child of the Brooklyn Bridge- the Manhattan Bridge- which was the next great structure that the Circle Line passed.

from wikipedia

The Manhattan Bridge is a suspension bridge that crosses the East River in New York City, connecting Lower Manhattan (at Canal Street) with Brooklyn (at Flatbush Avenue Extension) on Long Island. It was the last of the three suspension bridges built across the lower East River, following the Brooklyn and the Williamsburg bridges. The bridge was opened to traffic on December 31, 1909 and was designed by Leon Moisseiff, who later designed the infamous original Tacoma Narrows Bridge that opened and collapsed in 1940. It has four vehicle lanes on the upper level (split between two roadways). The lower level has three lanes, four subway tracks, a walkway and a bikeway. The upper level, originally used for streetcars, has two lanes in each direction, and the lower level is one-way and has three lanes in peak direction. It once carried New York State Route 27 and later was planned to carry Interstate 478. No tolls are charged for motor vehicles to use the Manhattan Bridge.

The original pedestrian walkway on the south side of the bridge was reopened after forty years in June 2001.[3] It was also used by bicycles until late summer 2004, when a dedicated bicycle path was opened on the north side of the bridge, and again in 2007 while the bike lane was used for truck access during repairs to the lower motor roadway.

Main span: 1,470 ft (448 m)

Length of suspension cables: 3224 ft (983 m)

Total length: 6,855 ft (2,089 m)

The neighborhood near the bridge on the Brooklyn side, once known as Fulton Landing has been gentrified and is called DUMBO, an acronym for Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass.

To celebrate the bridge’s centennial anniversary, a series of events and exhibits were organized by the New York City Bridge Centennial Commission in October 2009. These included a ceremonial parade across the Manhattan Bridge on the morning of October 4th and a fireworks display in the evening. In 2009, the bridge was also designated as a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark by the American Society of Civil Engineers.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Your humble narrator was honored to serve as a Bridge Parade Marshall for the aforementioned Centennial Parade, and attended the Landmarking ceremony on March 5th.

Here’s the Newtown Pentacle Posts on the Centennial Parade on October 4th-

Manhattan Bridge Centennial Parade 1

Manhattan Bridge Centennial Parade 2

Manhattan Bridge Centennial Parade 3

Here’s the NP post on the Ceremony in March- Exhausted

And for my personal take on the Manhattan Bridge- DUMBO… or missing my Dad

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Beneath the Bridge, small clots of citizenry were cleaning the shoreline of wind blown refuse and whatever washed up out of the East River over the long and severe winter that New York endured in 2010. It was Earth Day eve, after all.

I wish I could point you to a link about this effort, but the Brooklyn Blogosphere is an impenetrable fortress of noise and self importance which defies even the might of Google. If anybody associated with this effort is reading this, please fill the rest of us in on the particulars.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Moving north, ever north, midtown Manhattan’s iconic Chrysler Building rises behind the recently upgraded East River Station cogeneration power plant at 14th street and Ave. D.


The East River Generating Station, one of Consolidated Edison Co. of New York Inc.’s largest and most significant combined-cycle power stations, will be repowered by Slattery Skanska and its subsidiary Gottlieb Skanska.

Located on the east side of Lower Manhattan, the 43,000-sq.-ft. facility produces electricity and steam for homes and businesses throughout New York City. The project was completed May 2004.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I still owe you, lords and ladies, a proper workup of the Williamsburg bridge. I’m still collecting material research and photography for this posting, so don’t expect it anytime soon. One of my summer projects is “The Grand Walk”, which will start in Manhattan and follow Grand Ave. through Williamsburg and Greenpoint, across the Grand Ave. Bridge into Queens and onto (former Grand Avenue) 30th avenue through Astoria to Hallet’s Cove. An open call for experts on the various phases of the route is being made, by the way, and hopefully I can get a few of you to come along for the first Newtown Pentacle meetup and photowalk at the end of the summer. Bring ID, and a camera.

from wikipedia

Construction on the bridge, the second to cross this river, began in 1896, with Leffert L. Buck as chief engineer, Henry Hornbostel as architect and Holton D. Robinson as assistant engineer, and the bridge opened on December 19, 1903 at a cost of $24,200,000. At the time it was constructed, the Williamsburg Bridge set the record for the longest suspension bridge span on Earth. The record fell in 1924, when the Bear Mountain Bridge was completed.

hungry ghosts

with 2 comments

– photo by Mitch Waxman

On a recent sunlit afternoon, the Hermetic Hungarian ventured forth from the Shining City once again. Recovered from a spell of bad dreams which our recent visit to the Grand Ave. Bridge- with all its loathsome implications- had awakened in him, the studied recluse announced that a new digital camera was in his possession which needed a test drive. Always an atavist and luddite, the Hermetic Hungarian (HH from this point on) had already decided that it was inferior to the chemical emulsion process of image capture- film- which he has spent much time mastering.

This, like the Mac vs. PC debate, is a conversation that your humble narrator does not wish to have anymore.

from wikipedia

Operating system advocacy is the practice of attempting to increase the awareness and improve the perception of a computer operating system. The motivation behind this may be to increase the number of users of a system, to assert the superiority of one choice over another or out of brand loyalty, pride in an operating system’s abilities, or to persuade software vendors to port specific applications or device drivers to the platform.

Operating system advocacy can vary widely in tone and form, from published comparisons to heated debates on mailing lists and other forums. In its most extreme forms it can veer into zealotry. Advocates are often normal users who devote their spare time to advocacy of their operating system of choice; many have a deep and abiding interest in the use, design and construction of operating systems and an emotional investment in their favourite operating system.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Allow me to lift the curtain for this post- and talk shop.

Once upon a time, in the brash days of youth, I too shot film. I carried a Yashica FX3 fully manual, 1984 vintage camera, which I still have. Unfortunately, the cost of the film itself and the consequent expense of development and printing cramped my urge to shoot and shoot. For years, I had a goofy point and shoot 35mm camera, which has long disappeared into gadget heaven. When the Canon Elph’s first came out, I was hooked on digital and haven’t looked back since. Yes, the recording medium of film is capable of capturing and storing FAR more information than a digital shot can- even today. But- as I’ve mentioned in the past- I work in the advertising industry.


Astoria Park, on the west shore of Queens, extends from south of the Triborough Bridge to north of the Hell Gate Bridge. With a panoramic view of the skyscrapers of midtown Manhattan in the south to the Hell Gate channel in the north, the scenery presents the diverse landscape of New York City. The Hell Gate channel, formed by faults deep underground, contains some of the deepest water in New York Harbor. Its treacherous reefs bear picturesque names such as “Hen and Chickens,” “Pot Rock,” “Bread & Cheese,” and “Bald Headed Billy.”

Throughout the centuries the stunning natural beauty of this location has attracted visitors and settlers. Before the arrival of European colonists, a trail passed by the site, and an Indian village flourished at Pot Cove. Local inhabitants grew maize on the shores, fished in Hell Gate, and drew water from Linden Brook, a small stream that still flows under Astoria Park South. In the mid-1600s the Dutch parceled out this land to various owners, including William Hallet whose grant embraced hundreds of acres. During the American Revolution, several British and Hessian regiments were stationed in the area. On November 25, 1780 the frigate Hussar and its five-million-dollar cargo sank to the bottom of Hell Gate, where despite some removal of cannons, the treasure still remains.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

What used to happen when a photo entered the agency was that a medium or large format “chrome”- which is a sort of giant slide- would be handed off from photographer to agency (and still does, sometimes). This chrome would then be photostat reproduced (in the very old days) and it’s “for position only or F.P.O.” representation would be worked into a mechanical board so that the printer would understand where to place it or “strip it in”. When the Macintosh came along, the chrome would instead be scanned, at first by highly specialized devices called drum scanners and later by advanced versions of tabletop scanners.

The digital scan actually matters more than the original at this moment, and the tipping point from film to digital was reached when the ad agencies began requesting digital files from their photographers.


Kirby Forensic Psychiatric Center, a maximum security hospital of the New York State Office of Mental Health (OMH), opened in 1985 and provides secure treatment and evaluation for the forensic patients and courts of New York City and Long Island. Most patients are received through the courts under Criminal Procedure Law (CPL) or through the OMH Commissioner’s office via the New York State Code of Rules and Regulations (NYSCRR) regarding hospitalization of the mentally ill.

Treatment is provided in accordance with the current standards of professional care outlined by the Joint Commission of Accreditation of Health Organizations (JCAHO) and is carried out with respect for each patient’s privacy and rights, in agreement with his/her level of functioning and need for security. KFPC has an active staff education program as well as academic affiliations with several metropolitan area colleges and universities, to help assure quality treatment and state of the art care.

and from wikipedia

The Manhattan Psychiatric Center is a New York-state run psychiatric hospital on 125th Street on Ward’s Island in New York City. As of 2009 it had 509 beds. The current building is 14-stories tall.

The hospital’s roots date to 1848 when Ward’s Island was designated the reception area for immigrants. Some additional structures were originally part of Blackwell’s Island Lunatic Asylum, which opened around 1863.

The building was significantly enlarged in 1871, and a Kirkbride Plan style building was built. After the immigration entry shifted to Ellis Island in 1892 the state took it over from Manhattan in 1899 and expanded it even further. At the time, it had 4,400 beds and was the largest psychiatric hospital in the world.

At the time it was one of two psychiatric hospitals for residents of Manhattan that had been take over by the state. The other psychiatric hospital would become the Central Islip Psychiatric Center in Central Islip, New York. Both hospitals were referred to as Manhattan State Hospital.

It later became the Manhattan Psychiatric Center. The facility is currently run by the New York State Office of Mental Health.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Its taken the camera companies a while to catch up with the desktops, but they’re getting close- the high end Canons, for instance, do 25.3 megapixel shots (which I’ve retouched and let me say that these are well wrought images).

My current cameras- the Canon G10 and Canon T1i both hit 15 megapixels, giving me ample detail and clarity. I’ve got fairly quick SDHC cards in them, which allows burst shooting, and at any given time I’m ready to pop off a couple of thousand exposures. The batteries in both are rechargeable, and once the photos are copied to my desktop- the cards are formatted and used over and over. Film never offered me this kind of freedom to just shoot and shoot.


The massive beauty and advanced technology of the Hell Gate Bridge (more properly the New York Connecting Railroad Bridge) contrast sharply with nineteenth-century descriptions of the channel that it spans. Named for the dangerous rocks and perilous waters at the confluence of the East and the Harlem Rivers, Hell Gate is surrounded by Manhattan, Queens, and three islands: Wards, Randalls, and Roosevelt (formerly called Blackwell’s, then Welfare). Philip Hone (1780 -1851), writing of an 1844 visit there, described “the delightful scene: the clumps of fine old trees clothed in the gorgeous foliage of autumn, the lawn still bright and green, the mild, refreshing breeze, the rapid waters of Hell Gate covered with sailing vessels and steamboats -all combined to present a picture of consummate beauty.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

HH, however, feels limited by digital- as do other “old school” photographers encountered during my long walks through and around the Newtown Pentacle. He lugs around a gigantic medium format film camera, which is a best of breed sort of machine. Coney Island Mike, another friend of the Pentacle, also decries the prevailing winds of technological advancement and pines for some 1970’s golden age of film availability and creative darkroom techniques.

I really do see the point, as mentioned above, film does capture and contain more information than any digital image can- so far.

from wikipedia

Construction was overseen by Gustav Lindenthal, whose original design left a gap of 15 feet (4.6 m) between the steel arch and the masonry towers. Fearing that the public assumed that the towers were structurally integral to the bridge, Lindenthal added aesthetic girders between the upper chord of the arch and the towers to make the structure appear more robust. The original plans for the piers on the long approach ramps called for a steel lattice structure. The design was changed to smooth concrete to soothe concerns that asylum inmates on Ward’s and Randall’s islands would climb the piers to escape.

The engineering was so precise that when the last section of the main span was lifted into place, the final adjustment needed to join everything together was 1⁄2 inches (12.7 mm). The bridge was completed on September 30, 1916.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Back at my day job as photo retoucher and advertising industry print production specialist, however, I can tell you that its the digital file that’s going to the printer- not a piece of film. That makes anything shot in film second generation at best. Of course, many of the images I present here are highly processed- shot in raw format, sharpened or color corrected in photoshop, or produced by esoteric digital sleight of hand like “tilt shifting” or HDR.

(all the shots in this post are “straight” shots, raw files which were fed through my normal workflow)


PROVIDING A MUCH-NEEDED RAILROAD CONNECTION: In 1892, Oliver W. Barnes, an engineer associated with Pennsylvania Railroad president Alexander J. Cassatt and bridge designer Gustav Lindenthal, conceived plans for the Hell Gate Bridge. Cassatt saw the Hell Gate project – originally called the “East River Arch Bridge” – as an opportunity to bring rail traffic from Pennsylvania Railroad routes in New Jersey and points west through New York City to New England. The project was to also tie into the Long Island Rail Road routes, in which the Pennsylvania Railroad had a controlling interest. Meanwhile, Lindenthal saw the Hell Gate project as his chance to construct his Hudson River Bridge, a suspension bridge with a 2,800-foot-long main span that would have been the longest in the world. That same year, the New York Connecting Railroad was incorporated to help realize this plan.

In 1904, Lindenthal, who oversaw the opening of the Williamsburg Bridge and the construction of the ongoing Manhattan Bridge and Queensboro Bridge projects, was chosen as consulting engineer and bridge architect by the Pennsylvania Railroad, which had just acquired the New York Connecting Railroad. Under these auspices, Lindenthal was engaged in a project to connect the tracks of the Pennsylvania Railroad in New Jersey, the Long Island Rail Road in Queens, and the New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad in the Bronx. Although the project allowed Lindenthal to design the Hell Gate span, it would not include his long-sought goal: a great suspension bridge across the Hudson River. Instead, the Pennsylvania Railroad decided to use exclusive tunnels for rail traffic across the Hudson and East rivers.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One of the mantras that I’ve followed since my heady days at art school (School of Visual Arts) where I studied Illustration and Comic Book art is that you don’t need to use expensive mediums to make a good image. In accordance, my friends and I used to draw comics on brown paper bags or whatever other commonplace material we could procure. Later on in life, I will admit to the occasional red sable brush purchase, but by and large most of my “kit” came from staples and I’ve done comic cover art that was colored with Crayola Markers in the past.

I try to follow this philosophy with photography, which is the greatest way to spend money- short of crack addiction- that America has ever found.

from wikipedia

On June 15, 1904, the General Slocum caught fire and burned to the waterline in New York’s East River. At the time of the accident she was on a chartered run carrying members of St. Mark’s Evangelical Lutheran Church (German Americans from Little Germany, Manhattan) to a church picnic. An estimated 1,021 of the 1,342 people on board were killed. The General Slocum disaster was the New York area’s worst disaster in terms of loss of life until the September 11, 2001 attacks.[2] The events surrounding the General Slocum fire have appeared in a number of books, plays and movies through the years.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Fantasies about radio triggers and tripods that cost more than my first car bounce in my head, and I fiend for trick and ultra wide angle lenses. I pore over the BH Photo catalog in the manner of a fetishist, but it’s just camera pornography to me. I can barely afford to feed my little dog Zuzu these days, and Our Lady of the Pentacle has suggested homespun garments for next winter. HH however, insists that no digital camera he’s yet found suits him. I suggested either a Canon G10 or G11 to him, or if portability was a consideration- the very attractive Canon S90.

from wikipedia

Amtrak is no longer required by law, but is encouraged, to operate a national route system.[ Amtrak has some presence in all of the 48 contiguous states except Wyoming and South Dakota. Service on the Northeast Corridor, between Boston, Massachusetts, and Washington, D.C., as well as between Philadelphia and Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, is powered by overhead wires; for the rest of the system, diesel locomotives are used. Routes vary widely in frequency of service, from three trips weekly on the Sunset Limited (Los Angeles, California, to New Orleans, Louisiana), to weekday service several times per hour on the Northeast Corridor, (New York City to Washington, D.C.) Amtrak also operates a captive bus service, Thruway Motorcoach, which provides connections to train routes.

The most popular and heavily used services are those running on the Northeast Corridor (NEC), which include the Acela Express, and Northeast Regional. The NEC serves Boston, Massachusetts; New York City; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Baltimore, Maryland; Washington, D.C.; and many communities between. The NEC services accounted for 10.0 million of Amtrak’s 25.7 million passengers in fiscal year 2007. Regional services in California, subsidized by the California Department of Transportation are the most popular services outside of the NEC and the only other services boasting over one million passengers per annum. The Pacific Surfliner, Capitol Corridor and San Joaquin services accounted for a combined 5.0 million passengers in fiscal year 2007.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

These shots, of course, were accomplished with my increasingly trusty DSLR- the Canon T1i, but the vast majority of photos you’ve endured at this blog have emanated from the Canon G10. The S90 is functionally a G10 with a smaller lens and form factor, will be dramatically discounted around Christmas, and HH ordered one to try out. That’s how we ended up in Astoria Park. Originally, we planned on walking the Triborough Bridge, but last minute information reached me that the Bridge has a series of “Photography Prohibited” signs posted and we decided that it just wasn’t worth the potential hassles with the law.

That’s what the eggheads call a “chilling effect on civil liberties” in action, by the way.


As a retired TBTA sgt, I can definetly state that photography IS STRICTLY FORBIDDEN on all bridges & tunnels operated by that agency. This edict has been in effect for many years, but it was not strictly enforced before 9/11/01. It is now. Signs prohibiting “filming” are, (and have been all along) posted at all facilities. Summonses can, & usually will be issued (criminal court “C’ summonses) to filmers/videotapers who are seen “filming” on TBTA property (mainly bridges, tunnels and toll plazas, but also in other areas under control of the TBTA).

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Over the course of an hour or so, your humble narrator cracked out a couple of hundred exposures, a few of which were good enough to “show”. HH shot 22. I had mine “developed” and online within 48 hours (I was busy) and HH waited a full week for his transparencies to be shipped to him. Are HH’s shots superior to mine? I still don’t know, because he hasn’t managed to scan them yet. I’m not mocking him, nor deriding film, just stating that immediacy is a selling point for me as well.

As a good American, I crave and demand instant satisfaction, sometimes for urges I don’t know I have yet.

from wikipedia

Ward’s Island is situated in the East River in New York City. Administratively it is part of the borough of Manhattan. It is bridged by rail to the borough of Queens by the Hell Gate Bridge and it is joined to Randall’s Island to the north by landfill. The two Islands together are run by the Randall’s Island Sports Foundation under a partnership agreement with the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation. Together, the two islands form New York County’s Census Tract 240, which had a total population of 1,386 living on 2.2 km² of land area, according to the United States Census, 2000.

Viaducts leading to the Robert F. Kennedy Triborough Bridge and Hell Gate bridges pass overhead. Vehicular access is by the Little Hell Gate bridge from Randall’s Island, while a narrow pedestrian and bicycling bridge, Ward’s Island Bridge, links the island to the east side of Manhattan in Harlem.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The Hermetic Hungarian of course, feels the least melancholy when surrounded by relict technologies. The upper west side rooms he occupies enjoy shelves of watch making equipment and rare mechanisms which originate in the darkest corners of Europe. His current project is to end time mechanically, freezing the world’s motion by the actions of a vast clockwork which he is assembling in accordance with instructions found on a scroll that might be written in Sanskrit that HH claims were scribed by some mad monk.

At my insistence, he has not installed a battery or self winding mechanism on the device, so sleep easily, my Lords and Ladies of Newtown.

from wikipedia

The Bhavacakra is represented as being held by the jaws, hands, and feet of a fearsome figure who turns the wheel. The exact identity of the figure varies. A common choice for the figure is Yama, the god of death or Kala the lord of time. This figure is also known as the “Face of Glory” or Kirtimukha.

There is always a figure or symbol in the upper left and the upper right. The exact figure or symbol varies; common examples include the moon, a buddha, or a bodhisattva. In the picture of the Tibetan Bhavacakra in Sera, Lhasa the clouds take the shapes of certain Buddhist symbols, eg. svastika.

Written by Mitch Waxman

May 2, 2010 at 1:00 am

Manhattan Bridge Centennial Parade 1

with 4 comments

– photo by Mitch Waxman

So, on October 4th, a parade and fireworks show was produced for the Manhattan Bridge Centennial by the NYC Bridge Centennial Commission.

Having been involved with the Queensboro Centennial at the start of the summer, when I was asked to help out, I jumped at the chance and suddenly- I was a parade marshall. Several of my friends were drafted into service as well, including the redoubtable Mike Olshan (who is the safety vested and distant photographer seen in the shots above and below).

from wikipedia

The Manhattan Bridge is a suspension bridge that crosses the East River in New York City, connecting Lower Manhattan (at Canal Street) with Brooklyn (at Flatbush Avenue Extension) on Long Island. It was the last of the three suspension bridges built across the lower East River, following the Brooklyn and the Williamsburg bridges. The bridge was opened to traffic on December 31, 1909 and was designed and built by Polish bridge engineer Ralph Modjeski with the deflection cables designed by Leon Moisseiff, who later designed the infamous original Tacoma Narrows Bridge that opened and collapsed in 1940. It has four vehicle lanes on the upper level (split between two roadways). The lower level has three lanes, four subway tracks, a walkway and a bikeway. The upper level, originally used for streetcars, has two lanes in each direction, and the lower level is one-way and has three lanes in peak direction. It once carried New York State Route 27 and later was planned to carry Interstate 478. No tolls are charged for motor vehicles to use Manhattan Bridge.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A relict of the countercultural milieu of the 60’s and 70’s (as I am an atavist survival of the 70’s and 80’s), amongst other things, Coney Island Mike is the Newtown Pentacle’s go-to man on all things Red Hook and is associated with one of Forgotten-NY’s great finds- the Yellow Submarine at Coney Island Creek. This isn’t why I call him “Coney Island Mike”, the real reason lies in a filthy and obscene series of office jokes which are not worth repeating. A nocturne like myself, Mike was lured into the early morning sunlight by a promise of photographic access to a traffic free bridge before and upon completion of our function as Marshalls.


PLANNING “SUSPENSION BRIDGE NUMBER 3”: The Manhattan Bridge was first planned as a traditional wire-cable suspension bridge to be used exclusively by trains. In 1892, elevated railway magnate Frederick Uhlmann proposed this span just north of the present site of the Manhattan Bridge. The bridge was planned in conjunction with another one of his proposals, the Williamsburg Bridge. While Uhlmann’s railroad bridge was never constructed, the Williamsburg Bridge was approved in 1895 to handle mixed traffic.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Marshall duties are loosely defined as “keep people away from the edge of the bridge”, “keep the crowd moving on schedule”, and “if you have a problem, hand it over to NYPD”. This is the second time that I’ve witnessed how the City organizes this sort of event- the elaborate choreography of the DOT, NYPD’s matter of fact event scheduling, and the thousands of bureaucratic details which were handled by the Bridge Committee’s capable directors.


Daily, the bridge accommodates some 75,000 vehicles, 320,000 mass transit riders and 3000 pedestrians/bicyclists between Manhattan and Brooklyn. It supports seven lanes of vehicular traffic as well as four subway tracks upon which four transit train lines operate.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The Parade is still an hour or so off, and everyone you see gathered in the shot above is either a Parade Marshall, NYPD, DOT, or one of the dignitaries marching in the Parade. Also, 2 “classic cars” were arranged to carry either Political Leaders or members of the podium presentations who were unable to walk the steep incline of the bridge due to age or infirmity.


On July 23, a two-minute time-lapse video of the Manhattan Bridge, undulating under traffic, appeared on YouTube. It got 140,000 hits in the first week, and the media, always short on engineering majors, gave it lots of play. WPIX news aired a clip, and Morning Joe played it to uneasy oohs and aahs from its co-hosts. The website Gawker posted it under the headline “The Manhattan Bridge Is Falling Down” (later clarifying that it had been a joke). In fact, suspension bridges are supposed to move, in multiple dimensions. The century-old Manhattan Bridge is in the final stages of a rehab that began in 1982, when it was actually in danger of collapsing. It’ll bounce, without incident, for years to come.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The crowd began to thicken around Canal street at the corner of Bowery. Complicating the Marshall duties would be the large number of Senior Citizens from Chinatown, who- we were told- would speak absolutely no english at all. Nobody could tell me how to say “stay away from the edge of the bridge” in Cantonese. Concurrently, gathering steam on the Brooklyn side of the bridge, the other half of the parade was just beginning their journey, but our trip to the podium was shorter than theirs, so we left a bit later.


A helicopter and police boat rushed to the East River near the Main Street section of Brooklyn Bridge Park this afternoon, where a man miraculously survived after jumping from the Manhattan Bridge. A firefighter at the scene in DUMBO told us it was believed to be a suicide attempt, but it was unclear how the man had survived the fall into the icy waters and was still able to walk to a waiting ambulance.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Finally happened. There’s my shadow, dead center, in the above shots. Photographic evidence that I exist, or at least that I’m really still alive and not just some disembodied “point of view” floating around New York. It’s an odd thing, I can take a photo of a totally reflective surface and not appear in the shot, but I don’t do it on purpose. In all of these shots I post, such shadows or reflections appear in maybe 5 shots, only once on purpose (I needed an “about the artist” shot for something, and shot my shadow draping over an LIC sewer).


It has no song celebrating a groovy stroll across its length, nor has it inspired literary reflections (although it is a popular suicide spot in Steve Martin’s 1984 movie The Lonely Guy). The Manhattan Bridge may lack the lore of the Brooklyn and Queensboro, but viewed from a flattering angle, the sweeping steel suspension bridge is undeniably beautiful. The impressive stone archway on the Manhattan side, modeled on the 17th-century Porte St-Denis in Paris, was designed by New York Public Library architects Carrère and Hastings, while the Brooklyn approach once boasted allegorical statues representing the two boroughs designed by Lincoln Memorial sculptor Daniel Chester French (they now reside in the Brooklyn Museum).

(full disclosure- above shot was from a couple of days earlier) – photo by Mitch Waxman

The last paragraph actually sounds crazy to me, can’t imagine what speculations it unleashes in you- Lords and Ladies of Newtown. As I’ve mentioned in the past, your humble narrator is all ‘effed up, and the Manhattan Bridge has some actual personal history associated with it. I will admit that I was honored to be part of this event, and happy that I got to share it with several friends, old and new.

Then, the drums rolled…


The Manhattan side of the subway tracks originally were connected as follows: The north side tracks to the BMT Broadway Subway at Canal Street; the south side tracks to the BMT Nassau Street subway north of Chambers Street. The south side tracks were used mostly during rush hour for services provided via the Nassau Street loop (which connected the BMT 4th Avenue and BMT Brighton Line to Manhattan via the Manhattan Bridge on the north end and the Montague Street tunnel on the south end). The configuration of the tracks at the Manhattan side was changed in 1967 as part of a large project known as the Chrystie Street connection. This project severed the connection to the under-used Nassau Street line on the south side. The south side tracks were then connected to the BMT Broadway Line, and the north side tracks connected via new construction to the IND 6th Avenue Line.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

And, this being my second Parade, I can be confident in saying- when the drums roll and the band (in this case the NY Chinese School Marching Band) marches, the Parade is begun.

More tomorrow…

and- just as a note- today is the anniversary of the Ratification of the United States Bill of Rights in 1791.

Written by Mitch Waxman

December 15, 2009 at 3:52 am

misty water colored memories… but with blood

leave a comment »

Long Island City, mouth of Newtown Creek, Greenpoint stitched panorama – photo by Mitch Waxman

Note- I’ve got a turmoil in me right now.

Your humble narrator is pissed off, and this ape is standing at the edge of his personal forest, hurling invective at an unfamiliar thing hanging in the sky called Moon. Rambling ahead, with a few reminisces of New York in “the good old days”.

The disturbing incongruity of modern skyscrapers in the Newtown Pentacle’s panoramic skies, whether commercial spire or residential tower, is horrifying to the residents of victorian relicts such as Long Island City and Greenpoint. All along the rotting infrastructure of the malodorous Newtown Creek, nearly the geographic center of the City of Greater New York, the arrival of a pregnant moment is apparent.

“A river of federal money will wash out the Newtown Creek, and all the poisons in the mud will be hatched out, or so say the G-Men” is my take on the EPA superfund listing of the Creek for now.

I still haven’t parsed everything, that was said in the November 5, 2009 Newtown Creek Alliance meeting at St. Cecilia’s. I made an audio recording of the presentation, and will be listening to it again. Its just that the EPA… the feds… gaining absolute control over a 4 long by half mile wide chunk of New York City for as long as 50 years… that’s 12.5 presidential administrations. 12.5 administrations ago was FDR’s first term.

Speaking of FDR, did you know that his second term Vice President- Henry A. Wallace (responsible for the very successful transformation of dustbowl era agri-businesses from rural homestead into their somewhat modern form) was a well known and public occultist?

Looking east from Newtown Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant catwalk stitched panorama – photo by Mitch Waxman

The New York that my father knew, the one built up in the late 30’s, 40’s, and 50’s, is the one that began crumbling in the 70’s and came crashing down during the 1980’s. Contrary to what you may have read, the Reagan years were not a very nice time, and a soggy malaise hung over both the great city and the nation that exists because of it. Disillusioned by the failures of utopian city planners and those shambolic ideologies which were popularized by academic and journalist alike, the population of New York turned on each other in those days.

Here’s a few of my “new york stories”- I was there, I saw them.

Looking southwest from Queensboro Bridge stitched panorama – photo by Mitch Waxman

A tragedy of Russian scale and tone, “good old days” New York saw violent encounters between strangers became commonplace in a city always on the edge. Back then (late 80’s, early 90’s)- Williamsburg was a blasted out brick lot, blighted, and an island of extreme poverty.

West from Pulaski Bridge facing Manhattan, stitched panorama – photo by Mitch Waxman

Naked hookers plied their trade in Williamsburg on Bedford and Grand, while  just beyond- a Motorcycle Club’s shanty was lit by oil drums filled with castaway lumber and litter. The Lower East Side (then known as Alphabet city) was where you spent your time, then, or way uptown above 96th street on the west side- and both neighborhoods had borderlines and “DMZ” areas.

The City belonged to the rats, and you either fought them or ran away. Cowardice was considered an intelligent option back then, just run away- don’t try to fight “them”.

East on Newtown Creek, Kosciuszko Bridge stitched panorama – photo by Mitch Waxman

Once, I saw a businessman 2 blocks north of Grand Central Station on Park Avenue, wearing an expensive vested suit which was the fashion at the time. He walked between two cars, dropped his suit pants, and defecated in the street. You used to pee wherever you wanted to, as well, “back in the day”.

You could smoke tobacco, in designated areas, within New York City hospital wards. There was a magical danish called the Bearclaw, which has since gone extinct in New York City, best quaffed with bitter black coffee. The last Bearclaw I had was in the “New York New York” casino in Las Vegas.

Skillman Avenue, Sunnyside Railyard fence line – photo by Mitch Waxman

Once, I saw a homeless guy junkie- during the early AIDS years- get hit by a cab. His head shot forward toward the asphalt in a parabolic arc with his knees acting as a fulcrum, shattering his face and killing him. This happened on 21st street and 3rd, down the block from the Police Academy. They left him there for 2-3 hours waiting for the morgue to show up because nobody wanted to get AIDS blood on themselves. The bulls set up traffic cones around him.

Sunnyside, Barnett Avenue looking west stitched panorama – photo by Mitch Waxman

That New York City- the one that was a national disaster long before it became the scene of a national disaster, a lamentable metropolis of blood, hate, and too much damn noise- is being built over and carted away. But this is the way of things, here.

Those farms and mills obliterated by rapacious rail barons and their quest to build Sunnyside Yards, do you know who the Payntars were, or their story?

Queensbridge Park, looking west toward Manhattan stitched panorama – photo by Mitch Waxman

The mansions of Ravenswood, gothic palaces built for the ultra rich who made their fortunes on Newtown Creek and in Long Island City, were casually eradicated to make way for mill and dock, and later bridge and housing project. Do you know the story of the Terracotta House?

From George Washington Bridge looking south on upper Manhattan and New Jersey stitched panorama – photo by Mitch Waxman

Once, back in ’93, on 99th and Broadway- some guy was talking on a pay phone in the middle of the night, during an ice storm. You know the kind- the sort of weather that coats every surface in a half inch of clear, slick ice. Urban misery, but quite beautiful.

Astoria 31st Avenue stormy sky stitched panorama- photo by Mitch Waxman

Unfortunately for this fellow on the phone, someone shot him a few times and he must have slumped forward with the phone in his hand. I walked by on my way to the 2 train the next morning and the wind had pushed him backwards, his frozen hand around the receiver and his corpse was swaying stiffly in the february wind. There were bloodcicles.

Long Island City, Hunters Point, mouth of Newtown Creek, Greenpoint stitched panorama – photo by Mitch Waxman

For more on this lost and forgotten civilization, buy an early Ramones album and play it very loud.

Tugboat transit at Hells Gate

with 2 comments

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Hanging out at Astoria Park, waiting for the Greater Astoria Historical Society‘s “Haunted East River” tour to start, what did I spy crossing under mighty Triborough?

The John Reinauer tugboat- that’s what- moving a fuel barge north on the East River, through the bright passage at Hells Gate.

from wikipedia

Liquid cargo barges are barges that transport petrochemicals, such as styrene, benzene and methanol; liquid fertilizer, including anhydrous ammonia; refined products, including gasoline, diesel and jet fuel; black oil products, such as asphalt, No. 6 fuel oil and coker fuel; and pressurized products, such as butane, propane and butadiene, which are transported on the waterways from producers to end users.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The John Reinauer was built at Main Ironworks in 1969, and was christened the Esso Crystal River. (Esso, is of course, the brand name for Standard Oil -S.-O- Esso, later Exxon) The now Exxon Crystal River went to Reinauer Transportation in 1993. A 2,600 horsepower, 86 foot long steel hulled towing vessel, the J.R. is 27 feet wide and has a draw of 9 feet.

Check out the company’s J.R. page for photos of the ship in its various incarnations here.

from wikipedia

The terms “Tonnage” and “Ton” have different meanings and are often confused. Tonnage is a measure of the size or cargo capacity of a ship. The term derives from the taxation paid on tuns of wine, and was later used in reference to the weight of a ship’s cargo; however, in modern maritime usage, “tonnage” specifically refers to a calculation of the volume or cargo volume of a ship. The term is still sometimes incorrectly used to refer to the weight of a loaded or empty vessel.

Measurement of tonnage can be less than straightforward, not least because it is used to assess fees on commercial shipping.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Like many other tugboats, the John Reinauer participated in the evacuation of Lower Manhattan necessitated by the September 11 attacks.

(The John J. Harvey Fireboat, which was discussed in some detail in 2 prior posts- here… and here, similarly served the city that day).

from wikipedia

Immediately after the first attack, the captains and crews of a large number of local boats steamed into the attack zone to assist in evacuation and provide supplies and water.Water became urgently needed after the Towers’ collapse severed downtown water mains. The size of the dust and debris cloud following the collapse of the Twin Towers was such that it necessitated that many of these trips were navigated by radar alone. Estimates of the number of people evacuated by water from Lower Manhattan that day in the eight hour period following the attacks range from 500,000 to 1,000,000. As many as 2,000 injured people in the attacks were reportedly evacuated by this means through there were no reported injuries resulting from the evacuation itself.

Written by Mitch Waxman

November 16, 2009 at 2:56 am

Sludge Boats, baby, Sludge Boats

with 15 comments

M/V Red Hook DEP Sludge Vessel – photo by Mitch Waxman

After processing at a water treatment facilities, which the City of New York’s DEP manages 14 of (including the vast Temple of Cloacina called the Newtown Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant), the concentrated sludge distillate produced by municipal sewage plants requires “dewatering” – it must be reduced into a semi solid called “cake”. Not every one of the 14 wastewater treatment plants has a dewatering facility, so the sludge needs to get from point A to point B via a the fleet of Sludge Vessels.

Pictured above is the sludge dock in Greenpoint, with the M/V Red Hook at dock, at the mouth of the Newtown Creek. Flowing from that aforementioned temple of “the Venus of the Sewers” to a gigantic holding tank via mechanical means, it is then pumped out to the dock and the waiting sludge boat.


Preliminary treatment

Several stories underground, wastewater flows into the plants from sewers connected to New York City’s homes and businesses. The incoming wastewater, called influent, passes through screens consisting of upright bars, spaced one to three inches apart. These bars remove large pieces of trash including rags, sticks, newspaper, soft drink cans, bottles, plastic cups and other similar items. This protects the main sewage pumps and other equipment. The garbage is transported to landfills. The main sewage pumps then lift the wastewater from the screening chamber to the surface level of the plant.

Primary treatment

Next, the wastewater enters primary settling tanks, also called sedimentation tanks, for one to two hours. The flow of the water is slowed, allowing heavier solids to settle to the bottom of the tank and the lighter materials to float. At the end of the process, the floatable trash, such as grease and small plastic material, rises and is skimmed from the top of the tanks surface.

The settled solids, called primary sludge, are then pumped through cyclone degritters — devices that use centrifugal force to separate out sand, grit (such as coffee grinds) and gravel. This grit is removed, washed and taken to landfills.

The degritted primary sludge is pumped to the plant’s sludge handling facilities for further processing. The partially treated wastewater from the primary setting tanks then flows to the secondary treatment system.

M/V North River DEP Sludge Vessel – photo by Mitch Waxman

The 1.3 billion gallon a day flow of New York City’s sewage should be defined as a third river. That’s 1,300,000,000 gallons a day or 474,500,000,000 gallons of night soil a year. 1.3 billion is the population of China.

Pictured above is the DEP Sludge Vessel M/V North River, a veteran, she was launched at Maryland Shipbuilding in 1974. Just under 324 foot long, North River can carry 102,000 cubic feet of evil juice and weighs in at 2,557 gross tons.


Secondary treatment

Secondary treatment is called the activated sludge process. This is because air and “seed” sludge from the plant treatment process are added to the wastewater to break it down further. Air pumped into large aeration tanks mixes the wastewater and sludge that stimulates the growth of oxygen-using bacteria and other tiny organisms that are naturally present in the sewage. These beneficial microorganisms consume most of the remaining organic materials that are polluting the water and this produces heavier particles that will settle later in the treatment process.Wastewater passes through these bubbling tanks in three to six hours.

The aerated wastewater then flows to the final settling tanks which are similar to the primary settling tanks. Here the heavy particles and other solids settle to the bottom as secondary sludge. Some of this sludge is re-circulated back to the aeration tanks as “seed” to stimulate the activated sludge process. The returned sludge contains millions of microorganisms that help maintain the right mix of bacteria and air in the tank and contribute to the removal of as many pollutants as possible.

The remaining secondary sludge is removed from the settling tanks and added to the primary sludge for further processing in the sludge handling facilities.Wastewater passes through the settling tanks in two to three hours and then flows to a disinfection tank.


Even after primary and secondary treatment, diseasecausing organisms may remain in the treated wastewater. To disinfect and kill harmful organisms, the wastewater spends a minimum of 15-20 minutes in chlorine-contact tanks mixing with sodium hypochlorite, the same chemical found in common household bleach. The treated wastewater, or effluent, is then released into local waterways. Disinfection is an essential step because it protects the health of people who use local beaches and enjoy other recreational activities on or near the water.

M/V Newtown Creek DEP Sludge Vessel – photo by Mitch Waxman

Identical in dimension and capacity to the North River, the 1967 vintage DEP Sludge Vessel M/V Newtown Creek passed under mighty Triborough and crossed Hells Gate. M/V Newtown Creek was laid down by the Wiley Manufacturing Co. Back in the days of ocean dumping, these ships were amongst a small fleet of tugs, barges, and older sludge boats that would “do the deed“.


Sludge treatment

The following are typical stages of the sludge treatment process.


The sludge produced by primary and secondary treatment is approximately 99% water and must be concentrated to enable its further processing. Thickening tanks allow the sludge to collect, settle and separate from the water for up to 24 hours. The water is then sent back to the head of the plant or to the aeration tanks for additional treatment.


After thickening, the sludge is further treated to make it safer for the environment. The sludge is placed in oxygenfree tanks, called digesters, and heated to at least 95 degrees Fahrenheit for between 15 to 20 days. This stimulates the growth of anaerobic bacteria, which consume organic material in the sludge. Unlike the bacteria in the aeration tanks, these bacteria thrive in an oxygen-free or “anaerobic” environment. The digestion process stabilizes the thickened sludge by converting much of the material into water, carbon dioxide and methane gas. The black sludge that remains after digestion has the consistency of pea soup and has little odor. This is called digested sludge.

Methane gas is often used as an energy source at the City’s wastewater treatment plants. The gas may be used in engines to produce electricity or directly drive plant equipment. Gas is also used in boilers to provide heat for digestion and plant-wide buildings. Currently, DEP and the New York Power Authority (NYPA) have jointly installed fuel cells at four of the City’s water pollution control plants; 26th Ward, Red Hook, Oakwood Beach and Hunts Point. Fuel cells convert the methane gas and carbon dioxide into heat and electricity that is then used to operate the plants. This technology contributes to New York City’s efforts to enhance clean air operations at its facilities. There is a significant reduction in air emissions as a result of using fuel cells.

Digester sludge is pumped from sludge storage tanks to a dewatering facility. At some treatment plants, where there are no dewatering facilities on site, the sludge is transported for processing through a pipeline or by a sludge boat to a plant that has a dewatering facility.

M/V Newtown Creek DEP Sludge Vessel, close-up – photo by Mitch Waxman

Once requiring a crew of as many of 20, the City now runs these ships with a mere 6. Semiautomated, M/V Newtown Creek and North River are nevertheless more than twice the size of the original model Sludge Vessels like the Owl’s Head.


Sludge dewatering

Dewatering reduces the liquid volume of sludge by about 90%. New York City operates dewatering facilities at eight of its 14 treatment plants. At these facilities, digested sludge is sent through large centrifuges that operate like the spin cycle of a washing machine. The force from the very fast spinning of the centrifuges separates most of the water from the solids in the sludge, creating a substance knows as biosolids. The water drawn from the spinning process is then returned to the head of the plant for reprocessing. Adding a substance called organic polymer improves the consistency of the “cake”, resulting in a firmer, more manageable product. The biosolids cake is approximately 25 to 27 percent solid material.

Written by Mitch Waxman

November 15, 2009 at 11:07 am

%d bloggers like this: