The Newtown Pentacle

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Posts Tagged ‘bridges

human clothing

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Tuesday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The Allegheny River in Pittsburgh is adjoined on both banks by the “Three Rivers Heritage Trail” which offers pedestrians and bicyclists a series of stunning views. That’s the 16th street or David McCullough bridge, which is of the “steel trussed through arch” type. It was erected in 1922, replacing the earlier 1838 Mechanics Street Bridge. It’s some 1,900 feet long, on ramp to off ramp, and 40 feet wide. In 2013, it was renamed for historian and native son David McCullough.

As you may notice, I had retooled the camera back into its tripod mode at this point. Mid afternoon sunlight isn’t exactly kind to photographic pursuit, and I had to handle the situation. A ten stop ND filter allowed me to “slow the exposure” down, and all the shots in today’s post were accomplished using this particular technique.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

This shot looks towards the direction of the junction of the three rivers – Ohio, Allegheny, Monongahela – from the pedestrian pathway of the 16th street Bridge. One of the things that I really enjoyed in Pittsburgh was the near complete lack of chain link security fences occluding the views. It’s one of the truly frustrating things about NYC, these fences and occlusions. Actually, almost everything in NYC is annoying and frustrating.

A humble narrator was in a full sweat at this stage of the day as the atmospheric pressure began to build up ahead of that front of storms moving in. I got moving, looking for shade, and started heading towards the “point” of the delta.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A “steel and welded girder” type truss bridge, the fairly uninspiring Veterans Bridge opened in 1988. It carries the 7 lane interstate 579 into and out of the center city on a north/south axis, and one of those lanes is a reversible high occupancy vehicle lane meant for buses and other transit related usage. On ramp to off ramp, it’s 1,050 feet long, but the section spanning the Allegheny River is 410 feet which sits some 51 feet over the waters.

While shooting this image, I had to contend with a territorial gaggle of Canada Geese, who – as a specie – are dicks. Everywhere I go, gooses abound.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Next up is the American Bridge Company built “Fort Wayne Railroad Bridge” which continues the deal here in Pittsburgh of bridges having more than one name. According to the National Register of Historic Places, this is alternatively the Pennsylvania Railroad Bridge. It’s also known as “Bridge No. 1, Pittsburgh, Fort Wayne and Chicago Railway.”

It’s of the “double deck steel truss” type, and it’s 5 spans cross some 985 feet. The longest span is some 319 feet long. It’s 40.9 feet over the water, and replaced an 1868 forebear that sat just outside of this one’s footprint. It was opened for rail traffic in 1904, and was raised in 1918 to its current height to increase navigability. This is something that they managed to pull off without interrupting rail traffic.

I actually got pretty lucky with my timing right here.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The lower deck is inactive, and as you can see in the shot above (and not for the last time during my 72 hours in Pittsburgh), the upper deck carries freight and passenger traffic. Freight rail operator Norfolk Southern’s Fort Wayne Line, and Amtrak, cross the Allegheny on this bridge.

Score! Freight rail in the steel city. Little did I know… but that’s another post for another day.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The Ninth Street Bridge, aka the Rachel Carson Bridge, is one of three relatively small bridges which all seem to be very similar in design if not identical. Suspension Bridges with eye bar catenary cables, it sits in close association with the Andy Warhol Seventh Street Bridge and the Sixth Street Roberto Clemente Bridge. Unveiled in 1926, Ninth Street Bridge is on ramp to off ramp 995 feet long, and 840 feet of it spanning the Allegheny River is just over 40 feet from the water.

This was my “head back to the room” shot, incidentally, as that approaching line of thunderstorms was now only a half hour away and people’s phones were going off warning of possible tornado formation.

I’m not clear on what water level indicates in Pittsburgh, by the way. I keep on seeing references to an Emsworth Dam and it’s normal pool level as being 710 feet above sea level and that seems to be the effective level of the water locally. Any of you engineer types or Pittsburgh experts who might be reading this and who can elucidate – leave a comment on this post. I live by the sea, on an archipelago. It’s called NYC. I don’t know your mountain ways.

More tomorrow.


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Buy a book!

In the Shadows at Newtown Creek,” an 88 page softcover 8.5×11 magazine format photo book by Mitch Waxman, is now on sale at blurb.com for $30.

Written by Mitch Waxman

October 26, 2021 at 11:00 am

correlated causeways

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Eleven bridges, one creek.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Pulaski Bridge is the first span you encounter, when you’ve left the East River and embarked on a journey down the fabulous Newtown Creek. A double bascule drawbridge, and electrically powered, the Pulaski Bridge connects 11th street in Long Island City with McGuinness Blvd. to the south in Brooklyn’s Greenpoint. Built in 1954, the Pulaski Bridge is owned and operated by the New York City Department of Transportation or “NYC DOT.” The Pulaski Bridge carries five lanes of traffic, plus a dedicated bicycle lane and a separate pedestrian pathway. It overflies the Queens Midtown Tunnel and Long Island Expressway, as well as active railroad tracks found on Borden Avenue.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

DB Cabin acts as a gatekeeper to the Dutch Kills tributary of Newtown Creek. It’s a railroad swing bridge owned by the Long Island Railroad, and connects two rail yards – the Wheelspur Yard (to the west, or left in the shot above) and the Blissville Yard – across the water. Both rail yards and the bridge itself are part of the LIRR’s Lower Montauk tracks. DB Cabin dates back to the 1890’s and is in a terrible state of repair. The swing bridge’s motors are nonfunctional, which isolates the Dutch Kills tributary from maritime traffic, and from the rest of the Newtown Creek.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Cabin M is just to the north of DB Cabin on Dutch Kills, and the single bascule drawbridge connects the Montauk Cutoff with the Blissville Yard mentioned above. The Montauk Cutoff is an elevated track which used to provide a connection between the LIRR’s Main Line tracks at the nearby Sunnyside Yards with the Lower Montauk tracks along the north (or Queens side) shoreline of Newtown Creek. The 2020 Capital Plan just released by the Long Island Railroad’s owner – The MTA – includes funding to demolish Cabin M.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Borden Avenue Bridge is owned by the NYC DOT, and is one of just two retractile bridges in NYC (the other being the Carroll Street Bridge over the Gowanus Canal). Built in 1908 to replace an earlier wooden drawbridge (1868) at the intersection of Borden Avenue and Dutch Kills, Borden Avenue Bridge received extensive upgrades and structural repairs in 2010 and 2011, and had its electronic components destroyed by flooding during Hurricane Sandy. Another round of repairs and upgrades began in 2019, which included asbestos abatement work.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The Long Island Expressway is 71 miles long, and is operationally managed in three sections. The Queens Midtown Expressway is how it’s owners, the New York State Department of Transportation, refer to the section found between the Queens Midtown Tunnel and Greenpoint Avenue in Long Island City. This section is elevated, rising to 106 feet above the waters of Dutch Kills. The LIE truss pictured above handles some 87.7 thousand daily vehicle trips, or 32 million annually, to and from Manhattan,

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Hunters Point Avenue Bridge is due north west of Borden Avenue Bridge and the LIE truss. It’s a single bascule drawbridge, owned by the NYC DOT. Replacing an earlier wooden draw bridge that was opened and closed by a donkey walking on a wheel, the Hunters Point Avenue Bridge was built in 1910. Back then, it was a double bascule bridge, but a rebuild in the 1980’s simplified the mechanism to a single bascule. The masonry of the bridge is original to the 1910 design.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The Greenpoint Avenue Bridge is found some 1.37 miles from Newtown Creek’s intersection with the East River, and roughly a half mile from the mouth of Dutch Kills. It’s a double bascule bridge, built in 1987, and owned and operated by the NYC DOT. There have been many Greenpoint Avenue Bridges, dating back to the first one built by Greenpoint’s town father Neziah Bliss back in 1850, but that one was called the “Blissville Bridge.” The Greenpoint Avenue Bridge is a traffic machine, carrying 28.3 thousand vehicle trips a day, or about ten million a year. Most of that traffic takes the form of heavy trucking.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The brand new Kosciuszko Bridge(s) replaced a 1939 vintage truss bridge that carried the Brooklyn Queens Expressway over Newtown Creek and are found some 2.1 miles from the East River. The NYS DOT is busy putting the finishing touches on the new cable stay bridge’s construction. In addition to the… ahem… high speed traffic lanes of the BQE, there is also a pedestrian and bicycle pathway found on the new Kosciuszko Bridge which connects 43rd street in Queens’s Sunnyside section with Meeker Avenue in Brooklyn’s Greenpoint.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The Grand Street Bridge is a swing bridge connecting Maspeth’s Grand Avenue in Queens with East Williamsburg/Bushwick’s Grand Street in Brooklyn. 3.1 miles back from the East River, in a section of Newtown Creek once called “White’s Dock,” the NYC DOT have recently announced plans to replace this 1909 beauty – which is actually the third bridge to occupy this spot. Damage from Hurricane Sandy, and the narrow roadways with height restrictions that the bridge offers, have pretty much sealed its fate. It will be missed.

This is where the main spur of Newtown Creek ends, as a note. Directly east is a truncated tributary called the East Branch, and another tributary called English Kills makes a hard turn to the south just before you encounter Grand Street Bridge.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Metropolitan Avenue Bridge is a double bascule drawbridge that crosses the English Kills tributary of Newtown Creek, and is owned by the NYC DOT. Metropolitan Avenue was originally built as a private toll road in 1813, and the first bridge here was a part of the “Williamsburg and Jamaica Turnpike.” The current Metropolitan Avenue Bridge was built in 1931, although it has received significant alterations in 1976, 1992, 2006, and again in 2015. The 2015 alterations?

You guessed it, Hurricane Sandy strikes again.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Montrose Avenue Rail Bridge is the final crossing found over the waters of Newtown Creek and its tributaries. Some 3.7 miles back from the East River, it’s the property of the Long Island Railroad and used for freight service on their Bushwick Branch tracks. A truss bridge, or trestle if you must, my understanding of things are that whereas the trackway and parts of the rail bridge date back to approximately 1924… there has been quite a lot of work done on the thing which I have not been able to fully document so rather than fill in blanks with assumptions – I’m just going to say that I don’t know everything… yet.

It’s an active track, it should be mentioned.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle


Buy a book!

In the Shadows at Newtown Creek,” an 88 page softcover 8.5×11 magazine format photo book by Mitch Waxman, is now on sale at blurb.com for $30.

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