The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

Posts Tagged ‘Bronx

absolute possession

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I’d love to fly somewhere, but I got nowhere to go.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A last few shots from my ferry trip last week are on offer today. One of the interesting things about the Soundview Ferry route is that it crosses right under the LaGuardia Airport approaches for jets. That means you get to see passenger planes descending towards you with their wheels deployed, which is something that you don’t get to see very often without getting to meet the folks at Homeland Security.

As a note, I’ve never liked the moniker “Homeland Security” as it stinks of authoritarian and fascist terminology. Fatherland, Motherland, Homeland… language which propagates an “us and them” mentality, which is the sort of mentality that resulted in this whole “permanent terrorism” threat and “forever war” dealie in the first place. It’s also a lot harder to talk rationally about “abolishing ICE” if you present it as the abolishment of Immigration and Customs Enforcement norms. I advocate for changing the operational orders of these two monolithic organizations, modernizing our immigration system, and spending giant buckets of cash on customs, which are all necessary and wise investments in the future.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I’ve had a weird experience during this very busy first week of April, which is that I’ve been around a lot of people who actually like me. This blows the whole self perceived “hated and shunned outsider” thing. It is necessary for my personal immigration and customs enforcement, as well as my self perception that my psychological “ID” continually reminds my “EGO” that everybody actually hates me and that parties will be thrown when I’m no longer walking the planet.

To that end, I’ve been a wise cracking asshole every chance I get, hoping to make people hate me again. It doesn’t seem to be working. I just got the letter Monday from the Borough President’s office that I’ve been appointed to the local Community Board here in Astoria. No, really.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

That’s the dock at Rikers Island in the shot above. Just beyond is the former Politti Power Plant, and the Hell Gate Bridge, and the Manhattan skyline. Seriously, I’d recommend taking a ride on the Soundview route of the NYC Ferry, it’s super interesting and takes you to a seldom travelled part of NY Harbor. On June 15th, you’ll be able to ride this ferry route with me, but I’ll tell you about that outing at a later date.

Scroll down for a couple of announcements for public stuff I’ve got going at the end of April. “It doth begin again,” tour season does.


“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.


Events!

Slideshow and book signing, April 23rd, 6-8 p.m.

Join Newtown Creek Alliance at 520 Kingsland Avenue in Greenpoint, Brooklyn for a slideshow, talk, and book signing and see what the incredible landscape of Newtown Creek looks like when the sun goes down with Mitch Waxman. The event is free, but space is limited. Please RSVP here. Light refreshments served.

Click here to attend.

The Third Annual, All Day, 100% Toxic, Newtown Creekathon. April 28th.

The Creekathon will start at Hunter’s Point South in LIC, and end at the Kingsland Wildflowers rooftop in Greenpoint. It will swing through the neighborhoods of LIC, Blissville, Maspeth, Ridgewood, East Williamsburg, Bushwick, and Greenpoint, visiting the numerous bridges that traverse the Creek. While we encourage folks to join us for the full adventure, attendees are welcome to join and depart as they wish. A full route map and logistics are forthcoming.This is an all day event. Your guides on this 12+ mile trek will be Mitch Waxman and Will Elkins of the Newtown Creek Alliance, and some of their amazing friends will likely show up along the way.

Click here to attend.

Written by Mitch Waxman

April 4, 2019 at 1:00 pm

terrible movement

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A bit more on the tugboat scene.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Boy oh boy, it’s like the old days at Newtown Pentacle lately, huh? Tugboats, tugboats, tugboats… That’s a Bouchard articulated tug and barge combo motoring along under the Bronx Whitestone Bridge. This tug is heading out of the Westchester Creek inlet section of the East River and heading towards Manhattan. That’s the Throgs Neck Bridge behind the tug and Bronx Whitestone in the lower third of the shot. Both bridges were designed by the great Othmar Amman.

This is the view from the NYC Ferry’s Soundview landing, in the Bronx, btw.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A few years ago, I was seemingly obsessed with photographing tugs. Whereas I’m still drawn to the subject, and remain utterly fascinated by all things maritime industrial, there’s really only so many ways to shoot and frame a tug shot. Additionally, a few of my friends with whom I shared this fascination for towing vessels have passed away in recent years, and it feels sort of weird and not as much fun to be the “last man standing.” Used to be that shots like these would get sent around in late night emails to my little cadre of fellow enthusiasts, who would in turn send what they got that particular day to me.

Such is life, and death, in the big city – I suppose.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A humble narrator is having a furiously busy week roll through the calendar as you’re reading this. Yesterday, I got to interact with some highly placed people at NYC DOT regarding the new pathways which will be introduced into Maspeth and Sunnyside by the soon to be finished Kosciuszcko Bridge bike and pedestrian path. One offered them the experiential thing, taking them for a walk around the place. Officialdom knows far more about the streets of NY than any regular person can, but generally they know these things from paper maps, politics, and spreadsheets. “Being there” in the flesh, seeing trucks parked on the broken sidewalks and crossing hazardous intersections, is a whole different thing. Last night, a friend of mine – Pat Dorfman – received the “Sunnysider of the Year” award from the Sunnyside Chamber of Commerce, so I had to show up and take a pic or two of the awards ceremony. My dogs were barking by the time I got home and settled in on the couch.

As you’re reading this, I’m probably at a polyandrion in Blissville, walking an ornithological enthusiast around. Then, I’ve got a call in meeting at 4… it never ends.

Tomorrow, I’ll tell you about two events I’m doing with Newtown Creek Alliance at the end of the month – but hold the dates of April 23 and 28th for now.


“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.

Written by Mitch Waxman

April 3, 2019 at 11:30 am

outside world

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This light of day thing is a real drag.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

About a week ago, I spent the afternoon with one of my professional tour guide chums, specifically Corey from NY Adventure Club. We were scouting out a boat tour that we’re planning for June, one which will take advantage of the new NYC Ferry Soundview route. Soundview starts at Pier 11/Wall Street in Manhattan, visits the 34th street ferry dock, and then heads north along the East River towards its ultimate destination in the Bronx. It was late afternoon when Corey and I boarded the boat, and the back and forth of the trip ate up a couple of hours on a February afternoon. Today’s post shows a few highlight shots of what was observed, and later this week we’ll take a closer look at what you can see while onboard.

The shot above is actually from Astoria’s Ferry dock, which was from the very end of the excursion, when I was on my way back home to HQ.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As you may have discerned from recent posts, a humble narrator has been experiencing a bit of wanderlust this winter. Desire to see places and things less familiar has been bubbling up, and steps have been taken to accommodate this. One is nothing if not systematic, and long time readers will be able to tell you that the southern sections of NY Harbor – Port Elizabeth Newark, the Kill Van Kull, Gowanus Bay and Canal, the “Great Bridges” zone, Wallabout Bay and the Brooklyn Navy Yard, Bushwick Inlet, Hells Gate, and especially Newtown Creek have received a tremendous amount of attention over the last decade. Simply put, I’ve either had or found the means and ability to get to these places.

Recently, a fascination with the northern expanses has emerged – Flushing Bay and Creek, and the “unknown country” of the Bronx’s southern shorelines. The Soundview Ferry puts some of these places within reach of my lens.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

This week, I’m taking you with for the first ride I’ve taken on the Soundview route NYC Ferry. The wonders you can see…

Additionally, there’s going to be a couple of extra postings coming your way, if you’re subscribed for the email delivery of the Newtown Pentacle. The big project which I’d been working on and referring to throughout the last half of 2018 is finally ready for public consumption, and I’m going to be doing a few extra posts to announce it.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

February 25, 2019 at 1:00 pm

Posted in Astoria, Bronx

Tagged with , ,

ceremonial mimicry

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Exquisite funerary monuments encountered at Woodlawn Cemetery.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The Long Monument at Woodlawn Cemetery is pictured above, a white bronze and black marble masterpiece. The oldest inscription on the stone is accredited to “Samuel Long, July 28, 1915.” There’s also “William G. Reynolds, July 30, 1950,” and “Alice Reynolds, December 17th, 1957.”

A bit of quick research on Samuel Long (of 137 Riverside Drive in Manhattan) reveals that he died without having left behind a proper will, and that his estate ended up being adjudicated in a court battle between his widow Alice (I have no idea did this is the aforementioned Alice who died in 1957), a business partner, and two unnamed brothers.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Samuel Long was a multi millionaire, in 1915 (the equivalent valuation of one million 1915 dollars is 24.4 million dollars in 2018, so…), who had made his fortune in the silent era movie business. He was only forty one years old when he died, after an illustrious career. He lived in the Clarendon Aprtments on 86th street and Riverside Drive, and had only arrived in NYC from Baltimore in 1897. He worked for the American Mutoscope and Biograph Company (later just Biograph) in a variety of executive roles until 1907, when he organized and became President of the Kalem Company, another film production outfit.

“White Bronze” is the trade term for a copper/zinc alloy that statuary such as the one seen adorning the Long memorial above is cast into. The ornamentation of mortuary stones and monuments with this material was fashionable for about a century from 1850-1950. Funeral Directors and “Stone” salesmen had catalogs of available castings available for plot owners to choose from. There are certain monuments which are entirely composed of this material, which – as mentioned innumerable times before – is worth a LOT of money in our copper hungry modern world.

Sneak thief and tomb robber alike would put some effort into dismantling and carrying off anything made of white bronze.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Another plot at Woodlawn which dates to a similar era as the Long Monument is the Miller Monument. The sculptural quality of the white bronze angel was spectacular and quite exquisite. This one used white granite instead of black marble for the base, and wasn’t too far from either Judge Schmuck (see yesterday’s post) or Samuel Long.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Dedicated to a fellow named David Miller (1839 to 1910), who didn’t leave many footprints behind that I could find, this monument was absolutely best of breed as far as representing figurative sculptural style from the “fin de siècle” pre WW1 era. Obviously cast in a mold, this white bronze angel was incredibly well executed.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Man, just look at that.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Nearby the grave of intrepid girl reporter Nellie Bly, the white bronze Caputo monument was centered around a cruciform of white bronze and was quite captivating. All the bas tableaus on its face depict “stations of the cross” scenes. It was surrounded by foot stones which carried individual interment information for the various members of the family.


Upcoming Tours and Events

June 22nd – The Birthplace of Mobil Oil: A Walking Tour
– with Newtown Creek Alliance.

Join NCA historian Mitch Waxman and NCA’s project manager Willis Elkins for walk through the birthplace of Mobil Oil, past the DEP’s largest Wastewater Treatment Plant and to the Kingsland Wildflowers green roof. The tour will also visit NCA’s Living Dock on the way; showcasing restoration efforts adjacent to major industrial operations and in the wake of legacies of pollution and neglect.
The tour will end at the 22,000 square foot Kingsland Wildflowers project, with panoramic views of the Newtown Creek and Manhattan skyline at sunset.

Tickets and more details
here.

June 30th – The Skillman Avenue Corridor
– with Access Queens.

Starting at the 7 train on Roosevelt Avenue, we will explore this thriving residential and busy commercial thoroughfare, discussing the issues affecting its present and future. Access Queens, 7 Train Blues, Sunnyside Chamber of Commerce, and Newtown Creek Alliance members will be your guides for this roughly two mile walk.
Skillman Avenue begins at the border of residential Sunnyside and Woodside, and ends in Long Island City at 49th avenue, following the southern border of the Sunnyside Yards for much of its path. Once known as Meadow Street, this colonial era thoroughfare transitions from the community of Sunnyside to the post industrial devastations of LIC and the Dutch Kills tributary of Newtown Creek.

Tickets and more details
here.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

June 19, 2018 at 11:00 am

Posted in Bronx

Tagged with ,

bewildered opening

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The Bronx, Woodlawn Cemtery, and Mr. Schmuck.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As is often the case, while researching a completely unrelated topic, I will happen across some important personage or event which will cause me to drop everything I’m doing and instead go down a historical rabbit hole. This time, the hole led one to the Bronx, and Woodlawn Cemetery. That’s where New York State Supreme Court Justice Peter Schmuck is buried,

Yes, Schmuck.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

NYS Governor Al Smith elevated Peter Schmuck from his role as Chief Justice of NYC Court to the NYS Supreme Court in April of 1928. A Manhattan born attorney, Schmuck replaced Charles D. Donohoue on the NYS Supreme Court and served that institution as a Justice until 1943. Afterwards he acted as “referree” and advisor to the next generation until his death in Ontario at age 80 in 1954.

1928-1943 are pretty much the years during which the “New Deal” reshaped the United States, with New York State having served as the laboratory for government programs that became Social Security, the Work Projects Administration, the Federal Highway Administration, and so on. That means the entire New Deal was decided on as being legally Kosher by a guy named Schmuck.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

After his appointment to the bench in 1928, Justice Schmuck successfully ran for two fourteen years terms of office on the Supreme Court. In his second term, his law secretary was future NYC Mayor Vincent Impelliteri. I’ve checked with a friend who is German, and he assures me that the Judge’s name wouldn’t be pronounced in the Yiddish manner – Shmuk – but would instead be read by a German speaker as “Shmook.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The Schmuck monument is a Mausoleum, one graced by an ornate sculptural bronze door. There’s some inexpert application of gold leaf paint on it here and there, but overall the thing was in excellent condition. One thing which struck me at Woodlawn Cemetery, in the Bronx, was how immaculate it was. The grounds and even the monuments were in fantastic condition. You didn’t see the accidental desecrations caused by inattentive groundskeepers that you do at the Calvary’s here in Queens, nor the sort of wholesale tomb raiding for white bronze and other semi precious metals by the recycling scavengers whom I call the crows at all of the “Cemetery Belt” institutions along the Brooklyn/Queens border.

Additionally, the staff and security personnel at Woodlawn were quite accomodating to my little triad of tapophiles when we arrived at their institution. I was asked to fill out a form, regarding permissions to photograph their grounds, which was straightforward and liberal. At no point did anyone randomly appear and forbid camera usage on spurious grounds.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

While there, the monuments and mortal remains of a few other NYC notables were visited. The minimalist Art Deco headstone indicating the final resting place of the restless Fiorello LaGuardia is pictured above.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The final address of Robert Moses is found at Woodlawn Cemetery as well. His tomb is a simple one, which is fitting somehow, as the grandiose monument he actually left behind is 20th century New York City. I’d imagine that if you had asked Robert Moses how he’d like to be remembered by modernity thirty seven years after his death, I imagine he’d ask you to visit the Triborough Bridge or Jones Beach instead of Woodlawn.


Upcoming Tours and Events

June 22nd – The Birthplace of Mobil Oil: A Walking Tour
– with Newtown Creek Alliance.

Join NCA historian Mitch Waxman and NCA’s project manager Willis Elkins for walk through the birthplace of Mobil Oil, past the DEP’s largest Wastewater Treatment Plant and to the Kingsland Wildflowers green roof. The tour will also visit NCA’s Living Dock on the way; showcasing restoration efforts adjacent to major industrial operations and in the wake of legacies of pollution and neglect.
The tour will end at the 22,000 square foot Kingsland Wildflowers project, with panoramic views of the Newtown Creek and Manhattan skyline at sunset.

Tickets and more details
here.

June 30th – The Skillman Avenue Corridor
– with Access Queens.

Starting at the 7 train on Roosevelt Avenue, we will explore this thriving residential and busy commercial thoroughfare, discussing the issues affecting its present and future. Access Queens, 7 Train Blues, Sunnyside Chamber of Commerce, and Newtown Creek Alliance members will be your guides for this roughly two mile walk.
Skillman Avenue begins at the border of residential Sunnyside and Woodside, and ends in Long Island City at 49th avenue, following the southern border of the Sunnyside Yards for much of its path. Once known as Meadow Street, this colonial era thoroughfare transitions from the community of Sunnyside to the post industrial devastations of LIC and the Dutch Kills tributary of Newtown Creek.

Tickets and more details
here.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

June 18, 2018 at 12:00 pm

old privateers

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It’s National Peach Ice Cream Day, in these United States.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One believes that if you’ve got a problem to solve, the first step towards “victory state” over it involves wrapping your head around the problem and “getting smart.” I like to be fairly well educated about the nature of things before opening the hood and tinkering around with the engine, basically.

The subject of the MTA, or Metropolitan Transit Authority (a public benefit corporation), has been in the news quite a bit of late. The subways have been the particular focus, but the question a friend asked me the other night is what caused today’s post to come into existence.

What, exactly, is the MTA? Well, it’s complicated.

from wikipedia

Chartered by the New York State Legislature in 1965 as the Metropolitan Commuter Transportation Authority(MCTA), it was initially created by Governor Nelson Rockefeller to purchase and operate the bankrupt Long Island Rail Road. The MCTA dropped the word “Commuter” from its name and became the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) on March 1, 1968 when it took over operations of the New York City Transit Authority (NYCTA) (now MTA New York City Transit (NYCT)) and Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority(TBTA) (now MTA Bridges and Tunnels (B&T)). The construction of two bridges over the Long Island Sound was put under the jurisdiction of the MTA.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

To begin with, there’s just over 70,000 employees on the MTA’s payroll. MTA operates, ultimately, in the most densely populated sections of three states with the Shining City of Manhattan as the titular center and bullseye destination for its trains, automotive bridges and tunnels, and multiple fleets of buses.

Nearly all of the MTA train lines were originally built and owned by private businesses (with a significant public investment in the case of the subways) either during the late 19th or early 20th century, but bankruptcies and public foreclosures brought them into government hands. Private bus companies were acquired and folded into the Authority over the decades, along with bridges and tunnels that were formally owned and operated by seperate entities. Today, all of these operations are handled by the individual divisions of the MTA and overseen by a 17 member board of directors (who are all political appointees with virtually zero experience in transportation matters, incidentally).

from wikipedia

The Long Island Rail Road (reporting mark LI), legally known as the Long Island Rail Road Company and often abbreviated as the LIRR, is a commuter rail system in the southeastern part of the U.S. state of New York, stretching from Manhattan to the eastern tip of Suffolk County on Long Island. With an average weekday ridership of 337,800 passengers in 2014, it is the busiest commuter railroad in North America. It is also one of the world’s few commuter systems that runs 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, year-round. It is publicly owned by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which refers to it as MTA Long Island Rail Road.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Capital Construction is where all the money disappears into, basically. Pictured above is the Second Avenue Subway under construction, and however much I wish that I could show you a shot from the East Side Access project – I haven’t managed to find a way to get my camera down there, yet. The MTA is ostensibly meant to be self funding, through bonds it issues and through fare revenue, but it seldom works out that way and both State and City end up sending a significant amount of tax revenue their way to handle deficits.

Everybody asks why it is that these mega projects orchestrated by Capital Construction have the political support that they do while the wheels are falling off the buses and subways. Short answer is that a shot of a politician watching some mechanic turn a wrench while repairing a track switch is a lot less compelling an image, electoral politics wise, than one showing the same politician cutting a ribbon at the opening ceremony of a fancy new subway stop in the richest section of Manhattan on the Uppper East Side.

Capital Construction, like all of MTA’s divisions, is a vertical silo with its own hierarchy and political patronage. They do what they do, and compete for funding with the other divisions.

from wikipedia

MTA Capital Construction is a subsidiary agency of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), formed in July 2003 to manage the MTA’s major capital projects in the New York metropolitan area. It mainly focuses on improving transportation infrastructure and facilities in New York City, the Hudson Valley, and Long Island areas. Funding primarily comes from local, state, and national bond sales and budgets. As of April 2017, the current MTA Capital Construction president is Janno Lieber.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Long Island Railroad, for instance, is a vertically integrated “thing” all of its own. If someone from the Metro North side of MTA calls in sick, they don’t send LIRR employees upstate to fill in the slack. It doesn’t share “synergies” with Metro North (repair facilities, union contracts etc.) or with the New York City Transit Authority (subways). This situation is owed partially to the formerly seperate corporate entities that created the original lines.

Metro North is the grandchild of the old New York Central Railroad passenger service, and the LIRR is the child of Central’s arch rival and adversarial enemy – the Pennsylvania Railroad Company.

I’m no expert on this subject, so, I reached out to a buddy who is one of my “rail rabbis” and he anonymously offered this statement and assessment of the situation involving Metro North and LIRR, which – despite logic and what you might think, don’t use the same trains nor operate in common fashion or custom.

“Metro-North Railroad is made up of three distinct operations. Two of these operate out of Grand Central Terminal, the third operates out of Hoboken Terminal.

Hudson and Harlem lines are the remnants of the New York Central Railroad (Vanderbilt), out of Grand Central Terminal.

The New Haven line is the former New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad (New Haven for short).

The New Haven was unique in that they operated commuter trains out of Grand Central Terminal and their long distance trains out of Penn Station. The line over Hell Gate was financed by the New York Connecting Railroad, which was a paper railroad business agreement between the New Haven and the Pennsylvania Railroads.

The third operation is frequently overlooked. it is the former Erie Railroad (Jay Gould, THE robber baron), later Erie Lacawanna Railroad operation to Port Jervis New York. MTA pays for the New York portion, while New Jersey Transit pays for the New Jersey operation. This operates out of Hoboken Terminal.

The New York Central and Pennsylvania Railroad merged in 1968 into the Penn Central (Good book to read is “The Wreck of the Penn Central” by Joseph R. Daughen and Peter Binzen).

It was an unhappy merger, with battles between the two different management ideologies. It ended up with the US Government creation of Conrail in 1976 to salvage what remained of several north east railroad operations (Including Penn Central).

Conrail operated many commuter railroads, which received state subsidies for commuter operations. (Amtrak was formed in 1971 for intercity/long distance passenger trains, not the many commuter operations) Conrail wanted out of commuter operations at its founding and in 1983, it was NY States turn and Metro North was created.

The LIRR and Metro North are two distinct systems, with the only real compatible technology being the train couplings and the gauge of the trains.

Metro North utilizes an under-running third rail and the LIRR utilizes an over running third rail. Diesel locomotives and diesel hauled electric passenger cars also weigh different, with Metro North being able to haul heavier equipment, Long Island bridges are load limited. The Park Avenue Tunnels on Metro North and the East River Tunnels on the Long Island also limit the interchangeability of some equipment. Signal systems are also different.

The Electric Multiple Unit (MU) trains of Metro North and LIRR look similar and are ordered from the same vendor/companies, but they are configured to operate on their respective systems. They are not freely interchangeable. The Arch Street shop of the LIRR is a warranty shop for the recent purchase of the M-7 MU’s. Metro north ships them there for work, but not before all the third rail shoes are removed, and they have to travel over the Hell Gate from New Rochelle, NY. (The Ventilation system vents on the Metro North Roofs won’t fit in the LIRR East River Tunnels).

The LIRR bilevel cars will not fit in the Park Avenue tunnels.

Metro North diesel locomotives are too heavy for the bridges on the eastern end of Long Island.”

from wikipedia

The Metro-North Commuter Railroad (reporting mark MNCW), trading as MTA Metro-North Railroad or simply Metro-North, is a suburban commuter rail service run by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), a public authority of the state of New York. With an average weekday ridership of 298,900 in 2014, it is the second-busiest commuter railroad in North America in terms of annual ridership, behind its sister railroad, the Long Island Rail Road. Metro-North runs service between New York City and its northern suburbs in New York and Connecticut, including Port Jervis, Spring Valley, Poughkeepsie, White Plains, and Wassaic in New York and New Canaan, Danbury, Waterbury, and New Haven in Connecticut. Metro-North also provides local rail service within New York City at a reduced fare. There are 124 stations on Metro-North Railroad’s five active lines (plus the Meadowlands Rail Line), which operate on more than 775 miles (1,247 km) of track, with the passenger railroad system totaling 385 miles (620 km) of route.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Another vertical silo at MTA is the Bridges and Tunnels group. This is Robert Moses’ old Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority empire, rebranded and “nationalized” by Nelson Rockefeller back in the late 1960’s. TBTA has always been, and always will be, its own fiefdom.

For those of you not familiar with the terms “vertical silo” or “synergies,” that’s a fairly archaic series of terms used in the investment banking industry to describe business units within a corporate structure. When a corporate merger occurs, the investment bankers will often try to “flatten” these silos and merge them with other units to avoid redundancy, which saves them money and ostensibly streamlines an operation. This is not how Government people think, btw. If the MTA was a company and got taken over by another corporation, the VERY first thing the new owners would do is try to flatten these silos and eliminate the wasteful or redundant departments.

MTA, for instance, has multiple divisions of armed police and guardsmen. There’s TBTA cops, MTA cops, MTA Operations armed guards, a whole seperate department of MTA Security… and they’re all operating under different rules, jurisprudence, and circumstance.

It’s all very complicated.

from wikipedia

The Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority, doing business as MTA Bridges and Tunnels, is an affiliate agency of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority that operates seven intrastate toll bridges and two tunnels in New York City. In terms of traffic volume, it is the largest bridge and tunnel toll agency in the United States, serving more than a million people each day and generating more than $1.5 billion in toll revenue annually as of 2012.

The seven bridges are:

  • Triborough Bridge (officially Robert F. Kennedy Bridge), the agency’s original namesake and flagship crossing, connecting Manhattan, the Bronx, and Queens, via Randalls and Wards Islands
  • Bronx–Whitestone Bridge, connecting the Bronx and Queens
  • Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, connecting Brooklyn and Staten Island
  • Throgs Neck Bridge, connecting the Bronx and Queens
  • Henry Hudson Bridge, connecting Manhattan and the BronxMarine Parkway–Gil Hodges Memorial Bridge, connecting Brooklyn and the Rockaways (Queens)
  • Cross Bay Veterans Memorial Bridge, connecting Broad Channel to the Rockaways (Queens)

The two tunnels are:

  • Brooklyn–Battery Tunnel (officially Hugh L. Carey Tunnel), connecting Brooklyn and Manhattan
  • Queens–Midtown Tunnel, connecting Queens and Manhattan

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The focus of public ennui these days is generally related to the subway system, although this summer the LIRR situation has gathered a lot of storm clouds to the Long Island Railroad. What New Yorker hasn’t stood there on some subway platform and exhorted “EFF YOU, MTA” at least once?

My rail rabbi quoted above offers this, on the subject of the “switch problems” and the MTA’s promises that modernizing them will fix everything wrong with the subways:

“One thing we mentioned about “outdated signal systems” with regard to the subway is that the 100 year old signal, while worn out, allow better utilization of the tracks. As I understand it, typical headways on the NYC subway system are four to seven minutes at rush hour. As a comparison, newer fully automated systems, like BART in San Francisco, WAMATA in Washington DC and MARTA in Atlanta can’t beat seven minutes, with ten minutes being the normal.”

A humble narrator has been getting increasingly involved with transit issues in recent years, and I’ve joined the steering committee of Access Queens, a community organization led by Sunnyside’s Melissa Orlando, which grew out of the “7 train blues” Facebook group. I won’t bore you with the usual song you’ve read everywhere else about switches, overcrowding, deferred maintenance, and aging tracks – instead I’d ask for you to click through to the Access Queens site and see what our group has been working on.

It may be the “Summer of Hell” for the LIRR, but it’s always transit hell in Queens.

from wikipedia

The New York City Transit Authority (also known as NYCTA, The TA or simply Transit, and branded as MTA New York City Transit) is a public authority in the U.S. state of New York that operates public transportation in New York City. Part of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, the busiest and largest transit system in North America, the NYCTA has a daily ridership of 7 million trips (over 2 billion annually).

The NYCTA operates the following systems:

  • New York City Subway, a rapid transit system in Manhattan, The Bronx, Brooklyn, and Queens.
  • Staten Island Railway, a rapid transit line in Staten Island (operated by the Staten Island Rapid Transit Operating Authority, a NYCTA subsidiary)
  • New York City Bus, an extensive bus network serving all five boroughs, managed by MTA Regional Bus Operations.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The MTA Bus company is part of NYCTA, or New York City Transit Authority, but that’s not all of it. There’s tons of bus lines in Nassau and Suffolk Counties, Yonkers, and even Westchester which MTA operates. Buses aren’t the sexiest way to get around, of course, but when it’s raining a bus is always superior to walking. Unfortunately, the vertical silo of the bus company seldom coordinates with the NYCTA subway company during outages and planned work, nor coordinates their schedule with them.

from wikipedia

MTA Regional Bus Operations (RBO) is the surface transit division of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), created in 2008 to consolidate all bus operations in New York City operated by the MTA.


Upcoming Tours and events

The Poison Cauldron of the Newtown Creek Walking Tour, with Atlas Obscura – July 22nd, 11 a.m. – 2 p.m..

Explore the hellish waste transfer and petroleum districts of North Brooklyn on this daring walk towards the doomed Kosciuszko Bridge, with NCA Historian Mitch Waxman details here.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

July 17, 2017 at 11:00 am

half seen

with one comment

In today’s post- the mysterious Bronx.

-photo by Mitch Waxman

I know little to nothing about the Bronx, and have probably only been in the Borough less than 20 times over the course of my entire life. Circumstance never carries me north, toward its heights. What I do know of this vast enigma has only been glimpsed from the edges of the place. I understand it to be quite an interesting place, but to one such as myself, it is enigma. I always say that “I’m saving it for the future,” meaning that someday I’ll start turning my attention that way.

There are definitely groups of people living there, as I’ve photographed them from the littoral periphery.

-photo by Mitch Waxman

Willful ignorance such as this assists me in maintaining a laser like narrow focus on a single subject, but there are large sections of the City for which little to no interest exists in me. I don’t care about downtown Brooklyn, for instance, and consider myself lucky to avoid being there. Nothing wrong with the place, just not my cup of tea. Also, I find the upper east side of Manhattan completely “meh.”

This unknown country of the north intrigues, but I’m not ready to look at it yet.

-photo by Mitch Waxman

Someday I plan to do a little exploring up here, and perhaps attempt some tremulous interaction with the dwellers therein. Supposedly, there is something to the place beyond the odd stadium, bridge, or rail yard.

Of course, its not going to be anywhere as close to cool as Queens is, but there might be some dark secret or two to be unearthed beyond the Hells Gate, and “winter is coming.”

Things to do!

Working Harbor Committee presents: Great North River Tugboat Races and Competition, September 1st, 2013
9:30-11:30 a.m. at West 42nd Street and the Hudson River. Spectator Boat tickets now on sale.

Written by Mitch Waxman

August 28, 2013 at 7:30 am

Posted in Bronx

Tagged with , , ,

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