The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

Posts Tagged ‘Construction

boldly determined

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Happy New Year, ya filthy animals.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Well, here we are again at a New Year’s day, and I’m sure everybody is making resolutions which expediency and habit will negate the pursuance of before too long. A humble narrator doesn’t make promises he doesn’t know he can keep, and avoids the temptations of vowing to break a bad habit or start a new one. Instead, my aspiration is to try to be nicer to people, less selfish in my points of view, and generally more charitable in my actions. I’ve got a couple of projects which I’ve been working on which will mature and be made public in the next couple of months, have nothing in the way of specific plans for the first quarter of the year, and Zuzu the dog is holding up pretty good despite her advanced age.

I do worry about the Zuzu the dog a lot, however. She’s 13, and a “big” dog. She has hip and leg trouble, spinal stenosis, and sleeps about 22 hours a day. In human terms, Zuzu is about 80 years old, and she acts like it. One promise and resolution I can make is that she is going to be comfortable, happy, and can have as many treats as she wants whenever she wants them.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The shots in today’s post were gathered on a late night/early morning photowalk in Manhattan recently accomplished. I have to be the only photographer in NYC who remarks to himself with regret that the “golden hour” around sunrise has arrived, given my particular love of low light shooting. On the day these images were recorded, sunrise was at 7:19 a.m., and it was coincidentally the winter solstice.

The ongoing construction and build out for the Hudson Yards project is just visually fascinating to me. I just wish the end product of all this toil weren’t the sort of dystopian and banal glass superblock towers which the completed parts of the megaproject have proven to be. Some architectural critic offered the term “Dubai on the Hudson” for Hudson Yards, which I think is fairly apt.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

At the moment that the shot above was recorded, I had been awake about 22 hours, and required both a meal and couple of cups of coffee. Midtown, and in particular the west side thereof, has been ravaged by the real estate people and one of the big casualties of their attentions have been coffee shops and diners. Luckily, the Skylight Diner, which is incongruously housed in a single story building, survives. I generally avoid spending any sort of restaurant money in Manhattan, since the entire island is a rip off, but I can recommend Skylight Diner for a quick greek omelet or a burger.

Somehow, when 2030 rolls into town, I don’t think a one story building housing a diner and a cell phone shop will be all that occupies the southwest corner of 34th street and Ninth avenue.


“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

January 1, 2020 at 11:00 am

mortal relics

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One does like to see people looking busy.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Friday odds and ends, as usual, at your Newtown Pentacle. The shots in today’s post are from the end of a recent scuttle in Manhattan, the details of which I’ll describe next week, and were captured just after sunrise in the nascent “Hudson Yards” area. There’s still quite a bit of construction going on, with hundreds of trade union laborers milling about in orange and yellow vests, involved in all sorts of tumult.

Red light district? Well, yes, Hudson Yards used to be. Back in the 80’s, this part of Manhattan was notorious for the legions of prostitutes clustered about, offering last minute stress relief and carnal succor to suburban bound commuters and business traveler alike. That was before “Giuliani Time.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Luckily, a completely different and arguably more wholesome profession – Iron Working – was on display while I walked around the Hudson Yards build out. This is one of the jobs I stare at with awe and trepidation, as I would be grasped by terror and shaking with acrophobic tremors were I to find myself in the spot that fellow with the wrench is in. Yeah, he’s got a harness on, but sheesh.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The Hudson Yards dealie isn’t the only thing going on in the west 30’s of Manhattan, as the Governor also has the Penn Station/Farley Post Office project going as well. One hopes that the final throes of this construction spasm sees the Javitz Center demolished and replaced. I’ve always thought Javitz to be a waste of space, it’s a “sick” building, and its lack of direct proximity to hotels negates it’s role as a convention destination.

Scratch it from the soil, then replace it with another glass tower hotel who’s first ten floors are dedicated to “functions.” The current structure isn’t “the best use of the land” is what they’d tell us in LIC or Astoria if they powers that be wanted to replace a warehouse or factory with condos.


“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

December 27, 2019 at 1:00 pm

diminished perceptibly

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Happy Thanksgiving.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

After a couple of hours spent along the urban corridors surrounding Grand Central Terminal, one acceded to the ideation of “not overdoing it” regarding my broken toe, and began making my way towards the entrances at the western side of Grand Central Terminal in pursuance of boarding a subway which would carry me back to the rolling hills of raven tressed Astoria back in Queens. Along the way, I couldn’t resist cracking out a few more shots.

The one above involved a bit of cheating. It’s actually two exposures blended together, with one set for the Chrysler building and surrounding background and the other for the brightly lit entrance to Grand Central Terminal.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There’s a fancy pants skyscraper going up on the corner of Vanderbilt Place and 42nd street, the same one which I’ve been complaining about as ruining the fine silhouette of the Chrysler Building on the Manhattan skyline. As is the case with any construction job, even at night there’s a ton of activity going on.

Since I was about to enter the MTA properties again, and they have fairly iron clad rules about cameras, tripods, and so on… I broke down the kit I’d been using out on the streets and stored it away in my camera bag. The camera was then adorned with the sort of gear which isn’t forbidden by the MTA rules and I headed inside Grand Central Terminal.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Couldn’t resist capturing the cliche phot above, a time exposure which renders anybody not standing perfectly still as a shadowy phantom moving through the frame.

Often will I ponder about this sort of thing. Yes, it’s been done before, and thousands of times at that. Thing is, I haven’t done it before, so should I not do it? Is there nothing to be learned by capturing a familiar and quite “tourist” shot?


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Come on a tour!

With Atlas ObscuraInfrastructure Creek! My favorite walking tour to conduct, and in a group limited to just twelve people! December 14th, 1:30-3:30 p.m.

Click here for more information and tickets!

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

November 28, 2019 at 11:00 am

heavy rumblings

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It’s National Panini Day, in these United States. 

– photo by Mitch Waxman

On this day, in 3,114 B.C.E., the Mayans began their “long count” calendar. Today’s also the day, in 480 B.C.E., that Leonidas and his 300 Spartans finally succumbed at Greece’s Thermopylae to the human wave attacks of the Persian armies of Xerxes. In 1929, Babe Ruth became the first baseball player to achieve 500 career home runs, and in 1972 the United States exited its last combat units from Viet Nam. Today is the day that industrialist Andrew Carnegie died in 1919, the painter Jackson Pollock also kicked the bucket in 1956, and we also lost comedian Robin Williams on this day in 2014. In 1992, the Mall of America opened for business, and in 1965 the Watts riots kicked into gear in Los Angeles.

 Me? I don’t have too much to do today, but it’s going to be a fairly busy weekend. 

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I’m planning on checking out the “Queens Anti-Gentrification” march on Saturday afternoon in LIC. What I’ve read about, and offered by, this group doesn’t exactly jibe with reality as I know it, but I figure if somebody is willing to stick their neck out and offer their views and opinions in public you owe it to them to at least listen to what they have to say. So far, I haven’t been a fan of their tactics either, but there you are. After that, I’m hopping on a ferry to Pier 11 in Manhattan, where I’ll be boarding a boat with the Working Harbor Committee. I’ll be sharing the microphone with Andrew Gustafson of Turnstile Tours and we will be talking about the Brooklyn Waterfront’s (Newtown Creek to Sunset Park) “Past, Present, and Future.”

Come with?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I’ll be up early on Sunday to conduct the “Poison Cauldron of the Newtown Creek” walking tour for Newtown Creek Alliance. This is one of my favorite excursions to conduct, and it tells the story of the oil and energy industries in North Brooklyn from the 1850’s all the way to the present. It also moves through one of the most god awful areas NYC has ever created, so how’s that for a selling point? 

See you Sunday?.


Upcoming Tours and events

Brooklyn Waterfront Boat Tour, with Working Harbor Committee – Saturday August 12th, 6 p.m. – 8 p.m.

Explore the coastline of Brooklyn from Newtown Creek to Sunset Park, with NCA Historian Mitch Waxman, Andrew Gustafson of Turnstile Tours, and Gordon Cooper of Working Harbor Committee on the narrating about Brooklyn’s industrial past and rapidly changing present. details here.

The Poison Cauldron of the Newtown Creek Walking Tour, with Newtown Creek Alliance – Sunday August 13th, 11 a.m. – 1:30 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.

Two Newtown Creek Boat Tours, with Newtown Creek Alliance and Open House NY – Wednesday August 16th, 5 p.m. and 7 p.m.

The neighborhoods surrounding Newtown Creek are home to the densest collection of these garbage facilities anywhere in the city and collectively, the waste transfer stations around and along Newtown Creek handle almost 40% of the waste that moves through New York. Join Newtown Creek Alliance’s Mitch Waxman and Willis Elkins  to learn about the ongoing efforts to address the environmental burden that this “clustering” has caused. details here.

DUPBO Newtown Creek Walking Tour, with NYCH20 – Thursday August 24th, 7 p.m. – 9 p.m.

Explore Greenpoint and Hunters Point, with NCA Historian Mitch Waxman details here.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

outspread under

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It’s National Watermelon day, in these United States

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A sense of place is one of the things that I always keep in mind when I’m out shooting around Newtown Creek. Without a glimmer of the skyline, in particular a recognizable silhouette like the Empire State Building, it’s impossible to say if you’re looking at NYC or just some post industrial landscape anywhere in the great American rust belt.

Saying all that, you’ve got to be careful about how much of the frame is filled by iconic architecture like Empire State as the people who own the building zealously defend a theoretical copyright on images in which it appears. If the shot above was to appear in an advertisement, for instance, a fee would need to be negotiated with the building’s management for usage of its image. The Empire State Building is like Brad Pitt or Beyoncé.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One has been thinking about the ownership of reproduction rights over something that you can’t help but have occupy a certain proportion of shots captured whilst out in public. Back when I was a full time advertising retoucher, one of the most ridiculous assignments I received was to remove any and all identifiable “brands” from a series of stock photos. These photos were going to published in a direct mail offering for a large credit card company serviced by the agency, and the client didn’t want to negotiate with the various brand owners for usage. Therefore, one spent a week or so retouching every logo and identifiable brand image out of shots of Times Square, the Ginza strip, and Picadilly Circus.

The results were bizarre, and looked like something from the second act of a zombie movie, but the client was happy and I got paid… so… victory. I guess.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Personally, since I’ve stepped behind the camera over the last decade or so, a point is made to frame my shots in such a manner as to necessitate as little retouching out of logos and brand marks as possible. As I always say to the creative types – check with the retoucher before the shoot if you want to save yourself a bunch of money.


Upcoming Tours and events

We’re cancelling Saturday the 5th’s Insalubrious Valley tour due to a forecast of scattered thunderstorms with lightning expected.

The Insalubrious Valley of the Newtown Creek Walking Tour, with Newtown Creek Alliance – Saturday August 5th, 11 a.m. – 1;30 p.m.

Century old movable bridges, the remains of a 19th century highway between Brooklyn and Queens, and explore two of the lesser known tributaries of the troubled Newtown Creek watershed. For the vulgarly curious, Conrad Wissell’s Dead Animal and Night Soil wharf will be seen and described, with NCA Historian Mitch Waxman details here.

Brooklyn Waterfront Boat Tour, with Working Harbor Committee – Saturday August 12th, 6 p.m. – 8 p.m.

Explore the coastline of Brooklyn from Newtown Creek to Sunset Park, with NCA Historian Mitch Waxman, Andrew Gustafson of Turnstile Tours, and Gordon Cooper of Working Harbor Committee on the narrating about Brooklyn’s industrial past and rapidly changing present. details here.

The Poison Cauldron of the Newtown Creek Walking Tour, with Newtown Creek Alliance – Sunday August 13th, 11 a.m. – 1:30 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.

Two Newtown Creek Boat Tours, with Newtown Creek Alliance and Open House NY – Wednesday August 16th, 5 p.m. and 7 p.m.

The neighborhoods surrounding Newtown Creek are home to the densest collection of these garbage facilities anywhere in the city and collectively, the waste transfer stations around and along Newtown Creek handle almost 40% of the waste that moves through New York. Join Newtown Creek Alliance’s Mitch Waxman and Willis Elkins  to learn about the ongoing efforts to address the environmental burden that this “clustering” has caused. details here.

DUPBO Newtown Creek Walking Tour, with NYCH20 – Thursday August 24th, 7 p.m. – 9 p.m.

Explore Greenpoint and Hunters Point, with NCA Historian Mitch Waxman details here.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

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