The Newtown Pentacle

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Posts Tagged ‘Corona

innocuous solidity

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The “A” in MTA is for “adventure.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

On our return trip from the Queens Zoo last weekend, Our Lady of the Pentacle and I took a stab at using the cheapest and fastest way from 111 street in Corona to Broadway in Astoria. In the morning, we were forced to use a cab and plunked out nearly $20 doing so. The alternative was to take the R into Manhattan, and transfer at 42nd street/Grand Central to the 7 line which would then take us to the zoo. Maintenance crews were at work on both lines, and there was neither an east bound option on the R (to Roosevelt Avenue in Jackson Heights where you normally transfer to the 7, or the E and F for that matter) nor a west bound one since the R was bypassing Queensboro Plaza. You had to go into Manhattan. Another alternative I sometimes use, when needing to access the 7 line, is the Q 104 bus which connects Astoria’s Broadway to Queens Blvd. Unfortunately, the 7 line was skipping more than half of its eastwards route as well, which included the stretch from Queens Plaza to Jackson Heights. As mentioned above, the “A” in “MTA” stands for “Adventure.”

Before one of you jokers jumps in with “why not ride a bike, Mitch,” allow me to offer a saying I learned from the Sicilians of Canarsie – Bafongoo.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Luckily for us, upon arriving at the 7 line stop at 111th street after our zoo experience, we discovered that the trains heading towards Manhattan were operating in the standard fashion. After weaving our way through the groups of Jehovah’s Witnesses who had arranged themselves around the station, we swiped through “fare control” and joined with the hundreds and hundreds of people waiting for the 7 up on the platform. Seemingly, Corona still hosts a large population of Puerto Ricans, many of whom seemed to be traveling to the Puerto Rican Day Parade over in the City. I presume they were Puerto Rican, given that many of them were wearing clothing adorned with the island’s flag and were also adorned with various garments reading “Boricua” or “Nuyorican.” They might have just been fans of the island and its peoples, who knows. Never assume.

All I can tell you is that it was a pleasure to hear Spanish spoken with the particular rhythms that the Puerto Rican accent brings. Growing up in NYC, most of the Spanish speakers I encountered were Puerto Rican or Dominicans. These days, the entire Spanish speaking world is represented here in NYC, but the dulcet and softer spoken tone of the Mexican and Central American accents seem to be the ones most commonly encountered. Kind of a Boston accent versus a Louisiana one sort of thing, y’know.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Alongside basic mathematics, the intellectual weakness I’ve most commonly displayed over the decades has been a consistent inability to speak other languages. I can understand a bit of Spanish, or at least watch an espanol movie or TV show and follow along with most of the dialogue. Often, I can form a simple sentence in my mind ina foreign tongue, but can’t force my mouth to make the words come out correctly. I’ve tried and tried. Yiddish was regularly spoken by my family, but the same issue occurs if I try to speak it. Essentially, I’m doing an imitation of somebody talking yiddish rather than speaking it. Weird, huh?

I’ve got friends, born overseas, from all over the world here in Astoria. They’ll often apologize for not knowing some esoteric English word or turn of phrase and proclaim their stupidity. I remind them that they speak two languages cogently, and oftentimes more than two. That’s a pretty incredible thing, when you think about it. I pronounce “hors d’oeuvres” (those little French snack things) as “whores da ohvoors,” after all.

Upcoming Tours and Events

June 15th – Exploring the East River,

From General Slocum Disaster to Abandoned Islands – with NY Adventure Club.

June 15th is one of those days in NYC history. In 1904, more than a thousand people boarded a boat in lower Manhattan, heading for a church picnic on Long Island — only 321 of them would return. This is the story of the General Slocum disaster, and how New York Harbor, the ferry industry, and a community were forever altered.

Join New York Adventure Club for a two-part aquatic adventure as we explore the General Slocum disaster, and historic sights and stories along the East River, all by NYC Ferry.

Tickets and more details

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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 for $30.

Written by Mitch Waxman

June 12, 2019 at 11:00 am

damp rock

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I’ll sleep when I’m dead.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

For the last couple of weeks, an abundance of “business” has occupied my days and nights. Nothing I’ve had to do has been too extreme, but a surfeit of multiple hour long tasks has plagued me. Today, one needs to prepare to see the accountant later in the week and tie off last years tax obligations, but a point will be made to experience some “r&r” in the afternoon.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The good news is that after all these tasks are accomplished, I can get back to doing actual work. You know, the whole “walk around Queens and explore its amazing and oft occluded past” thing. The even better new is that a whole series of excursions which will allow me to share this wonderful place with others are coming as well, and some of them will even be free events.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As is my habit when so overwhelmed, Newtown Pentacle will be going into single image mode for the next few days. Keeping up with content discovery and capture is a bear sometimes, especially when constricted by the never ending series of storms and lousy weather which has so far made 2014 remarkable.

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Written by Mitch Waxman

April 8, 2014 at 12:31 pm

unseen throngs

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Not in service.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The MTA Corona facility sits nearby Citifield, and offers observers opportunity to witness the fleet. Have a happy one tonight, don’t drink and drive. Take a bus instead, huh?

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Written by Mitch Waxman

December 31, 2013 at 7:30 am

Esoteric Trains at Corona Yard

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– photo by Mitch Waxman

Leaving the broad shoulders of Astoria for a days hike, your humble narrator found himself at the Corona Yard staring over a fence at some of the MTA’s less familiar kit. This is where the 7 train sleeps, and also where one can observe an assortment of “work trains”. Said “work trains” are specialists, non passenger, and rarely seen or commented on by the public. While crossing the pedestrian ramp from Roosevelt Avenue to Flushing Meadow Corona Park, I was on the lookout for the “snow train”, but that wasn’t what I found.


“It’s like your household snow blower but a million times bigger,” agency engineer Edward Macina said late Wednesday as the five-car diesel train chugged past the silent expanse of Kennedy Airport.

The train is a key component in the agency’s comprehensive snow-battle plan.

A six-foot cylindrical brush attached to the front sweeps snow into an even wider metal tube.

Snow is then blasted away — far away — from the rails from the mouth of a chute about eight feet in the air.

The machine can launch the snow 200 feet, removing 3,000 tons of snow an hour. Macina, project manager in the car equipment department, joked ‘Snow Eater’ might be an appropriate nickname.

R125 Ballast Regulator – photo by Mitch Waxman

Corona Yard is a rail fan’s dream. Active rolling stock sits quietly in the sunlight next to a historical catalog of the MTA’s former workhorses and modern utility trains.

from wikipedia

Corona Yard is the yard facility in Flushing, in the New York City borough of Queens, that serves the IRT Flushing Line (7) of the New York City Subway. It is located in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, near Citi Field, the National Tennis Center, and the site of the 1939 and 1964 World’s Fairs.

Corona Yard opened in 1928 and has seen various models of cars, including Steinway Low-Vs, Brooklyn-Manhattan Transit Corporation/BMT Qs, R12s, R14s, R15s, World’s Fair R36s in 1964, and R62As. It also contains the Casey Stengel Bus Depot.

On August 16, 2006, the original 1928 shop building was demolished, and was replaced by a new, modern shop.

Ballast Tamper TP239 – photo by Mitch Waxman

This mechanism, for instance is a “Ballast Tamper”, which is a track maintenance and repair unit.

from wikipedia

A ballast tamper or tamping machine is a machine used to pack (or tamp) the track ballast under railway tracks to make the tracks more durable. Prior to the introduction of mechanical tampers, this task was done by manual labour with the help of beaters. As well as being faster, more accurate, more efficient and less labour-intensive, tamping machines are essential for the use of concrete sleepers since they are too heavy (usually over 250 kg) to be packed into the ballast by hand.

Early machines only lifted the track and packed the ballast. More modern machines, sometimes known as a tamper-liner or tamping and lining machine, also correct the alignment of the rails to make them parallel and level, in order to achieve a more comfortable ride for passengers and freight and to reduce the mechanical strain applied to the rails by passing trains.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Hey, those are “Redbirds” back there, weren’t they all supposed to be coral reefs by now?

from wikipedia

Redbird is the name given to 1,408 New York City Subway cars of the following types: R26, R28, R29, R33 ML, R33 WF, R36, and R36 WF. These cars were painted a deep red to combat graffiti, which had become a major problem In the late 1970s and early 1980s. The deep red color was referred to as Gunn Red in honor of its originator David L. Gunn, who was the head of the New York City Transit Authority during this period. Initially entering service in various colors, these cars received the new paint scheme between 1984 and 1989. Some R17s were also given this paint scheme in 1985/86, but were retired well before the name “Redbird” caught on.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

This long walk from Astoria to Flushing Meadow Corona Park will be explored in the coming days, here at your Newtown Pentacle, in the first postings of this new “Year of the Metal Tiger“.

An amazing factoid turned up in researching this walk is that Roosevelt Avenue (the 5 miles which extend from the Great Machine at Queens Plaza all the way out to Willets Point) was designated a National Millennium Trail in the year 2000. This places Roosevelt Avenue alongside the Appalachian Trail in cultural importance, but somehow I think that’ll be forgotten next time someone wants to build a 40 story tower condo along it. We’ll get into this in some detail in the coming days…

from wikipedia

A ballast regulator is a piece of rail transport maintenance of way equipment used to shape and distribute the gravel track ballast that supports the ties in rail tracks. They are often used in conjunction with ballast tampers when maintaining track.

Written by Mitch Waxman

February 14, 2010 at 2:46 pm

Posted in Corona, MTA, Subway

Tagged with , , ,

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