The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

Posts Tagged ‘Degnon Terminal

inverse geometry

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Monday is da shizzle.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

What a busy weekend! This vaccinated thing is going great so far. More on that in a subsequent post.

The first two shots in today’s post were gathered in Long Island City, specifically the stretch of Borden Avenue which the Queens Midtown Expressway truss has positively loomed over since 1940, in the beginning of March. I tell you, lords and ladies, that the normal problem here at Newtown Pentacle is not being able to generate images quickly enough. Since I haven’t had as much to do during the pandemic, one thing I’ve kept busy with is shooting photos. I’m a good month ahead of myself these days, which is neat, but as the world starts back up I plan to get a bit more in sync with the seasons and current events.

Fed-Ex, like the other “last mile shipping” companies including Amazon and UPS, have been extremely busy for the last year. They’re also massively expanding their footprint around Newtown Creek. Newtown Creek Alliance recently worked with a graduate student named Geoff Storr on a policy brief about this expansion – which you can check out by clicking here.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Wandering around LIC, one of the things that jumps at me is the absolute sin of the wasted space under the Queens Midtown Expressway section of the Long Island Expressway. Specifically, this is the zone between Van Dam Street and the Queens Midtown Tunnel. Empty, used for illegal parking, illegal dumping, ugly.

There’s gotta be a better way!

A humble narrator is in the early stages of annoying an entirely different branch of the Government than the usual ones about this subject. In this case, the agency of record is the New York State Department of Transportation. I figure that since they’re all done with the Kosciuszcko Bridge project they must be looking for something new to do.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

On my way back to HQ on a particularly pleasant evening, this chunk of construction equipment was noticed. This is part of the same operation which I’ve talked about before, who are working out a contract to bring the crosswalks and corners into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. This involves “rekajiggering” the curb, pouring new concrete for the corner, and installing a “rumble strip” pad to provide tactile feedback to sight compromised or wheelchair users.

It provides me with something to take pictures of, so “win.”

Back tomorrow with more.


“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 12, 2021 at 1:00 pm

shifting hints

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Wednesday… sigh.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

My weekly walk to Dutch Kills, or the “happy hunting grounds” as I call them, allowed for another shot of that tenacious little tree I’m obsessed with. Dutch Kills is a tributary of the larger Newtown Creek, which itself is a tributary of the East River, which is in turn an estuarial tributary where the Hudson River and Long Island Sound combine. Dutch Kills is contained entirely within Long Island City’s Degnon Terminal section, here in Queens.

This area has been my “go-to” for many years, and never so much as during the Pandemic year.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

If my intentions play out this week as planned, I won’t be visiting Dutch Kills, rather I’m out wandering around the City as I’m supposedly fully vaxxed by now – some 14-15 days after the second Pfizer shot made me start to think about X-Boxes all the time.

That little mud flat is part of a NYC DEP experiment in creating wetland environmental plantings here. There’s a few spots on Dutch Kills in which a staggering amount of money was spent in pursuance of planting native speciations, with the hope that it would provide environmental anchoring for shellfish and other critters.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

At the far end of the canal, you find a turning basin, which introduces a “T” shape to the northern extent of Dutch Kills. A turning basin is an area where a ship or tug and barge combination has an opportunity to reverse course by turning their bow to the direction they’re going in, which is a lot more efficient than reversing course.

Back tomorrow.


“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 7, 2021 at 11:00 am

monstrous arch

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Monday gnashes into toothsome view again.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Well, here we are in Long Island City again, wandering about in the depths of a frozen nightscape. For the last year, my personal stations of the cross have included several prominent and photogenic spots here in the still quite industrialized sections of LIC which are surrounded the waters of Newtown Creek and its tributaries. What have I learned during this pandemic year?

First, I’ve learned that my mind has been reduced to jelly and that I now have an attention span which only an insect would be envious of. Secondly, my body has turned to jelly as well, and I’ve put on a bunch of weight which needs shedding. Third, that circumstance is actually far more tenuous in these United States than it should be and that once this crisis is receding in the rear view mirror we need to start addressing that fact. Haven’t we been spending trillions for more than 75 years on National Defense and “readiness” and when the shit hit the fan we couldn’t figure out a way to feed old and poor people during an emergency?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One of the stations of the cross for me has been the Dutch Kills tributary of Newtown Creek, and my search for “it.” I’ve been scanning the water for “it” but haven’t witnessed or photographed any visual phenomena. I have heard inexplicable splashes and seen odd movement in the surface waters, but so far – no “It.”

These shots were captured on a particularly cold night in early February. It was “what the hell am I doing this for” cold. My fingers were numb inside of the gloves I was wearing, and I was wearing a thermal under layer beneath the normal “outside clothes” and filthy black raincoat outer. Marcus Aurelius’s recommendations for a proper life advise one to wear different clothes within the domicile than one does without. This was good stoic advice, even if it has come down to us from a long dead Roman Emperor. A humble narrator offers this – grasping at crumpled up paper towels, stored in your coat pockets during a cold snap, is a quick remedy for warming up the hands. Paper is an excellent insulator.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One looks forward to next week, when the second stage of my COVID vaccination will occur. I’m already making plans for the “after times,” and whereas I never thought that I’d be looking forward to descending down into the sweating concrete bunkers of the MTA to ride the Subway – there you are. One has already ordered and received a new pair of hiking shoes, and the first part of my plans involve stitching back and forth across the East River on its various bridges. I’m going to ride the Roosevelt Island Tram, and visit the Empire State Building Observation deck at night, and do all the “tourist” stuff before the tourists reappear. Probably going to ride on one of those double decker buses too. I’m going to eat at a restaurant and drink beer at a bar.

In short, when this bat escapes his cage…

Note: I’m writing this and several of the posts you’re going to see for the next week at the beginning of the week of Monday, March 15th. My plan is to continue doing my solo photo walks around LIC and the Newtown Creek in the dead of night as long as that’s feasible. If you continue to see regular updates here, that means everything is kosher as far as health and well being. If the blog stops updating, it means that things have gone badly for a humble narrator.


“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

March 15, 2021 at 2:00 pm

terrestrial scenes

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Friday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Concluding a late night scuttle around Long Island City in today’s post, my aching feet were kicking the dust about in the Degnon Terminal section. Pictured above is what I’ve come to refer to as the “Empty Corridor,” a post industrial hellscape of “used to be” and “once was” which has gotten sort of “crimey” during the pandemic year.

I’ve seen young men hammering at padlocks, been circled around by other young fellows, and wandered through what I later realized to be a big money drug transaction hereabouts. Luckily, having lived in NYC all my life, and specifically having grown up during the late 1970’s and 1980’s the maxim of “keep moving” is part of my general mindset. If somebody asks you for a quarter, what they really want is for you to put your hand in your pocket so your defenses are halved. Half of these “mofo’s” would boil you down to sell the elements if they had half a chance, so don’t give them a chance. Keep moving. It’s harder to hit a mobile target than a static one. In the high crime years of my “Ute” I was stabbed, shot at, beat up, and also chased by packs of feral dogs. No, really.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Accordingly, I steered myself past the empty corridor in pursuit of heading over to Hunters Point Avenue to check in on that brave little tree growing out from under a factory found on the shoreline of Newtown Creek’s Dutch Kills tributary which I’ve become obsessed with over the last year.

Along the way, I couldn’t help but crack out a shot or two of a UPS last mile shipping center. Seriously, these folks – along with their competitors at FedEx – have become American Heroes over the last year. The economic picture would be a whole lot different, regionally and nationally, if it wasn’t for the efforts of the people who work for these companies. I’ll also mention the United States Postal Service in the same breath, and the people who work for the Amazon empire.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There’s my little baby. I’ve been paying this little cultivar a lot of attention over the last year. I’m told that it’s likely a “Tree of Heaven” or Ailanthus altissima. It’s the eponymous “a tree grows in Brooklyn” from the 1943 Betty Smith novel, if it is indeed that cultivar. An invasive species native to East Asia, Ailanthus altissima has a life span of 50-100 years and will grow back from its roots even if you cut it down.

Tenacity, bro, tenacity.

Speaking of, tomorrow is the one year anniversary of Darth Cuomo issuing the stay at home Covid order for NYC, on Friday the 13th of 2020.

Note: I’m writing this and several of the posts you’re going to see for the next week at the beginning of the week of Monday, March 8th. My plan is to continue doing my solo photo walks around LIC and the Newtown Creek in the dead of night as long as that’s feasible. If you continue to see regular updates here, that means everything is kosher as far as health and well being. If the blog stops updating, it means that things have gone badly for a humble narrator.


“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

March 12, 2021 at 11:00 am

apoplectic snort

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Thursday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The endless marching about in a limited area constrained by how far I can walk on any given day is about to come to an end, thanks to the forthcoming second shot of vaccine juice I’m set to receive at the end of this month. Holy smokes, I never thought I’d miss the Subway, but there you are.

On the particular evening these shots were gathered, a humble narrator was in Long Island City’s Degnon Terminal zone. That’s Degnon as in Michael Degnon, a late 19th and early 20th century construction czar. Degnon enjoyed several lucrative Government contracts during the 20 years surrounding the year 1900, including installing the masonry cladding of the Williamsburg Bridge towers, completing the construction of the East River IRT tunnels which the 7 line subway runs through (which had been started by William Steinway and then August Belmont), and a massive land reclamation project surrounding the Dutch Kills tributary of Newtown Creek in LIC. The Degnon Terminal, as he called the latter reclamation project, involved a concurrence of rail, road, and water freight infrastructure that was baked into a multi acre campus of gigantic factory buildings. The factories in this area were constructed using an at the time novel construction technique that used lumber “forms” and steel rebar to shape poured concrete into walls. The Loose Wiles biscuit company, Everready Battery, Chicle Gum and other mega factories in LIC were all a part of the Degnon terminal, which was built at the same time that the nearby Sunnyside Yards were being constructed by the Pennsylvania Rail Road Company. The Degnon Terminal had a rail system that interfaced with the Yards, so all of the PRR and their subsidiary Long Island Railroad tracks were de facto networked to it as well.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Every culture since the beginning of civilization has had to develop a system for organizing and concentrating its resources towards some common goal. In Southeast Asia, you’ll find religious institutions which are older than the Roman Empire who still handle the water resovoir and canal delivery systems for rice paddies, for instance. Even the Soviets had a system for concentrating and focusing resources on their projects. In the United States, financial capital is concentrated via bond offerings and stock shares on one end, or by tax receipts and a combination of private and public banking and lending institutions on the other. The Degnon Terminal became a focus point for every sort of investment scenario available at the time.

That building in the shot above, the self storage warehouse with the green accent, used to be the largest part of the nine building General Electric Vehicle Company complex in LIC. That’s where they manufactured electric cars and trucks, in 1915. Like the Degnon Terminal, it was built and funded using private capital, meaning stock or bond market and perhaps commercial bank loans.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The large steel truss in the shot above, however, which transverses the Degnon Terminal high over Borden Avenue was built with public capital and NY State “Authority” issued bonds. It’s the Queens Midtown Expressway section of the larger Long Island Expressway, which became folded into Robert Moses’s TBTA or a Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority (the LIE terminates at the Queens Midtown Tunnel). The funding for this construction was arrived at by the issuance of municipal and TBTA bonds which were offered to investors through the purview of a commercial banking entity. The banks loved Robert Moses, since he always paid his many debts on time. To be fair, Moses was backed up by the river of dimes and nickels collected at the toll plazas of the Triborough Bridge and eventually at the QM Tunnel’s toll plaza.

This pedantry is offered in response to a recent conversation a humble narrator was privy to between some of the self identifying Democratic Socialists of Queens, who seem to think that Socialism means that money – where you get it, how you manage it, who spends it and on what – doesn’t matter and will matter less in their new dialectic. Even the citizens of the Soviet Union paid income taxes, and if the Marxist Leninists in Moscow wanted to build a new tractor factory they had to figure out a way to concentrate their financial and material resources to build the thing. It wasn’t straight up analogous to the Lord of the Flies type of capitalism practiced in the USA, of course, but they had a system.

Everybody has a system, even if it involves enslaving a subject nation to build you a pyramid, or tithing people to finance a cathedral. Socialist countries have central banks, investment methodologies, and an economy.

Note: I’m writing this and several of the posts you’re going to see for the next week at the beginning of the week of Monday, March 8th. My plan is to continue doing my solo photo walks around LIC and the Newtown Creek in the dead of night as long as that’s feasible. If you continue to see regular updates here, that means everything is kosher as far as health and well being. If the blog stops updating, it means that things have gone badly for a humble narrator.


“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

March 11, 2021 at 11:00 am

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