The Newtown Pentacle

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Posts Tagged ‘DSNY

phenomenal boldness

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It’s National Peaches ‘N’ Cream Day, in these United States.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As described yesterday, the Open House NY organization created an event with the NYC Department of Sanitation at the latter’s enormous “General Repair Shop” on 58th street, right on the hazy border between Woodside and Maspeth. The shop handles vehicle maintenance for DSNY and for several other city agencies, as well as building maintenance for the various Sanitation facilities scattered throughout the 5 boroughs.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

It seems that the City’s snow removal equipment takes quite a beating during the winter, and part of the job for the working stiffs here is to recondition and repair it.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The amount and kinds of equipment on display in the various shop sections was staggering, which included the chassis straightener pictured above. A couple of the folks on the tour were mechanics, and they looked like kids in a candy store.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There are multiple floors in the General Repair Shop building, which was erected in 1964.

Everything I’ve shown you so far was from one of the upper floors, which is accessed by the vehicular ramps found on 58th street. Downstairs, we visited several smaller shops, including this one which was dedicated to woodworking.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The section pictured above is a sheet metal, and general metal working, shop.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

An abundance of inventory was available, and I can’t imagine the logistic difficulties of keeping the army of labor employed in this giant facility armed with everything they’d need to do their jobs.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

This lathe caught my eye, if for no other reason than its scale. Apparently, they can fabricate axles for trucks with this gizmo.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The sort of esoteric industrial age equipment found hereabouts was incredible, and the sort of stuff you might be able to find on a WW2 era Navy ship. That’s a “turret lathe” if you’re curious.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

An engine mechanic’s shop was visited, where truck engines were being broken down and rebuilt.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

It goes without mentioning that the Sanitation Department keeps a clean house.

Despite all of this material, and its occupation, the place was clean as a whistle. We were told that the “Commish” had been there earlier in the day, so maybe that’s why, but in my experience the folks who handle our collective mess are generally “obsessive compulsive” about staying clean. Never known an off duty Sanitation worker who wasn’t sweet smelling and perfectly groomed.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Couldn’t resist a close up on those gear heads.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The Open House NY tour lasted a couple of hours, and our last stop was at a “clean room” with a vehicle emissions testing lab. An MTA Bus was secured in place by stout chains, and positioned over steel cylinders set into the flooring.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The bus was actuated, and its engine roared into action. If the wheels had been able to gain purchase, it would have likely been moving at thirty to forty miles an hour.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

All sorts of scientific “tackle” had been attached to its exhaust system, which gathered its emissions and ran it through filtration materials to test what the thing breathes out.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The OHNY tour ended, and we tourists were released back into the darkness of industrial Maspeth. It was time for DSNY to get back to work. Me too, and I had to evacuate the area before the night gaunts and ghasts at the nearby Mt. Zion and Third Calvary Cemeteries realized that I was in the neighborhood after the burning thermonuclear eye of God itself had dipped behind the Shining City of Manhattan.


Upcoming Tours and events

Newtown Creek, Greenpoint to Hunters Point, walking tour with NYCH2O – June 29th, 7-9 p.m..

Experience and learn the history of the western side of Newtown Creek, as well as the East River Parks Hunters Point with NCA Historian Mitch Waxman details here.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

June 21, 2017 at 11:00 am

strict silence

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

– photo by Mitch Waxman

If you found yourself in Queens, between two cemeteries and two highways and at the angle between Woodside and Maspeth (technically Woodside, according to the US Postal Service), at 52-35 58th street – one would be hard pressed not to notice the gargantuan building that’s operated by the NYC Department of Sanitation – which is labeled as being “Department of Sanitation Central Repair Shop.” I’m told that the interior of this industrial facility holds about a million square feet of space, and long have my eyes wished to view that which does transpire within.

The earliest mention I could find of the Central Repair Shop, incidentally, dates back to August of 1955 when the Sanitation Department Commissioner requested that the City Planning Commission include $15 million smackers in their 1956 budget to build the place. The building opened during the tenure of Commissioner Frank J. Lucia, but I’m not certain if he’s the fellow who oversaw its construction.

Wishes come true if you want them hard enough, lords and ladies, for both Commisioners and Humble Narrators.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

You may recall that there was a bit of a hullabaloo here at the Central Repair Shop back in 2011 which made the news.

The building was designed, btw, by the architecture and engineering firm of Fellheimer and Wagner. By me, it’s quite an attractive structure, but I do like my “modernism” and the exterior of this structure would look very much at home if it was found in Batman’s Gotham City.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The purpose of this facility, which opened during the Mayoralty of Robert Wagner and the Borough Presidency of Mario Cariello in August of 1964, is to service the vast fleet of trucks and other heavy equipment used by the Department of Sanitation. Coincidentally DSNY also handles fleet maintenance for several other City agencies here – and you’ll notice examples of the DEP, Buildings, DOT and other municipal fleet vehicles scattered throughout today and tomorrow’s posts.

I was lucky enough to score a ticket to visit this spot on a tour created by the Open House NY outfit.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The Central Repair Shop is immense, with literally hundreds of heavy trucks occupying maintenance bays almost as far as the eye could see. Before you ask – no, it didn’t smell. All the garbage trucks receive a power wash before they enter the building, and there was an elaborate ventilation system in place which vented the shop floors.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I didn’t catch his last name, but the fellow with the shaved head pictured above was named Bob, and he was one of the managers of the shop building. He conducted the tour for the OHNY group, which hosted a fairly substantial number of folks. As is usually the case with such tours, everybody was waving around expensive camera setups.

Given the amount of low light photography which a humble narrator has been engaging in during recent years, I surmised two things rather quickly – a) I was going to have to use a flash and b) wide open apertures weren’t going to cut it in here given the levels of foreground detail and long sight lines. I angled my flash at the white ceiling for “bounce light,” and set the camera to f5.6 at ISO 6400 for pretty much the whole endeavor.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The lighting situation was complex within the Central Repair Shop, with combinations of sodium and flourescent overhead light fixtures above and street facing windows carrying in bright sunlight. Coupling that with metallic and reflective surfaces that ran the entire spectrum from black to white, the flash provided a fill light that brought everything together under one overarching color temperature. The narrowed aperture allowed for a certain hyper focal distance to be achieved.

Normally, I’d just shoot using ambient light and a wide open lens (f2.8 or faster) but that wasn’t going to work this time around. When the shots came off of the camera, they required a bit of tweaking, contrast and color temperature wise.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Saying all that, I’ve personally never seen a garbage truck up on a lift before.

More tomorrow from inside the Department of Sanitation’s Central Repair Shop, at this – your Newtown Pentacle.


Upcoming Tours and events

Newtown Creek, Greenpoint to Hunters Point, walking tour with NYCH2O – June 29th, 7-9 p.m..

Experience and learn the history of the western side of Newtown Creek, as well as the East River Parks Hunters Point with NCA Historian Mitch Waxman details here.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

June 20, 2017 at 11:00 am

mongrel riff-raff

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It’s National Caramel Popcorn Day.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One possesses more than a single camera, and a couple of the older models are really starting to show their age, just like me. The Canon G10 is an old friend, but it’s outer shell is being held on and together by gaff tape these days and it doesn’t get to leave the house anymore. The actual functioning of the thing is still fine, including the superb (for a point and shoot) macro feature of its lens. I’ve got the thing more or less permanently affixed to a magnetic tripod dealie which allows for a firm footing on any thing ferrous, like my stainless steel kitchen countertop. I’ve been working on these tabletop macro shots off and on whenever I’m stuck at home due to weather, and just the other day realized that I hadn’t copied any of the photos off the G10’s memory card since about January.

Thus… a few random shots that I popped off while hanging around at home.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The G10 isn’t just a macro camera, of course, and that magical magnetic tripod mentioned above is perfect for clamping down to a fence or sill. One night, a DSNY street sweeper decided to take a break on my corner in Astoria, and since the G10 was handy… the shot above resulted.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The problem with using multiple rigs is that unless it’s the day to day work camera – in my case a DSLR – you tend to forget about non deadline oriented shots like the one of this tomato above. I’ve evolved the little kit utilized for doing this as well, and will talk about that the next time I present a big pile of macro shots to you.


Upcoming Tours and events

First Calvary Cemetery walking tour, May 6th.

With Atlas Obscura’s Obscura Day 2017, Calvary Cemetery Walking Tour – details and tix here.

MAS Janeswalk free walking tour, May 7th.

Visit the new Newtown Creek Alliance/Broadway Stages green roof, and the NCA North Henry Street Project – details and tix here.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

April 6, 2017 at 11:00 am

swarthy foreigners

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It’s National Clams on the Half Shell Day, in these United States.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

So… right after that last snow event we had a couple of weeks ago, I saw something utterly unique in my experience as a New Yorker. I’m almost a half century old at this stage, and one has never – NEVER – observed the Department of Sanitation do anything but plow the vehicular section of the streets in Brooklyn or Queens. This year, however, they were out in force – in Astoria, Queens – clearing the curbs and walkways of snow.

Wha, wha, what?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

DSNY had this neat little bobcat doohickey, which they were using to mash up and disassemble the berms of ice and snow which had piled up along the sidewalk and curb boundary area. I noticed this as it was happening directly under my bedroom window, which woke up both my little dog Zuzu and Our Lady of the Pentacle.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

They were actually clearing the streets! The slush lagoons too.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

“Welcome to Queens, now go fuck yourself” is the borough motto most of the time around these parts. Snow clearance has been a political thorn for Queensican Electeds, going back to the days of Mayor John Lindsay, but seldom is anything improved. Not in 2016.

Maybe this gentrification thing has its benefits, after all.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A few hours later, around four in the morning (yes, I was still up and awake at four a.m.), another DSNY crew rolled through. This time they were shoveling pathways at the crosswalks. What has happened? Am I in some parallel reality? Is this a dream?

Is Trump still President? Was that just some sort of fevered vision?


Upcoming Tours and events

MAS Janeswalk free walking tour, May 7th.

Visit the new Newtown Creek Alliance/Broadway Stages green roof, and the NCA North Henry Street Project – details and tix here.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

March 31, 2017 at 11:00 am

most conclusive

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It’s National “I Want Butterscotch Day,” in these United States.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Owing to other obligations and piss poor weather conditions for the last couple of weeks, one hasn’t got anything new to show you for this week. Accordingly, it has been decided to instead present a few archive shots of the various branches of NYC government which make life liveable for us here in “Home Sweet Hell.”

Today, the focus is on DSNY – the stolid Sanitation Department of New York City.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Spending as much time as I do in meetings with government employees, the habit of pronouncing abbreviations phonetically has crawled into my speech pattern and I’ve found myself calling Sanitation “DSNY” with a spoken pronunciation of “DISNEY.” This confuses the heck out of normal people, as I’ll often refer to “DISNEY” performing street cleaning tasks or picking up garbage or their recycling and mulching programs. They picture Mickey and Goofy.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As essential as police and fire, DSNY is the only reason that NYC doesn’t suffocate under a mountain of trash and garbage everyday. We are a sloppy group, we New Yorkers. My recollection is that these cats collect up something like eleven and change tons of trash a day, which is translocated out of the City in short order.

I’ve asked where all the trash goes, and I’ve been told that they can’t tell me because of “homeland security” reasons.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Of particular interest, given the recent spate of wintry weather, is the DSNY’s snow removal and roadway winter maintenance programs. They salt, and scrape, and plow away the ice so that the rest of us can make it to work. If you want more days off from work, convince the Mayor to reduce DSNY’s funding. Of course, you might die from a preventable disease due to the piles of garbage if you do.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

February 15, 2017 at 11:00 am

Posted in Photowalks

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were related

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Where do they get all those wonderful toys?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As mentioned, one had a series of obligations last weekend causing an absence at HQ. Saturday, I conducted a walking tour for Newtown Creek Alliance exploring the more populous sections of Newtown Creek along the East River. Sunday, NCA was engaged in an event at the North Brooklyn Boat Club (I’ll tell you about that one tomorrow) and after that concluded – my lonely walk home carried me through Hunters Point and the western end of the Queensboro Bridge complex.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

It’s a fairly complex operation, getting a decent shot under Queensboro. Sepulchral shadow cast by the bridge itself is coupled with the crazily bright light pouring in from the surface roads surrounding it. The City uses a few of the areas under the bridge for vehicle and equipment storage, and as an assembly workshop for municipal projects.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

This particular scuttle under the bridge revealed that the DOT (presumptively) is assembling street benches here, currently. These aren’t the street benches of my youth, of course, which were the concrete and wood affairs that you’ll still commonly observe in City Parks. These are the new fancy metal jobs. The old school ones once lined the avenues and boulevards of NYC, but were largely removed sometime during the Koch administration to discourage their usage by the homeless.

For one reason or another, the City government has always been obsessed with discouraging vagrants from sitting down or napping, and with persecuting skate boarders. Bicycles on the sidewalk – that’s fine. Go figure.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

On a similar note, last week I discovered where the DSNY Litter baskets are kept. A huge number of brand spanking new ones were observed on North Henry street in Greenpoint. Luckily, they haven’t been brought into service yet, as that would mess them up.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Upcoming Tours –

May 3, 2015 –
DUBPO, Down Under the Pulaski Bridge Onramp
with Newtown Creek Alliance Historian Mitch Waxman, a free tour offered as part of Janeswalk 2015, click here for tickets.

May 31, 2015 –
Newtown Creek Boat Tour
with Working Harbor Committee and Newtown Creek Alliance Historian Mitch Waxman, click here for tickets.

not so small

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Enough is enough.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One’s path led to Blissville recently, as it often does. Perambulating down Greenpoint Avenue in the direction of the Long Island Expressway on a singularly lovely afternoon. the abundances of illegally placed advertising signs adorning lamp post and utility poles finally forced me to start taking notice of and commenting on it. This is flat out illegal, and DSNY (Sanitation) is responsible for the prosecution and policing of such matters. If this was a graffiti tagged sticker on a Manhattan phone booth, they would have long ago ended the perpetrator, but this is Queens… so you know… go fuck yourself. That’s our Borough Motto, you know – “Welcome to Queens, now go fuck yourself.”

Cash for any car indeed.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The Cash for Any Cars signs are everywhere. I’ve torn down a few dozen personally, mainly on the block where HQ is located. Luckily, I spotted this secondary advertisement for a company that actually prints the god damned things on a utility pole. One has no evidence to back this up, but the proximity and arrangement of the Cash for Any Car sign alongside the Caristo Printing one suggests to me that they were likely placed together and in conjunction.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

If you are as sick of seeing “signs just like this one” as I am, mayhap you’d want to contact Caristo Printing and let them know how you feel about their illegal advertising on the streets of Queens and or their complicity in the “Cash for Any Cars” signs. If you’re truly beside yourself about these abrogations of the public space, perhaps you’d like to complain about them to your elected officials and the various powers and potentates of the City of Greater New York. If you are an elected official or a regulatory officer, perhaps you’d like to address a letter or two to this printing company about “signs just like this one.”

Alternatively, there’s always “welcome to Queens, now go fuck yourself”.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

November 14, 2014 at 11:00 am

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