The Newtown Pentacle

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Posts Tagged ‘East New York

sometimes awed

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The unknown country, East New York,

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As mentioned yesterday, a drive around East New York was on the schedule recently, which was accomplished with frequent Newtown Pentacle opiner “Cav” (take that George the Atheist). Cav met me in Astoria, in his “automobile” and we motored along the Grand Central Parkway to the Jackie Robinson, or Interborough, Parkway in pursuance of a visit to the legend choked locale of East New York.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As described endlessly, your humble narrator is a feckless quisling and vast physical coward, so leaving Cav’s auto was not on the menu. The murder capital of Brooklyn is not a place where you’d like to be noticed carrying an array of electronics including a highly visible DSLR camera, after all. Apprently, the facility pictured above suffered a fire, which somehow terrified me.

Cav laughed at me and my building sense of terror several times as we drove around the neighborhood, which is an area he knew well in his professional capacity. I’ll let him tell you what he did for a living hereabouts, but suffice to say that he was a Municipal employee.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Cav knew this neighborhood like the back of his hand, accordingly, and pointed out several land marks. He indicated that the building pictured above was once the City Hall of John Pitkin’s East New York, before it was agglutinated into the City of Brooklyn, back in 1886.

Apparently, it’s now simply a residence.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Speaking of residences, the housing stock hereabouts was simply awesome. Unfortunately, the likely plans of City Planning, the NYCEDC, and our Mayor don’t include the people currently living in these structures – nor the structures themselves – in their “rezoning” efforts. East New York, which has had a series of targets painted on it for several generations, is currently being targeted by the “Real Estate Industrial Complex.”

Growing hungry, and knowing that the delicatessens of my youth were only a few miles away, I offered to buy Cav lunch if we headed towards the Flatlands/Canarsie/Mill Basin area. Never one to turn down a free meal, Cav pointed the car in a westerly direction and we headed towards Flatlands Avenue and the neighborhoods with which I can speak about with some authority and personal experience.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

It was along Glenwood and Flatlands, as we headed west past Starret City, that we began to encounter the horror of the now.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

We encountered some of that “affordable housing” which the Mayor is pushing, as mentioned above. Soulless and barren expressions of architectural banality, they surpassed what my pal Kevin Walsh originally christened as “Queens Crap” or “Fedders Specials” more than a decade ago. Looks like NYC is hell bent on not just repeating but magnifying the mistakes we made in the 20th century. Instead of vertical spires of poverty, we’re building horizontal sprawling poverty.

Cav offered that if the Soviets had created housing like this, even Stalin would have had to deal with riots.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Block after block, the sort of architecture “designed to drive people insane” was encountered at the border of eastern Canarsie and East New York.

As mentioned endlessly, your humble narrator emanates from this neighborhood in Brooklyn and there is only one thing that I can say about this sort of construction.

Eff you, de Blasio, eff you.

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Written by Mitch Waxman

January 28, 2016 at 11:00 am

mental images

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It’s an insult to Jackie Robinson, if you ask me.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The Interborough, or Jackie Robinson Parkway if you must, is one of those less well known connecting points between Brooklyn’s East New York and Kew Gardens in Queens which the Manhattan people don’t really care about. It’s New York State Route 908B, and was known as Interborough until 1997. It opened in 1935, was profoundly reworked in the late 1980’s, and is another one of the traffic corridors which crisis cross through the citywide House of Moses.

As a note, my Dad used to curse vehemently whenever our daily round involved the Interborough, and he believed that it’s design was purpose built to populate the many cemeteries through which Team Moses cut it out of. I am not 100% sure that my Pop wasn’t correct about this.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A recent outing with frequent Newtown Pentacle commenter “Cav” saw us careening along the Interborough, traveling as fast as traffic allowed. There are virtually no shoulders on this road, as it is surrounded by the aforementioned cemeteries and a series of steep hills. The parkway is cut through many of these cemeteries, and it’s construction required the disinterment of many graves. If ever there was a haunted highway here in NYC, it would be this one.

The always excellent nycroads.com has a page on the history of the Interborough/Jackie Robinson Parkway, check it out here.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Cav and I were chatting about our January boredom recently, and we decided to visit East New York, which is seldom boring for long. Luckily, he is a dedicated motorist, which meant that we could visit the murder capital of Brooklyn without having to get out of the car – a plus for one such as myself – who is a vast physical coward given to falling into convulsive fits at the slightest hint of danger.

East New York ain’t no joke, yo.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Having grown up in a neighborhood adjacent to East New York (Canarsie/Flatlands area), East New York – incidentally – was the place my friends would threaten to leave you tied up and naked if you were acting like a jackass while drinking, one still maintains a healthy amount of respect for the place and those who can endure it. Again, East New York ain’t no joke.

Of course, since our current Mayor is gaga about “Affordable Housing,” he’s decided East New York is the place to install a large residential population and attempt to gentrify the place. I would point out that rents are fairly affordable in East New York as it is, mainly because it’s the murder capital of Brooklyn, and functionally just about as far from Manhattan as you can get without leaving Brooklyn. It is served by a Subway line, but it’s a LONG commute. I remember taking the L from its terminus in Canarsie, and that was an unbelievably long trip back in the 80’s.

Incidentally, I understand that Jackie Robinson himself – or at least his mortal remains – can be located at Cypress Hills Cemetery nearby exit 3.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One of the things which makes the Interborough so spectacularly dangerous are actually the drives leading out from the cemeteries which line its route. One will not pretend to have any sort of familiarity with East New York, since as mentioned, it was a place to be avoided when I was growing up in 1980’s Brooklyn.

I lived on the Canarsie/Flatlands side of things, and 1980’s Brooklyn was a racially divided community. As you may have guessed, I’m a pale face, and back then there were “dividing lines” and “DMZ’s” between the various ethnic populations hereabouts. 1980’s Brooklyn plainly sucked for this reason.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The Jackie Robinson or Interborough follows the Terminal Moraine of Long Island into a lowland area, the hills formed from the same geologic structure into which the Ridgewood Resovoir was set. There are sub neighborhoods in East New York which are named for said geology – The Hole, for instance, and “Flatlands” is right next door to “Flatbush.”

There used to be a “Stanley Avenue Dip” off Fountain Avenue, which followed the former path of Spring Creek from Jamaica Bay on its way inland. Fountain Avenue is where illegal street racing used to take place, which was quite multiracial, and apocryphal tales offered by the “Utes” of Brooklyn suggested that the sand strewn lots of East New York were a Mafia dumping ground that you didn’t want to ask too many questions about.

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Written by Mitch Waxman

January 27, 2016 at 11:00 am

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