The Newtown Pentacle

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Posts Tagged ‘Grand Central Parkway

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Lurking through Astoria, always in fear.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One attended a presentation by Tom Grech, show runner and the head poobah of the Queens Chamber of Commerce, last week at the offices of Community Board 1 here in Astoria. Tom, whom I’ve known for some time now, described his organization’s operation and history to the gathered members of this particular committee (I’m attending at least one meeting of every CB1 committee in addition to the two I’m actually assigned to – which are environmental and transit). Tom also explored some of the economic conditions, situations, and challenges here in the World’s Borough, and listened to experiential anecdotes from a gathered group which included several local business owners. All in all, a positive and optimistic conversation. The meeting ended, and despite several people offering me a ride home in their automobiles, one opted instead on scuttling back to HQ and photographing interesting sights encountered along the way.

This is my way.

This particular predicate is offered to explain why one such as myself was wandering around the Grand Central Parkway in the late evening recently, as I’m forced these days into excusing and explaining my activities, motivations, and very existence to any random petitioner who might inquire. Advice is often graciously offered to a humble narrator as well by well wishers – about how to right his life, conform to societal norms, or prepare for an uncertain future. A wandering mendicant remain I.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A trench carved out of Astoria carries the Grand Central Parkway, a principal arterial high speed road designed to funnel Manhattan bound automotive traffic – pulsing out of Nassau and Suffolk counties – towards the toll plazas of the Triborough Bridge. According to a 2015 study by the NYC DOT, approximately 165,000 vehicle trips are calculated as occurring along the Grand Central Parkway daily. The Grand Central Parkway is found entirely within the Borough of Queens, is roughly 14.6 miles long, was created in 1936, and its designation as a parkway is due to it once having wooded land on either side of the road that was publicly accessible. A widening project in 1961 eliminated the “park” concept, but the name “parkway” is still used. If I had my way, you’d see this road decked over, with parks built on the local streets grade level.

One was drawing attention to himself while photographing these shots, notably from a Police Officer who was lying in wait for speeding vehicles. There is an air of vulnerability in this section of Astoria, a sense of “nowhere to run or hide,” and the sure knowledge that if trouble arrived you’d be dealing with it all on your own. Well, on this night, I’d have that Cop who was eyeballing me, but… The streets surrounding the Grand Central hereabouts are part of an “IBZ” or Industrial Business Zone, and therefore deserted at night. Damaged throwaways, lunatics, addicts, nefarious ruffians, and social outsiders like myself wander about the area at night. Everywhere do the cyclopean eyes of security cameras scan and record.

It was cold, dark, and I had to make pee pee.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The local street elevation provides an interesting window for a long exposure exploration of how traffic flow patterns play out in the “real world.” In the near future, should those postdeluvian prognostications of the scholarly climatologists come true, this will be the site of a Grand Central Canal, filled with six to ten feet of water. Imagine what sort of battrachian monstrosities will be spotted swimming in its depths of this trench, having migrated out of Long Island Sound and the northern stretches of the East River.

In a century, will we see hundreds of thousands of amphibious watercraft moving to and from Manhattan along this stretch of the Grand Central? What of the tentacled horrors which would lurk in its voluminous murk? Will this be the Astoria Abyss?

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Written by Mitch Waxman

January 13, 2020 at 11:00 am

without warning

with 6 comments

A fairly novel spot found in north western Queens, in today’s post.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As mentioned last week, one enacted a “bat out of hell” protocol when Our Lady of the Pentacle allowed me a brief furlough from a kitchen renovation project here at HQ. My perambulation was committed in an easterly direction along Northern Blvd., which ceases to be pedestrian friendly at 114th street. A northerly turn found me at the intersection of Astoria Blvd. and Ditmars, and since it was a warm afternoon, tree lined Ditmars was the route I elected to take back towards the rolling hills of almond eyed Astoria.

When you say “North Western Queens,” one thinks of jails and airports and power plants and stadiums, and as pictured above – the barrier parkway known as the Grand Central.

There is, however, something else found hereabouts.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Along Ditmars Blvd., this inviting pedestrian path beckons. Signage found at its intersection informs that this is NYC Parks Department property, and a part of the Flushing Meadows Corona complex.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The Worlds Fair Marina is noticed first, a boat basin servicing a fleet of privately owned pleasure craft.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Then, looking to the west and LaGuardia Airport, you observe a part of the Flushing Bay Promenade. Asking around at my local bar, none of the native Astorian lifers even knew this park existed.

Perhaps it’s better known in East Elmhurst, which is the community that hosts it, but my Astoria peeps professed complete ignorance on the subject.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

To the east, something that every Queensican is intimately aware of will be found, the home of our lamentable Mets baseball team at Citifield. Just beyond the stadium are the main sections of Flushing Meadows Corona Park.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

To the west is LaGuardia Airport, and this spot along Flushing Bay was a great location from which to observe the goings on thereabouts.

The NYC Parks Dept. makes this page available at their website, describing the history and rather recent creation of the Flushing Bay Promenade, which is connected to the presence of a large NYC DEP “Combined Sewer Outfall” gray infrastructure project nearby.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

At the western edge of the park was a somewhat natural shoreline, and lots of birds were observed flitting about. Luckily it was high tide when I was visiting, as anyone who has driven along the Grand Central Parkway can describe the sickening rotten egg smell which out gasses from the mud flats here at low tide.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A smallish homeless camp was observed right along the walls of LaGuardia Airport, and there were makeshift shanties and fabric tents arrayed amongst the tree line. I didn’t venture into the area any further than as indicated in the shot above, however, as I avoid taking shots of residences no matter what their status is.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The high speed road known as the Grand Central Parkway, pictured above as seen from within the Flushing Bay Promenade, was constructed in the 1930’s. Part of the Triborough Bridge build out, the Grand Central was widened in the post WW2 period to its current dimensions. Another project from the House of Moses.

Robert Moses was a very clever man who mastered the bureacracy of State, City, and Federal highway systems – earning himself the appellations of both “Master Builder” and “Power Broker.” Moses held near absolute power over highway and bridge building, as well as public housing and parks, for nearly forty years before Governor Nelson Rockefeller ousted him from government in 1974.

The NYC we all know is the City that Moses built.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As with all things government, specificity is key to understanding a thing. The reason that it’s the Grand Central “Parkway,” instead of highway or expressway, are the grassy and wooded medians that run alongside it. Since these medians are titular “parklands,” Moses had broader powers of eminent domain when claiming and remodeling the area to drive a high speed road through it.

Moses also built LaGuardia Airport, incidentally.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Upcoming Tours –

August 2nd, 2015
The Insalubrious Valley of the Newtown Creek – Bushwick & Mapeth Walking Tour
with Newtown Creek Alliance, click here for details and tickets.

August 8th, 2015
13 Steps Around Dutch Kills – LIC Walking Tour
with Atlas Obscura, click here for details and tickets


Written by Mitch Waxman

July 28, 2015 at 12:06 pm

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