The Newtown Pentacle

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Posts Tagged ‘Grand Central Terminal

labyrinths impelled

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Heading home.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I won’t lie, my broken toe was really starting to smart when walking down the marble staircases at Grand Central Terminal. I’d been on my feet shooting for around 4 hours at this point, and whereas flat ground and standing still has become normal again, stairs and in particular walking down stairs seems to aggravate the still inflamed nest of rubber bands (tendons and ligaments) and the busted piece of chalk (the broken bone) in my left foot and big toe.

Interestingly, when I had it x-rayed, the medical folks referred to it as “the great toe” but there really isn’t anything that great about it. It’s funny, we have special names for all the fingers, but toes are just toes in the common tongue.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I made a special effort to find and use escalators on my journey into the deep. It seems that most people don’t understand the purpose of these devices and insist on running or walking down the moving steps. Seriously, I’m never in that much of a hurry given my nearly pathological need to show up early or on time with 15 minutes to spare for an appointment or obligation. Said pathology tends to negate and defeat the vagaries of mass transit.

In this case, however, I really couldn’t care less how long it would take to get back to Queens, as I was one stop away and would need to transfer anyway on the better side of the river anyway.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A quick transfer to the N at Queensboro Plaza and soon I was back in Astoria.

A ten minute walk from 31st street, with a stop at the Pizza guy, and a humble narrator was limping in the front door with a full camera card worth of new images to noodle around with. Dare I say it, Lords and Ladies?

Back in session.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle


Come on a tour!

With Atlas ObscuraInfrastructure Creek! My favorite walking tour to conduct, and in a group limited to just twelve people! December 14th, 1:30-3:30 p.m.

Click here for more information and tickets!

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

November 29, 2019 at 11:00 am

diminished perceptibly

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Happy Thanksgiving.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

After a couple of hours spent along the urban corridors surrounding Grand Central Terminal, one acceded to the ideation of “not overdoing it” regarding my broken toe, and began making my way towards the entrances at the western side of Grand Central Terminal in pursuance of boarding a subway which would carry me back to the rolling hills of raven tressed Astoria back in Queens. Along the way, I couldn’t resist cracking out a few more shots.

The one above involved a bit of cheating. It’s actually two exposures blended together, with one set for the Chrysler building and surrounding background and the other for the brightly lit entrance to Grand Central Terminal.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There’s a fancy pants skyscraper going up on the corner of Vanderbilt Place and 42nd street, the same one which I’ve been complaining about as ruining the fine silhouette of the Chrysler Building on the Manhattan skyline. As is the case with any construction job, even at night there’s a ton of activity going on.

Since I was about to enter the MTA properties again, and they have fairly iron clad rules about cameras, tripods, and so on… I broke down the kit I’d been using out on the streets and stored it away in my camera bag. The camera was then adorned with the sort of gear which isn’t forbidden by the MTA rules and I headed inside Grand Central Terminal.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Couldn’t resist capturing the cliche phot above, a time exposure which renders anybody not standing perfectly still as a shadowy phantom moving through the frame.

Often will I ponder about this sort of thing. Yes, it’s been done before, and thousands of times at that. Thing is, I haven’t done it before, so should I not do it? Is there nothing to be learned by capturing a familiar and quite “tourist” shot?


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle


Come on a tour!

With Atlas ObscuraInfrastructure Creek! My favorite walking tour to conduct, and in a group limited to just twelve people! December 14th, 1:30-3:30 p.m.

Click here for more information and tickets!

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

November 28, 2019 at 11:00 am

relief party

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Grand Central Terminal at night.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As detailed in prior posts, a fairly serious crush injury and subsequent broken bone within the big toe of my left foot has been getting in the way of my normal activities, and a humble narrator has had to think strategically about how to continue working behind the camera while conserving my steps. Given that I normally ignore anything “The City” except the shorelines of Manhattan, and that the entire transit system is “Manhattancentric,” it seems that I’m going to be visiting the Shining City a bit more than normal in the coming weeks. Hell.

The particular outing detailed in this week’s Newtown Pentacle involves a ride on the 7 train through LIC and into Manhattan while recording some of those landmark structures overlooked in favor of the outlier areas that are normally inhabited by one such as myself. That’s Grand Central Terminal, quite obviously, in the shot above.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Now – during my art school days in Manhattan, at the School of Visual Arts, my focus wasn’t on photography. I was an illustration and cartooning major, and if you saw a young but already humble narrator in these parts pursuing his craft it would have involved a sketchbook. I’d always have one with me, and would often find a place to sit down and start drawing. I had friends who were majors in the photo and fine arts programs, and would sometimes run into them wandering around with film camera setups or behind an easel with a canvas on it “working from life.” In the 1980’s, it was a fairly common sight to see artists at work all over NYC.

Based on the looks and stares I was receiving from the modern populace, it is apparent that seeing artsy fartsy folk doing their thing is no longer a common sight in the Shining City. Seemingly, the only people who live in Manhattan these days are either millionaires or homeless. As a note, the crazy pants and or clown shoes crowd seem to like hanging about the Grand Central area as well. Guess they’ve been booted out of their traditional hunting grounds in the Union Square and Penn Station zones.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Speaking of art school, one drawing class which I remember fondly was one where we’d disperse into Grand Central and do quick three minute drawings of people. Now, 1980’s Grand Central wasn’t what it is today. Back then, it was hive of scum and villainy, and was colloquially known as the world’s largest homeless shelter. If you liked the crack, or the needle, it was likely that you were sleeping in, on, or around Grand Central Terminal. The structure itself was in a horrible state of repair. Squalid, dirty, nasty. Back then, you could still smoke inside of public buildings in NYC, and a pall of tobacco smoke hung about. The lower levels were the worst, and quite dangerous to hang around.

A buddy of mine claims to have visited the so called “condos” which the MTA swears up and down as having never existed. These were makeshift residences in side tunnels and accessways created by “morlocks” or “mole people” who never saw the burning thermonuclear eye of god itself wheeling about in the sky.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle


Come on a tour!

With Atlas ObscuraInfrastructure Creek! My favorite walking tour to conduct, and in a group limited to just twelve people! December 14th, 1:30-3:30 p.m.

Click here for more information and tickets!

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

November 27, 2019 at 11:00 am

lamenting bitterly

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More 7 train shenanigans.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

For the shot above, it took three attempts to get what I was looking for. I had to time the exposure so that I clicked the shutter roughly ten seconds before the 7 left the station, which gave me the open doors and some detail on the exterior of the train set. The twenty seconds that followed saw the doors close and the 7 leaving the station, hence the streaks of light from its running lights.

This shot was of the sort I had in mind when I set out from HQ in Astoria, on my “not too much walking” photo walk. That busted toe is still a factor.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I rode the 7 into the City, and debarked at the Grand Central stop. This platform can be referred to as “Grand Central Station” as it’s not the final stop for the subways rolling through it. The grand old building it sits under is Grand Central Terminal, indicating it as the destination for the rolling stock used by Metro North. The 7 has two terminal stops, one in Flushing out in Queens, and the other at Hudson Yards on Manhattan’s west side. I’m not nerdy about trains, but specificity is important when discussing any subject in an intelligent manner.

“Revenue service,” as in carrying paying customers, began in this station on the 22nd of June in 1915. Back then, the 7 was a short run, transiting between LIC’s Vernon Jackson and Grand Central. It wasn’t until November of 1916 that the trains began going to Queensboro Plaza, and the Flushing Line extension (to Alburtis Avenue) didn’t open until April of 1917. Times Square was reached in 1927, and 1928 is when the 7 reached Flushing. 2015 is when the Hudson Yards stop opened.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Upon arriving on the streets of Manhattan, a humble narrator hit the streets and changed the camera’s setup over to a proper tripod and a better lens configuration. My plan for the night was to try and keep both the Chrysler Building and Grand Central Terminal in frame and never stray too far from “Da Deuce,” or 42nd street for those of you not from “here.”

The broken toe thing, and I’ve got at least another month of healing ahead of me, means that one has to keep the scuttling to a minimum and really work the hell out of a spot when I’ve arrived at it. I can hear industrial Maspeth calling, but I dare not answer for a few weeks. In the meantime, the Shining City is sitting there like some kind of cheap whore, just waiting to be exploited.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle


Come on a tour!

With Atlas ObscuraInfrastructure Creek! My favorite walking tour to conduct, and in a group limited to just twelve people! December 14th, 1:30-3:30 p.m.

Click here for more information and tickets!

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

November 26, 2019 at 11:00 am

sighing uncannily

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– photo by Mitch Waxman

A personal theory of mine is that the garden of Eden was actually in midtown Manhattan, specifically the central section of 42nd street. The location where the proverbial tree of good and evil would have been observed in the dim past is the spot where Grand Central Terminal’s information booth will be found today, which is why the clock of the four cardinal directions was placed there. In this rather ridiculous assertion, my theory of what the primordial mother realized when eating the forbidden fruit was not awareness of her nakedness- but rather an awareness of time passing. The Vanderbilts placed the clock there to signify both location and event, I would wager.

from wikipedia

The main information booth is in the center of the concourse. This is a perennial meeting place, and the four-faced clock on top of the information booth is perhaps the most recognizable icon of Grand Central. Each of the four clock faces is made from opal, and both Sotheby’s and Christie’s have estimated the value to be between $10 million and $20 million. Within the marble and brass pagoda lies a “secret” door that conceals a spiral staircase leading to the lower level information booth.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Time grows short, lords and ladies, an unstoppable river flowing toward oblivion and the embrace of the conqueror worm. Your humble narrator would love to tell you of some epic summer journey this day, a break from the daily grind, but even if I had somewhere to travel to- who would greet me upon arrival? Surely, one such as myself- a shambling and feckless quisling, physical coward, and unreliable lunatic- would be shunned by a sensible and sober local gentry wherever and whenever my shadow is cast.

from wikipedia

The Seth Thomas Clock Company began producing clocks in 1813, and was incorporated as the “Seth Thomas Clock Company” in 1853. The clock at Grand Central Terminal in New York City was manufactured by the company. Seth Thomas Clock Company manufactured longcase clocks as well as mantel, wall, and table-top clocks during this period.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Exertions of the last few months have worn me down, and left me naught but a reactive shell. A brief surcease of the incessant duties and exhibitions recently performed in obeisance to my beloved Newtown Creek is finally at hand, but as mentioned- I have no where to go. The idea of sitting alongside some vernal water body, or simply communing with an uncorrupted form of the natural world, fills one with dread. Vacations, as they are called, are for others to enjoy- I must remain locked in combat with an eternal and undying human hive and remain consigned to the concrete devastations of a post industrial dystopia.

from nytimes.com

Several times a day, riders troop into the stationmaster’s office in Grand Central Terminal to complain. Even the four faces of the signature brass clock above the information booth in the main concourse, irate riders often point out, are different.

The culprit is not the clocks themselves but something that resembles a giant filing cabinet, tucked away in a closet above one of the Beaux-Arts terminal’s platforms. It is a 15-year-old master clock system, with dials in the middle and two digital displays.

It connects each day at 3 a.m. by shortwave radio signal with the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s atomic clock in Boulder, Colo., and then sends electrical impulses to the terminal’s 20-some historic clocks.

The problem is, the electromechanical devices in the terminal’s master clock system that are sending these signals are becoming increasingly unreliable, making the clocks inaccurate. What’s more, the time displayed on video monitors throughout the terminal is controlled by a different system, not tied to the atomic clock at all.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Unlike the Vanderbilts, who literally wrote a check when presented with the bill for Grand Central Terminal, my finances continue to be perilous. A disaster as simple as needing a new pair of shoes or a camera repair would sink this Humble Commodore’s fleet, and the frivolity of spending what little cash there is on some diversionary trip is overshadowed by the term “shelter in place”. Better that I just treat those hallucinations which occur when unconsciousness seizes me as my summer getaway.

from grandcentralterminal.com

The plan was expensive. The railroad needed to invest in electrifying its rails, and carve deep into Manhattan’s bedrock (workers would ultimately excavate 2.8 million cubic yards of earth and rock). The solution to the projected $80 million project budget (roughly $2 billion in today?s terms) came from Wilgus as well. Without steam engines, there was no longer a need for an open rail yard. Wilgus proposed that the area from 45th to 49th Streets be paved over and that real estate developers be allowed to erect buildings over the concealed tracks. In exchange for this privilege, developers would pay a premium to the New York Central Railroad for “air rights.” Construction in the years immediately after the completion of Grand Central Terminal would include apartment buildings like the Marguery, the Park Lane, and the Montana, and hotels including the Barclay, the Chatham, the Ambassador, the Roosevelt, and finally the Waldorf-Astoria, completed in 1931. (For many years, hydraulic tanks in the basement of Grand Central Terminal supplied power to these buildings.)

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The odd condition afflicts me on a daily basis (approximately every sixteen to eighteen hours- muscle fatigue and mental confusion begin to manifest, followed by a sudden loss of consciousness and concurrently some six to seven hours are spent caught up in the throws of wild hallucinations. Upon regaining control of my body, odd smells and trails of dried spittle combine with a lack of coordination and a stunted mental capacity. During these periods of involuntary separation from conscious control over my mind and body, oddly, I’ve noticed that my fingernails grow prodigiously), and has since early childhood. it has long been my habit to lock myself away in a protected chamber here at Newtown Pentacle HQ in Queens when the warning signs of this debilitating malady present- far from the dangers of the greater human infestation in a long ago “paradise lost” which is now vulgarly called Manhattan.

from wikipedia

Extending between Sunnyside, Queens, and Grand Central, the project will route the LIRR from its Main Line through new track connections in Sunnyside Yard and through the lower level of the existing 63rd Street Tunnel under the East River. In Manhattan, a new tunnel will begin at the western end of the 63rd Street Tunnel at Second Avenue, curving south under Park Avenue and entering a new LIRR terminal beneath Grand Central.

Current plans call for 24-trains-per-hour service to Grand Central during peak morning hours, with an estimated 162,000 passenger trips to and from Grand Central on an average weekday. Connections to AirTrain JFK at Jamaica Station in Jamaica, Queens, will facilitate travel to John F. Kennedy International Airport from the East Side of Manhattan.

A new LIRR train station in Sunnyside at Queens Boulevard and Skillman Avenue along the Northeast Corridor (which the LIRR uses to get into Pennsylvania Station) will provide one-stop access for area residents to Midtown Manhattan. The station may spur economic development and growth in Long Island City.

Written by Mitch Waxman

August 8, 2012 at 1:34 am

impelling fascination

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– photo by Mitch Waxman

Long time readers will recognize the shot above from a January 2012 posting entitled “Hermes Trismegistus“, which describes the great statue which adorns the Vanderbilt Rail Palace known as “Grand Central Terminal” in Manhattan.

Recent adventure carried me to the place, where I found myself with an uncommon view of the Tiffany Clock which bejewels the carving.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Inside of it.

More on this in a posting next week, but I can’t just sit on these shots without sharing them. The clock face itself is pretty enormous.

A simple image search will show this to hardly be a unique photo, but regardless, this was a thrilling place to visit.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There is a chamber back here, of masonry and exposed steel, which the clock is mounted into. The number six on the clock’s face is a window outfitted with a hinge. This wasn’t “urban exploration”, incidentally, my presence here was sanctioned.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

This is what Park Avenue looks like from the clock at Grand Central Station, that’s Union Square in the distance. Click the image to check out larger views at flickr.

More next week.

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July 22nd, 2012 NEXT SATURDAY

Working Harbor Committee Newtown Creek Boat Tour

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July 13, 2012 at 2:18 am

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