The Newtown Pentacle

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forgotten sculptor

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Friday, again.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A recent daylight perambulation found a humble narrator in DUGABO, Down Under the Greenpoint Avenue Bridge Onramp, in the Blissville section of Long Island City. The bridge crosses the fabulous Newtown Creek, and provides a concrete manifestation of the currently undefended border of Brooklyn and Queens. Famously, the so called “garbage train” is assembled at the LIRR’s Blissville rail yard, and is normally hauled about by locomotive engines painted with the brand colors of the New York & Atlantic outfit. This bluebird GATX unit was a surprise, but my beloved Creek is never entirely predictable. The street down here is dubbed “Railroad Avenue” aptly.

GATX, as it turns out, is an 1898 vintage corporate entity based in Chicago that leases rail equipment on several continents and also has a sideline in aviation heavy equipment. If you want to take a deep dive, here’s their site.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The signal bells began clanging and the train started moving eastwards along the Lower Montauk tracks. As you can see in the shot above, somebody has set up housekeeping under the bridge, having constructed a shelter/shanty out of shipping palettes and other industrial leave behinds. As of yet, I haven’t talked to this fellow, but I already like him since he’s got quite a collection of cats living with him.

Thrilling is how I describe the sensation of seeing freight rail moving around at street grade in NYC. Once common, there are so few places where you see this these days… this train and it’s box cars of garbage remove hundreds of long distance truck trips every day from our roads.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Blissville’s Railroad Avenue offers quite a gallery of street art/graffiti- if you’re into that sort of thing. The building just behind the locomotive used to be a lead factory, although in recent years it’s also been home to a company that worked with plastics. These days it’s a warehouse, with a tire shop on the Review Avenue facing side.

There’s quite a bit of industrial/commercial activity going on down here in DUGABO. The N.Y. Paving Company has an enormous property where they manage a fleet of hundreds of heavy construction vehicles and store sand, gravel, and other tools of their trade. Across the street at the former HQ of the Tidewater Pipeline Company, later called the Lukoil Getty terminal, the busy Broadway Stages outfit handles movie and tv productions for Hollywood. There’s also a self storage company housed in a factory building that used to be the home of BG Pickles.

Back next week with more, at this – your Newtown Pentacle.


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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.

designs graven

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Wednesday is a shocking realization, to some.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

My beloved Creek. Unfortunate truths for the wandering mendicant and itinerant photographer include the fact that if you want to accomplish a shot of something you have to go get it, and the weather be damned. That’s why I often find myself out in storms, heat waves, or cold snaps. Luckily, I’ve learned how to be prepared for the inclement. On the evening revolving about getting the shot above, it had just finished snowing and the air temperature was in the high 20’s. It was also fairly windy, and quite uncomfortable despite my having worn several layers of insulating garments beneath the filthy black raincoat.

Truth be told, what lured me out of HQ was the presence of snow on the ground, and the visual possibilities thereof. Part of my governance, philosophy wise, is to only shoot things as I encounter them. No set ups, no lights, no “move it a few inches into frame” or any other alteration to circumstance is allowed. Trust in the Newtown Creek and especially the Borough of Queens, they’ll show you something interesting every time.

Of course, on this particular evening I was crossing Newtown Creek on the Kosciuszcko Bridge and heading into Brooklyn – Greenpoint specifically.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Graffiti truck is still sitting down there, in Greenpoint, so at least there’s some consistency left in this world. One thing about smashing about in industrial zones in the dead of night is that you want to pick your path carefully. Twist your ankle or fall in a hole on a Friday night, it won’t be until early Monday morning that somebody shows up and notices you. When snow is fresh and ice has newly formed, I will often leave the house with a cane in hand. The third point of contact with the ground changes your walking equation when it’s slippery.

Ideally, when my physical degeneracy and advancing age have robbed me of such mobility, I’d like to ride around in something resembling the Martian Tripods from Wells’ War of the Worlds. Scaled down to a two seater, my commuter tripod would be referred to as the “mobile oppression platform” and be street legal to park in front of HQ. Wait till the bike people see the tripods, huh?

Two wheels good, four wheels bad, but what’s best is three legs with a heat ray that can melt armored vehicles on the ground and cook war planes out of the sky.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One debarked the Kosciuszcko Bridge, found a semi private spot to release some water back into the environment which I had been internally filtering since leaving Astoria, and looped around to the Greenpoint Avenue Bridge crossing of Newtown Creek about 3/4 of a mile west of the larger Kosciuszcko. One thing about the Annum Pandemicum which is seldom commented upon, except by me seemingly, is the nagging problem of human biology versus these sanitarian prophylaxis rules. Where do you piss?

As a bloke, this isn’t too much of an issue for me. There’s always a couple of trucks you can find some temporary privacy between. The old system, wherein you’d walk into a diner or something and order a cuppa joe and ask to use the terlet doesn’t exist anymore due to the COVID rules.

Me? I’ve been painting the town yellow for the last year. You?

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 17, 2021 at 11:00 am

great purgation

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Greenpoint, in today’s post.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As mentioned in prior posts, I have no idea as to how the medallion yellow taxi people are going to survive CoronAmerica. They were taking a real beating from the ride share business, as well as predatory financial speculators, before all this started. Here on Provost Street, nearby a taxi company’s HQ, there are hundreds and hundreds of these normally busy vehicles just sitting idle. At a similar facility closer to home in LIC, I noticed that many of the cabs had their medallions removed from the bonnet or hood plate, no doubt for safekeeping or possibly to oblige some obscure regulation.

One didn’t intend to spend much time here in Brooklyn, I was just looping through Greenpoint and circumnavigating the sewer plant on my way back to Queens after walking over the Pulaski Bridge. Incidentally, they’ve changed the name of the sewer plant again. It’s now the Newtown Creek Wastewater Resource Recovery Facility. Accordingly, from now on I’m just going to refer to it as “the sewer plant in Greenpoint” or something similar. Can you imagine being the person who answers the phone at someplace called “Newtown Creek Wastewater Resource Recovery Facility”?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

“Supply lines,” that’s what I was thinking while grabbing a shot of this semi tractor trailer truck parked opposite the sewer plant in Greenpoint. The “human factor” of our supply lines is something I worry about all the time. You can offer a long haul trucker all the money in the world to make a run, but he’s still going to have to convince his wife that it’s worth the risk for making the run into NYC. Our Lady of the Pentacle is British, and she receives a series of worried missives from friends and family overseas whenever a news report airs describing the center of the pandemic as being in Queens and literally two subway stops away from where we reside. The lurid newscasts are presenting us living in a war zone, here in the City. Can’t imagine how the rest of the country is reacting towards all of our bad news, and “supply chain” or “trucker’s wife” wise, what the effect of that will be.

Will our supply of Soy Milk be interrupted?

The truck carries the corporate branding of a company called Sunland Distribution, a Florida based company specialized in temperature controlled shipping.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One continued back towards Astoria, marching across the Greenpoint Avenue Bridge into LIC’s Blissville section. There seems to be a bit of bulkhead reconstruction going on at what was once part of the Mobil refinery on the Brooklyn side of Newtown Creek. ExxonMobil still maintains an operation or two just up the Creek from here, which are dedicated to operations revolving around the recovery of the Greenpoint Oil Spill.

More of the outside world tomorrow, at this – your Newtown Pentacle.

Note: I’m writing this and several of the posts you’re going to see for the next week at the end of the week of Monday, April 6th. 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 as we move into April and beyond, 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.

pitiable tones

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My Creek always welcomes my triskaidekaphobia.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Shlep, shlep, shlep. That’s my game. As an old Christmas cartoon used to musically opine – “put one foot in front of the other, and soon you’ll be walking out the door.” Why it is that when I leave the house I inevitably end up in places like this is somewhat mysterious. What draws a creature like me out into the public sphere in the first place, as I belong in a catacomb or dungeon awaiting unwary travelers like some great spider? All interaction with others is strained and painful for me. My countenance causes children to cry, dogs to yelp, and induces startled reactions from adults. When I begin to speak, the croaking notes and gurgling exhalations are often described as being scented by and carried aloft on a bilious breeze. If I could get away with it, I’d wear naught but prophet’s robes, but come close with the filthy black raincoat and hooded black sweatshirt. Every now and then I catch a reflection of myself in a shop window and even I’m scared at what I see.

I’ve arrived at an age where pieces are about to start falling off as if I’m some sort of a biblical leper. Truly objectionable am I, ask anyone. God hates me, but to be fair, that’s probably my fault.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

People have always enjoyed making an example of me, or holding me to a higher standard than others despite my low social status. As a child, I’d be sitting in a school auditorium reading a book quietly while my classmates were all acting like irradiated monkeys and pyromaniacs. The Principal would surmount the stage and scream “WAXMAN” into the loudspeaker, whereupon my daily humiliations would resume.

I can’t help it that I stand out. I was born this way. These experiences, and many more, have caused me to become quite “vengeance” based in my thinking. I’m going to make the world pay, and pay dearly, for what’s been done to me.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

My beloved Newtown Creek is the same way – reviled, ruined, lonely, lost. She and I have an understanding with each other, and since we are kindred spirits, the Creek never disappoints when I’m visiting. I feel like I should throw in a “verily” here.

Look at my sweetie, the way she opened the Greenpoint Avenue Bridge for me just as I happened to be passing by. She’s a good old girl, the Newtown Creek.

Enjoy your Friday the 13th, lords and ladies, especially so since there’s a full moon tonight. As a note, Sunday marks the “ide of March” as well as being National Egg Cream day.


“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.

correlated causeways

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Eleven bridges, one creek.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Pulaski Bridge is the first span you encounter, when you’ve left the East River and embarked on a journey down the fabulous Newtown Creek. A double bascule drawbridge, and electrically powered, the Pulaski Bridge connects 11th street in Long Island City with McGuinness Blvd. to the south in Brooklyn’s Greenpoint. Built in 1954, the Pulaski Bridge is owned and operated by the New York City Department of Transportation or “NYC DOT.” The Pulaski Bridge carries five lanes of traffic, plus a dedicated bicycle lane and a separate pedestrian pathway. It overflies the Queens Midtown Tunnel and Long Island Expressway, as well as active railroad tracks found on Borden Avenue.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

DB Cabin acts as a gatekeeper to the Dutch Kills tributary of Newtown Creek. It’s a railroad swing bridge owned by the Long Island Railroad, and connects two rail yards – the Wheelspur Yard (to the west, or left in the shot above) and the Blissville Yard – across the water. Both rail yards and the bridge itself are part of the LIRR’s Lower Montauk tracks. DB Cabin dates back to the 1890’s and is in a terrible state of repair. The swing bridge’s motors are nonfunctional, which isolates the Dutch Kills tributary from maritime traffic, and from the rest of the Newtown Creek.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Cabin M is just to the north of DB Cabin on Dutch Kills, and the single bascule drawbridge connects the Montauk Cutoff with the Blissville Yard mentioned above. The Montauk Cutoff is an elevated track which used to provide a connection between the LIRR’s Main Line tracks at the nearby Sunnyside Yards with the Lower Montauk tracks along the north (or Queens side) shoreline of Newtown Creek. The 2020 Capital Plan just released by the Long Island Railroad’s owner – The MTA – includes funding to demolish Cabin M.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Borden Avenue Bridge is owned by the NYC DOT, and is one of just two retractile bridges in NYC (the other being the Carroll Street Bridge over the Gowanus Canal). Built in 1908 to replace an earlier wooden drawbridge (1868) at the intersection of Borden Avenue and Dutch Kills, Borden Avenue Bridge received extensive upgrades and structural repairs in 2010 and 2011, and had its electronic components destroyed by flooding during Hurricane Sandy. Another round of repairs and upgrades began in 2019, which included asbestos abatement work.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The Long Island Expressway is 71 miles long, and is operationally managed in three sections. The Queens Midtown Expressway is how it’s owners, the New York State Department of Transportation, refer to the section found between the Queens Midtown Tunnel and Greenpoint Avenue in Long Island City. This section is elevated, rising to 106 feet above the waters of Dutch Kills. The LIE truss pictured above handles some 87.7 thousand daily vehicle trips, or 32 million annually, to and from Manhattan,

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Hunters Point Avenue Bridge is due north west of Borden Avenue Bridge and the LIE truss. It’s a single bascule drawbridge, owned by the NYC DOT. Replacing an earlier wooden draw bridge that was opened and closed by a donkey walking on a wheel, the Hunters Point Avenue Bridge was built in 1910. Back then, it was a double bascule bridge, but a rebuild in the 1980’s simplified the mechanism to a single bascule. The masonry of the bridge is original to the 1910 design.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The Greenpoint Avenue Bridge is found some 1.37 miles from Newtown Creek’s intersection with the East River, and roughly a half mile from the mouth of Dutch Kills. It’s a double bascule bridge, built in 1987, and owned and operated by the NYC DOT. There have been many Greenpoint Avenue Bridges, dating back to the first one built by Greenpoint’s town father Neziah Bliss back in 1850, but that one was called the “Blissville Bridge.” The Greenpoint Avenue Bridge is a traffic machine, carrying 28.3 thousand vehicle trips a day, or about ten million a year. Most of that traffic takes the form of heavy trucking.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The brand new Kosciuszko Bridge(s) replaced a 1939 vintage truss bridge that carried the Brooklyn Queens Expressway over Newtown Creek and are found some 2.1 miles from the East River. The NYS DOT is busy putting the finishing touches on the new cable stay bridge’s construction. In addition to the… ahem… high speed traffic lanes of the BQE, there is also a pedestrian and bicycle pathway found on the new Kosciuszko Bridge which connects 43rd street in Queens’s Sunnyside section with Meeker Avenue in Brooklyn’s Greenpoint.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The Grand Street Bridge is a swing bridge connecting Maspeth’s Grand Avenue in Queens with East Williamsburg/Bushwick’s Grand Street in Brooklyn. 3.1 miles back from the East River, in a section of Newtown Creek once called “White’s Dock,” the NYC DOT have recently announced plans to replace this 1909 beauty – which is actually the third bridge to occupy this spot. Damage from Hurricane Sandy, and the narrow roadways with height restrictions that the bridge offers, have pretty much sealed its fate. It will be missed.

This is where the main spur of Newtown Creek ends, as a note. Directly east is a truncated tributary called the East Branch, and another tributary called English Kills makes a hard turn to the south just before you encounter Grand Street Bridge.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Metropolitan Avenue Bridge is a double bascule drawbridge that crosses the English Kills tributary of Newtown Creek, and is owned by the NYC DOT. Metropolitan Avenue was originally built as a private toll road in 1813, and the first bridge here was a part of the “Williamsburg and Jamaica Turnpike.” The current Metropolitan Avenue Bridge was built in 1931, although it has received significant alterations in 1976, 1992, 2006, and again in 2015. The 2015 alterations?

You guessed it, Hurricane Sandy strikes again.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Montrose Avenue Rail Bridge is the final crossing found over the waters of Newtown Creek and its tributaries. Some 3.7 miles back from the East River, it’s the property of the Long Island Railroad and used for freight service on their Bushwick Branch tracks. A truss bridge, or trestle if you must, my understanding of things are that whereas the trackway and parts of the rail bridge date back to approximately 1924… there has been quite a lot of work done on the thing which I have not been able to fully document so rather than fill in blanks with assumptions – I’m just going to say that I don’t know everything… yet.

It’s an active track, it should be mentioned.


“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.

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