The Newtown Pentacle

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Posts Tagged ‘Greenpoint Avenue Bridge

tenement blocks

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Friday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As described yesterday, on the 27th of September my friend Carter Craft offered to shuttle me around Newtown Creek onboard his boat. These photos are from that excursion, which is likely my penultimate trip on the Creek. That’s the Greenpoint Avenue Bridge pictured above, and the POV looks westwards along the creek towards LIC. This spot is 1.37 miles from the East River.

The NYC DOT, whose 1987 vintage double bascule drawbridge this is, also refers to the thing as the J.J. Byrne Memorial Bridge. A former saloon singer and later a Commissioner of Public Works for Brooklyn, Byrne became Borough President in 1925, succeeding the previous BP – Joseph A. Guider – who died while in office. As to why the rather unremarkable Byrne ended up in the top spot, look no further than his Brother in Law – John H. McCooey – the political boss of Brooklyn who was known as “their man in Brooklyn, Uncle John” to the Tammany Hall players over in Manhattan. Byrne would also die in office, and just to show you how long the lines of political patronage in NYC government are – Michael Bloomberg is the Mayor who presided over adding the “J.J. Byrne” moniker to the bridge.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

We continued eastwards along the Newtown Creek, past the spectacle of the Green Asphalt outfit filling a barge with their product. A single maritime barge carries the equivalent cargo of 38 heavy trucks. The only hope NYC has to survive the next century without filling every single street, all the time, with heavy trucking is maritime in nature. What have we done with our waterfronts, accordingly? Luxury apartment buildings and eradicating ship to shore infrastructure and industrial centers… but, alas… nothing matters and nobody cares.

Green Asphalt, and companies like it, sprung into existence after the 2010 Solid Waste Management Act was rammed into existence by the Bloomberg people. Prior, when a roadway was milled, the asphalt surfacing that was dug up out of the roadbed would be sent to landfills. Green Asphalt receives this material nowadays from the NYC DOT road crews and contractors who maintain our streets. It’s heated up using steam, and a bit of fresh material is introduced into the stuff, which is then sent back out to be reapplied to the roadbed.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

We floated past the Queens side site of the first large scale petroleum refinery in the United States – the remnants of the 1854 vintage “North American Kerosene Gas Light Company” of Abraham Gesner. Later acquired by Charles Pratt (Standard Oil Company of New York), Mobil Oil would inherit the site and operate an industrial lubricant manufacturing plant here until the second half of the 20th century.

One of the petroleum enforcement actions which ExxonMobil has had to oblige on Newtown Creek started one day in 2011 when I was tagging along on one of Riverkeeper’s patrols of Newtown Creek and when I noticed that oil was migrating out of the bulkheads in this area. That’s the day that the story of the “Blissville Seep” began. The Riverkeeper folks shortly got the “official” ball rolling with the regulatory agency – NYS Department of Environmental Conservation. ExxonMobil admitted a modern day culpability for the deeds of their long ago corporate brethren, and deployed their environmental contractors (under the supervision of NYS DEC) who are busily installing all sorts of equipment in these industrial quarters to handle the situation.

This POV is on the water side of Review Avenue, behind the line of factory and warehouse buildings – and the LIRR tracks – opposite First Calvary Cemetery.

Only oil spill I ever got to help discover, at least. This was also the beginning of my whole “Citizen Waxman” shtick.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

When the project to replace the Kosciuszcko Bridge suddenly received an Andy Cuomo sized shoe up its keister, I had already been cataloguing the DUKBO section of Newtown Creek for a few years. Anything collected or written about, in this area, received that particular tag. Just as this project was kicking into gear is when what I was doing on Newtown Creek got noticed by a whole big bunch of people, including The NY Times.

That’s when Citizen Waxman was invited to join the Kosciuszcko Bridge Stakeholders Advisory Committee, and that put me right in the center of the whole rebuilding and replacement project. All of a sudden, I was in the same room as Congressmen and City Council people regularly. That’s also right about when I started working for Atlas Obscura and others, doing Newtown Creek walking and vehicle tours nearly every weekend during the summer months for several years.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

For one of these tours, my buddy Joey and I transported a bunch of wooden palettes from his job site at a haulage company to a weed choked mud hole along the creek in Maspeth. We laid the palettes down on top of the Poison Ivy and dodged the clouds of flying insects which we’d disturbed. Formerly, you had to just bust your way through thorns and vines to get down to the water. I’ve always been big on safety for people that came on my walks, so Joey and I created a plank road of palettes at the Maspeth Avenue Plank Road site. Eventually, after talking about its potential endlessly, I managed to “put something on the map.” Today – people actually come here as a destination, and they hang out by the water. Artists, musicians.

To each and every one of my friends, whom I’ve convinced to do utterly illogical and over the top things with me over the years along the creek… thank you. This is why.

The Plank Road has since received historic signage, and Newtown Creek Alliance has undertaken a stewardship program at the place. The ground has received some landscaping as well. It’s a site which will also be preserved through the superfund process, which is another feather I can point to in my cap.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

My pal Carter turned the boat into English Kills, which is technically a tributary, but it seems like it’s just the bitter end of Newtown Creek.

This is one of the most environmentally damaged sections of the waterway, as a note. Also – “Kills” is ye olde Dutch for Creek. This spot is about 3 miles back from the East River, and it’s right at the turn out from the main channel. The Grand Street Bridge is nearby, and in accordance with my zone system acronyms – this area is tagged with DUGSBO, or Down Under the Grand Street Bridge Onramp.

More next week, at this – your Newtown Pentacle.


“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

October 28, 2022 at 11:00 am

breathing things

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Wednesday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I was mid span on the Greenpoint Avenue Bridge, a double bascule drawbridge that spans the fabulous Newtown Creek, and photographing a maneuvering tug called “Seeley” when the bridge’s alarm bells began to sound and a NYC DOT employee began motioning for me to get to the other side.

The bridge was about to open!

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I’m known, in my middle 50’s, for running down the block and chasing a fire engine while yelling “firemen, firemen” just like I did when I was 5. I get excited about things that other adults consider to be a nuisance.

I love it when a drawbridge opens up, and never miss a chance to grab shots of the action.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I didn’t have time to swap out lenses for the one that fits into the apertures of the chain link fence, so I just fired the shutter anyway.

I prefer a clean shot, but the fence is part of the environmental milieu, so, there you go.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As traffic was stopped for the open bridge, I was able to run across Greenpoint Avenue Bridge without getting squished by traffic.

Found a decent spot, one which long experience dictated as being a good one to shoot from, and followed the Tug Seeley as it headed westwards towards the East River.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I’ve grown fairly jaded about this sort of thing in recent years, but the sun was painting the sky with orange and gold.

What a dynamic set of weather conditions it was on August 1st. The fog and mist, the dispersal of the same, and now this sort of saturated color. Wow.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Shortly after these shots were captured, I decided to make a right turn after arriving in Long Island City’s Blissville section and head towards the Kosciuszcko Bridge. Ultimately, that was a bit of wasted effort, bu there you go. Cannot complain, this was an extremely productive day.

Back tomorrow with something different, at this – your Newtown Pentacle.


“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

August 31, 2022 at 11:00 am

smiling dromedary

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Friday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

My long walk around a short creek continued, and the Newtown Creek Nature walk allowed me an easy path through Brooklyn’s Greenpoint section. Pictured above is one of the lesser known tributaries of Newtown Creek – Whale Creek – and that’s a NYC DEP “Sludge Boat” docked along it.

Sludge Boats transport the processed/treatment sewer solids from the 12 sewer plants to the 13th one on Randall’s/Wards Island where it’s dewatered in centrifuges.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Kingsland Avenue hugs the fences of the sewer plants, and it’s also where Newtown Creek Alliance HQ is found (520 Kingsland).

It’s a pretty crappy experience on foot, have to say.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Those cylinders are exhaust pipes for the sewer plant, which burn off the methane produced by the treatment process, directly into the atmosphere. That makes the Department of Environmental Protection the single largest and most constant source of greenhouse gases in the entire Borough of Brooklyn.

Remember that when Eric Adams mandates that you need to spend $100,000 to convert your house over to electric from whatever you use to heat and cook in it right now.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Kingsland Avenue carried my carcass to Greenpoint Avenue and it’s eponymous bridge. This shot is looking east along Newtown Creek. Brooklyn is on the right, Queens on the left.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Things were getting pretty surreal, sky wise. Everything was painted in saturated radiates as the burning thermonuclear eye of God itself descended into whatever the hell might be on the other side of New Jersey.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

My very productive day wasn’t over yet, I’d mention.

Cannot tell you how many times this exact same route has disappointed. Part of the reason I walk it so often are days like the 12th of April.

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


“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.

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.


“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.

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

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