The Newtown Pentacle

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Posts Tagged ‘Irving Subway Grate

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Friday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A demolition crew has come in and eradicated the remains of Irving Subway Grate in LIC, along the Dutch Kills tributary of Newtown Creek. It’s been coming for a while, I guess. Apparently a concrete company is going to set itself up on the property, one whose operations have been based over in Ridgewood for a while.

Sigh. Another heavy truck based business from an industry notoriously noisome and noxious, water pollution wise. Whatever. Nothing matters and nobody cares.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

That’s some of Irving’s grate, embedded in the sidewalk of 27th street. Exciting, no?

The green plywood and chain link fences with green fabric coverings have gone up around the site, so something is likely to start happening there fairly soon.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

When I was shooting this image, a group of teenagers were noticed a few blocks away and noisily coming my way. Brr. Teenagers lack impulse control and a humble narrator would make for a great target, so I kept an eye on their roving and undirected pack. This group moved in a terrifically unorganized manner, loping and leaping while exclaiming loudly. You could hear them from blocks away.

The only thing scarier to me than a regular mixed up group of teenagers is a group of teenage girls. The latter might say something mean to me, something really cutting, which was designed to mock or make me feel bad about myself. It would be like junior high school all over again…

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Despite the adolescent threat’s approach, one continued on with his tasks. I kept an eye on them, as they brandished their phones and exulted gutturally to each other.

Said tasks being the capture of photos, walking around, and generally side eyeing things I don’t like or don’t approve of.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The teenagers were getting closer, only a few blocks away, so I quickened my steps. Seriously, I treat other people that are walking around these areas at night in the manner of them being a horde of zombies. Best to avoid, lest something bitey might happen.

After shooting this one, I ducked down a side street and hid behind a dumpster for a while.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One truly detests the idea of “others” these days. Staying away from these others, with their bizarre ideations, display behaviors which connote societal rankings to each other – that’s my mantra.

That, and “nothing matters and nobody cares.”


“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

February 4, 2022 at 11:00 am

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With dread do I pronounce this day as being a Monday.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

These shots were gathered during the second week of February, on a brutally cold night in Long Island City. One had geared up in response to the wind and cold, as well as the crunchy ice coating the sidewalks and roadways. Gearing up – for the curious – takes the form of thermal long underwear and a pair of walking boots that sport hard plastic cleats on their soles, in addition to the usual “Mitch suit” and ubiquitously filthy black raincoat. I’ve also got a snazzy new pair of gloves which allow for the interaction with and usage of touch screens.

The shot above, depicting an Amtrak holding area at Sunnyside Yards here in LIC, is one of the first ones cracked out with the third member of my new trinity of lenses for the Canon RF Mount on the EOS R6, specifically an 85mm f2 prime lens. I tell you, the amount of stress and effort that went into choosing the new lens kit was immense, but I think that I’ve made the right choices – from a budget versus technological point of view. There’s a few mouth watering lenses that Canon offers for this new camera mount of theirs, but you’d be able to put a down payment on a decent automobile for what they’re asking for them. In a couple of years when there’s a used lens ecosystem, maybe, but right now… no way.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As mentioned several times over the years, if you want to figure out which buildings in your neighborhood are owned by NYC, wait until it snows. The ones that don’t make any attempt to shovel their sidewalks are going to end up being City owned. Even abandoned or “awaiting demolition” buildings get shoveled somehow, but City properties don’t. That’s what I call “political privilege” at work right there, boy.

As I was saying to a friend the other day – Coke and Pepsi are fundamentally the same thing – carbonated sugar water or “soda.” Doesn’t matter if you like the one in the red can or the blue can, soda is pretty unhealthy and the people who fill and sell these cans don’t care about you, they just want to sell more of the stuff. They’re not going to do one little thing to let you know about green cans like 7Up and Ginger Ale, or healthier choices like Seltzer unless they’re filling those cans or bottles too. Want to read that as a metaphor for politics, or a caution about the privilege of politicians? That’s on you, girl.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

My wandering through the cold wastes found me, as usual, nearby the Dutch Kills tributary of Newtown Creek and at the former headquarters of Irving Subway Grate. The Lyft ride share outfit has recently moved into a factory building nearby, and stout gates have been erected around the entire Irving Campus. A demolition project is underway on the two industrial building ruins on the property. The office building on the property has become a hive for raccoons in recent years, and there are apparently a couple of burst water pipes within, which created a fairly magnificent ice sculpture.

More tomorrow.

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 22nd. 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 22, 2021 at 1:00 pm

scrawled message

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Where I belong, leave my body here when I die.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I can now confirm that Dutch Kills is still where it was the last time I saw it. That was after the broken toe literally swept my leg out from under me. Despite the injury, I had to conduct a walking tour, or as I called it then – a limping tour – just two days after breaking the damned phalange. Only time ever that I fell down when conducting a tour. Ultimately, though, i screwed up by displaying weakness to the people in my life. Must never display weakness, because others will take advantage of it. If I’m taken advantage of, I have to respond in a widely inappropriate and disproportionate manner. Ask everyone who knows me – every single day is the first day in prison with me. I’m not locked up in here with you, you’re locked up in here with me. It’s exhausting, really, being me.

That’s the Hunters Point Avenue Bridge in the foreground, with the Dutch Kills tributary of Newtown Creek and the Long Island Expressway in the back. The original draw bridge on this site was made of wood, and was opened and closed by the actions of a donkey walking on a wooden wheel. Happy place.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The Irving Subway Grate site continues to decompose, an island of calm in the chaotic development landscape of LIC. Just down the block, the patrons of what has been described to me as the second worst strip club in Queens were smoking the weed while I was shooting this. I’ve never been a strip club guy, as a note. Not saying it’s bad if you are, but like the Karaoke and Dance Club scenes, it’s just not for me. I also don’t see the point of Casinos, loathe musical theatre, and avoid poetry readings.

I like irish bars, poisoned and highly industrial waterways, junk yards, waste transfer stations, sewer plants, and cargo docks. These are the places I belong.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Looking westwards along Borden Avenue, and its eponymous bridge, towards the Empire State Building. Back when I started wandering around Newtown Creek, you could easily navigate the surrounding neighborhoods by the position of three large structures – Manhattan’s Empire State and Chrysler Buildings, and the Citigroup Megalith at LIC’s Court Square. Recent real estate development has obscured the Megalith and Chrysler Building, hiding then behind banalities. Luckily, the Empire State is still visible, although it’s silhouette is often ruined these days by the architecturally dubious Hudson Yards development on Manhattan’s west side.

This is where I plan to someday celebrate the detestation of the water lizard, when the corporeal residue of my body is tossed – like every other bit of wind blown trash in New York City – into Newtown Creek.


“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.

illegitimate assertion

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Once, you’d tell the operator you wanted to speak to Hunters Point 3342.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Walter E. Irving opened for business along Newtown Creek’s Dutch Kills tributary in LIC back in 1907, but at first his operation was just another iron and steel works. It wasn’t until 1914 that the company became commonly known as either “Irving Subway Grating” or “Irving Iron Works.”

Their honeycomb steel walkways were offered to both the Subway (as the name would imply) people and to maritime customers. It was the maritime world which made the company rich. Irving, a structural engineer, actually started his business in Astoria in 1902, but it was here on Dutch Kills in “America’s Workshop” that he had both rail and maritime access, and that’s why the company centered its operations in LIC.

Here’s a shot of the place from back in 1915.

IMG_1393

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Back then, and by then I mean 1914, 51st avenue was called Third Street, and 27th street was called Creek Street.

There was no Long Island Expressway or Midtown Tunnel, and railroad freight tracks snaked around on every street. If you’re in the neighborhood today, you can still find a lot of those old tracks blistering up through the modern day asphalt. There’s “Belgian Blocks” paved streets here in what I’ve long referred to as “the empty corridor” as well. Belgian Blocks are colloquially referred to as “cobblestones.” 

– photo by Mitch Waxman

At its height, when their patented honeycomb steel lattice plates were being installed on merchant and naval ships, and into factorys and industrial boiler rooms, Irving’s facility commanded some 22,000 square feet of the most valuable industrial bulkheads in America here in LIC.

It remains one of the largest properties along Dutch Kills to this day, but as you’ve noticed by now, Irving Subway Grating has left the proverbial building.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

In the early 20th century, Irving employed a staff of about 300, and the facility produced something like 50,000 feet of the honeycomb flooring material a month. The value of the grating was that water, light, and air could move through it – making it perfect for the exterior decking and ladder steps on ships – and that while it had the same strength as a plate of steel, it weighed a significant amount less. It was also appropriate for use in boiler rooms and other industrial applications due to its permittance of ventilation.

Irving also found a place for his products in the steel decking on vehicle and rail bridges, and the United States military would lay his grating down into sand and soil to create stable runways for aircraft in battle zones. Irving received accolades from the War Dept. for his industrial contributions to the Aliied forces’s victory during the Second World War. The NY Subway system, as the name of the product would imply, ate Irving’s products as fast as he could make them. If you work in Manhattan’s Flatiron district, the Tenderloin, or Herald Square, you’re probably already familiar with Irving. 

Build a better mouse trap, I guess.

IMG_1394

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A Mexican conglomerate called HARSCO bought Irving, and its portfolio of patents, back in 1966. Irving continues as their IKG Industries division today, and they still manufacture those steel grids. I cannot seem to determine exactly when the Irving Plant at Dutch Kills was shut down, nor accurately ascertain the current owners of the property beyond some LLC holding company. There was an enormous fire here in 2009, which burnt away a lot of what was left of the site.

Here’s what I saw of the pre fire Irving Works back when I first starting getting into this whole Creek thing, in a post that clearly illustrated my neophyte status back in 2009.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Over the last seven years, I’ve watched the Irving site being slowly harvested by metal collectors – The Crows – who have grabbed every inch of copper and aluminum that they can reach. There’s a security fence with a giant hole cut in it along 27th street, but the chained up shopping carts and well fed cat colony nearby the hole indicate that somebody is living here in the ruins.

As I was by myself when these shots were gathered… well… let’s just say it’s not a great idea to barge into a homeless camp in LIC when you’re all alone, so I stuck to the front of the site nearby the hole in case I had to exit quickly. Next time I have a chum along with me, however, I plan on doing a bit more exploring – mainly because there is a lot of cool graffiti in there I want to check out.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Scenes familiar, and loved, in Long Island City.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

March 10, 2016 at 11:00 am

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