The Newtown Pentacle

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Posts Tagged ‘Jackson heights

only briefly

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It’s National Fruitcake Day, in these United States.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

With one foot in Queens’s Flushing, and the other in Brooklyn’s Greenpoint, this NYC street endlessly fascinates. It’s called Roosevelt Avenue east of 48th street and Queens Blvd., and to the west it’s called Greenpoint Avenue. The elevated IRT Flushing line has been lurking above the street since 1917, meaning that the Roosevelt Avenue section has been shielded from the emanations of the burning thermonuclear eye of God itself for a century now.

Funny thing is, as far as I’ve been able to discern, Roosevelt Avenue isn’t all that much older than the elevated tracks. Here’s a NY Times article from 1910 which discusses the great haste undertaken by the newly consolidated City of New York in creating the road. Back then – Roosevelt Avenue was considered a highway, apparently, and it was designed to parallel (and create a secondary path for Queensboro Bridge bound traffic) Jackson Avenue (Northern Blvd.) for its three mile route from Woodside to Flushing.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The elevated subway along the street (to Corona, Flushing happened a bit later) opened in April of 1917, but it had only been proposed in 1911. This is one of the many reasons which should keep the managers of the MTA up at night, as a note, for the actual agreement to build the thing didn’t happen for another two years in 1913. Imagine the modern incarnation of the organization being able to get literally anything done, let alone monumental capital construction, in just four years.

Them’s was giants in those days, I tells ya.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I’ve been led to believe that there are a significant number of “quality of life” issues suffered by the folks who frequent Roosevelt Avenue due to the presence of the elevated tracks. Bird droppings, toxic lead paint flaking from the steel, omnipresent heavy vehicle traffic, a suffocating amount of noise. There’s meant to be a significant footprint of the underworld along Roosevelt Avenue as well, and Ive been told tales of all levels of prostitution (street to Madame run apartment Boudoirs), gangsters, and gambling dens.

Funny thing is, all of these things don’t slow things down along the street one little bit. The shops are all occupied, and commercial businesses thrive, even on the third floors of walk up buildings. Compared to other commercial strips in Western Queens – Steinway Street in Astoria comes to mind – every kind of business seems to be booming along Roosevelt Avenue.


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Written by Mitch Waxman

December 27, 2017 at 11:00 am

glowing ember

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It’s National Lollipop Day, in these United States.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As the shots from my latest adventure are still deep in the developing process, a single shot greets you today, at this – your Newtown Pentacle. Depicting the IRT Flushing Line – or 7 train – approaching the Roosevelt Avenue stop in Jackson Heights, I got this one while on my way to Flushing last week. A humble narrator stands by the oft repeated assertion that the troubled 7 line is the most photogenic of all of NYC’s subway trains.


Upcoming Tours and events

The Poison Cauldron of the Newtown Creek Walking Tour, with Atlas Obscura – July 22nd, 11 a.m. – 2 p.m..

Explore the hellish waste transfer and petroleum districts of North Brooklyn on this daring walk towards the doomed Kosciuszko Bridge, with NCA Historian Mitch Waxman details here.


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Written by Mitch Waxman

July 20, 2017 at 12:30 pm

impecuniuous residue

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It’s National Animal Crackers Day, in these United States.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Wandering about one recent afternoon, one found himself at the junction – or “angle” as I’ve coined it – between Woodside’s northern boundary, Astoria’s Southeast extent, and might be Jackson Heights’ western edge. Or at least I think that’s how you’d describe the zone found around Northern Blvd.’s intersection with Broadway. Over by the Newtown Creek, I can tell you the exact spot where it stops being LIC and starts being Maspeth, or say categorically where LIC ends and Woodside begins – but it’s these weird border spots – or angles – between the old municipalities where things get hazy. Suffice to say that if your zip code starts with “111” you live in what was once the independent municipality of LIC.

At any rate, I spotted a few cool cars on my walk which I figured I’d show you today. The one above looked to me like it had starred in an action movie and come back worse for wear.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

That’s a Chevrolet above, whose styling makes me say “early 1960’s” but I’ll be damned if I can tell you exactly what model  or year it is is. It’s definitely been “modded” a bit, owing to the small tires and probable hydraulic shocks of the “LA gangbanger” style. I was more in the “get some exercise” than “photowalk” mode when it was encountered and didn’t really want to break stride to go and read the registration sticker. At the rear fender, there’s a bit of chrome that reads “ss” so maybe that’s a clue for one of your gear heads who might be reading this. 

If you recognize the model, please share with the rest of us in the comments section. 

– photo by Mitch Waxman

That’s an Oldsmobile Ninety Eight above, which is likely a “fifth generation” 1957 or 1958 model. They didn’t spell out “ninety eight” until 1958, which is how I can date it. Chevrolet used the numerals “98” instead for the prior models of their luxury models in this line. The “sixth generation” which began to be manufactured in 1959 is an entirely different sort of car with tail fins and a more “modern” profile. As you can see, this old road warrior is in fairly tremulous condition, but the good news is that the auto shop which I spotted it in front of on 32nd avenue specializes in restoring old cars.  


Upcoming Tours and events

First Calvary Cemetery walking tour, May 6th.

With Atlas Obscura’s Obscura Day 2017, Calvary Cemetery Walking Tour – details and tix here.

MAS Janeswalk free walking tour, May 7th.

Visit the new Newtown Creek Alliance/Broadway Stages green roof, and the NCA North Henry Street Project – details and tix here.


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Written by Mitch Waxman

April 18, 2017 at 11:00 am

nothing now

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Twirling, ever twirling.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The POV at the 40th Lowery Street stop on the 7 train causes my jaw to drop everytime I see it. Given what it costs for acccess to the observation deck at “Top of the Rock” or the Empire State Building, the MTA really delivers value for money – view wise – here on Queens Blvd. Turn your head to the left – you can spy the Kosciuszko Bridge, look straight ahead and its the whole soup bowl of Manhattan, and to the right there’s Hells Gate Bridge. This view is fortuitous, as at least you have some diversion while wondering when the train will arrive.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

This spring, I’m trying to mix things up a bit and do some shooting in parts of Western Queens which aren’t part of my normal “thing.” There’s a bit of tumult going on between my ears at the moment, so the curative – as always – is to just get out and do some photographing in challenging places. To wit, the combination of bright and dark offered by the 7 tracks as they exit Woodside and head towards Jackson Heights along Roosevelt Avenue. Exposing for both lighting conditions is a wicked conumndrum, camera wise, but all of the shooting I’ve been experimenting with in the underground system pays a certain dividend when attempting this sort of thing.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Roosevelt Avenue is, of course, pretty much antithetical to anyone who desires solitude or quiet. The blasting sound of passing trains that cascades down form the elevated’s steel is monstrous. One thing which always staggers the European University people whom I’ll conduct tours of Newtown Creek or Long Island City for is noise. It seems that the EU is several decades ahead of us in terms of what they legally define as “pollution” and that endemic urban background noise is taken as seriously as bad water or air.

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Upcoming Tours –

May 3, 2015 –
DUBPO, Down Under the Pulaski Bridge Onramp
with Newtown Creek Alliance Historian Mitch Waxman, a free tour offered as part of Janeswalk 2015, click here for tickets.

May 16, 2015 –
13 Steps Around Dutch Kills with Atlas Obscura

with Newtown Creek Alliance Historian Mitch Waxman, click here for details and tickets.

May 31, 2015 –
Newtown Creek Boat Tour
with Working Harbor Committee and Newtown Creek Alliance Historian Mitch Waxman, click here for tickets.

Written by Mitch Waxman

April 30, 2015 at 11:00 am

Project Firebox 98

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An ongoing catalog of New York’s endangered Fireboxes.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Sharply attired in stainless and scarlet, this guardian of the public trust was encountered over in Jackson Heights nearby 34th avenue. It only speaks a single tongue, is not vibrant, but is kind of diverse as you don’t see stainless steel used all that much for municipal street furniture. Sparkle on, firebox 7864, sparkle.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

November 30, 2013 at 7:30 am

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