The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

Posts Tagged ‘Jamaica Bay

grim purpose

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Plumb Beach, Brooklyn.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Yesterday, I got to hang out with my photographer buddy Val, and we headed over to southeast Brooklyn to wave the cameras about. Plumb Beach is just east of the Emmons Avenue exit on the south side of the Belt Parkway, nearby Sheepshead Bay. It’s part of the Gateway National Recreation Area operation, and can be pretty well populated. We saw windsurfers, and paragliders, and old russian guys wearing speedos who were working on their tans. Brrrr.

Me? I set up the tripod and played around with an ND filter, as I love the “mist” effect caused by the tide. When I was developing this, I really wished that I had done another shot or two at quicker shutter speeds and wider apertures to marry in some spray and water detail with the mist via compositing. Next time, huh? You learn something new every time you click the shutter, I always say.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Yesterday’s storm was rumbling in the distance, and the sky was starting to darken. Despite this, a humble narrator scuttled onto and over a dune to get the POV offered above, looking towards the Gil Hodges Marine Parkway Bridge and over a salt marsh.

I was still rigged up with the ND filter, which is why there’s a dreamy quality to the shot, which had a shutter speed of thirty seconds. The wind was kicking up as the storm approached, and the first few droplets of rain were noticed.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The shot above is the one I like best of the three, and it’s where the particular setup that my camera had really paid off. Luckily, I was using a zoom lens.

As far as I know, there’s still a few tickets left for tonight’s “Infrastructure Creek” walking tour, or if you decide to come at the last moment, walk ups are always welcome and we can transact in cash if need be. Be at the corner of Kingsland and Greenpoint Avenues by 6:30-45 p.m. in Brooklyn, right at the footing of the Greenpoint Avenue Bridge by the Miller Building. Come with?

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Upcoming Tours and Events

TONIGHT – Thursday, August 8, 7 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. 

“Infrastructure Creek” Walking Tour w NYC H2O

If you want infrastructure, then meet NCA historian Mitch Waxman at the corner of Greenpoint Avenue and Kingsland Avenue in Brooklyn, and in just one a half miles he’ll show you the largest and newest of NYC’s 14 sewer plants, six bridges, a Superfund site, three rail yards with trains moving at street grade (which we will probably encounter at a crossing), a highway that carries 32 million vehicle trips a year 106 feet over water. The highway feeds into the Queens Midtown Tunnel, and we’ll end it all at the LIC ferry landing where folks are welcome to grab a drink and enjoy watching the sunset at the East River, as it lowers behind the midtown Manhattan skyline.

Click here for ticketing and more information.

Saturday, August 10, 10 a.m. 12.00 p.m.

Exploring the East River, From General Slocum Disaster to Abandoned Islands – with NY Adventure Club.

June 15th is one of those days in NYC history. In 1904, more than a thousand people boarded a boat in lower Manhattan, heading for a church picnic on Long Island — only 321 of them would return. This is the story of the General Slocum disaster, and how New York Harbor, the ferry industry, and a community were forever altered.

Join New York Adventure Club for a two-part aquatic adventure as we explore the General Slocum disaster, and historic sights and stories along the East River, all by NYC Ferry.

Tickets and more details

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 for $30.

Written by Mitch Waxman

August 8, 2019 at 3:39 pm

short work

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Today’s post is part of the Maritime Sunday series.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Recent business carried me to the tony DUMBO section of Brooklyn, and having accomplished my meeting, your humble narrator made for the East River Ferry stop at Fulton Landing to get home to Queens. It was a foggy day, with the mist seemingly on the edge of unleashing precipitants, and the always picturesque Brooklyn Bridge was vamping for the camera while I waited for the ferry, so…

– photo by Mitch Waxman

That’s when the NYC DEP Skimmer boat “Jamaica Bay” appeared. SV Jamaica Bay was new in 2005, Its service area is reported tersely as “Tributaries,” it is 50 feet long, and can carry a capacity of 3,000 -12,000 lbs of wet material.


Floatable debris consists of a wide assortment of plastic, wood, paper, glass, rubber, metal and organic waste materials that float or are suspended in the water column and may eventually be deposited on shorelines and beaches. Floatable debris originating from street litter, combined sewer overflow (CSO) discharges, storm water discharges, decaying shoreline structures, pleasure boaters, and littering beach goers, can harm the marine environment and cause area beaches to close.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

For the benefit of those of you who don’t spend all of your time puzzling out the make and model of things which randomly navigate past you, a “skimmer” is a kind of work boat which travels along and scoops up “floatables.” This can mean anything from tree limbs to trash, and the NYC DEP operates just one several of skimmer fleets on the harbor. NJDEP and US Army Corps of Engineers also perform this task. The gizmo at the front of the thing opens up and forms a boom, and onboard conveyor systems draw flotsam and jetsam out of the water column and into a bin.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Skimmer boat “Jamaica Bay” is one of several “small” skimmers operated by DEP, and the big one is called “Cormorant.” One thing about which jumps at me whenever I look at the NYC DEP… as a department… is just how GIGANTIC it is.

A hearty maritime Sunday shout goes out to the Captain and crew of SV Jamaica Bay.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Want to see something cool? June 2013 Walking Tours-

The Poison Cauldron Saturday, June 15, 2013
Newtown Creek walking tour with Mitch Waxman and Atlas Obscura, tickets now on sale.

Kill Van Kull– Saturday, June 22, 2013
Staten Island walking tour with Mitch Waxman and Working Harbor Committee, tickets now on sale.

The Insalubrious Valley Saturday, June 29, 2013
Newtown Creek walking tour with Mitch Waxman and Newtown Creek Alliance, tickets now on sale.

greater remoteness

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– photo by Mitch Waxman

As mentioned in the past at this, your Newtown Pentacle, your humble narrator came of age in the sun drenched neighborhoods of south eastern Brooklyn. Our nearest neighbors in Queens were in Howard Beach, Jamaica, and of course the Rockaway Peninsula villages of Rockaway and Breezy Point. A significant portion of my wastrel youth was spent riding an apollo 3 speed bicycle along the coastlines of Jamaica Bay and it’s various inlets, as I’ve always been drawn to the water by some primeval urge.

Much of this coastline is administered as “Gateway National Park”, which sounds a lot better than “Horsehead Bay” I guess.

from wikipedia

Gateway National Recreation Area is a 26,607-acre (10,767 ha) National Recreation Area in the Port of New York and New Jersey. Scattered over Brooklyn, Queens, and Staten Island, New York and Monmouth County, New Jersey, it provides recreational opportunities that are rare for a dense urban environment, including ocean swimming, bird watching, boating, hiking and camping. Ten million people visit Gateway annually.

Gateway was created by the US Congress in 1972 to preserve and protect scarce and/or unique natural, cultural, and recreational resources with relatively convenient access by a high percentage of the nation’s population. It is owned by the United States government and managed by the National Park Service.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

If you mention a bridge and Flatbush Avenue together in the same sentence, odds are you mean the East River or Brooklyn Bridge. In the context of those of us who hail from Marine Park, Mill Basin, Bergen Beach, Canarsie, Flatlands, Sheepshead Bay, or Gerritsen Beach- the bridge on Flatbush Avenue we think of first is the “Marine Parkway- Gil Hodges Bridge”, which we always referred to as the Marine Park Bridge.

Seventy five years ago today- on July 3, 1937- this toll bridge was officially opened for traffic.

from wikipedia

The Marine Parkway-Gil Hodges Memorial Bridge in New York City (originally Marine Parkway Bridge) is a vertical lift bridge that crosses Rockaway Inlet and connects the Rockaway Peninsula in Queens, with Marine Parkway to Floyd Bennett Field, Flatbush Avenue, and the Marine Park neighborhood in Brooklyn. Opened on July 3, 1937, it carries four motor traffic lanes, and a footpath on the western edge. Cyclepaths along both sides of the Parkway connect to the Shore Parkway Greenway and to Flatbush Avenue. The operation of this bridge includes the maintenance of the Marine Parkway from the toll plaza to Jacob Riis Park. Though a city-owned and operated bridge, it connects two parts of Gateway National Recreation Area, a unit of the National Park System: Floyd Bennett Field and Jacob Riis Park. The bridge is designated as New York State Route 901B, an unsigned reference route.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There’s a great fishing spot under the bridge, due to a deep water channel dug out during the second world war designed to allow wounded shipping to limp into Mill Basin or Sheepshead Bay after crossing the war torn Atlantic. The cold water flow, and perhaps the light filtering down from the bridge, encourages bluefish and snappers to congregate beneath the structure.

Deep familiarity with the area is part of my DNA, and although I seldom get out there these days- seeing this bridge always makes me think of “home”.


The Marine Parkway Gil Hodges Memorial Bridge was opened by the Marine Parkway Authority in 1937 to provide access to the Rockaway Peninsula, which previously could be reached only by ferry or by a circuitous route around the eastern end of Jamaica Bay. When it was built, the bridge’s vertical lift span was the longest in the world. The tapering, curled tops of its towers added a whimsical aspect to the bridge’s design.

The Marine Parkway Authority also built the Jacob Riis Parking Field and cooperated with the city’s Department of Parks in the reconstruction and expansion of Jacob Riis Park. After a series of mergers, the Marine Parkway Authority became part of the Triborough Bridge Authority in 1940.

Today, the land at both ends of the bridge is part of the Gateway National Recreation Area. On the Brooklyn side is Floyd Bennett Field and a direct connection to the Shore Parkway and Flatbush Avenue. The Queens side in the Rockaways has seen considerable residential and recreational development since the bridge’s construction.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

According to official sourcesAymar Embury II, who was also the architect for MTA’s Triborough and Bronx Whitestone Bridges, was the architect. The Chief Engineers were Madigan-Hyland and Emil H. Praeger, and Robinson & Steinman and Waddell & Hardesty were Consulting Engineers“.

Who knew?

Happy 75th birthday, old friend, and enjoy the Fourth of July fireworks on the western horizon tomorrow night.


The morning of July 3, 1937, marked the grand opening of the new Marine Parkway Memorial Bridge. With the sun shining and the N.Y.P.D. Police Band ready to play, Mayor Fiorello H. La Guardia, Robert Moses, head of the Marine Parkway Authority and city Parks Commissioner and other officials, were getting ready to embark in a 500-car motorcade to christen the bridge.

There was excitement in the air as the band tuned up from its designated place on the bridge’s elevated lift span and invited guests got into cars on the Brooklyn side of the bridge along Flatbush Avenue for the inaugural ride across the span.

But the first vehicle to cross the bridge did not belong to the mayor or master builder Robert Moses, who helped make the bridge a reality. About 15 minutes before the ceremonies were scheduled to start, the first vehicles to cross the span were three engine companies from Brooklyn; summoned to help put out a five-alarm fire that destroyed two blocks of wooden concession stands along the Rockaway Beach Boardwalk.

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