The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

Posts Tagged ‘LIC

sequestered factoids

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I miss the tick tock of analogue clocks.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I’m a bit behind schedule today, as I had to got to Greenpoint to do a lecture for a group of school teachers about my beloved Creek, and that’s why a single image greets you. Back tomorrow with a story that’s just plain bats.


Tours and Events


Canal to Coast: Reuniting the Waters Boat Tour. Only $5!
Thurs, August 30, 2018, 6:30 PM – 8:30 PM with Waterfront Alliance

Learn about the origins of Brooklyn’s Erie Basin as the Erie Canal’s ultimate destination, and its current role as a vital resource for maritime industry on this guided tour of Red Hook’s Erie Basin and the Brooklyn working waterfront, departing from and returning to New York Water Taxi’s Red Hook Dock. Tickets here.


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Written by Mitch Waxman

August 27, 2018 at 1:00 pm

Posted in Long Island City, newtown creek

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portal guardians

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Hatches abound in the Newtown Pentacle.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One is possessed by a certain and somewhat odd fetish for “access covers” – or as they are colloquially known and popularly referred to by the local gentry – “manhole covers.”

Often, these iron discs will be the oldest thing present on any given street, due to their durability and the difficulty one encounters when attempting to replace one. According to several Federal Highway and Street design manuals which I’ve suffered through – guidelines state that it is preferential to replace one of these hatch covers only with an exact copy issued by the original manufacturer.

That’s probably why you’ll notice the Citizens Water Supply Company of Newtown’s hatches sprinkled around the neighborhoods of the Newtown Pentacle.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

About a block from the 108th Precinct’s HQ in LIC, sharp eyes will notice this 1874 vintage (independent municipality of) Long Island City sewer cap adorning the pavement.

Nothing else which has survived gentrification on this particular block dates back to anything earlier than 1900 or so, which makes this discus a genuine artifact of another age and a somewhat prehistoric culture.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A few blocks away, on Second Street in LIC, there used to be an iconic power plant that (positively) electrified the Long Island Railroad. The power plant is gone, transmogrified by the Real Estate Industrial Complex into yet another bland residential building sheathed in mirror glass.

The rectangular LIRR access cover remains, nevertheless. This chunk of iron likely dates back to the late 1890’s, an educated based on logo usage and operational era.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Over on Queens Blvd., in the Sunnyside area, you might notice these IRT branded storm drain covers. They are found on the roadway parking lots which underlie the massive concrete acqueduct which carries the Subway tracks high above.

These access covers are a non standard size, btw, only around 16-18 inches across. They carry the sort of typography one would expect from the house of Moses at the TBTA, and I suspect that they might have installed when Queens Blvd. was widened to its current footprint back in the 1930’s (may have been 40’s but I think it was the post Triborough Bridge era in the late 30’s. Don’t trust me on this one, I’m pulling this from memory rather than proper fact checking).

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Once upon a time, there was just one phone company. A monolith corporation which enjoyed a special status in NYC, the populace hereabouts called it “Ma Bell.” One of the interesting bits of history about which these access caps can inform the observer concerns corporate America.

You’ll see “NYCTEL” and “Bell System” as well as “NYNEX” and “Verizon” sprinkled around here and there, and all speak to the roll out of telephonic infrastructure across the megalopolis, and the evolution of the telecommunications industry.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Speaking of wires, Consolidated Edison caps are probably the most numerous hatch covers encountered. They are larger than most of the other ones, and are sometimes several feet in diameter.

My understanding is that the electric people have been retrofitting their access pipes in recent years with plastic undercaps, whose purpose is to keep salt laden melt water from winter snowfalls from infiltrating down into and degrading the electrical equipment found within. The hidden barrier also serves to vouchsafe against the manhole cover becoming electrified.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Over in East Elmhurst, this gorgeous hatch was recently encountered along Ditmars Blvd. in the 80’s. It belongs, or belonged, to the Brooklyn Union Gas Company – another monolithic organization which enjoyed – like the Bell System – a special monopoly in NYC.

These mega corporations operated under the aegis of a “Public Utility” designation, which meant that in return for exclusive access to the NYC market they would agree to charging politically regulated rates and perform tasks in concert with municipal officialdom.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The typography on this hatch is particularly pleasing, to my eye, at least.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Also in East Elhurmst, around a block or two from LaGuardia Airport, this manhole cover was encountered. Signage nearby adjures that a buried gas line is in the ground, which might offer some clue as to the occupation of the hatch, but the “ACQ” screed embossed in the iron is somewhat puzzling.

Any ideas as to its meaning, Lords and Ladies?

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Upcoming Tours –

July 26th, 2015
Modern Corridor – LIC, Queens Walking Tour
with Brooklyn Brainery, click here for details and tickets.

As detailed in this recent post, my camera was destroyed in an accident.

For those of you who have offered donations to pay for its replacement, the “Donate” button below will take you to paypal. Any contributions to the camera fund will be greatly appreciated, and rewarded when money isn’t quite as tight as it is at the moment.

Donate Button with Credit Cards

Written by Mitch Waxman

July 21, 2015 at 10:18 am

common attributes

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Wednesdays? I can take ’em or leave ’em.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Curmudgeon, that’s what one fears he is best described as these days. It is best to be alone, I think. At least that way the only person that can disappoint or malign, and the methods utilized thereof, is well known. Frankly, I’ve grown tired of watching others play out their passion plays and foibles, while heading toward obvious conclusions. I’m not going to be saving anyone from themselves anymore, as that circuitry has become burned out in my brain. Go ahead and grasp that wire which has fallen into a puddle, for I’m not going to caution you not to. Not anymore. Go ahead, see what happens.

from wikipedia

Misanthropy is the general hatred, distrust or disdain of the human species or human nature. A misanthrope, or misanthropist is someone who holds such views or feelings. The word’s origin is from Greek words μῖσος (misos, “hatred”) and ἄνθρωπος (anthrōpos, “man, human”). The condition is often confused with asociality.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Logical progressions, falling dominoes… I can see these things clearly. Incompetence is rewarded in modern discourse, where “trying” is a worthy alternative to succeeding. Everybody is a winner and there is no qualitative scale by which to judge the efficacy of action. The human hive has driven me to the edge of wit, and everywhere I look – what drives our society is the notion of what should be rather than what is. A humble narrator wishes nothing more than to emulate Ezekiel and retreat to the hermitage of wild mountain tops to enjoy some alone time.

from wikipedia

A loner is a person who avoids or does not actively seek human interaction. There are many reasons for solitude, intentional or otherwise. Intentional reasons include spiritual, mystic and religious considerations or personal philosophies. Unintentional reasons involve being introverted, highly sensitive, extremely shy, or having various mental disorders.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Vain glory and hubris rule. False faith and political equivalency rule over the hive, with carefully selected cautionary tales presented by self elected elites as exemplars of the “way things should be.” All these ideations drive one towards isolation, the status of a curmudgeon, and are exactly the sort of emotionally callous states that the forces shaping our society hope we will all embrace.

note: Today’s “depressive” post will likely be followed by a “manic” one tomorrow, btw.

from wikipedia

Bipolar disorder, also known as bipolar affective disorder (and originally called manic-depressive illness), is a mental disorder characterized by periods of elevated mood and periods of depression. The elevated mood is significant and is known as mania or hypomania depending on the severity or whether there is psychosis. During mania an individual feels or acts abnormally happy, energetic, or irritable. They often make poorly thought out decisions with little regard to the consequences. The need for sleep is usually reduced. During periods of depression there may be crying, poor eye contact with others, and a negative outlook on life.

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obsequious jackanape

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A quick one today.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Spotted the other day on Vernon Blvd. in Hunters Point’s tower town. I’m a bit ragged from this weekend’s back to back tours with Atlas Obscura and Brooklyn Brainery, so forgive a humble narrator’s inability to supply a meaningful post today. Back tomorrow.

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Written by Mitch Waxman

May 19, 2014 at 11:00 am

Thirteen Steps across Dutch Kills

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The 2014 Walking Tours begin.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Join Newtown Creek Alliance Historian Mitch Waxman and Atlas Obscura for an intense exploration of Newtown Creek’s Dutch Kills tributary – found less than one mile from the East River. Dutch Kills is home to four movable (and one fixed span) bridges, including one of only two retractile bridges remaining in New York City. Dutch Kills is considered to be the central artery of industrial Long Island City and is ringed with enormous factory buildings, titan rail yards – it’s where the industrial revolution actually happened.

Bring your camera, as the tour will be revealing an incredible landscape along this section of the troubled Newtown Creek Watershed.

Be prepared: We’ll be encountering broken pavement, sometimes heavy truck traffic, and moving through a virtual urban desert as we cross the currently undefended border of Brooklyn and Queens. Dress and pack appropriately for hiking, closed toe shoes are highly recommended.

Bathroom opportunities will be found only at the start of the walk, which will be around three hours long and cover approximately three miles of ground.

Meetup – At the Albert E. Short Triangle park found at the corner of Jackson Avenue and 23rd Street in Long Island City, Queens. This is the Court Square MTA station, and served by the 7, G, and M lines. Additionally, the Q39 and B62 buses have nearby stops. Check MTA.info as ongoing construction at Queens Plaza often causes delays and interruptions.

Click here for tickets.

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