The Newtown Pentacle

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Posts Tagged ‘Long Island Expressway

mistily defined

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Tuesday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A few weeks ago, three young fellows drove a car into the Dutch Kills tributary of Newtown Creek in Long Island City and died. Somebody has erected a roadside memorial at the spot that they drove into the water.

According to the cops, these three unfortunates were proceeding down Borden Avenue at a prodigious rate of speed. They didn’t make a certain turn and instead headed for this dead end under the Long Island Expressway, and their vehicle went airborne and into the water. The cops and Fire Dept. brought out divers and all sorts of equipment but couldn’t save the trio.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A view of the same spot, from about a block away.

The official narrative is that the speeding car hit skateboard ramps, which caused them to go airborne. Something I haven’t mentioned during the pandemic is the sudden and unofficial creation of a skate park on the Borden Avenue street end at Dutch Kills. I’ve encouraged everyone who either knew about it or was involved with it to apply for “Open Streets” status which would have seen barriers erected but nobody every listens to me until something awful has happened. That’s when they admit I was right.

Yes Commissioner, this is a great idea but Greenpoint has a history of industrial fires so maybe putting that high pressure gas main in this spot is a bad idea, next week there’s going to be a recycling plant fire directly across the street and next month a semi is going to drive through the sewer plant’s fence and land where the main is meant to go.” “Yes, City Council Member, but building out 35,000 units of residential without creating a single new hospital bed is short sighted… what if a plague sets up in NYC, which according to our history happens every so often…” “Yes, Mayor, but decking the Sunnyside Yards will be fiendishly expensive and you’re running the risk of radicalizing the otherwise stable and predictable political system of Western Queens and destabilizing…”

Call me Ezekiel, for I am a prophet.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As to the narrative revolving around this traffic accident, which cost three young men their lives… I seriously doubt the skateboard ramp theory since – as you can see – the ramp is quite intact and anything a car might touch when it’s moving at 100 mph generally doesn’t remain intact.

Why do I care? Nothing matters, nobody else cares, and we’re all going to hell in a handbasket. Get yours, I’m going to get mine, and then get the ‘eff out of this hellhole. I’m done.

As a note, today’s the anniversary of the General Slocum disaster.


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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.

inverse geometry

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Monday is da shizzle.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

What a busy weekend! This vaccinated thing is going great so far. More on that in a subsequent post.

The first two shots in today’s post were gathered in Long Island City, specifically the stretch of Borden Avenue which the Queens Midtown Expressway truss has positively loomed over since 1940, in the beginning of March. I tell you, lords and ladies, that the normal problem here at Newtown Pentacle is not being able to generate images quickly enough. Since I haven’t had as much to do during the pandemic, one thing I’ve kept busy with is shooting photos. I’m a good month ahead of myself these days, which is neat, but as the world starts back up I plan to get a bit more in sync with the seasons and current events.

Fed-Ex, like the other “last mile shipping” companies including Amazon and UPS, have been extremely busy for the last year. They’re also massively expanding their footprint around Newtown Creek. Newtown Creek Alliance recently worked with a graduate student named Geoff Storr on a policy brief about this expansion – which you can check out by clicking here.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Wandering around LIC, one of the things that jumps at me is the absolute sin of the wasted space under the Queens Midtown Expressway section of the Long Island Expressway. Specifically, this is the zone between Van Dam Street and the Queens Midtown Tunnel. Empty, used for illegal parking, illegal dumping, ugly.

There’s gotta be a better way!

A humble narrator is in the early stages of annoying an entirely different branch of the Government than the usual ones about this subject. In this case, the agency of record is the New York State Department of Transportation. I figure that since they’re all done with the Kosciuszcko Bridge project they must be looking for something new to do.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

On my way back to HQ on a particularly pleasant evening, this chunk of construction equipment was noticed. This is part of the same operation which I’ve talked about before, who are working out a contract to bring the crosswalks and corners into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. This involves “rekajiggering” the curb, pouring new concrete for the corner, and installing a “rumble strip” pad to provide tactile feedback to sight compromised or wheelchair users.

It provides me with something to take pictures of, so “win.”

Back tomorrow with more.


“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

April 12, 2021 at 1:00 pm

apoplectic snort

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Thursday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The endless marching about in a limited area constrained by how far I can walk on any given day is about to come to an end, thanks to the forthcoming second shot of vaccine juice I’m set to receive at the end of this month. Holy smokes, I never thought I’d miss the Subway, but there you are.

On the particular evening these shots were gathered, a humble narrator was in Long Island City’s Degnon Terminal zone. That’s Degnon as in Michael Degnon, a late 19th and early 20th century construction czar. Degnon enjoyed several lucrative Government contracts during the 20 years surrounding the year 1900, including installing the masonry cladding of the Williamsburg Bridge towers, completing the construction of the East River IRT tunnels which the 7 line subway runs through (which had been started by William Steinway and then August Belmont), and a massive land reclamation project surrounding the Dutch Kills tributary of Newtown Creek in LIC. The Degnon Terminal, as he called the latter reclamation project, involved a concurrence of rail, road, and water freight infrastructure that was baked into a multi acre campus of gigantic factory buildings. The factories in this area were constructed using an at the time novel construction technique that used lumber “forms” and steel rebar to shape poured concrete into walls. The Loose Wiles biscuit company, Everready Battery, Chicle Gum and other mega factories in LIC were all a part of the Degnon terminal, which was built at the same time that the nearby Sunnyside Yards were being constructed by the Pennsylvania Rail Road Company. The Degnon Terminal had a rail system that interfaced with the Yards, so all of the PRR and their subsidiary Long Island Railroad tracks were de facto networked to it as well.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Every culture since the beginning of civilization has had to develop a system for organizing and concentrating its resources towards some common goal. In Southeast Asia, you’ll find religious institutions which are older than the Roman Empire who still handle the water resovoir and canal delivery systems for rice paddies, for instance. Even the Soviets had a system for concentrating and focusing resources on their projects. In the United States, financial capital is concentrated via bond offerings and stock shares on one end, or by tax receipts and a combination of private and public banking and lending institutions on the other. The Degnon Terminal became a focus point for every sort of investment scenario available at the time.

That building in the shot above, the self storage warehouse with the green accent, used to be the largest part of the nine building General Electric Vehicle Company complex in LIC. That’s where they manufactured electric cars and trucks, in 1915. Like the Degnon Terminal, it was built and funded using private capital, meaning stock or bond market and perhaps commercial bank loans.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The large steel truss in the shot above, however, which transverses the Degnon Terminal high over Borden Avenue was built with public capital and NY State “Authority” issued bonds. It’s the Queens Midtown Expressway section of the larger Long Island Expressway, which became folded into Robert Moses’s TBTA or a Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority (the LIE terminates at the Queens Midtown Tunnel). The funding for this construction was arrived at by the issuance of municipal and TBTA bonds which were offered to investors through the purview of a commercial banking entity. The banks loved Robert Moses, since he always paid his many debts on time. To be fair, Moses was backed up by the river of dimes and nickels collected at the toll plazas of the Triborough Bridge and eventually at the QM Tunnel’s toll plaza.

This pedantry is offered in response to a recent conversation a humble narrator was privy to between some of the self identifying Democratic Socialists of Queens, who seem to think that Socialism means that money – where you get it, how you manage it, who spends it and on what – doesn’t matter and will matter less in their new dialectic. Even the citizens of the Soviet Union paid income taxes, and if the Marxist Leninists in Moscow wanted to build a new tractor factory they had to figure out a way to concentrate their financial and material resources to build the thing. It wasn’t straight up analogous to the Lord of the Flies type of capitalism practiced in the USA, of course, but they had a system.

Everybody has a system, even if it involves enslaving a subject nation to build you a pyramid, or tithing people to finance a cathedral. Socialist countries have central banks, investment methodologies, and an economy.

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 8th. 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 11, 2021 at 11:00 am

honest physician

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Remember when Friday was special?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As mentioned in the past, there’s something about the design principles of the “House of Moses” – which is what I call the teams of municipal engineers and architects that were employed by Robert Moses and who designed the network of highway, expressway, and parkway infrastructure of NYC between the early 1930’s and late 1960’s – which has always appealed to me. There seems to have been a governing philosophy back then that despite the mission calling for you to draw something utilitarian and inherently ugly – a high speed road, for instance – you should go out of your way to gussy it up and find ways to make it aesthetic. This is before Brutalism and massing shapes became the calling card of civil works.

I’m not being sarcastic, look at that 1940 section of the Long Island Expressway above. It could have been so much worse, and there’s all sorts of small detail built into what’s essentially an off ramp and an elevated travel lane. Truly under appreciated, I’ve always thought. The cloverleaf ramps nearby LaGuardia Airport are also quite visually pleasing to me.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

When I’m screaming at Government Employees in the modern day, I’m usually the only person in the room who’s not standing on a firm “Go ‘Eff yourself” on new or upgraded municipal infrastructure. Instead, I’m asking why they can’t spend a bit more time thinking about what it’s going to be like living with this stuff nearby. Why not make it visually interesting or even attractive? Look at the new Koscisuzcko Bridge, or the sewer plant in Greenpoint, for examples of what I’m talking about. I mean… you’re spending the money anyway, why not make it nice?

Pictured above is a Long Island Railroad train rolling through the Harold Interlocking at the Sunnyside Yards, photographed from my favorite hole in the fences. Want to talk about screwing up the public interface for a municipal facility? Look at the plate steel fences they’ve thrown up around the Yards, which are graffiti magnets. Uggh.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Despite the pandemic, ChristmAstoria is risibly present again this year. Lights are deployed and electrified, and luckily the fad for light strings with xmas music speakers attached seems to be dying. I’m into the decorative lights, but detest the piping of holiday music into the streets.

Back next week with more shots from different adventures.

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, December 7th. 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.

sardonic actuality

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Holy shmegoalie, its Wednesday again.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Scuttling about in the dark, as I do, there’s a lot of time for thinking. Recent musings found me thanking an earlier version of myself for getting interested in night and low light photography, as this particular passion of mine has been the only creative outlet available through the pandemic. My habit has been to wait until 8 o’clock or so, when the streets are becoming relatively unpopulated and free of humans, and then set out. My paths have become so well chosen that once I get out of residential Astoria and into the “IBZ” or “Industrial Business Zone” section, I’m finding myself completely and utterly alone for hours at a pop. It’s an odd sensation, moving through one of the most densely populated sections of the entire planet in solitude.

Generally speaking, when I’m back there and all by myself, I unmask. My habit is to slavishly wear the thing when moving about during the day, or in populated places. When I get to an area where the only other humans present are driving past in vehicles, or I can see empty sidewalks stretching out in every direction…

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The mask is annoying, and fairly uncomfortable, I’ve found. Factor in the fact that I wear eyeglasses, and I’ve got to deal with them fogging up and occluding vision as I’m trying not to get squished by trucks while crossing streets. Additionally, I have a beard, which – since they weather has turned cold – collects the breath condensation contained by the mask and my chin coiff becomes quite moist. Whatcha gonna do?

One of my super powers revolves around being able to prophesy the near future based on current circumstance, which is something I do using branch logic methodologies. Back at the beginning of this I told my friends in the political world that “food and housing security, riots, structural fires, and a vast underreporting of domestic violence” were on the horizon. I told them about race cars and fireworks back at the beginning of April.

What’s next, then, Ezekiel? We’re wearing masks, even with a vaccine, for a minimum of the next two years. Also, based on recent tectonic activity all over and all around North America, I think 2020 might have one last big surprise in store for us.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One has just a few more Zoom meetings to get through in the next couple of weeks and then we’re done for the year on both Creek and Community Board. Tonight, the Transportation Committee is meeting, and we’re going to be talking about the absolute mess which is Astoria Blvd. Parking rules vary block to block, sidewalks are inconsistently sized, signage and street lighting is either on functional or missing… There’s lots of fixing to do there, which I’m hoping that the Governmental Agencies which oversee this street will agree with me about.

That’s not Astoria Blvd. pictured above, as a note, it’s Laurel Hill Blvd. in the Blissville section of Long Island City.

Back tomorrow, Lords and Ladies.

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, December 7th. 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

December 9, 2020 at 1:00 pm

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