The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

Posts Tagged ‘Luyster Creek

silently gliding

with 3 comments

Thursday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Luyster Creek, lords and ladies. Also, a different day than the one I mentioned last week. I don’t get over to this side of the Queensiverse, the “Forbidden Northern Coast,” all that often these days. One thing Covid has made me absolutely long for is ownership of an automobile. At some point in the next year or two, I’m going to be purchasing a motor vehicle. The gyrations one endures getting around on foot during this period of time have been extreme. I make a big deal of walking just about everywhere, but under normal circumstance if my foot starts to hurt I’d just hop on a train or bus and come back home. Not an option due to mathematical probability of infection exposure, which reduces me down to taking the occasional cab here and there – but that gets pretty expensive, pretty fast.

As it turned out on this particular visit to Astoria’s loneliest and saddest waterway, a buddy of mine from the community board who wanted to check the place out picked me up in his car and we rode over.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One of the factors which is playing into my continuing thought process regarding personal transportation is what I’d be trading away – dealing with alternate side parking, the cost of insurance and maintenance – ugh. Alternatively, it makes day trips in a roughly 100 mile circle around… let’s use the Triborough Bridge as a center point reference… to photogenic subject matter possible. So, then the question about what kind of vehicle – Jeep, Van, SUV for instance – would be best for that sort of endeavor. Something I could conceivably sleep in? I don’t know. I can’t afford a car, currently, so I’m just fantasizing out loud about it. Still, would’ve been nice over the Pandemic to pack up girl and dog and go somewhere. Dog’s gone, girl’s still here.

I tell you this, walking multiple miles every other day doesn’t get easier when you get older, and I definitely start to feel a bit tired after walking from Astoria to Greenpoint and back.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Lottery winner Mitch would get one of those snazzy RV’s that are rolling around these days, the kind with satellite tv and water heaters. Regular Mitch would be lucky to be able to afford an aged mule pulling a third hand Romani wagon.

Man, it would be cool to own a mule though. I’d get her one of those straw hats and rig a tripod onto the saddle. Last time I mentioned Luyster Creek, and its generous apportionment of Poison Ivy, the fact that goats eat poison ivy (which I’ve also recently learned) came up. Further, the best of all the facts was offered, which is that you can rent goats in NYC who will graze away your poison ivy on a per diem rate.

Who needs a car if you’ve got your own mule and a set of rent-a-goats?

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, February 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

February 11, 2021 at 11:00 am

resident alienists

leave a comment »

Friday bits and bobs.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Last week and here in Astoria, just as a humble narrator was about to succumb to that daily interval of involuntary unconsciousness during which wild hallucinations occur, the windows at HQ began to strobe with a scarlet hue. Thinking that the Astoria Borealis might be occurring again, one rushed to the porch. It seems one of my neighbors was having a visit from both the NYPD and the FDNY, and since both of the municipal vehicles were quite static while the City’s preeminent staffers were busy within, one decided to get a couple of shots for the archive.

I do love seeing an unnaturally colored series of lights. A recent query offered by a passerby nearby Queens Plaza which was a variation on the standard “why are taking pictures of that”? My answer was “Y’know those old photos of NYC that people share on the internet? Somebody like me took those, and whereas these photos are new, someday they’ll be old.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Luyster Creek is a lonely industrial waterway found on the forbidden northern coast of Queens, here in Astoria. A humble narrator is drawn to things forbidden, lonely, and industrial so a scuttle from HQ on the Broadway side of the neighborhood was enacted. Timing was key in this walk, as I wanted to get there just as the burning thermonuclear eye of god itself was dipping down beyond the western shore.

There’s a pretty active industrial driveway leading to the aforementioned western shore, leading to what’s soon going to be a new Department of Sanitation New York (DSNY) maintenance garage and salt dome complex. The City is moving operations from 21st street nearby the Ravenswood NYCHA campus over to the IBZ (industrial business zone) found on the north side of Astoria. DSNY is planning on spending a ball park number of $131 million back here.

Did you know that NYC has a 1% for art requirement in all new municipal construction projects? It’s how the Newtown Creek Nature Walk in Greenpoint got funded. Been on the books since 1982, the 1% for art requirement. You know who must have gotten that into the books, back in 1982? I’ll bet it was Astoria’s own Peter Vallone, senior. Hmmm.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One stuck around at Luyster Creek for a while as the tide was coming in. Saying that, Luyster is a lot like my beloved Newtown Creek in terms of there being a vertical rather than laminar or horizontal flow related to the tide. There’s a bunch of indeterminate muck in the water and its sediment bed due to industrial pollutants as well as a large CSO or Combined Sewer Outfall (BB-041) maintained by the DEP at the head of the canal. As a matter of fact, the shot above was gathered while standing on the pipe’s outfall weir.

NYC has a combined sewer system, meaning that sanitary and storm water use the same underground pipes to travel to the 14 sewer plants. A quarter inch of rain, City wide, means a billion gallons have suddenly surged into the system, and the agency responsible for wastewater management and the 14 plants – the NYC Dept. of Environmental Protection, or DEP – is forced to release the overage into area waterways.

The nomenclature of “BB-041” is explained thusly; the BB stands for Bowery Bay Wastewater Treatment Plant” which is just a few blocks away, the 041 indicates that this is number 41 of the 1936 vintage Bowery Bay plant’s 47 outfalls. BB-041 experiences an average number of 61 weather related discharges into Luyster Creek annually, and pours roughly 84 million gallons of untreated sewage per year directly into the water. Fun times.


“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 21, 2020 at 11:00 am

keenest interest

with one comment

This week is for the birds.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Happenstance and scheduling have finally conspired to give a humble narrator a bit of summer time off, which I’m considering as being a lucky stroke, and which indicate that the universe wants me to take a week off. I’m out galavanting around the City, accordingly, waving the camera around and smiling sardonically.

Next week, I’ll show you what I captured, if it’s not crap.


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

August 16, 2019 at 11:00 am

Posted in Astoria, birds

Tagged with , ,

slouching suggestively

leave a comment »

Astoria’s Luyster Creek. 

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Saturday last, one decided to stay in Astoria rather than trek over to Newtown Creek in pursuit of some photos. Funnily enough, HQ is roughly equidistant between the southern border of Western Queens – Newtown Creek – and the Northern – Bowery Bay. Luyster, or Steinway, Creek is accessible from the street in only one spot that I’ve ever been able to find. It’s a tributary, essentially, of Bowery Bay. Bowery Bay is a section of the water heading eastwards of the East River which splashes up against Astoria’s northern coastline, and which moistens Rikers Island and LaGuardia Airport. Eventually, you hit an invisible line analogous to East Elmhurst and then you’re in Flushing Bay. 

Like Newtown Creek, Luyster Creek is highly contaminated by a variety of “point sources” revolving around industry and municipal sewer outfalls. Unlike Newtown Creek – Luyster Creek doesn’t have any community groups of concerned citizens, or alliances devoted to “reveal, restore, revitalize” looking after it. Oddly enough, Luyster Creek also sits square in the district of the Chair of the City Council’s environmental committee who has never mentioned it, but there you are.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I like to come by here about once or twice a year to check up on things. The illegal dumping along its shoreline is generally of the light industrial type – last Saturday there were a few dozen rolls of roofing tar paper, rotting insulation panels, and somebody had decided to drop off a bunch of building scaffold sections along the shore as well. Access is limited to the waterway, and these shots were accomplished while standing on top of a combined sewer outfall. 

There were quite a few critters doing their thing down at Luyster Creek just before sunset, birds and such. The water was also positively boiling with icthyan activity. 

– photo by Mitch Waxman

That floatables boom you see in the shot above is because of me, since the last time I was down here there was a stream of oil pouring into the water from a privately owned sewer hidden behind those piles and I made a call to one of my Newtown Creek contacts who works for a state agency that polices such matters. The garbage piled up behind it will presumptively be collected by a skimmer boat at some point. It just pisses one off that such citizen action is required in Astoria, where, as mentioned, the City Councilman directly responsible for overseeing environmental matters is based. Additionally, the City Department of Environmental Protection – or DEP – has its Bowery Bay Wastewater Treatment Plant based just a few blocks away. You’d think… Well… lessons learned on Newtown Creek, and the world only makes sense when you force it to do so.

I guess this means I’m going to have to start thinking a lot more about Luyster Creek in the coming years. 


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

September 17, 2018 at 11:00 am

virtual identity

with 3 comments

Artsy and fartsy at Luyster Creek, in today’s post.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As described yesterday, Luyster Creek is an inland tributary of the larger East River which was once known as Steinway Creek. The Steinway piano factory, built in 1870, used to float logs of mahogany in here for their manufacturing needs but that was a long time ago. Today, Luyster Creek is surrounded by energy infrastructure and is part of what I call the “forbidden northern coast of Queens.”

The shots in today’s post were gathered at a street end on 19th avenue, which is pretty much the only place you can get close to the water without fear of arrest for trespassing on the grounds of a power plant or a sewer plant or God knows what else.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Regular readers of this – your Newtown Pentacle – will tell you that a humble narrator is currently obsessed with night photography and has been wandering about Queens with a tripod in the dark. All of today’s shots are long exposures, which render flowing water into a near perfect mirror.

It was low tide when I arrived at Luyster Creek for sunset.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

That’s a “floatables boom” draped lasciviously over the rotting wood of some structure which was once likely a dock. Said boom is used to curtail the path of solid material carried by open sewers into larger water bodies. Designed to hang in the water column near the surface, these devices can get swept up during storms and end up becoming floatables themselves.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The mud flats along the shore could probably be described as being “black mayonnaise.” The energy companies based hereabouts are just the latest in a century of such endeavors, and I’m fairly sure that prior to Con Ed taking regency over the western shoreline of Luyster Creek there was a manufactured gas plant on their site simply called “Astoria Gas.” The Politti Power Plant, and the newish Astoria Energy power plant, as well as the NYC DEP’s Bowery Bay sewage treatment plant are all in the neighborhood and within throwing distance of where these shots were captured.

The likelihood of these sediments not being rich in PCB’s and coal tar is slight, therefore.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

New, to me at least, is a stream running from an upland property recently claimed by construction giant Skanska. Vituperous amounts of water were running out of some hidden outfall into Luyster Creek and carving out a new channel path in the mud flats. The source was right behind the rotting piles seen in the shot above.

Relevant state agencies have been notified and will investigate.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

That’s the inviting street end on 19th Avenue that these shots were gathered from, incidentally. A bunch of kids died here a couple of years ago, when they drove their car right into the water. There used to be goats, but there were none spotted here last Sunday. This industrial dead end does seem to be the preferred location for area “utes” interested in experimenting with cannibinoids and listening to hip hop, based on my experiences in the area, including last Sunday night.

It’s a good place for that sort of thing, I guess. If I was in high school, it’s where I would have gone for those sorts of pursuits. As a withering old man, however, all I’ve got is a tripod and a deep desire to explore lonely and ignored waterfront parcels like Luyster Creek here on the forbidden northern coast of Queens.


Upcoming Tours and Events

Blissville Stories Film Screening –
with Newtown Creek Alliance. Thursday, March 22nd, 7:30pm – 520 Kingsland Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11222.
Click here for trailer.

Newtown Creekathon – hold the date for me on April 15th.

That grueling 13 and change mile death march through the bowels of New York City known as the “Newtown Creekathon” will be held on that day, and I’ll be leading the charge as we hit every little corner and section of the waterway. This will be quite an undertaking, last year half the crowd tagged out before we hit the half way point. Have you got what it takes the walk the enitre Newtown Creek?
Keep an eye on the NCA events page for more information.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

March 21, 2018 at 11:00 am

%d bloggers like this: