The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

Posts Tagged ‘Manhattan Bridge

nervous motion

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Brooklyn, Manhattan, Williamsburg.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As mentioned yesterday, one is taking a short break – hence the singular image which greets you above. Back soon with new stuff.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Upcoming Tours and events –

October 7th, 2015
Our Polluted History:
A Non-Toxic & Fascinating Forum on Greenpoint’s Environmental Past panel discussion

with GWAPP, click here for details

October 10th, 2015
Calvary Cemetery Walking Tour
with Atlas Obscura, click here for details and tickets

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Written by Mitch Waxman

October 7, 2015 at 11:00 am

stress and hardships

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For a while there, I used to chew a lot of gum. These days, not so much.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As you may have guessed by this point, your humble narrator was all over Brooklyn in the last week. Pictured above is the view from (literally) DUMBO – Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Onramp. You may want to tell me that this drippy warren of pigeon shit stained and ankle turning cobbles is the very model of a modern major city if you like, but you can have it. It’s always dark down here and that’s precisely how you get a vampire infestation started. How’s that for a rumor – Did you know that there’s a Vampire problem in DUMBO? That would suck.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Vampires are silly, of course, and kind of passé. All the cool kids are into Lich’s these days, or so I’m told by the Moroccan kid downstairs. I did spot a tugboat floating by, but didn’t head down toward the ConEd substation at the waterfront to follow it. My path was not one of exploration, as mentioned earlier in the week, rather I was just walking from Red Hook to Astoria and keeping the river in sight the whole way. Next time, I’ll pick around the side streets and see what wishes to noticed.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One thing that I couldn’t help but notice was this CitiBike rack across the street from the Navy Yard, frozen in a three foot block of plow shaped ice. For some reason, this crystallized the period of turnover from Bloomberg to the current Mayor for me. Nothing cutting offered there, it just seems to be kind of emblematic. Good luck with the cold and snow today. Your humble narrator unhappily offers that a return to Red Hook, despite the blistering cold, is on his schedule for today – but I most assuredly will not be walking home.

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Written by Mitch Waxman

February 28, 2014 at 9:30 am

especial region

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Walking over rivers, that’s me.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Recent occasion found me with several appointments in rapid succession, one of which carried me to the shining city of Manhattan. Having accomplished the pedantry which this obligation required a bit quicker than anticipated, a longer interval of time became available to me than originally planned, and it was decided to walk to my next appointment instead of using the subway. Off to Brooklyn went I, a scuttling over the venerable Manhattan Bridge.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There’s a visceral sense of menace to the pedestrian walkway on this bridge, unlike the other east river spans- you feel isolated and quite far from the ever watchful NYPD up here. The graffito covered cement confirms the availability of time and opportunity, and were there Nosferatu operating in the megalopolis, this surely would make an excellent hunting ground (in the evenings at least).

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The views of lower Manhattan, specifically that ancient section called Chinatown, are quite breathtaking from up here. Breathtaking in the sense that amongst the buildings closest to the bridge, one can observe a relict stock of 19th and 20th century buildings whose only commonality is that they were thrown against the sky in as inexpensive a manner as possible.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I’m always fascinated while observing these open and undraped windows visible only from the bridge. Questions arise in me, such as “if your window is so incredibly wide open to all of NY, wouldn’t you hang a curtain?”. Its weird though, peering in through the window of something that might accurately be described as a tenement window, like seeing a sociological ghost.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There’s the longest possible history in this Manhattan neighborhood, which sits nearby the fabled five points at the edge of the so called Bloody Sixth Ward. There’s a series of apartments in New York City which I always wonder about, these that run alongside the Manhattan Bridge on the Chinatown side are amongst them, which I think must be the most onerous rentals available. Who lives here, with the subway and a possibly vampire infested pedestrian walkway right outside their window? What path has life carried the lessee to the wrong side of this window?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Brutal reality is best defined by the sweeping movements of a ticking clock, however, and despite having had a surprisingly long interval open up that allowed me the caprice of walking to Brooklyn- it was time to lean into it and get moving. Flatbush Avenue was awaiting, as was a meeting at the fabled Juniors, and it was time to kick my heels and get to DUMBO and infinite Brooklyn.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

December 18, 2013 at 12:46 pm

cyclopean symbol

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“follow” me on Twitter at @newtownpentacle

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One of those trips to Manhattan which I’ve been complaining about for the last few weeks actually ended in a fully catered boat ride, so it goes to show that not all things are horrible. While onboard, an NYC DEP “Honey Boat” was spotted and a humble narrator exclaimed “for maritime Sunday, once more unto the breach.”

from nywea.org

The sludge vessel operation has four crews, each with six personnel. They work 12-hr shifts. Two vessels are used on a 6-day schedule but can be used on any day of the year. The third vessel is either dockside for repairs or in a standby mode.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

“Honey” or Sludge Boats, carry the end product of the waste water treatment process from their source to a secondary location for further treatment and “dewatering.” The latter involves centrifuges and turns the dark stuff from something with the consistency of pea soup into something which is like wet corn meal or grits, which will be used as fertilizer for non food crops or just end up in some former coal mine or landfill in Pennsylvania.

from nyc.gov

Dewatering reduces the liquid volume of sludge by about 90%. New York City operates dewatering facilities at eight of its 14 treatment plants. At these facilities, digested sludge is sent through large centrifuges that operate like the spin cycle of a washing machine. The force from the very fast spinning of the centrifuges separates most of the water from the solids in the sludge, creating a substance knows as biosolids. The water drawn from the spinning process is then returned to the head of the plant for reprocessing. Adding a substance called organic polymer improves the consistency of the “cake”, resulting in a firmer, more manageable product. The biosolids cake is approximately 25 to 27percent solid material.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Luckily, as my companions on this boat trip were actually an elite upper crust from around NY Harbor and one such as myself cannot help but feel small in their company, the Honey Boat was the MV Newtown Creek.

Something about being near a hundred thousand gallons of concentrated sewage, and the name of the boat itself, made me feel as if I was back at home rather than upon the East River.

from wikipedia

Separation anxiety disorder (SAD) is a psychological condition in which an individual experiences excessive anxiety regarding separation from home or from people to whom the individual has a strong emotional attachment (e.g. a parent, grandparents, or siblings).

According to the American Psychology Association, separation anxiety disorder is the inappropriate and excessive display of fear and distress when faced with situations of separation from the home or from a specific attachment figure. The anxiety that is expressed is categorized as being atypical of the expected developmental level and age. The severity of the symptoms ranges from anticipatory uneasiness to full-blown anxiety about separation.

Also: Upcoming Tours!

13 Steps around Dutch Kills Saturday, May 4, 2013
Newtown Creek walking tour with Mitch Waxman and Atlas Obscura, tickets now on sale.

Parks and Petroleum- Sunday, May 12, 2013
Newtown Creek walking tour with Mitch Waxman and Newtown Creek Alliance, tickets now on sale.

The Insalubrious Valley- Saturday, May 25, 2013
Newtown Creek walking tour with Mitch Waxman and Atlas Obscura, tickets on sale soon.

Hidden Harbor: Newtown Creek tour with Mitch Waxman – Sunday, May 26,2013
Boat tour presented by the Working Harbor Committee,
Limited seating available, order advance tickets now. Group rates available.

Written by Mitch Waxman

April 28, 2013 at 12:15 am

with palpitant heart

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– photo by Mitch Waxman

Startlingly interesting is the only way to describe the experiences of the preceding year. Attempts have been made to cogently describe and colorfully illustrate the encounters your humble narrator has enjoyed in this 10th year of the millennium. For those of you who have just recently started to read this, your Newtown Pentacle, this is your chance to check out some of the highlights of 2010 (according to me), and for the veteran Lords and Ladies of the Pentacle an opportunity to review.

If you’ll indulge me…

January, 2010- The Abbot

The sort of posting which satisfies me deeply, “The Abbot” monument found at Calvary focused my attentions on certain realities of 19th century New York, and proved my theory that Calvary Cemetery is the single greatest historical resource in Queens. Obviation of my satisfaction with the posting is provided by the admission that I had noticed the stone peripherally, found it interesting, and started shooting it with no idea at all about its meaning. Only at home, when reviewing the photos did the whole story come together. Al Smith is buried at Calvary as well (he’s the fellow who built the skyscraper seen in the night shot at the head of this post) but this paragraph is about January 2010 and Governor Smith’s story was told in 2009.

January, 2010- The Great Machine

Also in January, a pet ideation was advanced, one not of theory but of perception. The notion of the megalopolis figures heavily in my thinking- a concept that sees the eastern seaboard of the United States not as a series of cities, but rather one vast urban zone of varying densities with New York City at the titular center of a web of industry, transport, and agricultural systems. The center of the web has a center itself, which is Manhattan- specifically where it connects to “the Great Machine” of the Queensboro bridge and it’s corollaries.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

February 2010– Affordable Housing Development on Borden Avenue

This post, “Affordable Housing Development on Borden Avenue“,  is included in the year end wrap up simply because it ended up being one of the more widely read and commented upon endeavors presented in 2010. Most likely, it was the linking shout out from Queenscrap that made it so, rather than any subjective quality or incisive observation. Homeless camps abound in the Newtown Pentacle, hidden away on seldom trodden lanes and along backwater pathways- in this case it’s alongside the oft delayed construction project at the Borden Avenue Bridge which spans Dutch Kills.

February 2010– horrible and unearthly ululations…

A lot of time was spent in 2010 trying to wrap my head fully around the story of the Newtown Creek (which culminated ultimately in the late October release of the first Newtown Pentacle book- Newtown Creek for the vulgarly curious) and “horrible and unearthly ululations…” was the first of several posts which attempted to boil complicated and obscure snippets of historical lore into a cohesive and accessible form. So much is made of the Greenpoint Oil Spill and the Meeker Avenue Plumes by the legal community, whose hungry jowls slaver and shake at the financial possibilities offered by the EPA’s superfund designation and various court decisions, that the true and terrible wonder of the Newtown Creek is often overlooked. This post and several others of its ilk attempt to present a fuller version of things, and act as reminders that what was may once again be.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

March 2010– The Shadow over Sunnyside

The St. Pat’s Day for All parade in Sunnyside is a yearly event which draws in a citywide coterie of political entities, all desperate for attention and attribution as being friendly to the GLTG members of the electorate. The parades origins are a reaction against the banning of outwardly gay marchers in the RC church’s own St. Patricks day parade in Manhattan. Despite its politically contentious birthing, the Sunnyside parade is actually a fun and light hearted event, and signals the coming of springtime in the Newtown Pentacle. While there principally to get shots of the political master race which rules over us, amongst the crowd I noticed small clots of dire intent armed with ugly signage. Research into this group, which was clearly coordinated and queerly ominous, revealed them to be adherents to a bastardized form of Catholic fundamentalism which has been outlawed and defined as a dangerous cult by several Nation-states. A shadow over Sunnyside indeed.

March 2010– Exhausted

A brighter experience for your humble narrator was the Manhattan Bridge Centennial Time Capsule event, on March 5. Interactions and conversations were enjoyed by the least of men with certain powers and potentates of the City of Greater New York and entry to the interior space of the Manhattan Bridge was obtained. One of the high points of my year, “Exhausted” detailed the embedding of a time capsule in the East River Bridge #2- aka the Manhattan Bridge. Remarkable self control was exercised when I met the DOT Commissioner, Jeanette Sadik-Khan. My sincerest desire was to bend her ear with my alleged wisdom about bike lanes and bridge safety- but self control was ascendent that day and only congratulations were offered to both her and the other staffers at DOT.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

April 2010– City of Marble and Beryl

Odd shenanigans were observed at St. Michael’s Cemetery here in Astoria, which were of a decidedly magickal nature. A ritual site that your humble narrator stumbled across was examined and evidentiary examination suggested that certain third world cults were extant here in the old village of Astoria, conducting midnight bacchanals concurrent with the lunar cycle. “City of Marble and Beryl” was but the first of many moons which witnessed a working of will amongst the desolations of our kind.

April 2010– Searching for Gilman

A good part of 2010 was spent “Searching for Gilman” at First Calvary Cemetery, which I am doing as you are reading this, assuming it’s the start of 2011 whenever you do. Gilman is the source of no small amount of pain and financial hardship around these parts, as your humble narrator has become dangerously obsessive and paranoid around the subject. A psychotic need to find Gilman’s grave torments me, coloring my days and painting my dreams a dull yellow.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

May 2010– the king in yellow, brick

Remiss would be apparent were I to not mention the “Madison Avenue Bridge Centennial” but “the king in yellow, brick” advanced another of my pet theories and served up a fascinating (to me at least) sequence of events and relationships which attempts to explain why those yellow Kreischer bricks are all over the older sections of Queens.

May 2010– after cycles incalculable

After cycles incalculable” is another one of those perfect posts, from a personal perspective. Wandering around with a friend, which is a disturbing trend which developed over the course of 2010, at Skillman Avenue’s start we observed the Lemuria hatching in concordance with the anniversary of the Roman festival of Lemuralia in Long Island City.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

June 2010– from Hells Gate, loosed upon the world

When I set out on my little walks, there is seldom a destination in mind. Literally wandering, obscure symbols and pseudo occultism guide my steps- I’ll follow a black cat, or merely adopt a roughly heliotropic path using my own shadow as compass. At the very end of May, my feet carried me toward Astoria Park and the notorious section of the East River known as Hells Gate. The odd craft, an “unidentified floating object” if you would, which sped past my lens required more than a small bit of detective work to identify- which was detailed in “from Hells Gate, loosed upon the world“.

June 2010– Gods Gift to Pain

English Kills, which is the logical and modern end of Newtown Creek, is a heavily industrialized and largely anaerobic tributary of the larger waterway and is seldom visited (by me, at least) at its extant. One fine day, while hanging out with another Creek enthusiast (you should not go to this place alone), we decided to enter the largely hidden urban foyer which leads here- despite the fact that we were most likely trespassing- which violates Newtown Pentacle policy. The title of the post- “Gods Gift to Pain” was lifted from an enigmatic and appropriate bit of graffiti observed in this forgotten pace of dissolution and poison.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The reason for Brooklyn, and Queens- why it was a viable alternative to living in Manhattan in the 19th century was defined by the horrors of tenement life. The grand old buildings with their high ceilings, thick plastered walls, convenient dumbwaiters, and incredibly ornate lobbies- the structures which distinguished and made life desirable in the incalculably distant boroughs, were built as an alternative to the crowded and dangerous tenements of “The City”- especially the warren which was known as the “Five Points“. Additionally, Calvary Cemetery (of particular interest to me, and perhaps, to you) was founded by the parishioners of Old St. Patrick’s Cathedral which is smack dab in the middle of this ancient labyrinth of poverty, crime, and squalor. It was decided that to fully understand what one observes in the remains of the supposed “answer to the problem”, exploration of “the problem” itself is required.

July 2010– Bandits Roost, 2010

Ideal source material for the textural and societal milieu of the Five Points is the admittedly biased “How the Other Half Lives” by 19th century do-gooder Jacob Riis. Speaking the truth that power wants to hear is always a sound move if one considers fiscal realities and historical reputation. Attempts were made to find the modern locale in which Riis shot some of his more famous shots, such as this visit to “Bandits Roost 2010“.

July 2010– The house of Dagger John

Another critical visitation for me, as part of my larger education and study of the early development of the City of Greater New York was occasioned on the day when I went to “The house of Dagger John“. Old St. Patrick’s Cathedral satisfies both my continuing fascination with the counterpoint of sacred and profane in the story of the Megalopolis, and figures largely in the predictions of certain obscure lore which governs the schedule of my researches.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

August 2010– not to harsh anyone’s buzz… but…

August of 2010 brought a posting which garnered a lot of attention, due to curbed.com noticing and linking to it. Simply noticing that a growing proliferation of small boats were berthing illegally at the Vernon Avenue street end, it would be irresponsible of me- given everything that I know about the location not to point out the mortal and existential danger that the operators of these boats were placing themselves in. It’s not even the water, really, its the high pressure natural gas line- the enormous CSO which drains LIC- the omnipresent heavy industrial maritime traffic- which makes the spot so hazardous. Mortal threats were received via email (which I’ve kept private), and the comments thread displayed an angry and accusatory tone. As is the case with all such critique, these comments were presented verbatim- here’s a taste: “i have red your article in which you show a great deal of unger towards me and my friends . i believe that you base your article on many misconceptions that are rooted in a lack of communication”, “Blogger or not, the prudent journalist would make an effort to uncover basic facts before publishing a story full of assumptions”, “are you just the type of little man that tells teacher when the cool kids make you feel inferior. The water is public domain! And according to maritime law it is not illegal to moor a boat as long as it safe and looked after.”, “They are not bothering anyone. And get sick from the canal, come on. They are not living down there as far as I know. Parking your boat in the canal is not going to get them sick! Stop over doing it.” Check out “not to harsh anyone’s buzz… but…“.

August 2010– lively antics


One of the greatest joys of living in Queens are the chance encounters you’ll have with people who hail from the furthest points of the compass, such as this Bouzouki player during another visit to Hells Gate. His “lively antics” added splendor to a brightly lit walk around Astoria.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

September 2010– Lucky Shot

Although veteran photographers caution me against use of this term, I call the photo above my “shot of the year”. The steel structure attached to the bottom of the Brooklyn Bridge was installed as part of a bridge painting and maintenance project, and I was luckily along on a Working Harbor trip just as the sun was setting. Right place, right time, it was a “Lucky Shot“.

September 2010– stronger than fear

The dynamic new Safeboats utilized by NYPD and other entities around the harbor were a frequent subject over several of the Working Harbor expeditions I was lucky enough to attend. The many shapes, colorways, and missions of these quick little patrol boats are a delight to observe- and to those who would work maritime malice upon the metropolis- they are the head of the spear. Check out “stronger than fear“.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A high of the year was the Newtown Creek Cruise which I had the honor of co-narrating with Bernard Ente on October 24th, of course, but the main topic of conversation amongst the antiquarian and environmental communities of the Newtown Pentacle in October revolved around the EPA’s superfund announcement about Newtown Creek at the very end of September. October is spooky time around these parts, and I spent a little time digging around the area for thrills and chills as well.

October 2010– blurred outlines

As part of series of postings detailing what might be seen in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Greenpoint, “blurred outlines” discusses the alleged appearance of a pyrokinetic at 84 Guernsey Street in January of 1895.

October 2010– scenes familiar, and loved

One of my frequent walks through Calvary Cemetery took me to the curiously empty chapel which enjoys the paramount of Laurel Hill. I will admit that I came here this day seeking two things- one was a likely entrance to a vast subterranean structure which underlies the area- the other was a vain hope that the grave of Gilman might present itself in a section which was, at the time, not terribly familiar to me as I normally stay close to the fringes of the place where the whipporwills wail. I very well might have captured what mass media paranormal media sources describe as a ghost orb in “scenes familiar, and loved“.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

November 2010 peace rests nevermore

One of the goals of this, your Newtown Pentacle, is to provide some sort of documentation about this terrible and wonderful place called the Newtown Creek- and I’m happy to say that I was there when the then Attorney General and Governor Elect Andrew Cuomo announced the settlement of a lawsuit brought by his office on behalf of New York State against Exxon-Mobil which involved the Greenpoint Oil Spill. “Peace rests nevermore” indeed.

November 2010 shocking coruscations

Entertaining maritime folklore from past centuries was offered in “shocking coruscations“, which is told against a series of twilight photos from good old Hells Gate between the two great bridges.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

During the cold, when inclement clime restricts my movements and the black dog nips at my heels, I tend toward shorter postings- and in December of 2010 there were two “Then and Now” postings that really took my fancy. These posts are difficult because of the scarce source material available in the public domain, but fun nevertheless. In my usual fashion “dumb idiot” fashion, I had shot the modern views completely unaware of the original photo. Our friends at the Greater Astoria Historic Society have recently released a book of similar historical views, which is worthy of consideration.

December 2010 Bowery Savings Bank 2010 and 1903

As the title states, this is the iconic shell of a once essential and awesomely powerful institution called the Bowery Savings Bank in Manhattan, with a 1903 photo from a similar perspective.

December 2010 Hunters Point Avenue Bridge Centennial

If you told me a year ago that I’d end up doing a press conference with a United States Congresswoman, I’d have hit you. That’s how I ended up at the Degnon Terminal’s own Sunshine Biscuits (LaGuardia Community College) building though, and by an odd coincidence- found myself standing in nearly the same spot as some unknown photographer did in 1921. This posting was built around the announcement of the “Hunters Point Avenue Bridge Centennial” event.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Overall, a positive and exciting year, despite the deaths of several members of my family.

For a while, I enjoyed a spot on the board of the nascent Newtown Historical Society as a trustee, which is a position that I’ve had to resign for a variety of personal reasons- but I’d like to thank fellow board members Kevin Walsh, Christina Wilkinson, Steve Garza, and Bob Singleton for an interesting and educational experience. Kevin Walsh of forgotten-ny gets a personal call out, as his support, knowledge, and encouragement has been invaluable. Special thanks also are extended toward Capt. John Doswell and Meg Black of the Working Harbor Committee, all the guys and gals aboard the John J. Harvey fireboat, and everybody else who allowed a piss poor specimen such as myself to come along on adventures. Bernard Ente of the Newtown Creek Alliance, Working Harbor, and others also receives a heartfelt gratitude and shout out from this humble mendicant. Standing on the shoulders of giants is difficult if you suffer from altitude related nosebleeds.

What’s next?

Tell you what, feel like taking a walk?

Meet me at the border of Brooklyn and Queens – bring a camera… and ID…  I’ll show you something cool…

Another Lucky shot

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– photo by Mitch Waxman

Social gatherings and year end meetings consume the evening hours of twilit December, and recently, I had occasion to be at the Pier 17 complex at South Street Seaport. Upon arriving at my destination in the cavernous building, this scene greeted me.

Luckily, I had my trusty “old” camera- the Canon G10 with its magnetic tripod gadget attached which allows me to make “on the fly” long exposures. Even so, this was a lucky shot.

A 15 second exposure, looking north along the East River at the Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Williamsburg Bridges, on December 7th, 2010 at 7:50 PM.

MV Red Hook at Brooklyn Bridge

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– photo by Mitch Waxman

Our Lady of the Pentacle suffers much for my obsessions with the municipal sewage infrastructure of the City of Greater New York. Endless hours of monotone exposition greets her whenever a significant appliance or facility is encountered, and today you- lords and ladies- will share her pain. That’s the M/V Red Hook sludge boat soldiering down the East River, and passing beneath the Brooklyn Bridge.

from wikipedia

Contemporaries marveled at what technology was capable of and the bridge became a symbol of the optimism of the time. John Perry Barlow wrote in the late 20th century of the “literal and genuinely religious leap of faith” embodied in the Brooklyn Bridge … “the Brooklyn Bridge required of its builders faith in their ability to control technology.”

References to “selling the Brooklyn Bridge” abound in American culture, sometimes as examples of rural gullibility but more often in connection with an idea that strains credulity. For example, “If you believe that, I’ve got a bridge to sell you.” References are often nowadays more oblique, such as “I could sell you some lovely riverside property in Brooklyn …”. George C. Parker and William McCloundy are two early 20th-century con-men who had (allegedly) successfully perpetrated this scam on unwitting tourists. The 1949 Bugs Bunny cartoon Bowery Bugs is a joking reference to Bugs “selling” a story of the Brooklyn Bridge to a naive tourist.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Speculative destinations for the Red Hook could include storied Greenpoint, where the product of the Temple of Cloacina might require transport, or the Wards Island facility where the syrupy product of New York’s human infestation will be dewatered and processed into cakes of concentrated nightsoil.

from nyc.gov

Sludge treatment

The following are typical stages of the sludge treatment process.

Thickening

The sludge produced by primary and secondary treatment is approximately 99% water and must be concentrated to enable its further processing. Thickening tanks allow the sludge to collect, settle and separate from the water for up to 24 hours. The water is then sent back to the head of the plant or to the aeration tanks for additional treatment.

Digestion

After thickening, the sludge is further treated to make it safer for the environment. The sludge is placed in oxygenfree tanks, called digesters, and heated to at least 95 degrees Fahrenheit for between 15 to 20 days. This stimulates the growth of anaerobic bacteria, which consume organic material in the sludge. Unlike the bacteria in the aeration tanks, these bacteria thrive in an oxygen-free or “anaerobic” environment. The digestion process stabilizes the thickened sludge by converting much of the material into water, carbon dioxide and methane gas. The black sludge that remains after digestion has the consistency of pea soup and has little odor. This is called digested sludge.

Methane gas is often used as an energy source at the City’s wastewater treatment plants. The gas may be used in engines to produce electricity or directly drive plant equipment. Gas is also used in boilers to provide heat for digestion and plant-wide buildings. Currently, DEP and the New York Power Authority (NYPA) have jointly installed fuel cells at four of the City’s water pollution control plants; 26th Ward, Red Hook, Oakwood Beach and Hunts Point. Fuel cells convert the methane gas and carbon dioxide into heat and electricity that is then used to operate the plants. This technology contributes to New York City’s efforts to enhance clean air operations at its facilities. There is a significant reduction in air emissions as a result of using fuel cells.

Digester sludge is pumped from sludge storage tanks to a dewatering facility. At some treatment plants, where there are no dewatering facilities on site, the sludge is transported for processing through a pipeline or by a sludge boat to a plant that has a dewatering facility.

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