The Newtown Pentacle

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Posts Tagged ‘Maspeth

country legends

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Thursday, and how I almost broke my neck.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Maspeth is quite hilly. I’ve always opined that walking up 69th street, leading up from Queens Blvd. to Borden Avenue, is not unlike visiting one of the Mayan pyramids and that there should be similarly be a chain laid down on the sidewalk to grab onto and aid you in climbing the ascent. The reason behind this steep elevation is geological, as the terminal moraine of Long Island’s western extent begins in Maspeth (at Mt. Olivette cemetery) whereas the lower declination closer to the East River are a sort of glacial mud puddle. When you’re in a boat on Newtown Creek, you can easily visualize the ridge which gives Ridgewood its name, and see the geologic “soup bowl.” In the shot above, you can discern the radical change in elevation of Maspeth which is encountered in just one city block, an ascent of something like three building stories of height.

While walking down this hill, I slipped on a chunk of metal, while holding the camera tripod in front of me in a posture not unlike that of carrying a rifle. I found myself propelled forward head first, and rather than try to fight gravity, my instinctual response was instead to sprint into the fall. Running allowed me to regain my balance, which was lucky. If I hadn’t saved myself here, it would have been a tooth breaking face plant on the sidewalk, and my torso would have smashed the camera and tripod into the pavement. As it is, it took me running all the way to that utility pole in the shot above before I regained proper walking balance. It was actually quite comical.

Gravity and momentum, they affect us all, bro.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Luckily, I managed to pull a muscle in my back and the act of locking up my abdomen and chest to maintain an erect running posture caused my neck and shoulders to cramp up, but that’s what it’s like being in your early 50’s. These are also the sort of banal adventures which an intrepid urban explorer encounters while walking around on anything but flood planes. In my defense, neighborhoods in my county of origin had names like “Flatlands” and “Flatbush.”

I expect that there’s some security guy who had a good laugh watching the cctv footage of this particular moment the next morning. The word you’re looking for is “klutz.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Back to those “corridors” mentioned yesterday, one set out for hq along the 43rd street/Laurel Hill Blvd. corridor. This entails a fairly terrifying walk along a sidewalk which barely has a curb and which adjoins the onramp of the Brooklyn Queens Expressway leading onto the Kosciuszcko Bridge. Tire tracks left behind by automobiles and trucks on this sidewalk provide efficacy of the commitment to street safety which is offered by the NYC DOT.

I plan on calling Thrive NYC to discuss my worries about all of this. Chirlane will know what I should think.

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, January 18th. 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

January 21, 2021 at 11:00 am

sinisterly wooded

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Wednesday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One finds himself wandering over the same ground over and over due to the efficiency of certain routes. There are de facto passes – gateway points – between the residential neighborhoods of Queens and the industrial business zones. That means that I end up moving through and towards these choke points all the time. Some of these “passes” are created by highways, cemeteries, or rail yards. In the case of the “happy place” Maspeth area of Newtown Creek, there’s the 39th/43rd/48th street corridors.

Interesting Queens historical trivia is that back in Dutch and English times, 39th street used to be called Harold Avenue, 43rd street used to be called Laurel Hill Blvd. and ran from Berrian Bay to Newtown Creek, and that 48th street was “the Shell Road” which was paved with crushed oyster shells.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Normal scuttling finds me looking for the most direct route from “A” to “B” but given that there’s nothing normal about the world right now, one finds himself wandering about a bit more than usual. Why not walk down that street or avenue you’ve never consciously explored before? It’s not like you have somewhere else to go.

My fascination with photographing the skeletal silhouettes of wintry street trees is becoming an issue for me, so I’m planning on calling Thrive NYC to ask Chirlane DeBlasio for some advice on kicking the habit. She’s apparently the wisest of all people, according to the Mayor, but he’s only watched a few of the videos.

Seriously though, seeing a tree this large and this old which has survived in the darkest of the environmental thickets of Newtown Creek’s industrialized hinterlands long enough to get up to forty or fifty feet is just inspirational. You’ve got to take hope when you find it, lords and ladies.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

This lobster truck, which has clearly seen better days, sits at the top of a hill in the section of West Maspeth which was sometimes referred to as “Berlin” or “Berlinville” in the late 19th century and for the first decade of the 20th. There are residential buildings hereabouts, scattered here and there amongst the factories and warehouses, and queries I’ve offered to the folks who live here over the years have revealed no living memory of the Berlin thing. Saying that, there was the Berlinville Railway disaster, and I’ve seen the term scribed onto fire insurance maps, so…

It’s parked on what should be the eastern slope of Berlin Hill. Laurel Hill is where First Calvary cemetery resides. The shallow valley between them, which the BQE runs through, used to host a lost tributary of Newtown Creek called “Wolf Creek,” or so the legend states…

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, January 18th. 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

January 20, 2021 at 11:00 am

ominous things

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Tuesday’s are the most malign days of the week.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

That puddle there is permanent. I’ve walked through this section of Maspeth during summertime drought conditions when it was hot enough to bake bread on the sidewalk and that puddle permanently persists. I’m told this is one of the lowest spots in NYC, as far as it’s relationship to sea level, which I’ve been known to describe this spot as being “the bottom of a soup bowl” that’s formed by the high grounds surrounding the alluvial flood plane of the legendary Newtown Creek.

There’s a sewer grate under the puddle somewhere, one which is choked by concrete and street garbage, which is meant to drain directly into the Maspeth Creek tributary of the larger Newtown Creek waterway without ever visiting a sewer plant. This is puddle is more or less on the spot where the town docks of Maspeth would have once been found, where DeWitt Clinton dreamt up the Erie Canal. I can see through time, but time is only a construct, as everything is actually happening all at once. We live in an explosion, and there are puddles.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Puzzling statement, no? Well – ponder it, bro. I don’t want to get into chemical decay and quantum states in today’s post. Puddles, that’s my bag, bro.

The big plumbing warehouse whose property sits behind both the eternal puddle, and a fence, used to be the United Enameling and Stamping Company. They made bathtubs and sinks and toilets and the sort of stuff that connected such items to water supply systems as well as enameled cooking equipment. Their huge parking lot used to be filled with dipping tanks, which were filled with esoteric compounds and cancer juices used in their manufacturing processes.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Next door to the plumbing warehouse is a concrete company – Ferrara Bros. You see their characteristic orange trucks making deliveries all over the City. This isn’t Ferrara’s only corporate footprint, here in industrial Maspeth. I think they’ve got a couple more giant factories in other boroughs, possibly another one in eastern Queens but I’m guessing there and can’t be bothered to find out more.

By my count, there are three big concrete processors around Newtown Creek. Ferrara Bros. here in Maspeth, NYCON at Dutch Kills in LIC, and Tec-Crete Transit mix over in Ridgewood. There’s others, of course, but that’s the three who more or less touch the shoreline of the lugubrious Newtown Creek.

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, January 18th. 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

January 19, 2021 at 1:00 pm

ominous potions

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Maspeth Monday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One scuttled over to the Grand Street Bridge “zone” one recent evening, an area found some 3.1 miles from the East River and straddling the lamentable Newtown Creek, to see what’s what. It was chilly, but it is – in fact – wintertime.

Eschewing a perambulatory tour of the Brooklyn side, one instead set his toes towards Industrial Maspeth, oft referred to as “my happy place.” Did I mention the cold?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One seems to recall this particular night as being a Sunday, as if the nomenclature of an individual day might matter during this dark and endless era of pandemic, sedition, and financial desperation. Frankly, I’ve lost track of how many days have passed here in the “after time” since March 13th of 2019. I could check with google to find out, but one tries to remember things rather than using technology for the basics.

Industrial Maspeth has received several new layers of graffiti paint, and more than a couple of its industrial businesses have flown the coop. The downed fence-line, pictured above, used to vouchsafe a large property that housed construction cranes and other heavy equipment. Don’t know if they went out out of business or just moved on to grayer pastures somewhere else.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Patrolling the lighting choked streets of the Newtown Creek like some sort of low rent Batman, one is constantly scanning the environment for potential threats and hazards. Recent weather events had deposited a fair amount of liquid onto the grease stained and quite concretized devastations of industrial Maspeth, which offered an extra layer of slippery hazard to my worries.

One interesting observation I can offer is that there are a large number of people who are living in RV’s and trailers and exploiting the long term parking rules of the industrial business zones nowadays. This is a trend I started noticing a couple of summers ago, but since we exited the “before time” it’s really kicked into gear.

More tomorrow.

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, January 18th. 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

January 18, 2021 at 1:00 pm

painful process

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What the hell, it’s Thursday again, where am I?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Angles between neighborhoods, that’s what I call places like the spot where this photo was gathered. This particular angle sits on a weird confluence of geography. A block East or South is definitively Maspeth, one or two West and you’re clearly in Long Island City’s Blissville section. Heading North a block or two? You’re either in Woodside or Sunnyside, but it depends on who you ask. Ask a real estate professional, they’ll tell you it’s “Very Northern Williamsburg” and try to jack up the rent.

Angles between neighborhoods. On old maps I’ve seen, there used to be a Yeshiva on this particular corner, so maybe the Williamsburg thing isn’t much of a stretch. You’re looking at a corner in Queens, which used to be in the Laurel Hill section of Newtown’s Maspeth, not Brooklyn. Nothing is real or true anymore.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Calvary Cemetery is very real, and this shot was gathered on Laurel Hill Blvd., which is one of the only “tells” remaining in this area. This area received a LOT of attention from Robert Moses’ people during the highway construction era, the urban renewal era, and during the early 1960’s when they were trying to save the manufacturing sector of NYC’s economy using zoning regulations.

I’ve seen a lot of copies of the Power Broker on people’s book shelves during our era of Zoom teleconferences. Unlike my copy of the thing, others don’t seem to have a nest of post it notes sticking out of the thing acting as book marks.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The old borders between the towns and municipal entities of what we know as Queens were blurry “back in the day.” One has paid some attention to figuring out the location of where the various lines of “where” were, and can say authoritatively that LIC’s border with Maspeth was Laurel Hill Blvd. on the south and Woodside Avenue to the north. The Brooklyn Queens Expressway runs literally on the actual border here. Where are the historic borders between Astoria and Woodside, or Sunnyside and Woodside, or Maspeth and Woodside? Depends on who you ask, and if the person you’re querying doesn’t mention Winfield you should stop paying attention. I’m talking historic here, by the way, not postal code nor the greedy imaginings of the Real Estate coprophages. Borden Avenue nearby 48th street, along the Long Island Expressway – pictured above – is a tripartite and nearly Balkan intersection between historic Maspeth, Woodside, and Sunnyside. Sunnyside was, after 1870, part of LIC. After 1898, they were all Queens. Of course, Sunnyside wasn’t called Sunnyside until the start of the 20th century… it’s all very confusing.

Angles. 48th street is germaine to this angle and border conversation, as is Queens Blvd., and 58th street/Woodside Avenue. Thoughts?

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 10, 2020 at 1:00 pm

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