The Newtown Pentacle

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Posts Tagged ‘Metropolitan Avenue Bridge

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My creek also puts on a show when I’ve been away from her too long.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One of my practices, developed over the last decade or so, is to take a Newtown Creek break periodically and “allow my liver to return to a normal size.” I’m joking about the liver, but one does enjoy a bit of detox occasionally, and allowing the poisons I’ve accrued a chance to leach out. This is a luxury one enjoys, as he doesn’t live along Newtown Creek, others aren’t so lucky. Pictured above is roll on/ roll off garbage truck carrying a bin, spotted at a waste transfer station owned by a friend of mine which fairly straddles the border of Brooklyn and Queens.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Marching along Metropolitan Avenue, one squealed with delight as the Metropolitan Avenue Bridge began to open. This used to be quite a frequent occurrence “back in the day.” These days there’s only one regular maritime customer back here on the English Kills tributary, which is Bayside Fuel.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The timing of the bridge opening was bizarre, occurring at precisely the time of one of the heaviest traffic intervals in this section of North Brooklyn, about 6:30 p.m.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

That odd timing, however, allowed one to stand in the middle of Metropolitan Avenue without getting squished.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I believe that the tug pictured above is the Mary H., which normally handles the Bayside duty, but it’s hard to say as I didn’t get any of its markings. I did manage to focus in on the captain in his wheelhouse, however, so “win.”

As a note, the Metropolitan Avenue Bridge spans the English Kills tributary of the larger Newtown Creek at a navigational mark 3.4 miles eastwards of the East River. Metropolitan Avenue was originally created as a private toll road about 1814, and was called the Williamsburgh and Jamaica Turnpike. The owners of the toll road, and the original bridge, were two brothers whose family name was Masters. That’s why you’ll occasionally see references to the road as the “Masters Turnpike” and the “Masters Bridge” in the historical record, if like me, you stay up until 4 in the morning reading old municipal journals and reports from the Chambers of Commerce of Brooklyn or Queens.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

My conceit is to call this area of Newtown Creek surrounding the Metropolitan Avenue Bridge “DUMABO.” That’s short for “Down Under the Metropolitan Avenue Bridge,” as I believe we need to be ahead of the real estate people on these sorts of things.

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– photo by Mitch Waxman

Much to the chagrin of Our Lady of the Pentacle, an awful lot of time is devoted to “mah research”, and the recent largesse displayed by the NYC Municipal Records folks in allowing online access to their startling photographic collections has consumed an awful lot of my time.

Of particular interest to me, of course, are the historic shots of Newtown Creek and the surrounding communities at various moments in time. Today’s offering is a comparison of modern conditions with historic ones, which in the shots above and below- portray the venerable Grand Street Bridge in both eras from dissimilar but roughly analogous points of view.

My shot is closer to Queens, with the 1903 one below hugging the Bosserts lumber yard on the Brooklyn side.

Here’s the Grand Street bridge in 1903, when it was brand new courtesy NYC Dept. Of Records

Cool, huh?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Metropolitan Avenue Bridge, formerly known as Masters Bridge, from English Kills looking west in modernity, and the precursor of the modern span being constructed in 1904 below (also looking west).

DUMABO in 1904, courtesy NYC Dept. Of Records

Also cool, no?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Meeker Avenue Bridge is what it was called when it opened in 1939, and it was renamed as the Kosciuszko Bridge in 1940. My shot is from the middle of the Newtown Creek, while the historic view below is right next to the Phelps Dodge bulkheads on the Queens side.

Here’s the thing in 1939, courtesy NYC Dept. Of Records

– photo by Arthur J. Foley


Click for details on Mitch Waxman’s
Upcoming walking and boat tours of Newtown Creek

July 8th, 2012- Atlas Obscura Walking Tour- The Insalubrious Valley
(note: there are just a few tickets left for this one)

for July 8th tickets, click here for the Atlas Obscura ticketing page

July 22nd, 2012- Working Harbor Committee Newtown Creek Boat Tour

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