The Newtown Pentacle

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Posts Tagged ‘night

certain circumstances

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Thursday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

After eating dinner at one of Pittsburgh’s iconic Primanti Brothers restaurants, one got busy on his evening plans. The camera was rigged up for low light/night shooting, and a humble narrator got to work. Pictured above and below are sections of PPG Place, a 1984 vintage six building commercial real estate complex built and primarily occupied by the Pittsburgh Plate Glass outfit. The main 40 story building, whose ground floor entrances sit behind that fountain, is the corporate headquarter for PPG. The entire deal is clothed in plate glass, some 19,750 panels (over one million square feet of glass) of it, which is why it looks like an early 1990’s CGI background. Wet glass, LED lighting, weird look and feel. PPG has operated out of Pittsburgh since 1895.

The PPG complex sits on six square blocks or one square acre, replaced a department store called Guskey’s, and it’s construction revealed a cornucopia of archaeological finds ranging from Native American to early Colonial and pre industrial uses of the site. The main tower is the third tallest building in Pittsburgh.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As mentioned several times in the last few weeks, on this particular interval of travel, one felt compelled to record the scene whenever and wherever a fountain was discovered. This wasn’t much of a fountain, in comparison to what I saw in Washington D.C., but there you are. Apparently, during the holiday season and winter months, this plaza is converted over to be an ice skating rink. It’s a fave for Pittsburghers, apparently, with high occupancy rates and several newspaper polls listing it as the voted on choice for “best building” in the City.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The fourth tallest building in the City of Pittsburgh is nearby, which is called “Fifth Avenue Place” officially, but is colloquially called Highmark Place. 31 floors, and completed in 1988, it’s the HQ for a Highmark subsidiary called Jenkins Empire Associates. Highmark is a non profit health insurance organization which also owns several for profit medical insurance and reinsurance companies. Basically – Highmark is the corporate entity that Pennsylvania and West Virginia’s Blue Cross and Blue Shield have reorganized themselves into.

The building was originally meant to be a bit taller, but city zoning officials squashed that. The 13 story tall spire atop the building was an attempt to lay claim to the original height that the architect planned for, and with all the hub bub over the zoning deal it was never transmitted to the City that the spire/mast was designed to sway up to three feet when high winds hit the top. It seems that the first time this sway was observed, Pittsburgh’s First Responders shut the downtown area down fearing that something catastrophic was about to occur.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Developed by the Equitable Life Assurance Society, in 1964, this “caught my eye” structure – with its fascinating load bearing external diagrid and framed tube steel exoskeleton – was built on the footprint of an old Wabash Terminal Train Shed. When it opened as the IBM Building, its principal tenants were the IBM corporation on floors 1-4 and U.S. Steel on floors 5-13. It was bought by the United Steelworkers Union in 1973, and the labor organization’s offices are still housed therein.

A bit of skyscraper trivia is offered here. The same people who designed the external structure of the building also did the World Trade Center in NYC. Just like the WTC, the structure of the building is outside the walls, and within the only structural supports are at the center of the thing surrounding the elevator and plumbing/electrical cores. Neat!

– photo by Mitch Waxman

My next stop was yet another fountain, this time being Pittsburgh’s “big kahuna” at Point State Park. It’s found at the “tip of the spear” on the river delta formed by the three rivers – Ohio, Allegheny, Monongahela. 36 acres in size, this Pennsylvania State Park was opened in 1974. Its fountain is the iconic center of the larger metropolitan region, and Pittsburgh’s reclamation of its post industrial waterfront really started with the opening of this park. The fountain sits where the on and off ramp of two bridges used to be found, the Manchester and Point Bridges.

The park incorporates the remains of Fort Pitt and Fort Duquesne, which were important fortresses during the French and Indian War (1755-1764) and although I’m largely ignorant about the details of the conflict here at the ‘forks of the Ohio,” there’s a nearby spot referred to as “Washington’s landing” so… George Washington.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The one Allegheny River Bridge between Point Park and the 31st street Bridge I didn’t show you yet is pictured above, the so called “Bridge to Nowhere” or Fort Duquesne Bridge. It carries Interstate 279 (North Shore Expressway) and Interstate 376 into and out of Downtown Pittsburgh and also has a pedestrian walkway in the lower deck. It’s got a steel bowstring type span of 426 feet, and provides a water clearance of 46 feet. It opened to traffic in October of 1969.

Whew. All of this Pittsburgh stuff that you’ve seen here at Newtown Pentacle for the last two weeks was literally captured in one day between 7 a.m. and about midnight. It started raining again while I was capturing the bridge shot above, so I double timed it back to the street and caught a cab back to the AirBNB. Starting tomorrow – Day two. I was just getting started on day one, and had to contend with the weather, and I also had tickets for a boat tour of the rivers nested in my pocket for day two. The things I saw…

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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.

Written by Mitch Waxman

October 28, 2021 at 11:00 am

darkly probable

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Wednesday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One last shot of that Eagle Electric building in Queens Plaza which was described in yesterday’s post, with an IRT Flushing line 7 train navigating the trackways of the elevated steel high above the street behind it. As a note, if you want to receive a series of puzzled or worried looks from passerby, set up a tripod in Queens Plaza at night.

It really grabs people’s attention, the camera and tripod. Passing citizenry didn’t seem to focus on the guy taking a poop in the plantings alongside the bridge just down the block, but me they notice. “What are you taking pictures of” I get asked regularly. I point in the direction of whatever the camera is pointed at and say “that.” “Why” is usually the next question. I ask myself this all the time.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Cannot explain the process, even to myself. Sometimes there’s a plan – get a shot of this or that from here or from there. Try to tell the story with a single static image. Try to get that image “accurate” to what it looked like with the naked eye, or just outside of naked eye range with entering the “uncanny valley.”

There’s so many things to worry about, beyond the dozen or so intricate camera settings and using the right gear. Look over your shoulder constantly, keep an eye out for fast moving cars, trucks, bicycles. Watch out for the focused attentions of malign members of the street community as well. Get your shot, move out. It’s not just point and shoot at night, there’s a whole deal you have to sweat and worry about.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

That’s the landmarked Bank of Manhattan building, at Queens Plaza, in the foreground of the shot above. Formerly the tallest building in Queens, these days it’s a dwarf compared to its neighbors. Directly behind it is the still under construction Durst Organization’s new residential tower, a 755 foot tall building they call Queens Plaza Park or “SVEN,” which is a product of the 2001 rezoning of LIC. Gargantuan, I’m told the new building will have an infinity pool on its roof. “I would love to be able to swim in Queens Plaza,” nobody has ever said.

The Bank of Manhattan building, alternatively, is a 1927 11 story building with a 3 story clock tower at its apex. The Bank of Manhattan later rebranded itself as Chase, and the building was occupied by that company until 1984 when the building was sold.

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, November 9th. 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

November 11, 2020 at 11:00 am

drowsily discussed

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Tuesday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Another night, another walk around Western Queens, in this case – the western side of Queens Plaza. Recently announced, a new real estate development project will see the old Eagle Electric factory on 23rd street demolished and replaced by what promises to be another uninspiring glass rhombus. The plan is for this to be office space. Read the room, guys. Pandemic, much?

Regardless of the avarice and intent of the carpetbaggers, one nevertheless decided to visit the spot and record the scene for posterity or whatever.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I got lucky, inasmuch as having just set up the tripod for a longish exposure, the journey of two 7 line IRT Flushing subway trains coincided on the elevated steel which carries them to and from Queens Plaza. I wonder what kind of sound proofing that new office building they’re going to replace the Eagle Electric factory with is going to require. This passage was and is LOUD. Like hear it through your headphones while you’re listening to the Ramones LOUD. Like completely drowning out the Ramones kind of loud. Loud.

Eagle Electric, btw, was founded in 1920 by two brothers from the Ludwig family (Louis and Phillip) and their kids inherited and held the business for much of the 20th century. Eagle manufactured switches, sockets, and other electrical ephemera in Long Island City until the 1980’s. Eagle began vacating and selling off its LIC premises in 1980, and in the year 2000 the company was sold off to a conglomerate called Cooper Wiring Devices. In 2012, Cooper Wiring was purchased by another outfit called the Eaton Corporation and the Eagle line of products and patents is now marketed under their branding. Eagle Electric was famous for a huge neon sign adorning the roof of this building, which is also found right alongside the Queensboro Bridge.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A crew of street artist/graffiti writers penetrated into the building in the last year or two, and adorned nearly every window pane with colorful tags. Directly across the street is the former Silvercup bakery, whose own neon signage still persists. The old bakery is now a movie studio and production offices complex.

I’ve long been fascinated with the garish illumination of this corner, with colorful light scattering about from a thousand different sources.

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, November 9th. 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

November 10, 2020 at 11:00 am

leer evilly

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Monday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Prior to writing this post, a humble narrator trimmed his fingernails. It made me curious, so after a bit of investigation it turns out that your fingernails (which grow at a far more rapid rate than toe nails, according to medical science) advance from the cuticle at an average rate of some 0.14 inches a month. A quick bit of calculation thereby reveals that I’ve likely grown and discarded just under seven and half feet of fingernail over the five and change decades I’ve been alive. It also seems that nail clippings can serve as important biometric markers and a laboratory analysis of them can help to determine several things about your diet, current homeostasis, overall metabolism, and identifying any particular poison which you might be environmentally accumulating.

What can I tell you, I’m the curious type. Ever wonder about how many yards of hair you’ve chopped off over the years? Gallons of piss, pounds of poop, dollops of snot? I have. These are the sort of subjects I’ll often explore when walking the camera around in the dead of night.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Biologic metrics are fascinating. Of late, I’ve been obsessed with the step counter app on my phone, which has supplied me with a series of benchmarks for how far and fast I’m moving about. On the particular night which these shots were gathered, for instance, in a roughly three hour interval, some 10,000 individual steps were recorded. That equates to about 4.7 miles, meaning I was scuttling along at roughly 1.5 miles per hour. That’s half of what’s considered to be average human walking speed, but don’t forget that I had to keep on stopping to obsessively capture pictures of the visual splendors presented by Western Queens.

This was one of my “short walks” incidentally, which I commit to at least twice a week. Long walks are 10-15 miles and take all damn night, also twice a week. I’ve got a very tidy “every other day kind of thing” going on these days.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Biometrics actually underlie a lot of the world, if you notice the details. There’s a universe of calculation that goes into the rise and run of staircases, for instance. Average servings in a restaurant, the size and shape of drinking glasses, even the amount of space allotted to an individual rider on the subway is calculated (MTA has told me that it’s one square horizontal meter, which is projected upwards as a two cubic meter box). All of these calculations are regionally specific, incidentally. European and American designers of public space have historically had to compensate for higher average body weights and size than their counterparts in South and East Asia. If you wear jeans with a waist size over 34 inches, I’m told you’re going to have a hard time buying clothes in Japan or Viet Nam.

I wish I had been saving all of those nail clippings over the years, just to be prepared for any possibility of a Ragnarok situation involving flooding, as I’d have a personal Naglfar to float away from trouble.

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, November 9th. 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

November 9, 2020 at 11:00 am

torturing appliances

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Why are you people always sleeping.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Sometimes, a humble narrator suffers from insomnia, so what’s a man to do but pack up the camera and wander around the streets in the middle of the night until he’s tired enough to fall asleep? Recently, one left the house at 4 a.m. on a Monday morning. It was the first time in a couple of months that I was carrying the “whole magilla” with me, as in the largish knapsack filled with camera lenses and all the other junk which one likes to have available when out and about. For the last couple of months, due to the broken toe you’re all so sick of hearing about, I’ve been traveling as light as possible. Now that the medically advised “take it easy” period is over, one is rattling the bars of his cage and is ready to go.

Funny thing is that I barely used all the crap I had with me, but I knew that when leaving the house. Wanted to see how my foot reacted to carrying the extra load on my back, and also start the process of getting back some muscle tone.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

My eventual destination was the BH camera shop on 34th street, so by leaving five hours earlier than they open, even the MTA wouldn’t be able to hamper my progress. One shlepped down Broadway through the urine and vomit puddles (the bars had just closed) towards the Astoria line tracks in expectation of riding an N or W into Manhattan, but while waiting for my chariot to arrive, I was puzzled at the presence of a J train sitting – seemingly abandoned – on the center track. I know, the J line icon in the shot above is all glowed out and unreadable. It was a J, here’s another shot of it which I executed in a different fashion.

Most of the people I saw waiting at the station seemed to be construction workers and people wearing security guard uniforms, which answers the question about who is taking the Subway from Astoria into the city in the wee hours. Them, and a wandering mendicant with a camera.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I transferred at Queensboro Plaza to the 7, which was just entering the station as I debarked the N. That’s the first missed shot of the night, and there were a few. One can not explain the logic behind a certain thought process, but sometimes a “little bird” starts singing to me about either not lingering someplace or just coming back another time. Call it “Spidey Sense” but… something was just telling me to go and not wait for the next 7. Over the years I’ve learned to listen to that voice in my head, and ignore the other ones. I actually didn’t have my headphones stuck in my ears all night, due to my desire to maintain “situational awareness” while shooting. Also, I had Rush’s “Tom Sawyer” playing in my head. A little paranoia is a good thing, in the dark of night. So’s a little Rush “ear worm,” every now and then.

New York City, folks, New York City. Pay attention to what’s going on around you.


“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 30, 2019 at 11:00 am

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