The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

Posts Tagged ‘NYC DOT

expatriated counterpart

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Not being crass here, but it’s Tuesday.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Just the other day, a series of “No Parking” placards were discovered as having been affixed to every possible surface on my block here in the Astoria section of Queens. The every surface part included the street trees, which is a personal peeve of mine.

On the assigned day, a group of people arrived with heavy equipment. I think they might have been Antifa, since they started towing any cars in violation of the placard announced edict. Ubiquitous are they, those rascals.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Antifa began cutting into the trees with power tools.

A great tumult was occurring up the block, but I couldn’t see what was happening past the bluish smoke likely emanating from a great bonfire of christian bibles which the leftist mobsters had brought. The smoke could have been coming from hot asphalt, but bible burning is far more likely. From the look of the atmospherics, Antifa had the books immolating. Organized, they are, these rascals.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Antifa is a word which starts with an “A,” just like Al Qaeda does, so there you go. Additionally, I heard from a friend named “X” who has another friend whose name starts with a “Q” that Antifa is in league with the Reptilian Bilderbergers and cooperates with those shadowy internationalists in a secret plot to redefine all of the world’s amphibians as genderless and to force America into drinking Soy Milk so as to devalue Cow Milk and thereby embarrass the sitting President. Once again, “Big Soy” is at the root of all things. I swear I saw Nancy Pelosi poke her head up out of one of the sewers to check on the progress of her secret army here in Astoria.

Where Antifa got all of this heavy equipment, obviously, boils down to one core fact – corruption, gender neutral salamanders, and Soy Milk go hand in hand.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Only an Antifa dump truck would bother to install a cover over its bin. What are they trying to hide? I’ll tell you what – they’re stealing our valuable asphalt and then air mailing it overseas to the Communists in China, using the Post Office. The reason they want you to wear a mask is that when everybody is masked, you’re anonymous, and just a number (of the beast). “Anonymous” is another leftie group which the TV tells me I’m supposed to be scared of, which also starts with an “A,” and so does the word “Asphalt.” You’re starting to see the connections now, huh? Suppose China is actually one huge guy, with the physical mass of half of the earth’s population. That’s scary too. When they say “China,” they mean him.

Have you heard about the other Antifa campaigns?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Antifa stole the ocean and freed the fish. Antifa has established a socialist moon base. Antifa has started partnerships with the Mexican Drug Cartels, the Muslim Extremists, the Social Justice Warriors, the Achievement Awards Recipients, Hillary Clinton, the “Libs,” and even the Demon Rats. Antifa has torn down entire mountains which offend them. Antifa is gay married to the sister of the guy who runs CNN, who is cousins with the salesmen at PayLess who sells Michelle Obama’s publicist shoes.

Antifa came to Astoria and stole my street. Now we have carnage, and rubble.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Man, I have got to start my right wing blog sometime soon. Cannot tell you how much fun it is to pick a faceless enemy and just make shit up about them on the fly. Sounds crazy? Not crazy enough is the rule if you want to pull in the angry old people. I got to experience some of the Qanon world recently, which is just spectacular in its viewpoint. It presumes a near omnipotent level of capability and competence amongst Government employees. I spend a lot of time around these sort of people, Civil Servants, I mean – here’s what I’ve learned.

These folks couldn’t tie their own shoes, let alone pull off any of the stuff that the more paranoid elements of our society ascribe to them. The photos in today’s post, wherein a supremely well coordinated and practiced group of NYC DOT workers mill the surface of a street in Astoria, is really is the best you can hope for in the Civil Service category.

Also, I’ve met some people who identify as Antifa, and they are kind of giant hippies that have no real understanding of the historical roots they’re pulling on. As the song says, you don’t need a Weatherman to know which way the wind blows.

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, July 27th. 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.


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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

July 28, 2020 at 11:00 am

dark nether

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They brought the show to me!

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A humble narrator spends a great deal of time and effort trying to find something interesting to take pictures of. Often, upon stumbling across an interesting scene, one has to think fast about how to manipulate the camera in unfamiliar settings. Imagine then, my happiness when the most familiar of settings – the stretch of Broadway here in Astoria that I live along – was suddenly plastered with orange signs proclaiming that a road paving operation was nigh.

The shots in the embedded YouTube video above were gathered over the course of a few nights. Terrifically dusty and noisy, the first night saw a road milling contractor at work scratching away the asphalt roadbed of Broadway. On two subsequent evenings, workers of the NYC DOT arrived with a lot of heavy equipment to lay down a new asphalt roadbed. They were pretty noisy as well, and then there’s that delicious hot asphalt smell…

No sound on the slideshow video above, so no need to listen for something. Not yet, anyway. Hint, hint.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle


Upcoming Tours and Events


Thursday, July 25, 6:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.

Greenpoint Walking Tour w NYCH20

Explore Greenpoint’s post industrial landscape and waterfront with Newtown Creek Alliance historian Mitch Waxman.

Click here for ticketing and more information.


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

July 19, 2019 at 11:00 am

primal farmyard

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Today is the day, in 1909, that Geronimo died. His real name was Goyaałé.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Owing to other obligations and piss poor weather conditions for the last couple of weeks, one hasn’t got anything new to show you for this week. Accordingly, it has been decided to instead present a few archive shots of the various branches of NYC government which make life liveable for us here in “Home Sweet Hell.”

Today, the focus is on the NYC DOT – the bewildering New York City Department of Transportation, whom, as you might discern from some of their assets pictured above, are showoffs.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

NYC DOT handles and oversees NYC’s streets, highways, 788 roadway and pedestrian bridges (both major and minor, and with 25 of them moveable), and sidewalks. DOT also does street signs, traffic signals, street lights, street resurfacing, pothole repair, parking meters, and manages municipal parking. They’re also in charge of bike lanes, regulate private bus services, and spend about $700 million bucks a year doing all this – last time I checked.

They also run that big orange boat you see in the shot above. Money well spent, no?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Of course, there’s a lot of purely mundane stuff they do. With the help of a couple of large contractors, notably Weisbach, DOT oversees the care and maintenance of those fancy new parking meter kiosks, street lights, and road paving. They also work with and augment the DSNY during snow events with plows and road salt.


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Written by Mitch Waxman

February 17, 2017 at 1:00 pm

impelled forward

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I want one.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

That’s the Caterpillar AP 1055f Track Asphalt Paver you see in the shot above, which was adorned with stickers indicating its owner (or lessee) was the NYC DOT. One was scuttling around on Broadway on a recent afternoon, heading towards Jackson Heights via Woodside, and this baby was just sitting there waiting to be recorded.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

My instincts tell me that with just a few modifications, this would be an efficacious device to have in case of a zombie outbreak, but the pedants at the DOT was predictably using it for the purpose that it was actually engineered for – road grading and repair.

Combine this gizmo with a couple of those street trenchers I showed you last winter, you’ve got yourself a pretty formidable defense against the undead hordes – imho.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The manufacturer of this wonderfully complex bit of kit is the Caterpillar company, who build all sorts of giant machines. Their site hosts this page which describes the capabilities, mechanical qualities, and advantages which the device offers – which includes a heated seat for the operator.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I could not stop myself from thinking about the Cat in the Hat’s “moss-covered three-handled family gradunza” from the Dr. Seuss cartoons when I saw this puppy.

I’m all ‘effed up, of course.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Upcoming Tours –

September 20th, 2015
Glittering Realms Walking Tour
with Brooklyn Brainery, click here for details and tickets

Written by Mitch Waxman

September 15, 2015 at 11:00 am

out into

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The Ninth Street Bridge, over the Gowanus Canal, in today’s post.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Yesterday, the Hamilton Avenue drawbridge which provides entry to and from the Gowanus Canal in Brooklyn was described. Last Sunday, a humble narrator found his way on to an Open House NY boat trip to the troubled waterway, which penetrated as far back as the Fifth Street Basin.

from nyc.gov

This lift bridge replaced a bascule span that was in an advanced state of deterioration. The current structure provides an improved wider channel in the canal for unobstructed vessel passage. The bridge has state-of-the-art, electronically-controlled lifting machinery that should provide 50 years of reliable service. The bridge carries 3 lanes of traffic; 2 lanes westbound and 1 eastbound.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Special attention was paid to the opening and closing of the two drawbridges encountered. There are five movable bridges over the Gowanus, as well as two static ones.

There’s actually two bridges in these shots, as the Ninth Street Bridge is overflown by the Smith 9th Street Subway station viaduct.

from wikipedia

The opaqueness of the Gowanus water obstructs sunlight to one third of the six feet needed for aquatic plant growth. Rising gas bubbles betray the decomposition of sewage sludge that on a warm, sultry day produces the canal’s notable ripe stench. The murky depths of the canal conceal the remnants of its industrial past: cement, oil, mercury, lead, multiple volatile organic compounds,[10] PCBs, coal tar, and other contaminants. A 2007 Science Line report found gonorrhea  and unidentified organisms in the canal. In 1951, with the opening of the elevated Gowanus Expressway over the waterway, easy access for trucks and cars catalyzed industry slightly, but with 150,000 vehicles passing overhead each day, the expressway also deposits tons of toxic emissions into the air and water beneath.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The Ninth Street span is a lift bridge, which replaced a failing drawbridge that occupied this spot for decades. The construction of all this gear was pretty recent.

from schiavoneconstruction.com

Reconstruction included demolition, removal and disposal of existing rolling leaf bascule bridge superstructure, machinery and controls, piers and abutments. Construction of new lift bridge included superstructure, machinery, control house, fender system, piers and abutments. Twenty stepped diameter caissons were installed to rock depths of up to 180 feet. All work had to be performed beneath existing NYCT elevated structure requiring temporary support of existing columns.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

It was pretty exciting seeing the roadway just take off and start rising. The operation was nowhere near as noisy as I would have thought, but then again, I was on an idling ferry boat and the sounds of the nearby Gowanus Expressway really travel across this former floodplain.

from epa.gov

There are five east–west bridge crossings over the canal, at Union Street, Carroll Street, Third Street, Ninth Street, and Hamilton Avenue. The Gowanus Expressway and the Culver Line of the New York City Subway pass overhead. The canal is located in a mixed residential-commercial-industrial area, and it borders several residential neighborhoods, including Gowanus, Park Slope, Cobble Hill, Carroll Gardens, and Red Hook. The waterfront properties abutting the canal are primarily commercial and industrial.

Environmental sampling performed before this RI revealed that the sediments throughout the Gowanus Canal are contaminated with a variety of pollutants, including polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and heavy metals (USACE, 2004, 2006; GEI, 2007). No environmental remediation activities have been performed to date.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Self confessed and avowed as an infrastructure freak, seeing the cable mechanisms climbing the towers was actually kind of thrilling. This is the sort of thing you normally observe from the landward side.

from wikipedia

A vertical-lift bridge or lift bridge is a type of movable bridge in which a span rises vertically while remaining parallel with the deck.

The vertical lift offers several benefits over other movable bridges such as the bascule and swing-span bridge. Generally speaking they cost less to build for longer moveable spans. The counterweights in a vertical lift are only required to be equal to the weight of the deck, whereas bascule bridge counterweights must weigh several times as much as the span being lifted. As a result, heavier materials can be used in the deck, and so this type of bridge is especially suited for heavy railroad use.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Brooklyn kid that I once was, one has imagined it would be great fun to ride the roadway of one of these lift bridges as it ascended. Turns out that would be foolhardy in the extreme, as the actual tonnages and pressures being levered around are positively cyclopean and could easily squish a man flat.

Last year, in East Boston, one of these lift bridges actually ate somebody.

from nydailynews.com

Police say the woman was crossing the Meridian Street Bridge, which spans East Boston and Chelsea, at about 12:21 p.m. Tuesday. As she started across, the lift operator opened the bridge so a boat could pass beneath the span, the Boston Globe reported.

The movement jolted the unidentified woman off her feet, leaving her hanging from one open end of the bridge, cops say. The woman began screaming for help and the operator, cops say, closed the span in response. Instead of helping, the woman was crushed to death between the massive steel plates.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

For some reason, the NYC DOT is rather vague about certain things.

Once upon a time, they’d brag to anybody that would listen about how many thousands of times a drawbridge opened or closed, citing the smooth exchange of maritime and vehicular traffic streams as a proof of public monies being well invested. These days, they proudly proclaim automotive traffic numbers, as in this 2010 report which describes the Ninth Street Lift Bridge as having allowed some 13,362 toll free automotive crossings.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

May of 1910 saw a true conflagration right around here. A 4 alarm fire erupted at the Cranford Company, immolating oil and gasoline tanks, which drew the attentions of both terrestrial and maritime firefighter. Check out the NY Times piece below for all the sordid details. The losses are described as $150,000, which would be around $3,695,387.30 today.

from at nytimes.com

Firemen from engine companies responding to four alarms and the members of three fireboat companies last night fought a blaze which completely destroyed the building of the Cranford Company, contractors in asphalt and tar work, at Ninth Street and the Gowanus Canal, Brooklyn.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As far as I’ve been able to dope out, the spot that this Ninth Street Bridge occupies is in the vicinity of where the colonial era “Cole’s Mill” was located. A mill and mill pond supposedly built by John Rapelye and an army of slaves out of the aboriginal marshlands, it then came into the possession of a fellow named Jordan Cole – hence “Cole’s Mill.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

More recently, roughly a century ago, we’d be enjoying a nice view of the Tartar Chemical Company’s works.

Tartar is something that most modern people would associate with a sauce used on fried fish, but it was one of the wonder chemicals of the 19th century. Essentially, the Tartar Chemical works were an acid factory.

from 1909’s “Contributions From The Sanitary Research Laboratory And Sewage Experiment Station,” courtesy google books

The upper part of the canal is badly polluted by sewage. At the lower end the pollution is largely industrial wastes mixed with more or less sewage.

As a rule the amount of nitrogen present varies directly with the amount of sewage. The other constituents of sewage vary with the nitrogen. Therefore when the nitrogen is greatly increased without a corresponding increase in the other sewage substances it is an indication of industrial wastes. This is exactly what happens in that portion of the canal opposite the Tartar Chemical Company. On talking with one of their employees, we learned that crude argol is digested with sulphuric acid, and that the waste product is an acid sludge running high in sulphates and nitrogen.

In the first series below, Ninth Street the oxygen consumed curve went up rapidly. In the second series the curve had a downward tendency. The starch factory, not running on Sunday, had no waste to discharge at that time. The abnormal values for the oxygen consumed are probably due to gluten in the wastes discharged by the starch factory.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Three out of five down. Guess that we’re heading over to Third Street, on foot this time, in tomorrow’s post.

from wikipedia

Tartaric acid and its derivatives have a plethora of uses in the field of pharmaceuticals. For example, tartaric acid has been used in the production of effervescent salts, in combination with citric acid, in order to improve the taste of oral medications. The potassium antimonyl derivative of the acid known as tartar emetic is included, in small doses, in cough syrup as an expectorant.

Tartaric acid also has several applications for industrial use. The acid has been observed to chelate metal ions such as calcium and magnesium. Therefore, the acid has served in the farming and metal industries as a chelating agent for complexing micronutrients in soil fertilizer and for cleaning metal surfaces consisting of aluminum, copper, iron, and alloys of these metals, respectively.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

There’s a Newtown Creek walking tour, and a Magic Lantern show, coming up.

Saturday, June 7th, 13 Steps around Dutch Kills with Atlas Obscura.
Click here for tickets and more info.

Wednesday, June 11th, Newtown Creek Magic Lantern Show with Brooklyn Brainery.
Click here for tickets and more info.

Written by Mitch Waxman

June 5, 2014 at 11:00 am

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