The Newtown Pentacle

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Tuesday!

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Recent endeavor found a humble narrator riding the NYC Ferry from Astoria to Lower Manhattan. One cannot recommend this service highly enough, and I do so loudly to all who might listen. Throughout the pandemic, the Ferry has been a pressure valve for me, allowing a quite affordable afternoon on the water. You’ve got to mask up, obviously, but there is virtually zero risk of contracting anything on the top deck of the boat, other than having an errant seagull smack into you. The boats have bathrooms in case you need to blow some ballast, but unfortunately the onboard shops which sell coffee, beer, and or snacks are still closed. No problem there, since I tend to avoid drinking and eating when I’m out and moving about, but if you can’t survive without a beverage bring it onboard with you.

The Astoria line stops at East 90th street (where you can transfer to the Soundview line and head to the Bronx), Roosevelt Island, LIC North, 34th Street in the City (where you can transfer to several other lines), Brooklyn Navy Yard, and then it’s terminal destination is at Pier 11/Wall Street in lower Manhattan. The design of the system uses Pier 11 and 34th street as “hubs” where several of the lines converge. You’ve got 90 minutes from the time you purchase a paper ticket, or activate one on their phone app (I use the app), to accomplish a transfer. I’ve made it all the way from Soundview in the South Bronx to the Rockaways on a single $2.75 ticket. That’s 3 hours on the water for under $3 – cheap!

– photo by Mitch Waxman

On the East River routes, you encounter the grandiose sights and scale of the greatest City in the history of civilization. I’ve offered this statement before, and have been asked “what about Rome, or Constantinople, or Persepolis, Kolkata, Beijing, Tokyo, Berlin, Buenos Aires”… the list goes on and on. Ancient Rome could tuck neatly into Staten Island, Tokyo and Los Angeles are regions, not cities, and the City which other Cities compare themselves to ain’t London or Berlin. Since the end of the Second World War, the omphalos or navel of Western Civilization has been and continues to be NYC. I don’t just mean Manhattan, as a note, I mean the whole shebang.

Pictured above is the scene encountered as the ferry leaves the Brooklyn Navy Yard, depicting the Manhattan Bridge with the financial district of Lower Manhattan behind it on a misty day.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The Astoria route Ferry moves up the eastern side of the East River, whereas the Soundview route takes the western channel. Astoria route allows for dynamic views of Roosevelt Island, its eponymous lift bridge, and the power generating infrastructure which stains the shorelines of Queens. The terminal stop in Astoria at the NYCHA Astoria Houses campus puts you within easy walking distance of the Welling Court street art mural installation, Astoria Park, and hundreds of truly interesting restaurants and bars. Why not come visit and spend some of that stimulus money here in Astoria? We could use the bucks.

You can access the schedules for the NYC Ferry, and check out their various destinations, at their website. This isn’t a paid post or anything, by the way, I’m just an enthusiastic customer for the service and want to encourage all of my readers here at Newtown Pentacle to take advantage of it as a curative for the pallor and malaise introduced by our recent collective trials.


“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.

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Monday is Monday, whatever year it is.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A couple of weeks ago, I decided that getting a few shots of the Superfund related dredging being conducted down at the Gowanus Canal in in South Brooklyn might come in handy down the line for my beloved Newtown Creek. Accordingly, I decided to head over to the Red Hook/Sunset Park area. Normally, I’d just hop on the Subway, but… y’know… plague times, so I took the NYC Ferry instead as I’d be able to hang out on the top deck in the open air rather than sitting on the thermos bottle like G train for an hour. My plan was valid, but the day I chose to go ended up being an incredibly cold one.

I spent the prior evening packing my camera bag, and laying out warm clothes. Slept on the couch so as to not terrify Our Lady of the Pentacle when my alarm went off at 4:30 in the morning. One woke, inhaled a bunch of coffee and a couple of glasses of water, then bathed and dressed. Left HQ at about 5:30, when it was still dark, and got an egg sandwich at the local bagel shop to provide fuel for the mission. Walked over to the East River, and boarded a southbound ferry as the burning thermonuclear eye of god itself rose in the eastern sky. Luckily, my forethought and preparation involved a secondary layer of thermal underwear, as it was bitterly cold out.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The NYC Ferry offers a free transfer within 90 minutes of activating (via the app) or buying your ticket. The service allows you to jump from one line to another at several locations, notably the 34th street and Pier 11 stops on the Manhattan side act as hubs where multiple ferry lines meet. I rode the Astoria line boat to Pier 11/Wall Street in lower Manhattan’s financial district and then transferred onto the South Brooklyn service. South Brooklyn Ferry now has a stop inside of Atlantic Basin, which is meant to serve the Red Hook neighborhood. In retrospect, I should have debarked there, but instead I went to the Brooklyn Army Terminal stop about a mile or so south.

Hey, I got up at 4:30 in the morning for this, you think I’m not going to walk through Industry City when I’m in the neighborhood? Sheesh.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

My ultimate goal was to get to the Gowanus Canal about 10 a.m., which is when my sources inside the Federal Superfund Operation told me that I’d most reliably see dredging operations at work. Thing is, it’s been so long since I’ve been out with the camera during daylight hours that I decided on making this one of my “adventures.”

Adventure and excitement are things which a Jedi does not crave, of course, but I am no Jedi. There are so many experiences which I was forced to leave on the table in 2020 due to the Pandemic that the notion of having an interesting day was just too much for me to pass up. More tomorrow, at this – your Newtown Pentacle.

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 4th. 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 4, 2021 at 1:00 pm

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