The Newtown Pentacle

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Posts Tagged ‘NYC Parks Dept.

unholy centuries

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It’s Rush Limbaugh and Rob Zombie’s birthdays today, and the day that Saint Aelred of Rievaulx died.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Wandering through Woodside one fine day, I happened across this bit of memorial statuary at the corner of 65th place and Laurel Hill Blvd. Technically speaking, I wasn’t in Woodside, this is actually Winfield. The Real Estate shit flies have more or less eradicated that name from current discourse, calling this area “East Woodside,” but it’s Winfield. Winfield was named for Mexican and Civil War General Winfield Scott, if you’re curious, who died in 1866.

The statue commemorates 7 local soldiers lost to combat in the First World War, and was erected and paid for by the people of Winfield.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Originally installed at the corner of Fisk Avenue and Queens Blvd., Robert Moses’s people moved it here when they were building the Brooklyn Queens Expressway back in the 1950’s. It’s bronze, and was sculpted by Italian-American sculptor James S. J. Novelli. Seven feet tall, the statue’s official nomen is “Winfield War Memorial and Victorious America.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The statue has not had an easy time of it over the last century, particularly since 1958 owing to its location at an on ramp for a highway, according to the NYC Parks Dept. who maintain it and whom I gleaned the information for this post from.

from nycgovparks.org

Due to its location at 65th Place and Laurel Hill Boulevard adjacent to the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, the Winfield Memorial has suffered various indignities over the years. In 1958, completion of the nearby section of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway bisected the community, and orphaned the monument to this park triangle located perilously close to an off-ramp. In 1969 and 1989 the statue was knocked from its perch by vehicles, and on the second occasion the head was severed from the body and reattached. The monument suffered from weathering, frequent attacks of graffiti, and other assaults by vandals; it received an in-house reconditioning in the 1990s by Parks crews.

In 1999 a City Capital contract restored the monument, replaced its damaged granite base with a replica, and the surrounding plaza was upgraded in an attempt to beautify its setting and better protect the sculpture. Unfortunately, in December 2001 the sculpture was again injured in a horrific car accident that dragged the sculpture several hundred feet into the expressway. In 2010-11 Parks’ Citywide Monuments Conservation Program repaired the damages and reinstalled the artwork at its rightful place.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The Novelli bronze, which is seven feet and four inches tall above the base, seems to be in fairly fine fettle these days. Why not take a walk or ride your bike over to check it out, and contemplate the war to end all wars that happened a century ago. You can also muse about the Powerbroker, just like I do everytime I visit the “House of Moses.”


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Written by Mitch Waxman

January 12, 2017 at 11:00 am

incidents and sensations

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Freshkills, in today’s post.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

My long trek across the City of Greater New York, discussed all week at this – your Newtown Pentacle – had a singular goal. It was to answer an invitation to return to Freshkills that had been tendered by officials at the NYC Parks Dept. As detailed in several early August posts (here, here, and here), the Parks people have a program which allows artists and photographers to visit the still under construction park, one which I was lucky enough to be invited to participate in.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

In August, I had shown up with just my standard camera kit bag, which serves me well in most circumstances. I wished at the time that I had brought the whole kit, especially my trusty tripod. When this autumn invitation to return to the park was offered, the entire toy box was packed up for travel and the long commute from Astoria to Freshkills was gladly undertaken.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

This time around, it was a bit of a private viewing. Last time I was out here, there was a group of us shooting, but this time it was just me and a chaperone from Parks who was actually the same person that invited me out (thanks again, Mariel!). She told me that the park had just been mowed, in anticipation of autumn (2,200 square acres of dry grass would be just asking for something bad to happen).

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The park itself is divided into several sections, each designed to offer different services to the community. Certain areas are being designed for sports fields and events, while others are being crafted with scenic splendors in mind. Water runs throughout the place, which is crossed by squamous concrete bridges which were designed for heavy trucks.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

When discussing the timing of this excursion, Mariel from Parks and I kept the setting sun in mind, as we were both keen to see what I could capture during the so called “golden hour.” Your humble narrator particularly hungered for shots of the white tail deer which have taken up residence in the park, but they are skittish and elusive critters. Best shot I got was from very far away, as presented above.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

At least the Geese had the good sense to pose for me. The structure in the background is one of many that handles the methane which the occluded reality of the place produces. Don’t forget, the park is being built atop the worlds largest man made object, the mounds of garbage generated by the totality of New York City for a good chunk of the 20th century. On the horizon is the chemical coast of New Jersey, which lies beyond the Arthur Kill.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

When planning my visit, there were four shots which I desired to come home with. Two were denied me – the deer, and the bald eagles. You can’t count on critters cooperating unless you’re prepared to spend weeks on the endeavor, so I wasn’t crying into my camera bag, but I should have brought a pound of lox with which to draw in the eagle. The other two I was desirous of capturing were accomplished, and will greet you in tomorrow’s installment of this, your Newtown Pentacle.

also – I’m required to state the following, regarding the access which allowed me to capture these photos – “Courtesy of the City of New York. NYC Parks and the Freshkills Park Alliance have made access available for the production of this artwork.” I’m also required to offer this link to freshkillspark.org and inform that inquiries regarding the park are best sent to freshkillspark@parks.nyc.gov

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Upcoming Walking Tours-

Saturday, November 8th, Poison Cauldron
Walking Tour with Atlas Obscura, click here for tickets and more info.

Note: This is the last Newtown Creek walking tour of 2014, and probably the last time this tour will be presented in its current form due to the Kosciuszko Bridge construction project. 

Written by Mitch Waxman

November 6, 2014 at 11:00 am

shewing much

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A last look at Fresh Kills Park, at sunset.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The burning thermonuclear eye of god itself is a fixed point in time and space, of course, and as Fresh Kills rotated out of its view, the lighting experienced at this bold experiment in environmental remediation and reclamation being conducted by the NYC Parks Dept. and the DSNY became dramatic and somewhat theatrical.

As described previously, Fresh Kills park is being constructed atop the 2,200 acre garbage dump and landfill which NYC operated between 1947 and 2001 on Staten Island. The Fresh Kills landfill is the largest man made object upon the earth, with hills (or mounds) that rise from 90 to 225 feet above surrounding terrain.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One of the interesting things which were observed here, there were many, was the way that water was beginning to chart its own course in the root beds of the chest high grasses which occluded the manufactured ground. There were several species of grasses growing here which, as I was informed, are all “volunteers” or self seeded. All this green blew in on the wind, apparently.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A stitched panorama from a high elevation, looking over the industrial landscape of New Jersey just beyond the Arthur Kill. I believe that’s Linden, just beyond the hill, and we are looking up the New Jersey Turnpike corridor towards Newark. If you click the image, it will bring you to progressively larger incarnations of it at Flickr, btw.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

This is the Fresh Kills waterway itself, a small tidal strait which breaks off of the larger and quite industrial Arthur Kill. Notice the soft edges and natural looking mud flats along the shoreline? Many of the environmentally focused people I speak to about my beloved Newtown Creek describe the end stage of the superfund process as leaving parts of the Creek (Dutch Kills and Maspeth Creek in particular) in a similar condition.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Nearly dark, but one had a few last shots that needed capturing. The pole to the left of the shot has an Osprey nest crowning it. Seeing an Osprey in NYC is a bit like spotting a unicorn, and in this shot there are three juveniles in the nest and mama is returning from the hunt. She’s a bit blurred, but this is a handheld shot at about a thirtieth of second, so I’m just happy that I was able to get a crisp focus in what was functionally total darkness.

Tomorrow, back to Queens.

also – I’m required to state the following, regarding the access which allowed me to capture these photos – “Courtesy of the City of New York. NYC Parks and the Freshkills Park Alliance have made access available for the production of this artwork.” I’m also required to offer this link to freshkillspark.org and inform that inquiries regarding the park are best sent to freshkillspark@parks.nyc.gov

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

This weekend-

Saturday, August 16th, LIC’s Modern Corridor
With Atlas Obscura, click here for tickets and more info.

Sunday, August 17th, 13 Steps Around Dutch Kills
With Brooklyn Brainery, click here for tickets and more info.

Written by Mitch Waxman

August 12, 2014 at 1:00 pm

old garden

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You need to get out of the City, every now and then, and commune with nature.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As mentioned in yesterday’s post, a journey to Staten Island was on the menu last weekend. After accomplishing the journey from Astoria to St. George, one found himself whisked away by a municipal vehicle. Not an ambulance driven by men in white coats nor a paddy wagon driven by the fellows in blue shirts, as you might expect, this time it was a white van with a green leaf logo on the side. The NYC Parks Dept. owned this van.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

At our destination, which is vouchsafed by security and controlled access, a somewhat bucolic landscape was encountered. It was sweet smelling, bursting with grasses and trees, and there were critters of all descriptions bounding about. There were literally white tail deer popping in and out of view, ospreys turning in the sky, and bunnies leaping. This was no ordinary meadow, however. This is the built environment you’re looking at, and this was formerly considered one of the worst places upon the entire Earth, a place which my beloved Newtown Creek was actually preferable to.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The only thing that betrays what this spot once was are the bits of methane handling, and sampling, equipment which protrude out of the verge.

Lords and Ladies, welcome to the still under construction Fresh Kills Park, which sits atop the 2,200 acre garbage dump and landfill which NYC operated between 1947 and 2001. The Fresh Kills landfill is the largest man made object upon the entire planet, with hills (or mounds) that rise from 90 to 225 feet above the surrounding terrain.

My kind of place, and luckily, I got invited in to take a few photos.

also – I’m required to state the following, regarding the access which allowed me to capture these photos – “Courtesy of the City of New York. NYC Parks and the Freshkills Park Alliance have made access available for the production of this artwork.” I’m also required to offer this link to freshkillspark.org and inform that inquiries regarding the park are best sent to freshkillspark@parks.nyc.gov

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

August 8, 2014 at 11:00 am

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