The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

Posts Tagged ‘Queens Blvd.

wailing grew

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Minimalist Wednesdays? I dunno.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One has always opined that Queens will show you things if you just listen to her. Sometimes these things are ominous and weird, like the abundance of single iterated cast off shoes associated with the notorious Queens Cobbler. Other times they are just puzzling, and turn out to be a missing piece of the Queensboro Bridge. Go figure.

Recent endeavor encountered this hollowed out watermelon on Queens Blvd. It looked like somebody was eating it with a big spoon. I know… you’re thinking “rats,” but look at those clean (and clearly made by a knife) edges on the thing. Also, that would be one hell of a rat and rats don’t use giant spoons, as their hands as shaped like sporks with fingernails. Who can guess, though, what weird forms of (watermelon eating and giant spoon using) intelligence may exist, hidden in plain sight along the Boulevard of Death?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Something else one might witness along the old “bulevar de la muerte,” if – like a humble narrator – you’re trying to look “up, down, and all around,” whilst scuttling along the pedestrian lane are non standard sewer grates and other atavistic street furniture. The hodge podge of municipalities, towns and villages which were composited in 1870 as “Long Island City” and later as “Queens” is something that the first Queens Borough Presidents spent a lot of money on. If you look carefully, you’ll see a variety of approaches to drainage and sewer systems in the various neighborhoods. Several are relatively modern, others – like the one pictured above – date back to about the First World War. South Sunnyside was still defined by small family farms back then, and the area we call the Sunnyside Yards still had buildings standing that dated back to the Dutch Colonial period.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

So, what’s up with this “minimalist wednesday” thing, and how does it involve what the Romanians would call the “Bulevardul Morții”?

Simply put, every once in a while I try to frame up simplified and isolated shots, which is a lot easier said than done here in the super complicated layer cake of attention grabbing clutter called NYC. It’s kind of a challenge to do so, so… hence.

As far as the “Boulevard Mortis” – as you’d say it in Latin – goes, it’s just where I happened to end up one day, along with all the other wind blown trash in Queens.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle


Upcoming Tours and Events


Thursday, July 11, 7 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.

“Infrastructure Creek” Walking Tour w Newtown Creek Alliance

If you want infrastructure, then meet NCA historian Mitch Waxman at the corner of Greenpoint Avenue and Kingsland Avenue in Brooklyn, and in just one a half miles he’ll show you the largest and newest of NYC’s 14 sewer plants, six bridges, a Superfund site, three rail yards with trains moving at street grade (which we will probably encounter at a crossing), a highway that carries 32 million vehicle trips a year 106 feet over water. The highway feeds into the Queens Midtown Tunnel, and we’ll end it all at the LIC ferry landing where folks are welcome to grab a drink and enjoy watching the sunset at the East River, as it lowers behind the midtown Manhattan skyline.

Click here for ticketing and more information.


Saturday, July 13, 10 a.m. – 12 p.m.

“Exploring the East River, From General Slocum Disaster
to Abandoned Islands” Boat Tour w NY Adventure Club

Onboard a Soundview route NYC Ferry – Join New York Adventure Club for a two-part aquatic adventure as we explore the General Slocum disaster, and historic sights and stories along the East River, all by NYC Ferry.

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 10, 2019 at 11:00 am

abundantly able

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Hot time, summer in the city…

– photo by Mitch Waxman

While wandering around recently, on a particularly warm and sticky day, the burning thermonuclear eye of god itself seemed positively fixed upon the humid surface of Queens. A humble narrator was wearing his summer costume, which includes a white shirt and hat, but regardless of this – shelter from its radiation was required. As one made his way eastwards long Queens Boulevard, the cement overpass which carries the IRT Flushing line subway offered surcease from the emanations, and since I have always thought it a visually interesting place, I got busy with the camera shutter.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Shadow and bright sunlight offer an interesting quandary to the roving photographer, given the high contrast and conflicting exposure triangles needed for both. The particular late afternoon light encountered, however, was casting long shadows punctuated by shafts of white hot light.

The burning thermonuclear eye of god itself, indeed.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Huitzilopochtli or Tonatiuh, Apollo or Helios, Surya, Shamash, Nyambi, Ra – everybody had a name for the deity of the sun, and they were almost always warrior gods who required some sort of appeasement. Sol Invictus was what the Romans called it, as in the “unconquered sun.”

A humble narrator grew up in a monotheist tradition however, so my perception of the nuclear fireball in the sky is that of a single unblinking eye set into the starry face of an extra dimensional intelligence who keeps count of how many times each and every human being has masturbated.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle


Upcoming Tours and Events


Thursday, July 11, 7 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.

“Infrastructure Creek” Walking Tour w Newtown Creek Alliance

If you want infrastructure, then meet NCA historian Mitch Waxman at the corner of Greenpoint Avenue and Kingsland Avenue in Brooklyn, and in just one a half miles he’ll show you the largest and newest of NYC’s 14 sewer plants, six bridges, a Superfund site, three rail yards with trains moving at street grade (which we will probably encounter at a crossing), a highway that carries 32 million vehicle trips a year 106 feet over water. The highway feeds into the Queens Midtown Tunnel, and we’ll end it all at the LIC ferry landing where folks are welcome to grab a drink and enjoy watching the sunset at the East River, as it lowers behind the midtown Manhattan skyline.

Click here for ticketing and more information.


Saturday, July 13, 10 a.m. – 12 p.m.

“Exploring the East River, From General Slocum Disaster
to Abandoned Islands” Boat Tour w NY Adventure Club

Onboard a Soundview route NYC Ferry – Join New York Adventure Club for a two-part aquatic adventure as we explore the General Slocum disaster, and historic sights and stories along the East River, all by NYC Ferry.

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 9, 2019 at 1:15 pm

careful be

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Randomly wandering around Sunnyside, in today’s post.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Last week was one of those where my calendar was absolutely packed with “have to’s” and one found himself constantly scuttling from place to place. Given that a significant chunk of my “have to’s” involved Newtown Creek and that I live in Astoria, that meant that the way home inevitably meant transiting through the Sunnyside and Sunnyside Gardens sections of Queens.

I’m led to believe that the cabling rig pictured above is the property of either Verizon or Spectrum, and one or the other is installing upgraded data cabling for high speed internet service. As a note, the Community Board people in Sunnyside insisted – many years ago – that these wired connections be installed in the neighborhood in a subterranean manner, which is why you don’t see the ugly and “willie nillie” tangle of airborne data and phone wires witnessed in other parts of Queens in Sunnyside.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The NYC EDC team who are working on the ill conceived Sunnyside Yards Deck have adjured repeatedly that the revised planning for their Death Star will require the deck to be no more than three stories above current street grade, contradicting the feasibility report they created a few years ago. In fact, they’ve said they’re “throwing the feasibility study out” and we should just ignore it.

Ok, but that’s two million smackers of tax payer money you’re throwing out, and let’s do a bit of imagining based on what you’re seeing in the shot above. This section would be relatively unchanged on the east side of 43rd street, where the LIRR is transiting above those one story garages. Figure that the train represents a second story, and that the signal boards above the tracks are roughly the third story. That’s the height of the deck? Only three stories? What about the fifteen to thirty story tall luxury apartment houses on top of the thing of the sort you see in the distance?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Patrick “Battle Axe” Gleason, the last mayor of Long Island City, left us warnings back in 1898 to not trust the Manhattan people’s intentions for Queens. He predicted that they would empty their island of the stinking factories and workhouses, and turn Queens into a charnel house of rendering plants, industrial chimneys, and gas refineries. That’s what started happening in the early 20th century. Ever since, whenever they get a bright idea over at City Hall, where they want to try it out is in Queens.

Stand up, speak out. Just say no.


“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.


Events!

Slideshow and book signing, April 23rd, 6-8 p.m.

Join Newtown Creek Alliance at 520 Kingsland Avenue in Greenpoint, Brooklyn for a slideshow, talk, and book signing and see what the incredible landscape of Newtown Creek looks like when the sun goes down with Mitch Waxman. The event is free, but space is limited. Please RSVP here. Light refreshments served.

Click here to attend.

The Third Annual, All Day, 100% Toxic, Newtown Creekathon. April 28th.

The Creekathon will start at Hunter’s Point South in LIC, and end at the Kingsland Wildflowers rooftop in Greenpoint. It will swing through the neighborhoods of LIC, Blissville, Maspeth, Ridgewood, East Williamsburg, Bushwick, and Greenpoint, visiting the numerous bridges that traverse the Creek. While we encourage folks to join us for the full adventure, attendees are welcome to join and depart as they wish. A full route map and logistics are forthcoming.This is an all day event. Your guides on this 12+ mile trek will be Mitch Waxman and Will Elkins of the Newtown Creek Alliance, and some of their amazing friends will likely show up along the way.

Click here to attend.

Written by Mitch Waxman

April 8, 2019 at 1:00 pm

contracted chill

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Nothing like an adventure, MTA style.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Recent endeavor found me leaving HQ just after the burning thermonuclear eye of God itself had begun its journey across the sky. A humble narrator’s intention was to have been out and about for a couple of hours in the pre dawn part of the day, but one overslept and left the house just as dawn arrived. My eventual destination was in lower Manhattan, and my plan was to be mid span on the Queensboro Bridge when dawn occurred, but as mentioned – I rolled over and kept on sleeping rather than springing out of bed when the alarm sounded at four in the morning. It wasn’t until about 5:30 that I stumbled out into the staggering realities of Astoria.

A brief scuttle across Northern Blvd. and the Sunnyside Yards ensued, and bored with the idea of walking across Queensboro at this point, it was elected that I would catch the most photogenic of all NYC’s Subway lines – the 7 – at 33rd street and cruise into the shadowed corridors of midtown Manhattan.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The “international express” as it’s known, arrived in the station accompanied by announcements that due to construction there was no Manhattan bound service at 33rd street. Having set aside literally five hours for the walk, I figured I’d just play along and see where the MTA wanted to take me.

As a note, with the exception of the F line, on the weekend of the 5th and 6th of March – there was “no way to get there from here” without playing the game laid out by the MTA.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The 7 carried me to the 61st Woodside stop, where Manhattan bound service could be accessed. Off in the distance, at what must have been the 69th street station, there were crews of laborers and what seemed like a crane busily at work. The normal “Manhattan bound” side was entirely subsumed by their activity.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The 7 train, with its multitudinous delays and seemingly constant construction, has spawned a bit of activism. My pal Melissa Orlando, and others, formed first a Facebook group called “The 7 Train Blues,” and have since begun the formation of an organization called “Access Queens” with the intention of acting as advocates for the ridership community along this “international express” traveling between Flushing and Manhattan’s west side.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

On the subject of the 7 train, my immediate response is to discuss its immense photogeneity.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

It is virtually impossible to point a camera at the 7 and not get something interesting. Maybe it’s the low lying nature of Western Queens, with the elevated tracks running at rooftop level… can’t say. After running through the MTA’s perverse hoops, a humble narrator found himself in the Shining City, and what was encountered at my destination will be discussed in a post presented next week at this – your Newtown Pentacle.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

swirling away

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The whole 7 train thing.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I don’t live along this particular subway line, the 7, but many of my friends in Sunnyside and Jackson Heights are finding themselves driven to a state absolute despair by its recent troubles. Over at my Brownstoner column, a report on the subway situation was offered, and a description of a recent rally held by NYC Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer protesting the increasingly unreliable service was described here. On Facebook, a group page called #7trainblues has sprung up, where affected riders can express their ennui.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Long time Sunnyside residents tell me that they used to enjoy a 20 minute commute into Manhattan, a journey which can now take up to 45 minutes on a good day. In all fairness, the MTA’s outdoor lines were all hit rather hard by the recent spate of arctic weather in February, but the 7 train’s average “on time” rate is a few percentage points below that of the rest of the system – according to experts with whom I’ve consulted. Factor in an astounding 22 weeks of weekend track work and signal system upgrades – which turns service off completely, and you can understand the amount of pique which is growing in the neighborhood towards the MTA.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There are certain things which Government employees do not understand about the private sector, as it is outside of their personal experience. Nobody gets out of work at five p.m. anymore in corporate America, as municipal employees still do. Nobody in the private sector can say “I don’t work weekends” or “sorry that’s a holiday” or “that’s not my job” anymore, and we haven’t been able to do so since the late 90’s. Recently, I found myself on the R at 9 p.m. on a Sunday, and it was standing room only. Similarly crowded conditions are observed at all hours of the day, and rush hour has become something of a cautionary tale told by Queensicans to their children.

The proletariat has responded to the municipal call to abandon the automobile and use mass transit instead, it would be nice if the MTA wasn’t making us regret that decision on a regular basis.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

March 23, 2015 at 11:00 am

saucily cocked

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The boulevard of death.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Queens Boulevard has the single greatest appellation of any street in New York City – the “Boulevard of Death.” The thoroughfare has earned its nom de plume via the ridiculous number of people who have been smashed to death by automotive traffic along its length over the years, and as is the case with most things municipal, the elected guardians of the citizenry have enacted various programs and campaigns to safeguard against future tragedy. None of these well meaning efforts have been terribly successful.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The failure of “traffic slowing” or whatever they call it this week or year is generally not being caused by inherent flaws in municipal design or logic, instead, it boils down to the same thing that a corporate IT officer will blame 90% of their computer problems on – user error. As a dedicated pedestrian, I see this happening all the time, and I’m not really sure how much “cherishing of life” nor “sense of self preservation” is possessed by someone who tries to cross Queens Blvd. diagonally and from the middle of the block has, nor how you can codify or legislate that sort of stupidity away. In many ways, its Darwinism at work.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Remember “public service announcements”? PSA’s used to admonish against littering, or starting fires, and instructed on proper etiquette when onboard bus or subway. The PSA’s also used to inform newcomers on how to safely cross the streets and follow the rules. If you follow the street rules, odds are that you won’t end up as a greasy smear on the streets on Queens. Cross at corners, wait for the walk/don’t walk sign to flash white, look both ways before entering the vehicle lane. A humble narrator advises standing behind something like a street lamp when waiting to cross a high speed eight lane street, out of an abundance of informed caution.

This sort of conventional wisdom seems out of style at the moment, and Queens Blvd. remains the “boulevard of death.”

There are two public Newtown Creek walking tours coming up, one in LIC, Queens and one in Greenpoint, Brooklyn.

Glittering Realms, with Atlas Obscura, on Saturday May 17th.
Click here for more info and ticketing.

Modern Corridor, with Brooklyn Brainery, on Sunday May 18th.
Click here for more info and ticketing.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

May 9, 2014 at 1:08 pm

by surprise

with one comment

Cool atmospherics in Sunnyside.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One of those periodic blasts of duty has been upon me for the last week or so, a lot to do with little time to do it, and the rain last week didn’t help. Got in the way of one project, delayed two others, and obliterated any semblance of free time when precipitants fell not. Accordingly, rather than walking everywhere, as I just did not have the time, mass transit was utilized.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Unlike several of my friends, especially that walking encyclopedia of regional transport options – Kevin Walsh of Forgotten-NY, I generally don’t familiarize myself with transit lines that I don’t frequent. Limited space available on my internal hard drives, and the needs of the now often crowd out things I don’t need to use often. However, I was quite proud of myself while improvising a bus and train path on the fly, just the other day, which is how I ended up on the 7 train.

Normally, I’d just walk from Greenpoint to Flushing, as it’s only a few miles and carries one across a staggeringly interesting cross section of Brooklyn and Queens.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The good news is that the first walking tour of 2014 is now accomplished, on Saturday I did the “13 Steps around Dutch Kills” tour with Atlas Obscura, which was one of the many things I had to do last week. Next tour with the Obscura Society will be “The Poison Cauldron of the Newtown Creek” on April 26, tickets are available here.

The reason I was heading to Flushing, and lucky enough to catch these cool atmospherics and lighting in Sunnyside, was to get some shots of the Unisphere for my Brownstoner column – check them out here.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

April 7, 2014 at 11:00 am

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