The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

Posts Tagged ‘Queensboro Bridge

dazzling violet

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Thursday, they’s.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

After the whole Staten Island Ferry leg of a recent day was over (described earlier this week), getting back home to the rolling hills of almond eyed Astoria involved using the NYC Ferry Astoria line. Even pre pandemic, one preferred this mode of transit to the hurtling metal boxes moving through the rotting concrete of buried tunnels variety, and prefer it even more so after the emergence of the virus. One of the stops offered by the ferry service is at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, which is where I cracked out the shot above.

Yeah, I was intentionally trying to get a bit minimalist with these three. Artsy fartsy.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One wishes that East River water was as clear as glass, and that we would be able to peer downwards and see all the wonders down there. Just in the shot above, you’d see gas pipelines and electrical conduits, an enormous pipe carrying Manhattan’s sewage to Greenpoint, and theoretically a long rock mound or berm which the Subway and Long Island Railroad tunnels are armored against the tide and other elemental forces with. There would be hundreds of conduit pipes carrying electrical and communications wires as well, and there’s likely a few unplanned features down there involving vehicles and household appliances which found their way into the water somehow. I’m told by professional divers, however, that the East River has so much solute suspended in the water column that you literally cannot see your hand in front of your face once you are a meter or two below the surface. They work by touch and feel, in absolute darkness, these divers.

Who can guess, though, all there is that might be buried down there?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Another stop on the Astoria line is found at Roosevelt Island, right under mighty Queensboro. Luckily, just as the boat arrived in the shadow of the great bridge, the Roosevelt Island Tram was seen dangling from its harness of transport wires.

What fun.

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, October 5th. 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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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 8, 2020 at 11:00 am

vague presentiment

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Mighty, Queensboro… and I guess I’m a troll now.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One of my recent jaunts, carrying the camera about, found me wandering around the footings of the Queensboro Bridge in LIC. The amount of wasted space under here, which is frankly squandered by the NYC DOT, is colossal. DOT has the whole area gated off, with utilitarian fencelines of the chain link type bearing signage warning passerby of non existent security, and the city block sized lots under the bridge are used as parking lots for DOT’s municipal vehicle fleets, storage areas for various sorts of equipment like bike racks and tables, or they just sit empty.

For an area that’s so visually interesting, and so close to the largest of the NYCHA campuses, not having some combination of playgrounds and sitting areas… or even a single sign talking about Lindenthal and 1909… bah.

Trolls hang out under bridges, right?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I’ve got a special place in my three sizes too small heart for Queensboro, as the centennial for her was the first time that I participated in a public event. A humble narrator was a Parade Marshal for that event, and in fact, the very first post at this – your Newtown Pentacle – carried a shot from the upper roadway shot on that day. That’s the first and only time I got to meet Mayor Bloomberg, the first time I interacted with Congresswoman Caroline Maloney, Borough President Helen Marshall, or then DOT Commissioner Jeanette Sadik Khan.

In many ways, it was my coming out party.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Now, I’ve been bringing the thunder to Western Queens ever since, of course, but yeah Queensboro’s Centennial was the first time I stood up out of the shadows and said “Hi.”

Pictured above is one of those monumental wastes of space discussed above, a mostly empty parking lot for some of DOT’s fleet of passenger cars. Ever wonder why the DOT doesn’t require its people to ride bikes? I mean, institutionally speaking, they are the ones pushing the whole “bike lane agenda” in cooperation with the almighty TA Bicycle Lobby. You’d think they’d be providing some sort of moral example by abandoning their cars and riding bikes. The bike lobby is pushing the slogan that “street parking is theft,” right? So… what would you call that parking lot pictured above? Wouldn’t something else be a better use of the public land?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There’s an intricate web of ramps leading onto and off of Queensboro Bridge at the western side of Queens Plaza. You’ve also got structural steel aqueducts that carry subway lines to and from the area. The streets are pretty high volume as far as private vehicle traffic goes as well. It’s not terribly pedestrian friendly down here.

Ever notice how the pedestrians always get left out of the argument? Most people walk to and from either their cars or their bikes, as a note, and there’s some like myself for which walking is their primary manner of getting around. Saying that, it’s all about parking versus bike lanes.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

On the bike lane front, a significant amount of conversation in the coming months is going to involve Crescent Street. The bike people, and the elected officialdom crowd, have started a process which is calling on the NYC DOT to study creating a “bridge to bridge” bike lane on Crescent Street which will negate a lot of parking, reduce the number of vehicle lanes on the southern side of the street down to one, and create a protected bike lane. It’s not necessarily the end of the world, as some would offer, and not necessarily the solution to all things as others would say. What it is, however, is problematic in terms of engineering the street’s ultimate flow of both motor vehicles and bikes onto Queensboro.

Pity me, I’m going to be right in the middle of this on Community Board 1’s Transportation Committee.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

That’s the 7 line subway tracks pictured above, and the streak of light exiting stage left is the line itself. Cannot tell you how long I stood on this corner waiting to get this shot, but I can tell you it was pretty chilly out and that shortly after the capture above, rain started to drizzle down. One headed over towards the north side of Queens Plaza, whereupon I discovered that the R line had been shut down for the night due to repairs and that MTA was running a shuttle bus instead. Luckily for me, that shuttle wasn’t asking for a swipe of the old Metro Card, so I got a free ride home.

Tomorrow, back to the fabulous Newtown Creek, at this – your Newtown Pentacle.


“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

February 17, 2020 at 11:00 am

ghastly jest

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Queensboro, in today’s post.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There’s an effort underway to create separate lanes on the lower level of the Queensboro Bridge, one for pedestrians on the southern side and one for bicycles on the northern. I’m in favor of this plan, personally, as I’ve long thought that the shared pathway currently offered is “piss your pants” dangerous. Long standing, the shared path has pedestrians dodging fast moving bike riders who pick up a generous amount of speed as they descend off the slope of the bridge. Doesn’t sound dangerous because “bicycle,” I know, but having 150-200 lbs of primate meat smack into you when it’s moving at 20 mph on a wheeled contraption isn’t pleasant no matter what the bicycle people say. With the recent addition of e-bikes and other novel forms of electrically driven transport added into the milieu, you’ve now got what are essentially motorcycles using the bike path and silently moving in excess of 30-40 mph.

Physics, bike people, physics.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

It’s a devilish challenge doing any sort of long exposure work up on Queensboro, despite its apparent stolidity. The bridge is a cantilever type, meaning that each section is geared up to the next one, and each piece is constantly moving and vibrating, particularly when heavy vehicles like garbage or semi tractor trailer trucks are crossing it. Given the high volume of traffic on Queensboro, there’s a whole lot of shaking and moving going on, thereby.

That white line, incidentally, is the only divider between the bike lane (left side) and the pedestrian lane. There are no speed enforcement mechanisms in place here, or at least none that I can point to. Those e-bikes, the mono wheels, the hover boards, and all the other novel new methods of getting around can and do go as fast as they want to go. On the very cold evening I shot these photos, I had to duck out fo the way of a couple of groups who were riding four abreast. Dangerous, this. I have spoken.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The bicycle people will jump about and yell about how motor vehicles are the real menace, calling them two ton death machines. At least due to license plates and mandated insurance I have somebody to sue for damages. I’m at a loss as to how the city can classify e-bikes and the ilk as anything other than motor vehicles, but sense and logic don’t find an easy place to fit into the modern political dialogue. Everything is a life and death emergency, except when it comes to pedestrian safety. Given that my “Transportation Alternative” is walking, you’d think that maybe that POV would be a part of the conversation, but there you are, and there I am dodging bikes, e-bikes, and those weird wheel things.

See you next week, at this – your Newtown Pentacle.


“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

February 7, 2020 at 11:00 am

nameless hybrids

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In the end, there is only one question.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I’ve asked it time and againwho can guess, all there is, that might be buried down there? A recent scuttle found one headed towards Queens Plaza and discovering that a subterranean parking garage had been recently constructed that offered one a partial answer to that question. Cars. There’s cars down there.

Y’know, if you’re moving to a high rise building located at the destination point of nearly every bus and subway line in the Borough of Queens, and a couple of blocks from the Queensboro Bridge, a question to ask yourself is “do I really need to have a car, instead of renting one when I need one, since I live one subway stop from Manhattan”? Pfagh!

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One remains endlessly fascinated by the visual splendors of Queens Plaza. Long exposure shots such as the one above, which captured the quick passage of a bus past the camera, are the sort of thing I’m after these days. When I see a bus coming, an attempt is made to get the shot set up and framed before it passes me by, as a matter of fact. That streak of light in the middle of the shot above is actually an N train entering the Queensboro Plaza station on the elevated track, so for once my timing worked out perfectly, MTA wise. I always say “the A in MTA is for adventure.”

This was a particularly cold night, but the recent desire for a return to physical and photographic discipline after the long convalescence related to that broken toe at the end of 2019 is something which I cannot deny myself. Also, by staying busy in the slack time of my year, I’ve avoided the depressed mood and doldrums which normally afflict me during the winter months.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Since the air temperatures were in the high twenties, and it was quite breezy, the only logical choice I could make was to visit the Queensboro Bridge bike and pedestrian path, since a cold January night is exactly when you want to find yourself about ten stories over the East River – right?

Used to be that I’d find myself walking over Queensboro a couple of times a week, but for the last few years not so much. I also never used to drink tea, but these days I look forward to a good “cuppa” now and again.


“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.

correlated little

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Rounding the week out with the trains

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One is just about done with 2019 here, as I imagine most of you are. It hasn’t been a great year, but there you are. As my old man used to say, if you’re able to complain about it you’re still alive so there isn’t that much to complain about. He’d then indicate that I was probably bored if I had time to complain and offered to fill my time with some chore. Nobody has wished me a Fun Festivus (which is Monday the 23rd, btw) at any of the holiday parties I attended, which I’m upset about. It’s good though, as I’m a little “partied out” at this point in time, and don’t have the bandwidth to gather around the aluminum pole and air my grievances this year.

What can I say, I’ve always been a grumpy loner, now I’m a grumpy old man.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Where am I going next? It’s an existential question I keep asking myself, and the answer is ultimately “where the world takes me.” One of the bits of sage wisdom this grumpy old man can offer is to not try to force things into happening. Paradoxically, I’ll also offer that the world only makes sense when you force it to do so.

To put it into mundane analogical terminology – it makes no sense to lean over the platform edge looking for the subway, as it won’t force the subway to appear. The train is going to get there when it gets there. Making good use of your “dwell time” in the station (as MTA refers to it) is forcing the world to make sense somehow. In my case, that means taking a lot of photos.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A recent encounter, which wasn’t the particular moment I was shooting this set of photos, involved the “what and why are you taking pictures of” trope down in one of the sweating concrete bunkers under Manhattan. This encounter wasn’t with law enforcement, members of which I had a couple of notable “in the field” conversations with in 2019, it was just some fellow commuter. I explained my activities to this particular petitioner by asking if she ever saw any of those cool old photos of NYC depicting subways or trolleys in BW photos from the 1930’s or 40’s on her Facebook feed. When she responded yes, I said “I’m the one whose photos your grandkids will be looking at.” She chuckled.

On that note, the 2020’s are coming and I plan on doing a lot of roaring in the next decade.


“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 20, 2019 at 2:30 pm

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