The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

Posts Tagged ‘railroad

forgotten sculptor

leave a comment »

Friday, again.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A recent daylight perambulation found a humble narrator in DUGABO, Down Under the Greenpoint Avenue Bridge Onramp, in the Blissville section of Long Island City. The bridge crosses the fabulous Newtown Creek, and provides a concrete manifestation of the currently undefended border of Brooklyn and Queens. Famously, the so called “garbage train” is assembled at the LIRR’s Blissville rail yard, and is normally hauled about by locomotive engines painted with the brand colors of the New York & Atlantic outfit. This bluebird GATX unit was a surprise, but my beloved Creek is never entirely predictable. The street down here is dubbed “Railroad Avenue” aptly.

GATX, as it turns out, is an 1898 vintage corporate entity based in Chicago that leases rail equipment on several continents and also has a sideline in aviation heavy equipment. If you want to take a deep dive, here’s their site.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The signal bells began clanging and the train started moving eastwards along the Lower Montauk tracks. As you can see in the shot above, somebody has set up housekeeping under the bridge, having constructed a shelter/shanty out of shipping palettes and other industrial leave behinds. As of yet, I haven’t talked to this fellow, but I already like him since he’s got quite a collection of cats living with him.

Thrilling is how I describe the sensation of seeing freight rail moving around at street grade in NYC. Once common, there are so few places where you see this these days… this train and it’s box cars of garbage remove hundreds of long distance truck trips every day from our roads.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Blissville’s Railroad Avenue offers quite a gallery of street art/graffiti- if you’re into that sort of thing. The building just behind the locomotive used to be a lead factory, although in recent years it’s also been home to a company that worked with plastics. These days it’s a warehouse, with a tire shop on the Review Avenue facing side.

There’s quite a bit of industrial/commercial activity going on down here in DUGABO. The N.Y. Paving Company has an enormous property where they manage a fleet of hundreds of heavy construction vehicles and store sand, gravel, and other tools of their trade. Across the street at the former HQ of the Tidewater Pipeline Company, later called the Lukoil Getty terminal, the busy Broadway Stages outfit handles movie and tv productions for Hollywood. There’s also a self storage company housed in a factory building that used to be the home of BG Pickles.

Back next week with more, 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.

held transient

leave a comment »

Friday is frizzled, yo.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Another set of Sunnyside Yards shots are on offer today, with the one above depicting the Acela maintenance operation on the north side of the gargantuan rail coach yard here in Long Island City. It’s also right about at this point in time, roughly a month ago on March 15th, that I was able to begin saying that I knew how to handle the new camera and lenses properly and predictably. What I mean by that, is that I was able to spot a scene and say “hey, switch to the 85mm for this one, using x aperture and y iso” without a trial and error phase baked into the process. Funnily enough, since I’ve been moving around in daylight again, it’s been something of a challenge to shoot when the “lights” are on, burning thermonuclear eye of god wise.

Hey, I carried the old camera (technically there were two, since one got smashed, but same model) for around ten years and it had become an extension of my arm in many ways. Didn’t even have to think about the technical side of things, since while shooting all those dials and buttons were being whirred and clicked on muscle memory. One fo the challenges of the new device has actually been teaching my fingers where the buttons and dials are.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One has not had a terrific amount of fun this last week due to inclement clime, personal obligation, and official business. I found out several disconcerting things this past week that revolve around Newtown Creek, but the good news is that I was able to help organize a cleanup effort at the 19th Avenue street end in Astoria, at Luyster Creek. Great bunch of neighbors showed up, and got sweaty. The NYC DEP sent us a dumpster to collect up the garbage peeled off the shoreline, which was awesome.

This is the way.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Despite my obstacles and obligations, I still found myself standing in three of the five boroughs, which is more travel than I can describe for the last year. Looks like next week is going to involve an apocalypse of Zoom meetings. I just got renewed for another two years on the Community Board here in Astoria so there’s a long swearing in ceremony I need to virtually attend, followed by an actual CB1 meeting on Tuesday, followed by a Newtown Creek CAG meeting on… it really doesn’t ever seem to end.

Three Zoom meetings in a row are a holocaust, 4 or more are an apocalypse. A few weeks ago, I had to be in two Zoom meetings simultaneously. Whiskey was required afterwards.

Every single one of these Zoom’s feels like my soul is being run through a delicatessen meat slicer and a centimeter of my identity is being removed. Get vaxxed, lords and ladies, so we can annoy each other in person 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.

Written by Mitch Waxman

April 16, 2021 at 2:00 pm

spiritual rapport

with 3 comments

Tuesday affects us all.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As mentioned yesterday, a trip to Randalls Wards Island was recently enacted, during which I saw a bird – pictured above. The history of these islands are – at best – a long and convoluted tale during which they changed names several times over many hundreds of years. Great Barent Island, anyone? Suffice to say that the most important thing in the history of these East River Islands was the day that Robert Moses decided to make them his base of operations. A tributary of the East River – Little Hell Gate it was called – separated the two islands and it was filled in at his command in the early 1960’s to create a single land mass. Moses’ Triborough Bridge operation was based here as of 1936, making this the actual “House of Moses.”

There’s an amazing number of playing fields and pedestrian paths on the island, and the whole scene is framed in by the Hell Gate and Triborough Bridges.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Looking across a small waterway called Bronx Kill found on the northern side of the place, which is where that bird was noticed, that’s a CSX engine moving a garbage train around. The tracks lead westwards towards a Waste Management Facility, then eastwards and north towards to some unknown destination. That side of the water is an unknown country which local children call “Bronx.”

Seriously, what I know about the Bronx wouldn’t fill a thimble. I’ve been saving it for my old age. I can tell you a lot about the other four boroughs, but the Bronx? I can tell you where it is, basically. Ok, it’s Port Morris, but it’s nice not knowing everything about something for once.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Looking more or less westwards along the Bronx Kill from a small pedestrian span called the Randalls Island Connector, in the distance that’s a part of mighty Triborough. Specifically, I’m fairly sure that’s it’s the Truss Bridge section of the Triborough Bridge complex. The visible arch is part of the Hell Gate bridge trackage. I wonder if it’s still called the NY Connecting Railroad on this side of the river, as it is on the Queens side?

More tomorrow.

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 20th. 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

July 21, 2020 at 11:00 am

vital nature

with 3 comments

Engine 400? New toys at NY&A?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As mentioned yesterday, after a series of puzzling moments over on the Newtown Creek side of industrial Maspeth, a humble narrator decided to begin the journey back to HQ and headed northwards. Often have I described how ridiculous I look when I’m out night scuttling – as the usual filthy lack raincoat has a yellow reflective vest draped over it. In addition, I’ve got the tripod, camera, and a knapsack full of camera stuff. I’m the lone pedestrian you see when driving down the truck routes and waterfront edges, and it’s not unknown for me to walk for hours at night around the Creek without seeing another living soul. Not Monday.

Just as I got to a particular intersection near a certain burnt out diner that I used to frequent, a New York and Atlantic train set rolled by on a spur of the Lower Montauk tracks. I asked one of the crew who was working the signals if he anticipated that the train old be coming back anytime soon and he indicated that it indeed would be. I inquired as to a safe spot to stand and shoot from that wouldn’t interfere with their operations, and in the zone indicated I found a relatively photogenic spot, and began to set up for my shots.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

This section of Maspeth was once like Chicago, with lots and lots of rail customers amongst the industrial powers back here. These days, there’s still industrial freight clientele around these parts, but the rail spurs (secondary tracks) that serve these businesses are largely inaccessible without straight up trespassing through all sorts of property – government, private, you name it. While I was waiting for the train to return, a van with MTA branding on it pulled up next to me and the two Cops inside inquired as to what I was up to. “Nothing sinister, I assure you” was my reply. I explained my purpose, identified myself without being asked, and offered the two badges a short history lesson about the Long Island Railroad in Maspeth and described my night photography project to them. They said “no problem” and explained they had to inquire as it looked odd seeing someone take pictures in the dark around the properties they patrol. They drove off and the train rolled in. Not a problem.

I offered part of the above missive to some friends on Facebook, and was surprised at their sentiments towards the cops. Speaking strictly as someone who expresses his First Ammendment rights regularly, I full throatedly say that I bloody well want the cops inquiring when they see some weirdo in a black raincoat and safety vest standing near a rail line in the middle of the night with a tripod setup in NYC. They didn’t interfere with me, or even get out of the van, just were asking what was up and why I was there. As a counterpoint, the MTA’s Security Guard/Rent A Cops at the nearby Grand Avenue Bus Depot are aggressive and have chastised and interfered with photographers – including me.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The NY& A folks had seemingly visited another customer on a hidden spur found to the west of the intersection. The signal arms went up and I crossed the tracks over to the north side of the street. The signal arms triggered again and I got into position for one last shot as they descended.

So, I’m going to be conducting a free walk in LIC on the 30th of March, it would seem. The Sunnyside Yards project has roared back to life in the aftermath of the Amazon debacle, and since the Manhattan people are going to all sorts of effort to get this thing done… Click here for details on the “Skillman Corridor” walk.


“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.

country seat

leave a comment »

It’s National Turkey Neck Soup Day, in these United States.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Racing thoughts, cold sweats, night terrors, or existential anxieties notwithstanding – one is happy to report that the Hell Gate Bridge Centennial has been marked. Last weekend, one attended a walk conducted by the estimable Richard Melnick of Greater Astoria Historical Society celebrating the event. Mr. Melnick was joined by Dave Frieder, a photographer and bridge expert, as well as around fifty enthusiasts. For me, it was nice just to be around people who weren’t chasing or deriding.

Pictured above, a CSX freight train heading eastwards over the bridge.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

While following our course, the usual grand panoply of sights were encountered along the east river, including the transit of an articulated tug and barge – the Bouchard corporation’s “Evening Star” tug towing a fuel barge… It’s all so depressing, really.

As always, one reminds that whether they’re pulling or pushing, Tugboats are always “towing.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Hell Gate bridge overflies Astoria Park, of course, and one spotted the curious tableau seen above while there.

I’ve been warning all of you about Lovecraftian phenomena occurring in Queens for years, and now at last I can demonstrate the presence of the Shoggoths amongst us.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

This looked like the kind of fun I would have enjoyed having as a child, in those halcyon days before my soul had been blackened to a crisp by the unrelenting fires of adulthood. Life – it’s become a neutral gray for me nowadays – banal, ashen, joyless.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Greater Astoria Historic Society has a full calendar of Hell Gate related programming coming up, and this summer the folks who live in “Astoria, Astoria” or plainly Astoria’s north side are planning a few summertime celebrations for Lindenthal’s triumphant arch bridge over the East River.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

March 30, 2017 at 1:00 pm

%d bloggers like this: