The Newtown Pentacle

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Posts Tagged ‘railroad

fourth harangue

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Wednesday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A final post from the excursion I was invited to join in on to the NY Central Railroad’s abandoned Glenwood Power Plant in Yonkers.

These shots are from the boiler building, where coal fired furnaces were stoked, which heated the boilers that steam powered the generators in the building next door, which then electrified the NYC RR Hudson Line tracks leading south into Grand Central.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As mentioned in earlier posts, this 1907 plant was abandoned in 1971 by its new owner – MTA – after they took over the commuter and rail service on the Hudson Line from the bankrupt NY Central (which had merged with its longtime rival Pennsylvania Railroad into the unwieldy PennCentral RR), due to an MTA preference to buy the electricity from suppliers like Consolidated Edison rather than generate it themselves.

The plant went feral. It’s rumored to be one of the sites where the long rumored “Son of Sam cult” would meet up.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The fellow who was guiding us was the engineer responsible for shoring up and making these structures habitable again. Due to it being exposed to the elements for five decades, there’s a lot of rot he and his crews have to deal with – rusty and water damaged structural steel, shifting foundations, you name it.

I kept on shooting while he was talking about the immensity of the task.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

It’s in places like this that you’re reminded that giants used to stride the earth in New York City and it’s surroundings.

The day trip was beginning to wind down, and as the group began to filter towards the exits, I kept on shooting.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Whenever I have limited or one time access to a location, this is my practice. Keep the camera busy until the very last moment.

Finally, that moment came.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

We gathered outside, and the rest of the group became interested in some pile of rusty steel, so I kept on keeping on.

Something somewhat different tomorrow – at this – your Newtown Pentacle.


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Written by Mitch Waxman

September 14, 2022 at 11:00 am

sixth interest

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Tuesday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

More shots from the abandoned Glenwood Power Plant in New York States’ Yonkers municipality in today’s post. For details on the history of the NY Central Railroad, the power plant, etc., please refer to yesterday’s post which is chock full of links.

Very visually interesting place, which I was invited to visit by My Pal Val, who asked me to join in with a group of photographers she was organizing a visit for. We had an extremely limited amount of time at the plant, which was unfortunately in the early afternoon – the absolute worst time of day for photos (except in February).

– photo by Mitch Waxman

My plan – thereby – was to treat the scene as I would if I was shooting there in low – or no – light conditions. To achieve this, I attached a ten stop ND filter. The tripod was deployed, but only extended up to full height a few times. Most of the time I kept it low to the ground, operating the camera through its swivel out touch screen. Depending on what I was shooting, my aperture was never lower than f8 or higher than f18. ISO ranges from 100-6400 are included in this series.

“Hey Mitch – what’s with all the talking shop these days?” “Tell me about the history of the Pulaski Bridge again.”

What can I tell you. I need to talk shop sometimes. About once every few months, I get an email from a younger photographer – college kids, mostly. They want to know how I do what I do. Sometimes they want to be introduced to the Creek, or the harbor, or whatever. A lot of times they ask me how to use their camera to get the sort of shots I routinely churn out for Newtown Pentacle and other sites.

“Show up, do the work, don’t get hurt, go home” is the first speech I offer.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I’ve got a whole other set of speeches ready for them about how to stay as safe as you can when moving around on the street, which I call “how you look to others on the street, and keep moving at all times.” There’s the whole “don’t cross industrial driveways without looking” and the “why would you stand on that slippery rock if you’ve got a zoom lens and it’s safer two feet away” which is followed by the “how, exactly, would you describe to the 911 operator where you are right now” one. They all like these speeches, I tell them well and with great flourish. I also ask them “what is it a picture of.”

I also try to pass on some of what I’ve learned about marching around NYC with a camera. Especially given the conditions in which one such as myself usually works. A lot of the craft, as I’ve purposed it, involves being hyper aware of my surroundings while allowing the camera to record the scene in some intentional manner while I keep an eye out for bad actors and danger.

Come with, the next time it’s a hundred degrees at midnight or no degrees at dawn, and join me at the Maspeth Plank Road or at Dutch Kills? I’ll tell you all about camera settings and how to get the scene, based on long experience. You’ll also possibly encounter what can only be described as “creepy ass muthaflowers.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Anyway, that’s “what” with talking about that.

As mentioned yesterday, there are two buildings at the Glenwood Power Plant that we received access to. The first one, in yesterday’s post, was the generator building. The ones in today and tomorrow’s post are from the furnace and boiler building. This was a coal fired power plant, incidentally.

As a note, there were fishies swimming around in that puddle of water.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There was a section of the roof which was unstable and we were gathered into a safe area beyond it for a few last shots of this section of the building.

It was time for the last leg of the excursion.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Looking south out the boiler and furnace building’s window along the Hudson River, with Manhattan on the horizon. Just for a sense of place.

More tomorrow.


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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

September 13, 2022 at 11:00 am

forty alleys

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Friday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

On the 12th of August, my pal Val had arranged an event up in Yonkers, wherein an abandoned NY Central railroad power plant would be opened up for the inspection of a group of photographers by its new owners. These new owners have some pretty ambitious plans for the site, but more on that next week. In the meantime, I had to get from Astoria to Yonkers.

Luckily, this is accomplished fairly easily. The M60 Select Bus service runs down Astoria Boulevard, and has a stop at Steinway Street. Out of the house early, thereby, with a ham egg and cheese sandwich in hand, went a humble narrator.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I had padded an extra half an hour of “shit happens” time into my schedule, and spent that interval photographing the Metro North and Connecticut Rail commuter rail trains which travel along the old NY Central Railroad’s right of way.

125/Lex is a pretty busy station, I tell you.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The shot above looks south along Park Avenue towards Midtown Manhattan and Grand Central Terminal. It’s called a “terminal” because its always been the “end of the line.” The 7 train Subway enters a part of the facility called “Grand Central Station,” which is called that because it’s not the last stop of that service. Station = passing through. Terminal = last stop.

As far as the whole Pennsylvania Railroad and NY Central thing – man… it’s complicated and I don’t want to even get into that whole story. Suffice to say that the MTA is one of the many orphaned love children which fell out of their contests, courtships, troubled marriage, and bankrupted divorce.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I hung around the 125/Lex platform for about a half hour, and never ran out of trains coming and going to take photos of. My destination was in Yonkers, but one stop past the “big” Yonkers stop. Glenwood, that’s the one I’d need to get to.

I’ve got a buddy who grew up in Yonkers, and he’s always pronounced the place’s name as “AhYonkahs.” This is the same guy who always kept a series of loaner gorilla suits in the trunk of his car, in addition to his personal gorilla suit, in case he had the sudden urge for company when it was time to go “aping.” I’ve aped with him, which would take the form of us climbing on things, invading bars and fancy restaurants while wearing gorilla suits, and clowning around with pretty girls. I can confirm the idea that you can get away with literally anything while wearing a gorilla suit. Even Cops will find your antics entirely humorous, because of the gorilla suit.

AhYonkahs, that’s where I was heading. No Gorilla suit though.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

My chariot arrived, and away did I go.

I was hoping to get a few “out the window” train shots while crossing the Harlem River, but Metro-North’s windows seem to be composed of thousands of small fractures and the sun was not on my side. C’est la vie.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Annoyingly, whereas my destination was literally next to the train station, I had to walk about a half mile, up and down hills, and over dales (actually a baseball field) to get to it.

More next week, with a detailed look at a long abandoned NY Central Railroad Glenwood Power Plant, found along the Hudson River in AhYonkahs.


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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

September 9, 2022 at 11:00 am

titanic chisel

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Monday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Back home in Queens, after my day trip to Philadelphia, and I’m sorry to report two things. First, a combination of obligation and precipitation conspired against me taking a single picture for a week after the 7th. The second is that the obligations took the form of an endless series of Zoom meetings which just happened to occur on the few days when it wasn’t raining in the second week of March.

The only good news about this series of Newtown Creek related, or non profit advocacy group focused, or Community Board meetings I participated in is that while the “blah blah blah” and virtue signaling was happening, I was developing all the shots from Philadelphia that you’ve seen over the last couple of weeks on a different screen.

Multi tasking!

– photo by Mitch Waxman

On the 14th of March, a Monday, a very long walk was undertaken. My pathway involved first crossing the Sunnyside Yards, and then scuttling along the Skillman Avenue corridor which follows the southern side of the vast Federally owned railroad coach yard.

Famously, a humble narrator has a catalogue of every hole in the fences which is large enough to allow a lens sized point of view. After a spate of outings during the winter months, ones which saw me going out in the early hours of the morning in pursuit of the rising of the burning thermonuclear eye of god itself, this was the first of several spring outings timed for the recession of the fiery orb to its receptacle somewhere behind New Jersey.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

“Hole reliable” is actually two holes. They appear to be surveyor’s points, and they are cleanly cut apertures punched out of the steel plate fences. There’s four kinds of fencing around the yards, with three of them being absolutely disastrous in terms of photos – save for these rare surveyor points.

The funny thing about the so called “security” situation here are the rail cops sleeping in their cars alongside wide open gates, contrasted with an abundance of “block the view” or “unclimbable” fences.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

This shot was gathered while lingering, unchallenged, at one of those open gates. There was a cop sleeping in his car directly behind me, with a tablet playing a TV program in his passenger seat.

I literally could have done anything I wanted here – walked right down to the tracks and waved at passing trains. Anything. It’s all theater – security kabuki.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

That’s the 7 line subway heading eastwards out of Queens Plaza towards Sunnyside pictured above. The tracks it travels on are suspended high above the ground level tracks used by Long Island Railroad and Amtrak. In between, there’s a truss bridge which carries vehicle traffic into and out of Queens Plaza, where the travel lane approaches to the Queensboro Bridge are found.

I moved on, the cop never woke up. Maybe he was dead.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Luckily, just as I arrived at my first actual destination, the sky lit up with oranges and yellows. I miss the old days in Long Island City, before big real estate crossed the river from Manhattan and stole the sky.

More tomorrow, from Long Island City, 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.

with onyx

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Wednesday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Philadelphia’s Market Street Bridge, in its modern or fifth incarnation, is pictured above. Leading directly to 30th Street Station, Market Street bridge was erected in 1932. It sports ornate masonry along its roadway, including four “Pennsy” eagle statues salvaged from New York City’s original Penn Station. This November of 2021 post describing a previous visit to Philly – “Menacing Dreams” – shows what the scene looks like from above, rather than below, here on the Schuylkill River Trail.

The history associated with this crossing is fairly ancient for the United States, and includes a ferry which crossed the River as early as 1673.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As mentioned, the pathway I was using here in Philadelphia – the Schuylkill River Trail – was very, very well used by the locals. As always seems to be the case with me these days, when people see the camera on the tripod they want to come over and talk cameras with me. Tell me what camera they have, or want, or ask about where they might sell some old equipment which they inherited from a dead relative. Find out what I think about the Sony vs. Canon ecosystems…

I try to be polite, but… c’mon… I’m obviously, and literally, focused in on what I’m doing… sheesh.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

To my understanding, there’s a subway tunnel under the water here leading into 30th Street Station’s innards. If I’m reading things correctly, it’s in between the John F. Kennedy Boulevard Bridge (left) and Market Street Bridge (right). Called the Market Frankfort Line Tunnel, it carries local subway and streetcar traffic of Philly’s SEPTA and PATCO transit operations into the intermodal sections of the rail facility. Grain of salt on the location, btw, as mentioned – I’m a tourist here, not an expert.

Of course, when the shutter was open for the shot above… that’s when I heard the jingle jangle of an approaching railroad train behind me.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I had to quickly “rekajigger” the camera from “dreamy landscape” to fast motion capture modality, but managed to do so before the freight train got to me. It was a CSX freight unit.

Funnily enough, since the camera was firmly affixed to the tripod and that fence in the shot above was at least five feet high, I just hoisted the thing above my head with the swing out screen pointing down. Clumsy, but effective. Click, click, click.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Conrail came into existence in 1976 at the behest of the Federal Government, which combined the bankrupt (private capital, publicly traded) but strategically and macro economically important holdings and routes of the Penn Central and Erie Lackawanna outfits (amongst others) under a single management team. Conrail became profitable by the middle 1980’s, and in the northeastern USA, two privately held companies – CSX and Norfolk Southern – ended up absorbing the Conrail property and stock (42% and 58%, respectively). Conrail is still around, and owns a significant amount of rail tracks which they perform “maintenance of way” work on.

CSX operates 21,000 miles of track all by itself. Its business ranges from Canada’s Ontario and Quebec, and all over the eastern coast of the United States – including servicing the Atlantic and Gulf coastal ports, as well as the Great Lakes, Mississippi River, and the St. Lawrence Seaway. CSX is what is referred to as a “Class 1 railway.” They do freight, not passenger. A Fortune 500 company, CSX’s total assets are worth (as of 2018) $12.25 Billion in Shareholder’s equity, and CSX has a portfolio of assets which is worth $36.729 Billion.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

CSX engine no. 104 was pulling this train along these tracks by the Schuylkill River. Built by General Electric Transportation Systems sometime between 1993 and 2004, the model GE AC4400CW’s manufactured during that interval generate 4,400 horsepower of motive force. A diesel electric locomotive, some 2,834 of them were produced for CSX and other freight operators including Norfolk Southern, Union Pacific, Canadian Pacific, Ferromex, and Cerrojón, and others.

Choo Choo! More tomorrow, 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

April 27, 2022 at 11:00 am

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