The Newtown Pentacle

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Posts Tagged ‘Roosevelt Island

fungus eyelets

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Always a first time for everything.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Normally, if one wished to visit Roosevelt Island (which is an occasional fancy), it’s a fairly short walk from the rolling hills of almond eyed Astoria to the East River and then over the estimable Roosevelt Island Bridge. Given the novel form of broken toe infirmity one is currently enjoying, alternative means were required to get to the NYPL Roosevelt Island Library branch to deliver my Newtown Creek lecture there last week. I took the train!

I’ve never taken a train to Roosevelt Island! Ferry? Tram? Walked? Yes to all three, but as far as the train – first time.

A short hop over to Jackson Heights on the R line found me awaiting the F line at the Roosevelt Avenue station, and soon I was positively hurtling towards the former Welfare Island. It went well, and the people on the train seemed nice.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There’s some debate about which subway station is most deeply buried. It’s not exactly a raging debate, but there’s a stop in upper Manhattan which is a contender due to the altitude of the land it sits under, and there’s the Roosevelt Island stop which is also a contender due to its relationship to sea level. At any rate, I was just glad that the escalators were functioning so that I didn’t have to limp my way up and out of the 63rd street tunnel.

One found his way to the library, got my gear set up, and told the story of Newtown Creek and my recent nocturnal explorations thereof. Afterwards, I was unwilling to chance entering the system due to the endemic repairs and service alterations familiar to the current era, and decided on using a cab to return to Astoria. Of course, I was on Roosevelt Island… so I opted to take a short walk over the Roosevelt Island Bridge and find a car on the Queens side of the river.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Truth be told, I saw an opportunity to brandish the camera for a few minutes on my way, a desire which trumped the toe drama for a few minutes. That’s the Roosevelt Island Bridge pictured above, looking towards the Ravenswood section of Long Island City in Queens.

Back tomorrow with something different, at this, your Newtown Pentacle.


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Written by Mitch Waxman

November 19, 2019 at 1:00 pm

mingled fear

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Roosevelt Island and Bigfoot, in today’s post.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Just the other day I came across a web page offering advice under the headline “So you want to become a Bigfoot hunter?” which discussed the sort of equipment needed for the job and laid out the wilderness survival skills which you’d be obliged to cultivate. I have a lot of the gear, but I’d probably die of fear and exposure within 48 hours out in the woods. The region of Brooklyn I grew up in was part of “Flatlands” which is next door to “Flatbush.” Not a lot of conifer forests, nor mountains, and the wildest animal was a guy named Larry who lived over on Clarendon Road. Nature wants to kill and eat me, I believe, so I stay in the place where humanity has had nature held tightly by the throat for centuries and where we routinely kick it in the balls just to remind it who’s boss – the City of Greater New York.

Saying that, I got to join a group of urban planners recently on a walk that started at Hallets Cove in Astoria and terminated at the new Cornell University Campus on Roosevelt Island.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

That’s the new Bloomberg Center pictured above, on the Cornell Campus. They’re still building over there, but what’s gone up so far looks a great deal like either the HQ of Star Trek’s Federation or the 31st century base used by the Legion of Super Heroes in DC Comics. It’s actually quite pleasing, visually, and I’m just being snarky about it. Go check it out, it’s worth the lookie loo.

As far as the Bigfoot Hunter gear, the recommendations included all sorts of camera and audio recording equipment which I’ve got. There were flashlights (got them too) and fancy hiking shoes (a-yup) on the list, and all kinds of camping gear which I suppose you’d need if you were foolish enough to say “Hey, I’ve got a perfectly good house with locking doors which I’m going to leave behind and go sleep alone in the woods where there are hungry animals and biting insects” while in pursuit of North American megafauna.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Thing about NYC that sucks is a complete lack of Sasquatch. Well, I don’t know “for sure” if there aren’t any, but last time I checked the ethnic breakdown offered by the United States Census Bureau for Astoria, there were zero Sasquatch mentioned. It’s possible that they registered as “Native American” or something, but I think that a family of Bigfoot living off Ditmars in a third floor Astoria walk up would elicit some special mention.

What I’m saying is that I’d love to be a professional Bigfoot Hunter, but the commute would really suck. I mean, seriously, what train would you take to get to Washington State, the “A” or something?


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Written by Mitch Waxman

May 30, 2018 at 11:00 am

mellow gleams

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FDR Four Freedoms Park, in today’s post.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The recent travelogue offered here, describing a recent visit to Roosevelt Island, concludes today with a visit to the southern terminus of that East River island where the brand new FDR Four Freedoms Park is found. Originally conceived and designed by Pratt University’s Louis Kahn in 1972 and completed by Mitchell | Giurgola Architects three decades later, the park is some four acres in size and honors the memory of Franklin Delano Roosevelt and commemorates the “Four Freedoms” speech he offered the nation in 1941.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Roosevelt was, of course, the 32nd President of these United States, after having served as the 44th Governor of New York State (amongst other jobs including appointments like Assistant Secretary of the Navy and lower elected offices). The convoluted history of how this park got built, a process which stretched out over three decades, is not what this post will attempt to describe – I would suggest a trip over to wikipedia for the whole story of that one. Suffice to say that a whole lot of money and ego found their way into the masonry of this place. Pictured above is a list of the various donors who financially supported the place, which reads like a “who’s who” of NYC’s modern day Real Estate and Non Profit Industrial Complexes.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The park itself is quite an interesting spot, and quite reminiscent of other modern monuments. A series of massing shapes set at an angle against the horizon, with leading lines and sparse plantings. The grand entrance offers a set of shallow steps at its entrance. Unfortunately, or not, my arrival at the Park was in the mid afternoon during the month of December, a time of year when the burning thermonuclear eye of god itself hangs languid and wan in the winter sky offering little warmth.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Instinct often carries me off to the less traveled side, but whenever one visits a “grand design” for the first time an attempt is made to follow the path intended. Knees groaning, one climbed the relatively short flight of steps, stepping over the inscribed names of the donors. This carried me to the apex of the stairway, and the main plaza of the place.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The leading sight lines are directed at a monumental bust found at the extreme south end of the park, but I couldn’t help but notice that what it was pointing directly at was east 23rd street’s East River “Gas Light district” frontage near Stuyvesant Town, and those brutalist residential towers found between 24th and 30th streets. An odd coincidence, given the less than friendly relationship of the Roosevelt family with the Rockefellers (Stuyvesant Town was a Rockefeller project).

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The true monument to FDR happens to be across the river in Manhattan, a building which also happens to be a Rockefeller project, the United Nations Building. Famously, Eleanor Roosevelt was a primal factor in the creation of the global congress. I’m sort of a fanboy for Eleanor Roosevelt, incidentally, and am always reminded of one of her many, many quotable lines – “we all do better when we’re all doing better” during the recitation of modern political discourse by present day ideologues.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

An odd choice in statuary, the floating bust of Roosevelt seems sad. In his lifetime, the man went out of his way to always appear chipper and smiling in public. Reticence seems to be the mood projected by this object, tinged with regret, and it’s based on portraits of the President from late in his life. This is the face of a man who had just commissioned the construction of two atomic bombs, rather than the countenance of the man who delivered one of the primal speeches of the 20th century that defined “the American way.”

Tomorrow, which is Festivus by the way, some of the things recently witnessed over in the Shining City of Manhattan.

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Written by Mitch Waxman

December 22, 2014 at 11:42 am

southern satellites

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Roosevelt Island and the Megalith, in today’s post.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As described yesterday, one found himself scuttling across the pavement of Roosevelt Island recently. Purpose had carried me to this spit of land which exists as a sort of existential buffer between Manhattan and Queens, and the desire to see what had become of the Queensboro Lamp Post base under the stewardship of the Roosevelt Island Historical Society. After visiting the group’s HQ, one elected to move across the island in a southerly direction, whereupon the Vane Brothers “Red Hook” tug was observed towing a fuel barge in a northernly direction.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Famously, the previous administration of the Big Little Mayor signed a deal with Cornell University to create a new campus here on the island. As far as I know the current administration of the Little Big Mayor hasn’t found a way to bollock that up yet by inserting “affordable housing” into the mix yet, and there is an awfully large demolition project underway at the former Goldwater Hospital campus. As always, the thing which cannot possibly exist that dwells in the cupola of LIC’s sapphire megalith has its unblinking eye fixed upon the world of men and is omniscient.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The impossible ideation found at the apex of the megalith, and its global army of acolytes in the Real Estate Industrial Complex, will see all around it transformed. In the end there will be naught be mirrored towers for miles in any direction, daggers aimed at the heavens, shadowing the earth from the radiant gaze of the burning thermonuclear eye of god itself. How many vantage points have I presented to you, over the years, which depict a scene such as the one above? How many more will we see before the world is remade in its image?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One cannot relate too much about the hospital itself. The Goldwater Hospital was established in 1939, and was named for a former NYC Hospitals official. Goldwater had been merged with another hospital on Roosevelt Island, Coler, and served the community as a more than 2,000 bed chronic care facility. Dilapidated and decrepit, the hospital complex was condemned in order to make way for the coming university campus. The acknowledged expert on this subject is Judith Berdy from the Roosevelt Island Historical Society, so why not come out to the island and allow her to share her wisdom?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Neither Goldwater Coler nor the Tug Red Hook was the focal I had in mind when beginning the short walk from the Roosevelt Island Historic Society’s HQ to the southern tip of the island, however. One’s desire was to visit the brand new “FDR Four Freedoms Park” which was opened somewhat recently. Observations of the space from Long Island City and multiple boat trips over the last summer have intrigued me, and a closer inspection seemed warranted.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

On Monday, a short photographic presentation of my observations will be made manifest at this, your Newtown Pentacle – but here’s a teaser image of the sights encountered when I first entered the monument. It seemed quite appropriate, somehow – that as I walked into a park celebrating the first of the imperial Presidents of the United States – a military helicopter was flying overhead, and that the United Nations building was framed by the park’s masonry.

There was a sign, one which admonished visitors “do not climb on the walls.” Don’t believe me? See for yourself, if you dare.

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unseeing eyes

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Roosevelt Island, in today’s Newtown Pentacle.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The path of penitence and perdition once led inexorably to Welfare Island, where Nellie Bly spent ten days in a mad house. Here in the Ravenswood section of Queens, the mad cries of a thousand lunatics once carried across the East River from a nearby East River island, which was once known as Blackwells and later as Roosevelt. A prisoner created cacophony of hammers striking rocks provided a rhythm for the screamers, as did the sound of the work mills operated by mission orphanages and municipal poor houses.

Today, one can merely walk, drive, or bike over the Roosevelt Island Bridge, eschewing any of the water borne transportation options once offered exclusively by Policemen and NYS mental health officials.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

My purpose in visiting the island is discussed over at my Brownstoner column today, although the subject of that post is not the only reason that a humble narrator journeyed here. Paranoid wonderings about the true nature of those little metal and or plastic cuffs on the ends of shoe laces notwithstanding (they are called Aglets, by the way, and their purpose is sinister), one had elected to visit the fairly new FDR Four Freedoms Park. As my walking tour schedule and obligations for 2014 have been fulfilled – my weekends are mine to do with as I wish once more so off a humble narrator shambled.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Perambulation to and onto Roosevelt Island, due to the multiple inborn flaws and infirmities (as caused by degenerate behavior, an atavist outlook, and or certain weaknesses of character and constitution that can be described as constituting a disease process) which afflict one’s constitution, was quickly achieved but soon degenerated into a weak gait which might only be called a “scuttle.” The long periods of physical inactivity, brought on by a recent spate of storms and unstopping rain, seem to have sapped ones endurance and stamina. Perhaps, local honey would help.

Accordingly, a thoughtfully placed wall was leaned upon, and the shot above was captured. That’s Big Allis across the river, over in Ravenswood.

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