The Newtown Pentacle

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Posts Tagged ‘Staten Island Ferry

Things to do!

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July 28th, 2012- Working Harbor Committee Kill Van Kull walk- This Saturday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The Kill Van Kull, or tugboat alley as its known to we harbor rats, is a tidal strait that defines the border of Staten Island and New Jersey. A busy and highly industrialized waterfront, Working Harbor’s popular “Hidden Harbor – Newark Bay” boat tours provide water access to the Kill, but what is it like on the landward side?

Starting at the St. George Staten Island Ferry terminal, join WHC Steering Committee member Mitch Waxman for a walk up the Kill Van Kull via Staten Islands Richmond Terrace. You’ll encounter unrivaled views of the maritime traffic on the Kill itself, as well as the hidden past of the maritime communities which line it’s shores. Surprising and historic neighborhoods, an abandoned railway, and tales of prohibition era bootleggers await.

The tour will start at 11, sharp, and you must be on (at least) the 10:30 AM Staten Island Ferry to meet the group at St. George. Again, plan for transportation changes and unexpected weirdness to be revealed to you at MTA.info.

for July 28th tickets, click here for the Working Harbor Committee ticketing page

August 5th, 2012- Newtown Creek Alliance Walking Tour- The Insalubrious Valley

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Newtown Creek Alliance historian Mitch Waxman will be leading a walk through the industrial heartlands of New York City, exploring the insalubrious valley of the Newtown Creek.

The currently undefended border of Brooklyn and Queens, and the place where the Industrial Revolution actually happened, provides a dramatic and picturesque setting for this exploration. We’ll be visiting two movable bridges, the still standing remains of an early 19th century highway, and a forgotten tributary of the larger waterway. As we walk along the Newtown Creek and explore the “wrong side of the tracks” – you’ll hear tales of the early chemical industry, “Dead Animal and Night Soil Wharfs”, colonial era heretics and witches and the coming of the railroad. The tour concludes at the famed Clinton Diner in Maspeth- where scenes from the Martin Scorcese movie “Goodfellas” were shot.

Lunch at Clinton Diner is included with the ticket.

Details/special instructions.

Meetup at the corner of Grand Street and Morgan Avenue in Brooklyn at 11 a.m. on August 5, 2012. The L train serves a station at Bushwick Avenue and Grand Street, and the Q54 and Q59 bus lines stop nearby as well. Check MTA.info as ongoing weekend construction often causes delays and interruptions. Drivers, it would be wise to leave your vehicle in the vicinity of the Clinton Diner in Maspeth, Queens or near the start of the walk at Grand St. and Morgan Avenue (you can pick up the bus to Brooklyn nearby the Clinton Diner).

Be prepared: We’ll be encountering broken pavement, sometimes heavy truck traffic as we move through a virtual urban desert. Dress and pack appropriately for hiking, closed-toe shoes are highly recommended.

Clinton Diner Menu:

  • Cheese burger deluxe
  • Grilled chicken over garden salad
  • Turkey BLT triple decker sandwich with fries
  • Spaghetti with tomato sauce or butter
  • Greek salad medium
  • Greek Salad wrap with French fries
  • Can of soda or 16oz bottle of Poland Spring

for August 5th tickets, click here for the Newtown Creek Alliance ticketing page

mad spaces

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– photo by Mitch Waxman

An upcoming walking tour, the Kill Van Kull walk for the Working Harbor Committee on June 30th, has called for repeated journeys to… Staten Island… to be undertaken by a humble narrator. Operations of the Staten Island Ferry make this possible, of course, and provide ample opportunity for the wandering photographer to gather interesting maritime shots.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Goliath hulks like the fuel tanker in the shot above are commonly seen awaiting favorable tide or berthing around this boundary between Upper and Lower Harbors, but off in the distance is one of the true monsters of the sea.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

That’s the Dockwise Heavy Lift Ship Swan, which is basically a floating dry dock, and those are tugboats on its deck.

Far Eastern correspondent Armstrong, who has been writing the Working Harbor Committee blog for a while now, offered:

A heavy lift ship is designed to move large loads that can’t be handled by normally equipped ships. They are two types: semi-submerging – able to sink down into the water to lift ships and other heavy cargo onto deck for transport; and vessels that supplement unloading facilities at ports with inadequate equipment.
Swan is a semi-submersible heavy load vessel. The ship is 592 feet long (180.5m) and 105 feet wide (32.3m). The Swan’s massive deck is 416 x 103 feet (126.8m x 31.6m) and can handle a deck load of 56.616-20 tonnes/sq.m which translates to about 25,000 tons of heavy cargo.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Apologies are offered for Image fidelity outside of the normal mean, but this ship was FAR away, and these are actual pixel, 100% pixel size and highly “cropped in” shots which represent less than a 10th of the total image originally captured. It was also kind of misty.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Surprises like the Swan often lurk just off the shore of… Staten Island… The waters surrounding it provide egress to the cargo docks of Port Elizabeth Newark, especially the busy Kill Van Kull.

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Also:

June 16th, 2012- Newtown Creek Alliance Dutch Kills walk (this Saturday)

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The Newtown Creek Alliance has asked that, in my official capacity as group historian, a tour be conducted on the 16th of June- a Saturday. This walk will follow the Dutch Kills tributary, and will include a couple of guest speakers from the Alliance itself, which will provide welcome relief for tour goers from listening to me rattle on about Michael Degnon, Patrick “Battle Ax” Gleason, and a bunch of bridges that no one has ever heard of.

for June 16th tickets, click here for the Newtown Creek Alliance ticketing page

June 23rd, 2012- Atlas Obscura Thirteen Steps around Dutch Kills walk

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Additionally- the “Obscura Day” Thirteen Steps around Dutch Kills tour proved that the efficacy and charms of the Newtown Creek’s least known tributary, with its myriad points of interest, could cause a large group to overlook my various inadequacies and failings. The folks at Atlas Obscura, which is a fantastic website worthy of your attentions (btw), have asked me to repeat the tour on the 23rd of June- also a Saturday.

for June 23rd tickets, click here for the Atlas Obscura ticketing page

June 30th, 2012- Working Harbor Committee Kill Van Kull walk

– photo by Mitch Waxman

My various interests out on the sixth borough, NY Harbor, have brought me into association with the Working Harbor Committee. A member of the group’s Steering Committee- I also serve as the “official” group photographer, am chairman and principal narrator of their annual Newtown Creek Boat Tour, and occasionally speak on the microphone during other tours (mainly the Brooklyn one). This year, the group has branched out into terrestrial explorations to compliment the intense and extant schedule of boat tours, and I’m going to be leading a Kill Van Kull walking tour that should be a lot of fun.

The Kill Van Kull, or tugboat alley as its known to we harbor rats, is a tidal strait that defines the border of Staten Island and New Jersey. A busy and highly industrialized waterfront, Working Harbor’s popular “Hidden Harbor – Newark Bay” boat tours provide water access to the Kill, but what is it like on the landward side?

Starting at the St. George Staten Island Ferry terminal, join WHC Steering Committee member Mitch Waxman for a walk up the Kill Van Kull via Staten Islands Richmond Terrace. You’ll encounter unrivaled views of the maritime traffic on the Kill itself, as well as the hidden past of the maritime communities which line it’s shores. Surprising and historic neighborhoods, an abandoned railway, and tales of prohibition era bootleggers await.

The tour will start at 11, sharp, and you must be on (at least) the 10:30 AM Staten Island Ferry to meet the group at St. George. Again, plan for transportation changes and unexpected weirdness to be revealed to you at MTA.info.

for June 30th tickets, click here for the Working Harbor Committee ticketing page

Written by Mitch Waxman

June 14, 2012 at 12:15 am

strenuous program

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Note: This maritime sunday installment is a “reblog” of the Newtown Pentacle posting “cleanly picked” from August of 2010

– photo by Mitch Waxman

On one of the periodic Working Harbor Committee trips across the estuarine expanses of New York Harbor, your humble narrator became paralyzed with terror when a benthic shadow slid alongside the vessel which carried my withered husk. The shape, as that’s all I saw of it, made no sense to me and matched no phyla or phenotype familiar to my admittedly limited experience. Imagination working, it was decided that the best course of action to steady my faltering sanity would be to focus in on those things material, tangible, and engineered according to the familiar laws of physics.

In this case, it was the Tugboat “Miss Gill” cruising in photogenic splendor against the mist wrapped backdrop of the shining city of Manhattan.

from norfolktug.com

The Miss Gill spent a year at Main Iron Works in 2005 having various tanks, exterior plate and bulwarks renewed.  During this yard period her winch was completely rebuilt and two new 2′ cables were installed.   We bought her during this shipyard renovation, operated the her for 24 months and in mid 2008 took her back to the yard for further investment.  We replaced her main engines with Caterpillar tier II technology that make her an honest 3000BHP, her reduction gears were replaced with ZF technology, and new John Deere/Kohler generators were installed.  These tier II engines are the most advanced electronic platform available.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The shadow, or shape, that I had spied was long obscured when a Coast Guard vessel suddenly burst into view. Fully armed, one of the redoubtable guardians of the archipelago’s frontier was manning a high caliber weapon and the boat was moving at a fantastic rate of speed, punching its way through the heavy wakes of ferry, tug, and ship alike. Recognizing that it shared some design characteristics with an NYPD harbor craft described in a recent post here- at your Newtown Pentacle- “exhalted beyond thought“, I noticed it was being followed by an even larger Federal boat.

I believe this to be a Defender class “Response Boat Small”.

from uscg.mil

Developed in a direct response to the need for additional Homeland Security assets in the wake of the September 11th terrorist attacks, the Defender Class boats were procured under an emergency acquisition authority. With a contract for up to 700 standard response boats, the Defender Class acquisition is one of the largest boat buys of its type in the world. The 100 boat Defender A Class (RB-HS) fleet began arriving at units in MAY 2002 and continued through AUG 2003. After several configuration changes, most notably a longer cabin and shock mitigating rear seats, the Defender B Class (RB-S) boats were born. This fleet was first delivered to the field in OCT 2003, and there are currently 357 RB-S boats in operation.

The 457 Defender Class boats currently in operation are assigned to the Coast Guards Maritime Safety and Security Teams (MSST), Maritime Security Response Team (MSRT), Marine Safety Units (MSU), and Small Boat Stations throughout the Coast Guard. With an overall length of 25 feet, two 225 horsepower outboard engines, unique turning radius, and gun mounts boat forward and aft, the Defender Class boats are the ultimate waterborne assets for conducting fast and high speed maneuvering tactics in a small deployable package. This is evidenced in the fact that several Defender Class boats are already in operation by other Homeland Security Department agencies as well as foreign military services for their homeland security missions.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

It was followed by a second and larger vessel, also with a manned weapons platform.  If I’m correct, this is the Coast Guard “Response Boat Medium” or “RB-M”. Vessels of this design will automatically right themselves after being capsized, incidentally.

Whether or not these federal watercraft had arrived on the scene in connection with the subsurface apparition I had witnessed is anyone’s guess.

from uscg.mil

State-of-the-art marine technology makes the RB-M a high performer with waterjet propulsion, an advanced electrical system, and integrated electronics that allow greater control from the pilot house.

Technological and design features will improve search object tracking, water recovery efforts, crew comfort, and maneuvering/ intercept capabilities for defense operations. With the latest developments in integrated navigation and radiotelephony, command and control will be greatly enhanced, as will crew safety.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

For such a busy waterway, modernity upon the Harbor of New York has not been kind to folklore. In the 19th century, lurid accounts of odd benthic organisms served to titillate and excite the attention of small boy and adult alike filtered in from the trans-atlantic routes. Stories of the Ottoman territories, and far away China, and the exotic British Raj.

There aren’t many tales I can point to which might describe anything like the shape I saw, suffice to say it was something like an egg all caught up in wriggling ropes. Most of the 19th century reports describe literal sea-serpents, but such saurian behemoths would be easy prey for the Coast Guard.

from wikipedia

The response boat-medium (RBM) is a 45-foot (13.7m) utility boat used by the United States Coast Guard. It is intended as a replacement for the Coast Guard’s fleet of 41′ utility boats (UTB), which have been in use by the Coast Guard since the 1970s. The Coast Guard plans to acquire 180 of these RB-Ms over a 6–10 year period. The boats will be built by Kvichak Marine Industries of Kent, Washington and Marinette Marine of Manitowoc, Wisconsin.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

It has always puzzled me, the way that New York City is nearly devoid of supernatural lore, while its counterparts- Boston to the north, and Philadelphia to the south are so rich in it. Connecticut and the corridor of towns and cities that line the Hudson all the way to its font in Lake Tear of the Clouds compose one of the great occult highways. Utopias and experiments in urban planning line the river, as do tales of hessian horsemen and ghostly ferries and trains. It all stops at the Bronx, though.

Perhaps its the financial realities of New York City, the no nonsense and to the minute mentality, or maybe its the street lighting- but London is very much in the same vein of city as we are, and they’re the original inventors of gothic spooky.

Maybe it’s that in New York, you’re biggest fear isn’t what goes bump in the night but rather losing your job, or getting into trouble with some all too human monsters.

for an overwhelming example of the defense industry’s love of CGI and fancy web design, click here to check out the USCG sitelet for the RB-M, which includes an interactive 3D model and fancy graphics.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The shadow I observed seemed to be heading toward Red Hook, but the likely explanation was that the nearby Staten Island Ferry had simply cast a refracted image of itself or that the wake of a passing tuboat had disturbed some riverine sediments. The coincidence of the arrival of two armed Coast Guard vessels was just part of some regular patrol schedule, not a response to some unknown thing which could not possibly exist down there.

Right?

from wikipedia

“Burned-over district” refers to the religious scene in upstate New York in the early 19th century, which was repeatedly “burned over” by religious revivals of the Second Great Awakening.

The term was coined by Charles Grandison Finney who in his 1876 book Autobiography of Charles G. Finney referred to a “burnt district” (p78) to denote an area in central and western New York State during the Second Great Awakening. The name was inspired by the notion that the area had been so heavily evangelized as to have no “fuel” (unconverted population) left over to “burn” (convert).

When religion is related to reform movements of the period, such as abolition, women’s rights, and utopian social experiments, the region expands to include areas of central New York that were important to these movements.

burst open

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– photo by Mitch Waxman

Recent business, if you must ask, is the reason I found myself visiting …Staten Island… Kevin Walsh of forgotten-ny.com wanted, sensibly enough given the sylvan landscaping and thoughtful architecture of the place, to offer a walking tour of St. George as part of his ambitious schedule of “2nd Saturday” walking tours. As an accomplice in his fiendish revelations, I was forced to return to this place by land.

It is one thing to motor past …Staten Island… on a ship or highway, and another thing entirely to touch it with your feet. This is when you are helpless, a pedestrian lost in a land of motor vehicles and steep hills, and movement noticed behind dark curtains might said to be an implied rather than suggested hint of an occluded occupant.

from silive.com

For the past two days, visitors to a park in Staten Island’s Fort Wadsworth section have stumbled upon a gory mystery — a mutilated animal, possibly a dog or a goat, wrapped in a white sheet.

Parkgoers found two such animals in Von Briesen Park yesterday and this morning, city Parks Department officials confirmed.

The discovery has sparked speculation of ritual sacrifice and cult activity, and has led one Port Richmond woman to douse part of the ground where one animal was found with holy water, in an attempt to ward off what she believes is an evil presence.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Overly sensitive to sleights, always ready to interpret malicious intent in an innocent gesture, your humble narrator nevertheless prides himself on what Brooklyn kids might call “spidey sense”. When certain instincts and triggers begin to fire off, the imperative to “get out of dodge” becomes overwhelming and flight ensues, if I am clever enough to acknowledge this “tingle”.

Every time I’m on the island which Richmond County squats upon, I start to tingle.

from silive.com

Staten Island ranks second in the overall suicide rate out of all five boroughs, behind only Manhattan, according to the most recent state Department of Health statistics.

In 2005, the most recent year available, there were 6.9 suicides on the Island per 100,000 people. Manhattan was the only borough that had more, with 7.6 suicides per 100,000; rates for the Bronx, Brooklyn and Queens were 4.8, 4.6 and 5.4, respectively.

Sudden changes in behavior or personality; feelings of desperation, helplessness, hopelessness, aloneness, loss and depression; previous suicide attempt; and most importantly, suicide statements expressing a desire or intention to die are all some of the warning signs that sometimes go overlooked, experts say.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Over the years paying attention to this “tingle”, sometimes felt by Our Lady of the Pentacle instead of me, has aided me in avoiding multiple encounters with the Constabulatory, allowed me to escape a burning building twice, and facilitated in sidestepping some of the dire consequences of a degenerate youth. Additionally, I seem to know which days it would be fortuitous to call in sick to work, intuitively avoid traffic jams and transit logjams, and when some baser denizen of the NY streets sets their sights on me- I know it.

It has long been my belief that physical cowardice is a genetic inheritance, a gift from timorousness ancestors who managed to run away before the Vikings or Mongols found them.

from wikipedia

Snug Harbor was founded by the 1801 bequest of New York tycoon Captain Robert Richard Randall for whom the nearby neighborhood of Randall Manor is named. Randall left his country estate, Manhattan property bounded by Fifth Avenue and Broadway and Eighth and 10th Streets, to build an institution to care for “aged, decrepit and worn-out” seamen. The opening of the sailor’s home was delayed by extended contests of the will by Randall’s disappointed heirs. When Sailors’ Snug Harbor opened in 1833, it was the first home for retired merchant seamen in the history of the United States. It began with a single building, now the centerpiece in the row of five Greek Revival temple-like buildings on the New Brighton waterfront.

Captain Thomas Melville, a retired sea captain and brother of Moby-Dick author Herman Melville, was governor of Snug Harbor from 1867 to 1884.

In 1890, Captain Gustavus Trask, the governor of Snug Harbor, built a Renaissance Revival church, the Randall Memorial Chapel and, next to it, a music hall, both designed by Robert W. Gibson.

Approximately 1,000 retired sailors lived at Snug Harbor at its peak in the late 19th century, when it was among the wealthiest charities in New York. Its Washington Square area properties yielded a surplus exceeding the retirement home’s costs by $100,000 a year.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There are places which terrify, and intimidate. …Staten Island… with it’s hoary past and terrifying implications of Old World conspiracy- accomplishes both for me. I prefer to focus on what floats past the place, observing from the safety of running water, rather than delve too deeply into the rumors of those things which have been witnessed in the trees near Willowbrook.

from artsjournal.com

All “aged decrepit and warn-out sailors” were accepted. Even some blacks. Eventually the Harbor also allowed steamboat sailors and inland sailors from lakes and rivers too, but they were no doubt frowned upon as not being adventurous enough. Once, while trying to affix a sculpture to one of the walls, we found a sealed-off compartment containing a book of photographs of hundreds of inmates (as the retired seamen were called). Here and there were some dark faces. All races and nationalities were welcomed. Only “habitual alcoholics and those with contagious disease or immoral character were banned.”

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