The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

Posts Tagged ‘Staten Island

nameless panic

leave a comment »

Friday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The view of NYC you encounter when onboard the Staten Island Ferry is – as the British would say – “gob smacking.” You’re looking at the peninsular section of lower Manhattan called the Battery. To the south east are the Brooklyn and Queens East River coastlines of Long Island, and on the north west is New Jersey and the Hudson River section of the world. My understanding is that there are other places beyond the actual omphalos of the universe which is New York City, but I can’t speak to legend.

The actual site of the Garden of Eden is found at the crossroads of 42nd street and Broadway in Manhattan – that’s a fact. The tree of Good and Evil – it was a fairly substantial sized garden, Eden – was found at Herald Square, which later became a hellmont. The hellmont factor is why the 34th street subway complex is always so incredibly hot, as it’s a vertical tunnel that leads directly to the fire of Gehenna itself.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There’s always something interesting to see when riding the Staten Island Ferry, such as the Vane Bros. Hunting Creek tug managing a fuel barge with a whole pile of maritime cranes providing a backdrop for it.

One didn’t spend too much time on… Staten Island… and after checking out the vainglorious shopping mall which has recently opened to thunderous silence in St. George – Good Work, EDC – I boarded a Manhattan bound big orange boat and headed back towards Pier 11 and the NYC Ferry Astoria line for a ride back home.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Another tug managing another fuel barge was spotted on the way home, this time nearby Corlears Hook – which is better known as the section of Manhattan that the WIlliamsburg Bridge touches down on.

One of the epicenters of ship building during the colonial era in NY Harbor, this is the neighborhood that spawned my favorite “Gangs of New York” era group of tough guy bandits – the Sewer Rats. Freshwater pirates, they would row out into the river in the dead of night and rob anchored shipping.

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, September 7th. 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

September 11, 2020 at 11:00 am

less annoying

with one comment

Friday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As mentioned yesterday, a recent day trip with a couple of friends found the camera being waved about at “Skelson’s Office,” a particularly photogenic spot on Staten Island’s Kill Van Kull waterfront frequented by a dearly departed photographer pal of mine. The bridge in the background is the Bayonne Bridge, which acts as a gateway to the Port Elizabeth Newark shipping complex. A significant percentile of the economy of the entire United States is focused through this tidal strait, I would offer.

Pictured is the Highland Eagle, an offshore supply vessel flagged in the UK.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The Bayonne coastline of Kill Van Kull is all about petroleum and the various refined products derived from it.

Pictured is the Ernest Campbell, a 1969 vintage Tugboat, wrestling a fuel barge away from its dock and into the currents of Kill Van Kull. The structure behind it hosts the various hoses which the upland tank farm uses to move the product around. A bit of maritime trivia – the various hoses and fuel barges have different connectors on them to keep one product from mixing with another. The kerosene pipe doesn’t connect to the gasoline or #2 fuel oil gasket, which keeps volatile mistakes at a minimum.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Moran Towing’s Turecamo Girls Tug was likely returning to their base at Kill Van Kull when this shot was captured. Moran Towing has the iconic NYC tugs, with the red wheelhouse and big letter “M” on them. Moran names their boats after family members, generally, but in this case the 1965 tug was acquired after a merger with another towing corporation (Turecamo Towing) back in 1998.

Back Monday with more from the waterfront.

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, August 17th. 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

August 21, 2020 at 11:00 am

likewise inaccessible

leave a comment »

Thursday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Earlier this week, one met up with his pal Val and we jumped into her shiny Valmobile with the singular intention of shooting ships. Accordingly, Val oriented the Valmobile in the direction of… Staten Island. After all these months of quarantine/pandemic walks around LIC and Newtown Creek, a humble narrator was positively squeaking with excitement as we heroically mounted the Verazzano Bridge and headed towards the Kill Van Kull waterway.

Adventure, excitement… a Jedi craves not these things, but I ain’t no Jedi.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Our first stop was at “Skelson’s Office,” where my old and dearly departed pal John Skelson used to spend his time. This is a spot along the old and abandoned Vanderbilt Staten Island Railroad tracks which follow Kill Van Kull. KVK is often mentioned here during normal times, but for anyone not clued in – it’s a tidal strait that connects the lower harbor of New York with Newark Bay and another strait called Arthur Kill.

Kill Van Kull is the preferred approach route to the New York Container Terminal on Staten Island and the Global Marine/Port Elizabeth Newark complex in Bayonne, New Jersey for maritime shipping. For enthusiasts like my pal Val and myself, it’s “tugboat alley.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The show started as soon as we arrived at Skelson’s Office.

Our efforts later in the day found us over in Bayonne, and along the Hackensack and Passaic rivers. One thing that emerged during that part of the day was a sincere desire to find out more about the industrial sections of this section of New Jersey. I mentioned several times that I wished we were in a boat on the water, and that I was also anxious to find an analogue of Newtown Creek Alliance for this area to introduce me to the place.

A third person was in the Valmobile with us, my friend Scott, but he’s a Libertarian so we didn’t pay attention to anything he had to say. 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, August 17th. 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

August 20, 2020 at 2:30 pm

thing depicted

with one comment

Happy Birthday Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge!

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One will not assert that the Verrazzano is in fact a giant cage designed to contain a Lenape earth monster submerged in NY Harbor. Instead, the focus is on the engineering achievements of Othmar Amman and the organizational prowess of Robert Moses – the two fellas who are primarily responsible for the Verrazzano opening on November 21, 1964.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A humble narrator will avoid rattling on about how in just five years Moses’ crews of more than 12,000 laborers constructed the thing, nor about its various statistics and cyclopean size. One will mention that the 228 feet of clearance over high water offered by the Verrazzano Narrows Bridge is the governing height used by maritime engineers for how high to build all sorts of shipping. Sooner or later, every ship on the planet will theoretically enter NY Harbor, and the Verrazzano is the gatekeeper.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The only mistake in this fairly sublime structure’s design was the omission of a mass transit trackway between Brooklyn and Staten Island, in my opinion. The upper deck opened on this day in 1964, but the lower roadway was still under construction and wouldn’t be available for use until June 28 of 1969.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

My pal Kevin Walsh of Forgotten-NY, whose childhood in Brooklyn’s Bay Ridge section was framed by construction of the Verrazzano, gave a talk last night at the Bay Ridge Historical Society about the span. I wasn’t able to attend, but I’ve also been privileged to receive his remembrances about the thing in person.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

It seems that the towers of the Verrazzano are fairly infested with nesting Peregrine Falcons, so it can rightfully be referred to as an aerie. Down below, on the water, it’s a maritime superhighway, as the Ambrose Channel leads commercial shipping into NY Harbor towards Port Elizabeth Newark under the bridge. Suffice to say that a significant number of sensors and scanners are secreted and secured to the span, searching for various security threats which might be carried in to the inner harbor on these ships.

Friends in the maritime industrial world have opined, regarding these devices and technologies which they can’t talk about, that “it’s like Star Trek.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Today marks 55 years for the Verrazzano. As far as the “mythological” senses shattering behemoth that the Lenape whispered of as being “the grandfather of turtles,” which the Verrazzano’s great weight keeps locked in a primeval prison, the less said the better.

There are also things dwelling in the waters on the… Staten Island… side of the narrows which we must not ever talk about, lest they arise.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle


Buy a book!

Limited Time 25% off sale – use code “gifts25” at checkout.

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

November 21, 2019 at 1:00 pm

magnitude of

with 2 comments

Arthur Kill with the USACE, in todays post.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As described yesterday, I was invited to join with about a hundred other water facing activists and government officials aboard the MCV Hayward for the United States Army Corps of Engineers annual inspection of NY Harbor. This time around, the USACE wanted to discuss their projects and initiatives playing out on Staten Island and at the Port facilities in Newark Bay. After navigating beneath the Verrazano Bridge, the Hayward entered the Arthur Kill – a roughly ten mile long tidal strait which forms Staten Island’s border with New Jersey.

That’s the NJ side tower of the Outerbridge Crossing pictured above, a 1928 suspension cantilever bridge (thx Dan S) operated by the Port Authority. It connects NY route 440 with NJ route 440, offers a 143 foot clearance over the water, and with its approaches the Outerbridge Crossing is just over three miles long. It’s named for “Gene” Eugenius Outerbridge, who was the first chairman of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

For somebody with my interests, Arthur Kill is a wonderland of maritime industrial splendors. Given that it’s fairly difficult to get here by boat, given the distance and time/fuel equation, it’s a rare treat for me to be waving the camera around while moving north along it. Also compounding the treat aspect is the time of year (early autumn light in NY Harbor is at the perfect relative angle) and of course there was also the company. While I was shooting this, I was joking around with members of the EPA team from the Newtown Creek Superfund, who are normally quite staid and maintain a “professional” demeanor in our usual encounters. I also got to hang out with the Deputy Commissioner of the DEP, a few people I know from the City Planning arm of NYC Government, and a gaggle of Graduate students and their Professors who are studying various aspects of the harbor. Good times.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

To my eye, that’s a former coaling station on the New Jersey side of Arthur Kill. I could be wrong, but I don’t want to inquire too deeply as it’s important to me that there’s still things out there in the Harbor that I don’t know everything about. The New Jersey side of Arthur Kill is often called “the Chemical Coast,” due to a rail line just upland called the “Conrail Chemical Coast Line” which is part of the PANYNJ expressrail system at Port Elizabeth Newark.

The Chemical Coast moniker first appeared in the late 19th century, when the colorants and dyes industry began to base themselves in this section of New Jersey. These industrialists took advantage of the abundance of manufactured gas byproducts being produced around NY Harbor. The red in the American flag, and the blue, are after products of gas manufacturing. Those businesses got forced out when Standard Oil took over the NJ side coastline, and the Standard Oil Company of New Jersey was established. SOCONJ eventually changed its name to ESSO and later to EXXON.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There are numerous tributaries and secondary waterways feeding into Arthur Kill – on the New Jersey side you’ve got the Elizabeth, Rahway, Passaic, and Hackensack Rivers (I met citizen activist counterparts for Newtown Creek Alliance from each onboard) as well as the Morse’s and Piles Creek. On Staten Island, you’ve got Lemon, Old Place, Sawmill, and Bridge creeks. Also on Staten Island, you’ve got the infamous Fresh Kills.

That’s the Dann Towing tug Ruby M navigating past the largest man made object on the planet, which is in Staten Island and which the Fresh Kill still flows through. Draining most of the western half of the island, Fresh Kill was designated as NYC’s primary garbage dump and landfill by Robert Moses back in 1947. Between 1948 and 2001, 20 barges a day of garbage – some 650 tons per day – was layered into the pile at the Fresh Kills landfill. NYC Parks took it over in 2006, and converted the now covered mound into a park. Fresh Kills instantly increased NYC parkland by one third.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One of the future projects which USACE discussed onboard was doing something about the old Witte Ship’s graveyard just north of Fresh Kills. A maritime scrap yard established in 1930, which is a shadow of its former self, the Witte graveyard is nowadays owned by the DonJon towing company. The Army Corps folks discussed their concerns about slicks of unknown composition they’ve observed coming from the wrecks, and the nuances of what would essentially be an excavation job to clean up and remediate the area.

Cotter Dams were mentioned, as well as an extremely large number of dollars.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Moving northwards along Arthur Kill, we slotted into the channel under the brand new and recently opened Goethals Bridge replacement. The original Goethals was built at the same time as Outerbridge Crossing, 1928. Named for the first supervising engineer of the Port Authority – Gen. George Washington Goethals (who also happened to be the construction supervisor of the Panama Canal) – the original bridge offered two lanes in each direction. The new model sports three traffic lanes, is meant to have a pedestrian and bicycle lane, and the engineers built the thing with the capability of eventually carrying a mass transit light rail line, should the need arise sometime in the next century.

More tomorrow.


“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

October 1, 2019 at 11:30 am

%d bloggers like this: