The Newtown Pentacle

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Posts Tagged ‘Williamsburg Bridge

homologous member

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Tuesday!

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Recent endeavor found a humble narrator riding the NYC Ferry from Astoria to Lower Manhattan. One cannot recommend this service highly enough, and I do so loudly to all who might listen. Throughout the pandemic, the Ferry has been a pressure valve for me, allowing a quite affordable afternoon on the water. You’ve got to mask up, obviously, but there is virtually zero risk of contracting anything on the top deck of the boat, other than having an errant seagull smack into you. The boats have bathrooms in case you need to blow some ballast, but unfortunately the onboard shops which sell coffee, beer, and or snacks are still closed. No problem there, since I tend to avoid drinking and eating when I’m out and moving about, but if you can’t survive without a beverage bring it onboard with you.

The Astoria line stops at East 90th street (where you can transfer to the Soundview line and head to the Bronx), Roosevelt Island, LIC North, 34th Street in the City (where you can transfer to several other lines), Brooklyn Navy Yard, and then it’s terminal destination is at Pier 11/Wall Street in lower Manhattan. The design of the system uses Pier 11 and 34th street as “hubs” where several of the lines converge. You’ve got 90 minutes from the time you purchase a paper ticket, or activate one on their phone app (I use the app), to accomplish a transfer. I’ve made it all the way from Soundview in the South Bronx to the Rockaways on a single $2.75 ticket. That’s 3 hours on the water for under $3 – cheap!

– photo by Mitch Waxman

On the East River routes, you encounter the grandiose sights and scale of the greatest City in the history of civilization. I’ve offered this statement before, and have been asked “what about Rome, or Constantinople, or Persepolis, Kolkata, Beijing, Tokyo, Berlin, Buenos Aires”… the list goes on and on. Ancient Rome could tuck neatly into Staten Island, Tokyo and Los Angeles are regions, not cities, and the City which other Cities compare themselves to ain’t London or Berlin. Since the end of the Second World War, the omphalos or navel of Western Civilization has been and continues to be NYC. I don’t just mean Manhattan, as a note, I mean the whole shebang.

Pictured above is the scene encountered as the ferry leaves the Brooklyn Navy Yard, depicting the Manhattan Bridge with the financial district of Lower Manhattan behind it on a misty day.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The Astoria route Ferry moves up the eastern side of the East River, whereas the Soundview route takes the western channel. Astoria route allows for dynamic views of Roosevelt Island, its eponymous lift bridge, and the power generating infrastructure which stains the shorelines of Queens. The terminal stop in Astoria at the NYCHA Astoria Houses campus puts you within easy walking distance of the Welling Court street art mural installation, Astoria Park, and hundreds of truly interesting restaurants and bars. Why not come visit and spend some of that stimulus money here in Astoria? We could use the bucks.

You can access the schedules for the NYC Ferry, and check out their various destinations, at their website. This isn’t a paid post or anything, by the way, I’m just an enthusiastic customer for the service and want to encourage all of my readers here at Newtown Pentacle to take advantage of it as a curative for the pallor and malaise introduced by our recent collective trials.


“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.

wailing grew

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In the end, we’ll always have Wednesdays.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Single shots will greet you this week, as a humble narrator plays catch-up and also spends his time exploring and shooting rather than worrying about the weather and delivering posts. Regular posts will resume next week.

Pictured above is the Williamsburg Bridge, as seen from Corlears Hook in Manhattan, at night.


“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 3, 2019 at 11:00 am

nervous motion

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Brooklyn, Manhattan, Williamsburg.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As mentioned yesterday, one is taking a short break – hence the singular image which greets you above. Back soon with new stuff.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Upcoming Tours and events –

October 7th, 2015
Our Polluted History:
A Non-Toxic & Fascinating Forum on Greenpoint’s Environmental Past panel discussion

with GWAPP, click here for details

October 10th, 2015
Calvary Cemetery Walking Tour
with Atlas Obscura, click here for details and tickets

Written by Mitch Waxman

October 7, 2015 at 11:00 am

victoriously swept

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If the bridge wasn’t there, it would be impossible to recognize Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Mephitic vapors, the effluent of furnaces and forges, a vague scent of molasses, and the smell of freshly smoked crack cocaine used to be all you needed to recognize where you were when visiting Williamsburg. These days, all you’ve got is the visual cue offered by its eponymous bridge and the vague scent of high end Marijuana.

Occasion found me in the ancient village, and as I was headed for Manhattan to meet up with a boat later in the day, a scuttle across the bridge was called for.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A lot of people think this span is an architectural travesty, but I’ve never thought it was bad enough to to create a Municipal Arts Society over. There are “separate” pedestrian and bicycle paths, which aren’t really segregated from each other in any cohesive manner, but as one such as myself enjoys playing things “by the rules” – I found myself climbing the surprisingly steep ramp leading up from Brooklyn to the bridge itself. At least it provides for some fairly good “cardio.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Back in art school, the conventional wisdom imparted to me by a generation of instructors was that you can’t go wrong when there’s an umbrella in your shot. The reasoning is that the umbrella is an inherently interesting shape, and it breaks up the otherwise pedestrian points of view one normally encounters. It wasn’t raining, of course, and the umbrella was simply there to shield its wielder from the particularly powerful emanations of the burning thermonuclear eye of God itself whose gaze seemed fixed upon the bridge.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

All the tourists seem to flock to the Brooklyn Bridge, and its pedestrian path offers one a frustrating and crowded experience. It’s a bit like a lunch line at a buffet, that walk, a slow shuffle while trapped in a queue. Vast preference for the less popular bridges like Queensboro, Williamsburg, and Manhattan is offered by your humble narrator. Crowds suck.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

For this walk, I used my “crappy lens” – a 70-300 consumer level zoom. After the great camera disaster of July, wherein both camera body and my “best lens” were destroyed, I’ve been making it a point of mixing things up a bit. Thanks to many of you who donated money for replacement equipment to this blog, and both body and “best lens” have been replaced. Regardless, one tries to keep things fresh and the extra reach which the imperfect but serviceable “long lens” provides for slightly different perspectives and color rendition.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

It would be utterly pedantic to go into the technical details on this subject, so suffice to say that each and every lens interprets the light moving through it in different ways. Certain lenses are great for portraits, others for landscapes. Camera settings can also affect color rendition as well – for instance, narrow apertures render the color blue in a certain way due to the clipping of upper and lower limits found in the blue light wave.

As I said, technical and pedantic.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Manhattan side of the Williamsburg Bridge, at Delancey Street, and looking back towards the infinity of Brooklyn.

The Williamsburg Bridge is 7,308 feet long (measuring between the cable anchor terminals) and the deck is some 118 feet wide. The height at the center of the bridge is 135 feet and each tower is 310 feet in height as measured from the East River’s high-water mark. It was originally called East River Bridge #3 when opened in 1903. Its architect was Henry Hornbostel, and the chief engineer who oversaw its construction was Leffert L. Buck.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Upcoming Tours –

September 3rd, 2015
Newtown Creek Boat Tour
with Open House NY, click here for details and tickets.

Written by Mitch Waxman

August 25, 2015 at 11:00 am

the sullen shore

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– photo by Mitch Waxman

One such as myself is addled by detail and lost in the phantasmagoria of history, an unending torrent of dates and numbers. The “historians” of the world pride themselves on being able to pull such numerals out of a memorized hat, reciting them in the same manner that a rabid sports fan might describe the statistics of their favorite team. On some topics I can accomplish this, but as long time readers will attest- my brain works a bit differently than most.

To me, it’s the story that counts.

from wikipedia

This bridge and the Manhattan Bridge are the only suspension bridges in New York City that still carry both automobile and rail traffic. In addition to this two-track rail line, connecting the New York City Subway’s BMT Nassau Street Line and BMT Jamaica Line, there were once two sets of trolley tracks.

The Brooklyn landing is between Grand Street and Broadway, which both had ferries at the time. The five ferry routes operated from these landings withered and went out of business by 1908.

The bridge has been under reconstruction since the 1980s, largely to repair damage caused by decades of deferred maintenance. The bridge was completely shut down to motor vehicle traffic and subway trains on April 12, 1988 after inspectors discovered severe corrosion in a floor beam. The cast iron stairway on the Manhattan side, and the steep ramp from Driggs Avenue on the Williamsburg side to the footwalks, were replaced to allow handicapped access in the 1990s.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Mathematics has always been my particular failing, its abstractions and dry logic have always evaded me. During second grade, I had the pox upon me, and missed the introduction to long division- an illness with long term consequence as I’ve never really caught up. Often, I think that I suffer from some sort of numbers based form of dyslexia, which is as close as can be described to what happens to numerals as they swirl about in my head.

The calendrical information is far less important than “the story”. It’s best to refer to careful notes on minor details like day and year, and critical to commit context and theme to memory.

from Mayor Low’s administration in New York By City Club of New York, 1903, courtesy google books

The general plan of the bridge was adjopted by the East River bridge commission on August 19th, 1896, and filed in the department of public works of each of the two cities. In May, 1897, an amended plan was adopted and filed. The first actual work on the bridge was begun on the Manhattan tower foundation on October 28th, 1896.

The tower foundations on both sides of the river rest on solid rock. The north pier on the Manhattan side sinks to a depth of 56 feet below high water and the south pier 66 feet below high water. On the Brooklyn side the north pier extends to a maximum depth of about 101 feet below high water and the south pier to a maximum depth of about 90 feet below high water. The Manhattan anchorage rests on 3,500 piles driven through clay to a bed of sand overlying the rock. The Brooklyn anchorage rests on natural sand.

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– photo by Mitch Waxman

Is it important to know what day the Williamsburg Bridge was erected, as compared to the tales of those early shipwrights, dry docks, and vast maritime complexes which it obliterated?

To me, it is far more interesting to chew on the fact that the massive shipyards, which included Novelty Iron works, between here and Corlears Hook spawned a lost and forgotten world amongst the wharves and birthed a unique culture whose hidden influence affects our world to this day..

For instance-

  • Legend has it that there were once so many ladies of the evening around Corlears Hook, servicing the sailors and working men employed at these yards, that the slang term “hookers” became ubiquitous with prostitution.
  • The earliest institutional ancestors of the the NYPD, addressed with the task of cleaning up the neighborhood, were forbidden to wear uniforms by State Law and would instead identify themselves as Police by displaying a six pointed badge made of copper- which is why we call them “Cops” to this day.

also from wikipedia

In 1638 the Dutch West India Company first purchased the area’s land from the local Native Americans. In 1661, the company chartered the Town of Boswijck, including land that would later become Williamsburg. After the English takeover of New Netherland in 1664, the town’s name was anglicized to Bushwick. During colonial times, villagers called the area “Bushwick Shore.” This name lasted for about 140 years. Bushwick Shore was cut off from the other villages in Bushwick by Bushwick Creek to the north and by Cripplebush, a region of thick, boggy shrub land which extended from Wallabout Creek to Newtown Creek, to the south and east. Bushwick residents called Bushwick Shore “the Strand.” Farmers and gardeners from the other Bushwick villages sent their goods to Bushwick Shore to be ferried across the East River to New York City for sale via a market at present day Grand Street. Bushwick Shore’s favorable location close to New York City led to the creation of several farming developments. In 1802, real estate speculator Richard M. Woodhull acquired 13 acres (53,000 m²) near what would become Metropolitan Avenue, then North 2nd Street. He had Colonel Jonathan Williams, a U.S. Engineer, survey the property, and named it Williamsburgh (with an h at the end) in his honor. Originally a 13-acre (53,000 m2) development within Bushwick Shore, Williamsburg rapidly expanded during the first half of the nineteenth century and eventually seceded from Bushwick and formed its own independent city.

Written by Mitch Waxman

May 14, 2012 at 1:58 am

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