The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

Posts Tagged ‘Yonkers

narrower alleys

leave a comment »

Thursday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One last shot of the Power Plant in Yonkers, specifically its Hudson River moat, was gathered on the way back to My Pal Val’s Valmobile. She offered to drop me off somewhere convenient on her way back to Nassau County on Long Island, so I greedily lept at the idea of catching a ride at least part of the way back home.

She had opted for the Whitestone Bridge.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I cracked this one out through her windshield while we were on a highway, which is a lot easier said than done. I think it’s the Whitestone, but it could also be the Throgg’s Neck. I’m sure some nagging presence on one of my social media accounts will take the opportunity to hijack this post and use it to express how much more knowledgable they are than I about the bridges of the East River.

Soon, we touched down in Queens, and I was dropped off nearby the Whitestone Expressway’s exit and entrance ramps in Flushing.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Well… don’t mind if I do, Flushing Bay.

I had a bit of a walk ahead of me to get to the 7 train. I could have easily made it to Main Street and the station there, but it was a pretty nice day and I wasn’t quite done with shooting yet so I scuttled off towards Citifield instead.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There are multiple generations of politicians in Queens who should burn in hell for what they’ve done to or allowed to be done to our ancestral waterways.

Sigh… nothing matters, nobody cares, nothing matters, nobody cares, nothing matters, nobody cares.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

After the one above, I packed up the tripod kit and reverted back over to handheld shooting mode. I decided to walk over to the Citifield stop in order to catch the 7 line, which I’d take to Jackson Heights and transfer to one of the two underground lines that stop near HQ.

My “escape New Yorkmobile” is on order, and I’m expecting the dealership to be calling any day to let me know it’s time to come in and sign the loan agreement which will allow me to leave this dystopian shithole behind me at last. Saying that, I’m enjoying all the mass transit I can before becoming part of the problem.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I keep on telling myself that there’s plenty of super polluted waterways where I’m going. The good news is that I’ll be able to drive to them.

Tomorrow – something different.


“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 15, 2022 at 11:00 am

fourth harangue

with 2 comments

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.


“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 14, 2022 at 11:00 am

sixth interest

with 3 comments

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.


“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 13, 2022 at 11:00 am

ten beings

leave a comment »

Monday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Pictured above is a former power plant, found alongside the Glenwood stop of the modern day Metro North rail service, in Yonkers – the first City that you’ll encounter when heading north out of NYC. The plant was built in 1907, when the NY Central Railroad was electrifying its system both in and into Manhattan. My pal Val had arranged for a small group of photographers to enjoy guided access to the site for a couple of hours. This building was abandoned in the early 1970’s, and has sat feral for the last fifty years or so.

This is an extremely well documented site, one which has been drawing in the “urban explorer” crowd for literally generations. Here’s a 2021 article from “Yonkers Times” discussing its current status, a Wikipedia page for “just the facts,” a 2014 NY Times report is here, and the views and plans of the current owners of the property can be examined at their website.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As a note, my methodology for this sort of excursion is often thwarted as you just have to make the best of being on what’s essentially a walking tour. There were several other people shooting at the same time, which adds challenges as you need to dodge their POV’s, and the occasional accidental swing of a tripod leg or something.

People…

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There are two main structures on the site, one is the building where the generator and battery rooms were housed, the other is where the coal furnaces and the boilers were located.

Our guide confirmed to me that the terra-cotta adorning the entryway into the generator building was – indeed – the product of the New York TerraCotta Works in Long Island City. Check out that old timey NY Central logo on the door lintel’s cornice piece.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The generator room is pictured above, and as you’d imagine – those graffiti covered machines soon became a focus point for every lens in the room. I’ve looked around a bit since getting back from this trip, and it’s appears to me that every photographer with an interest in post industrial ruination has accomplished something very similar to the shot and composition I took above.

Methodology wise, I like to be able to learn a bit about a site. The photos in today and tomorrow’s posts are essentially scouting. I’d like to be in here at night with an extremely diffuse set of light sources. I’d also want to be inside this room in the extremely early morning AND at dusk. Dusk and heavy fog… hey now!

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Luckily, methodology wise, I’ve got a whole bag of tricks learned over the last fifteen years, along that shining ribbon of municipal neglect that provides a 3.8 miles long and currently undefended border for Brooklyn and Queens – the fabulous Newtown Creek.

My plan for these photos – which involved a one time opportunity at the subject – was to go “low and slow.” Unfortunately, neither time of day nor atmospheric humidity were on my side. An uncomfortably humid day would have created an absolutely visible miasma, but this was the day after a heat wave broke and it was unusually dry as a result.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

By “low and slow” I mean that the camera was on a tripod and seldom placed any higher than waste level. I affixed an ND filter to one of my zoom lenses, and either treated the image like a “night shot” with high ISO and longish shutter speed, or went full landscape mode with a 30 second long shot. I did some “exposure stacking” for a couple of these, most successfully in the shot directly above this one. That’s three exposures, each metered for and focused onto a different part of the image. In Photoshop, you can “blend” the three images together automatically.

Like a lot of things “digital,” once you conceptualize what’s actually happening when you tell an application to do something, the process can then be taken advantage of and guided. In the case of focus and or exposure stacking, it can get pretty exciting – results wise – if it’s subtle enough.


“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 12, 2022 at 11:00 am

dreamless sleep

with one comment

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Another of the so called “Black Arts” of the 19th century, sugar refining was one of the great industries which distinguished New York City and its neighboring municipalities.

The sole survivor of this once omnipresent occupation is found in Yonkers. Raw sugar is barged to this facility for processing, which makes it a neat item to highlight for “Maritime Sunday” here at this, your Newtown Pentacle.

from wikipedia

Yonkers is the fourth most populous city in the state of New York (behind New York City, Buffalo and Rochester), and the most populous city in Westchester County, with a population of 195,976 (according to the 2010 Census). Yonkers borders the New York City borough of The Bronx and is 2 miles (3 km) north of Manhattan at the cities’ closest points.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

These shots were captured in the November, while onboard a Riverkeeper vessel which was performing a regular survey of the downstate waterways, and the good folks at that estimable organization were gracious enough to let a humble narrator ride along.

The Sugar Refinery in Yonkers is relict, a late 19th century mill which is still engaged in its trade.

from wikipedia

The raw sugar is stored in large warehouses and then transported into the sugar refinery by means of transport belts. In the traditional refining process, the raw sugar is first mixed with heavy syrup and centrifuged to wash away the outer coating of the raw sugar crystals, which is less pure than the crystal interior. Many sugar refineries today buy high pol sugar and can do without the affination process.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

American Sugar Refining operates this factory, engaging in what seems to be a quite hazardous industrial process.

It seems that sugar dust can be highly explosive, requiring equipment that is “spark proof” to safeguard against detonation.

Who knew?

from wikipedia

American Sugar Refining Company (ASR). The ASR was incorporated in the state of New Jersey on January 10, 1891, with $50 million in capital. By 1907, it owned or controlled 98% of the sugar processing capacity in the United States and was known as the Sugar Trust. The United States Supreme Court declared in United States v. E. C. Knight Company that its purchase of the stock of competitors was not a combination in restraint of trade. By 1901, the company had $90 million in capital. The company became known as Domino Sugar in 1900.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The tug Heron was present, tending to a barge labeled “Sugar Express”. Heron is middle aged, like myself, and has gone by several different aliases during its long career- unlike myself.

A surprising observation for me was that the raw product was being unloaded from the barge in the same manner that one would unload rock or gravel.

from tugboatinformation.com

Built in 1968, by McDermott Shipyard of Morgan City, Louisiana (hull #151) as the tug Progreso .

In 1972, the tug was acquired by Dixie Carriers where she was renamed as the Dixie Progress .

In 2002, she was acquired by Allied Transportation of Norfolk, Virginia where she was renamed as the Heron.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The industrial process of sugar refining uses powerful acids to purify and process the sweet stuff, and in 2005 the plant came under the scrutiny of regulators when it was revealed that they had released a large quantity of powerful acid into the water.

As with everything else in our world, it seems that nature must pay a price for our desires, even when it’s just a teaspoon of sugar to help the medicine go down.

from sawmillrivercoalition.org

In January 2005, American Sugar Refining Inc., a company that produces sugar for Domino Sugar and located on the Saw Mill River, pled guilty to a criminal pollution charge for spilling hydrochloric acid into the Hudson River in Yonkers in 2003.

Written by Mitch Waxman

February 5, 2012 at 1:59 pm

%d bloggers like this: