The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

Astoria to Calvary 5- the bitter end

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Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi
The deepest rivers flow with the least sound

Hunters Point avenue by you.

47th avenue – photo by Mitch Waxman

In the first installment of this photowalk-
we scuttled through western Queens – descending from Astoria down to Northern Blvd.

In the second, 
we lurked, fearfully, down vestigial 37th avenue – past an anomalous municipal building and fortress church. 

In the third, 
we marched defiantly into the Sunnyside, and were thunderstruck by the colossus Sunnyside Rail Yard. 

In the fourth, 
ruminated on the Boulevard of Death, and gazed upon Aviation High School. 

Today, we arrive at Calvary, and suddenly connect with several other posts. Witness…

g10_img_6720_phwlk.jpg by you.

47th avenue Street Sign – photo by Mitch Waxman

Leaving Aviation High School behind you, Newtownicans, continue up the hill that 36th street transverses. Look to your right, where the western end of 47th avenue is blocked by the Sunnyside Yard – and you will collide with an older post here at the Newtown Pentacle- “Dutch Kills- or let the photos do the walking“.

g10_img_6719_phwlk.jpg by you.

47th Avenue – photo by Mitch Waxman

The nearby corner of 47th st. and Van Dam St., which skirts the shadowed valley of that great hill in which Calvary Cemetery is embedded, is where the New York State Queensboro Correctional Facility is located. Just a few blocks beyond the gaol at 29th street is the Dutch Kills tributary of the Newtown Creek.

A spectacular riot played out here and in many other New York City Jails in 1970, in response to the poor conditions found in the State and City corrections systems of the 1960′s presaging the Attica riot in upstate New York. This event (and other problems he had in Queens) foreshadowed the jaundiced legacy that Mayor John V. Lindsay‘s political career would be remembered by, and the riots were organized and led by the Black Panther Party and Young Lords.

There are many jails here on the Queens side of the Newtown Pentacle, notably Rikers Island, a seething asp caged just off the shoreline of ptolemaic Astoria.

from time.com

The worst jail crisis in the city’s history began at lunchtime four days earlier at the 95-year-old Branch Queens House of Detention for Men. Inmates snatched keys from unarmed guards and made a frantic dash through the halls, unlocking cells all the way. The rioters turned on faucets to flood several floors, set fire to furniture and bedding, heaved debris and an eight-foot wooden bench out of broken cell windows. In a new political twist, they also hung the flag of the black liberation movement from a top-floor window. Over the next three days, more riots flared at other city jails, including the Tombs. In all, more than 2,500 inmates joined the rampage and seized 32 hostages—all for the sake of airing their grievances.

g10_img_6723_phwlk.jpg by you.

36th street, moving up toward Laurel Hill - photo by Mitch Waxman

The proclivity of the ground will take a sharp upturn here, and one becomes increasingly cognizant of the natural lay of the land- with its boulderized hillocks rising from sand and muddy clay- and its formation by the glacial actions of the Wisconsin Ice Age.  

from geo.hunter.cuny.edu- An intriguing description of the strata found in the New York Bight.

from wikipedia

Long Island, as part of the Outer Lands region, is formed largely of two spines of glacial moraine, with a large, sandy outwash plain beyond. These moraines consist of gravel and loose rock left behind during the two most recent pulses of Wisconsin glaciation some 21,000 years ago (19,000 BC). The northern moraine, which directly abuts the North Shore of Long Island at points, is known as the Harbor Hill moraine. The more southerly moraine, known as the Ronkonkoma moraine, forms the “backbone” of Long Island; it runs primarily through the very center of Long Island, roughly coinciding with the length of the Long Island Expressway.
The land to the south of this moraine to the South Shore is the outwash plain of the last glacier. Known as the Hempstead Plains, this land contained one of the few natural prairies to exist east of the Appalachian Mountains.
The glaciers melted and receded to the north, resulting in the difference between the North Shore beaches and the South Shore beaches. The North Shore beaches are rocky from the remaining glacial debris, while the South Shore’s are crisp, clear, outwash sand. Running along the center of the island like a spine is the moraine left by the glaciers. (Bald Hill is the highest point along the moraine.) The glaciers also formed Lake Ronkonkoma, a kettle lake.
The island’s tallest natural point is Jayne’s Hill near Melville, with an elevation of 400.9 feet (122.2 m) above sea level. Long Island is separated from the mainland by the East River, which is actually not a river, but a tidal strait. Long Island Sound forms the northern boundary of the island.
Long Island, as part of the Outer Lands region, is formed largely of two spines of glacial moraine, with a large, sandy outwash plain beyond. These moraines consist of gravel and loose rock left behind during the two most recent pulses of Wisconsin glaciation some 21,000 years ago (19,000 BC). The northern moraine, which directly abuts the North Shore of Long Island at points, is known as the Harbor Hill moraine. The more southerly moraine, known as the Ronkonkoma moraine, forms the “backbone” of Long Island; it runs primarily through the very center of Long Island, roughly coinciding with the length of the Long Island Expressway.
The land to the south of this moraine to the South Shore is the outwash plain of the last glacier. Known as the Hempstead Plains, this land contained one of the few natural prairies to exist east of the Appalachian Mountains.
The glaciers melted and receded to the north, resulting in the difference between the North Shore beaches and the South Shore beaches. The North Shore beaches are rocky from the remaining glacial debris, while the South Shore’s are crisp, clear, outwash sand. Running along the center of the island like a spine is the moraine left by the glaciers. (Bald Hill is the highest point along the moraine.) The glaciers also formed Lake Ronkonkoma, a kettle lake.

The island’s tallest natural point is Jayne’s Hill near Melville, with an elevation of 400.9 feet (122.2 m) above sea level. Long Island is separated from the mainland by the East River, which is actually not a river, but a tidal strait. Long Island Sound forms the northern boundary of the island.

Shot while listening to an HP Lovecraft audiobook by you.

48th Avenue – photo by Mitch Waxman

48th avenue terminates at 30th street, a block from the Dutch Kills. 36th street is about to end too, when we reach the top of the hill. A forbidding stretch of unlettered warehouses describes 48th avenue as it slopes down the morraine carved declination, barren and treeless. 

g10_img_6732_phwlk.jpg by you.

36th street, Antennae- photo by Mitch Waxman

Between 48th and Hunters Point Avenue- you will find more warehouses, a very impressive broadcast antennae, and a gigantic charismatic church operating out of an altered workhouse.

g10_img_6728_phwlk.jpg by you.

36th street, St. Raphael on Horizon – photo by Mitch Waxman

At the corner of 48th street, St Raphael’s comes into view. Ahem, sorry but now’s when I reveal a few more of our hidden connections:

Cross 36th street at Hunters Point Avenue and Continue all around Calvary Cemetery in Walking Widdershins to Calvary

excerpt from July 31, 2009

g10_img_6737_phwlk.jpg by you.

-photo by Mitch Waxman

Click here to preview this photowalk in a google map

Hunters Point avenue intersects with the ancient course of Greenpoint Avenue at the degenerate extant of Long Island City. The Queens Midtown Expressway also comes back down to earth here, feeding Manhattan vehicular traffic to all points east. This is a very busy intersection, so be mindful of traffic, as fellow pedestrians are rare.  

As with anyplace else in Queens you’d want to see, Forgotten-NY has been through here before. Click here for their page on Blissville and Laurel Hill

g10_img_6738_phwlk.jpg by you.

-photo by Mitch Waxman

St. Raphael’s R.C. Church is on Greenpoint Avenue in a neighborhood called (atavistically) Blissville. A wooden frame building was built for St. Raphael’s in 1867, and served as the mortuary chapel for the newly built Calvary Cemetery. The current gothic influenced structure was completed in 1885, and has served both Calvary and the surrounding community since. This is one of the highest points in these parts, and the church steeple often acts as a reference point when negotiating the byzantine tangle of streets around the Newtown Creek. The architect is rumored to have been Patrick Keeley.

Enter Calvary Cemetery in Calvary Cemetery Walk

excerpt from August 5, 2009

Old Calvary looking toward Newtown Creek by you.

-photo by Mitch Waxman

Just across the street from the site of the former LIRR Penny Bridge station. Easily accessed via the street, upon crossing the gates of Calvary, one will find a staircase carven into the hill by whose ascent the Newtown acropolis may be obtained. Cresting over the surrounding neighborhoods, and soaring over theNewtown Creek’s former wetlandsCalvary Cemetery keeps its secrets buried in centuried silence. Looking south toward Brooklyn, the Kosciuszko bridge approach of the Brooklyn Queens Expressway looms over its passage, carrying millions of vehicles over and across the necropolis of New York City

Cavalry Cemetery by you.

-photo by Mitch Waxman

Phantoms of what could have been haunt Calvary, roaming in soliloquy amongst the avenues of nitredripping marble. The 1918 superflu and an earlier cholera epidemic staffed the ranks here with both the sacred and the profaneSt. Patrick’s in Manhattan used this place for the interment of New York’s best and brightest. This is where the ossified remnants of the men who died battling the traitorous slavers of theConfederate South can be found in the Newtown mud. In subterranean vaults of marble and basalt, and within leaden coffins, these gentlemen- the ultimate product of an age of victorian aspirations- lie in putrid splendor, alongside the occasional merchant and immigrant whose life savings were traded to purchase their final resting place.

Pass by Calvary Cemetery and into Maspeth and the Newtown Creek in Dead Ends, A short walk from Maspeth to Calvary

excerpt from July 29, 2009

However, we are on the industrial side of town- down by the Newtown Creek- where the sins of our fathers continue to haunt modernity. 

This is where we left off on July 16th- at the corner of 56th road, between 48th and 50th streets in Queens. This is an insanely dangerous patch of road running through a literal industrial backwater, so be careful. Last time we walked down the Maspeth Plank Road toward Brooklyn, today we’re going another way- tracing the course of the Newtown Creek on the Queens side for a while.

g10_img_5359_lic_masptrk1.jpg by you.

-photo by Mitch Waxman

From the vantage point above, look to your right, and you’ll see the Kosciuszko bridge. Head in that direction, which is roughly northwest and toward Manhattan. You’ll be walking down 56th rd. for a little while. The sidewalk on the Creek side is fairly non-existent, so cross the street. Watch out for trucks. Why was I here on foot, you ask? 

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Written by Mitch Waxman

August 28, 2009 at 3:59 am

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