The Newtown Pentacle

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Posts Tagged ‘Greenwood Cemetery

night gaunts

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The Suydam tomb, at Greenwood Cemetery.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Last Monday, Atlas Obscura produced an event at Greenwood Cemetery wherein your humble narrator would join with authors Clay Chapman and Bess Lovejoy in reading H.P. Lovecraft’s “The Horror at Red Hook” for a group of pale enthusiasts. The excursion was nocturnal, and offered cocktail selections from the East Village’s forthcoming Lovecraft Bar.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

One of the charms of the evening, as organized by Atlas’s Megan Roberts and Allison C. Meier, was the opportunity to visit the interior of two mausolea at the ancient burying ground of Brooklyn.

One of them was the Stephen Whitney monument, which was discussed last year in the posting ” fastened ajar ” which described another nighted exploration of the place.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

One of the thousands of cool things about Greenwood, the sets of keys which govern admission to the mausolea. More often than not, these keys are hand carved, early 19th century affairs. The sort of keys you’d see on a heavy metal album cover from the 1980’s, essentially. When they turn the bars inside the locking mechanisms of the heavy gates and slab doors, there’s an audible “klunk” sound as the lock disengages.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

One is happy to report that within the tomb itself, the marble slabs were indeed crusted with a powdery Nitre, and the smell of mold and decay were omnipresent but quite tolerable. Of course, the ghastly contents contained in these walls include little more than mouldering bones after their long occupancy here, but there is a distinct perfume found in old tombs – something which is sensed rather than smelled.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The Suydams are one of the ancient Knickerbocker families, landed gentry whose founders helped build a Dutch colony called New Amsterdam into something. The tomb’s official dedication is to Lambert Suydam, who died on April Fools day in 1833 in his 89th year, but there are many other members of the clan here, including his wife Sarah. It is very odd to stand in a structure like this, which is just shy of 150-175 years old, and more than one person along for the excursion commented on the bizarre acoustic excesses experienced within.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Of course, a humble narrator is given to letting his mind wander, and the ideation of what might be carried by the static volume of air within the tomb began to prey upon me. Miasmic liquors would be found just beyond these marble slabs, pooling amongst those buckles and buttons and bits of bone which had survived the corruptions of the grave and persisted in perspicuous dissolution just in eyes away.

This is the kingdom of the conqueror worm, after all.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

My fellow narrators and I all used artificial illumination when reading our sections of the text of “The Horror at Red Hook,” and the crew of curious tapophiles which participated in the evening all carried lanterns (that’s Clay Chapman in the shot above, at the Pierpont monument). I opted to read off my iPad so that my face would be underlit and I’d look extra creepy. It was all quite an atmospheric evening, and I hope we might be able to arrange another at some future date.

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Written by Mitch Waxman

July 28, 2014 at 11:53 am

Things to do

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Lots of cool fun coming up.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

On Monday the 21st of July, your humble narrator will be part of a triad reading H.P. Lovecraft’s “Horror at Red Hook” in Greenwood Cemetery – at night. This is an Atlas Obscura Event, one which I’m pretty excited about participating in. We will actually be entering the mausoleum of the Suydams.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Also with Atlas Obscura, the Insalubrious Valley walking tour of Newtown Creek is on my schedule for the 26th of July. This is one of my favorite tours, which starts in East Williamsburg (or Bushwick as it used to be called) and crosses the Newtown Creek into Maspeth. We end up at the Goodfellas Diner, and lunch is included in the ticket price. Tix link at the bottom of this post, below.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

On the 27th, a Sunday, I’ll be out with Brooklyn Brainery checking out the East River and Newtown Creek coastlines of Greenpoint (which also, coincidentally, used to be called Bushwick) on the Glittering Realms tour. Come with? Tix link at the bottom of this post, below.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

There are two Newtown Creek walking tours coming up.

Saturday, July 26th, The Insalubrious Valley of the Newtown Creek
With Atlas Obscura, lunch included, click here for tickets and more info.

Sunday, July 27th, Glittering Realms
With Brooklyn Brainery, lunch included, click here for tickets and more info.

fastened ajar

with 2 comments

- photo by Mitch Waxman

These are my “tripod” shots from the night time excursion to Greenwood Cemetery which Atlas Obscura invited your humble narrator along on. I’m actually rather fond of both the one above and the second to last shots presented in this post. The only sources of light were being radiated by distant street lights shining through a heavy fog from those Brooklyn streets surrounding the victorian era cemetery, and from the candles set out by the Obscura people. What you’re looking at is beyond the range of human vision, as it was so dark that I had to briefly use a flashlight to allow my camera a lit vantage upon which it could lock in its metering.

from nytimes.com

At noon, yesterday, Mr. STEPHEN WHITNEY, one of the oldest and wealthiest of our citizens, died at his residence in Bowling-green. Some of his intimate friends state that he was but 70 years of age, while others affirm that he had completed his 80th year. He entered business, in this City, at an early period of his life, and has always been considered strictly upright in his dealings, but at the same time close and sharp in effecting bargains. These characteristics laid the foundation for a fortune which has accumulated of late years, until it is estimated at the enormous amount of $8,000,000.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

This photo was from within the tomb itself. While taking this shot, I felt the need to call Forgotten-NY’s Kevin Walsh and say “guess where I am?”. When I told him where, he wasn’t surprised at my answer, which was odd. As you can see, the Atlas Obscura crew had installed quite an abundance of candles.

from wikipedia

In 1827, he joined William Backhouse Astor, son of John Jacob Astor, in building a Merchants’ Exchange Building at the corner of Wall and William Streets. The New York Stock and Exchange Board moved their operations from the Tontine Coffee House to the new building, adopting it as their first permanent home. In the 1840s he was involved in the founding of Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

There’s an interesting dome which caps the Whitney mausoleum. For some reason, it struck me that there must be some sort of message or symbolism encoded in it which I cannot discern, which is common when you lose the cultural context which would be obvious to the dwellers of days gone by. The whole structure is laden with iconic symbolism, much of which is obtusely viewed by modern eyes.

also from wikipedia

Whitney was among the first multi-millionaires in the city. Many accounts refer to his fortune as second only to that of John Jacob Astor, who died in 1848 with an estate of $20 million. Whitney’s wealth was estimated at his death to be at least $8 million, although some thought it was $10 or even $15 million. Unlike the Astors, he was not given to public philanthropy, and the result is that the Whitney name is not remembered in the city the way that the Astor name is.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Another long exposure tripod shot, I’m actually quite taken with this one. One of my favorite things to do in settings such as this is to leave the shutter wide open for up to a minute, sometimes longer, in total darkness. The shot above was actually 30 seconds long, and the flares you see coming from the candles are actually beams of their light illuminating the fog as it rolls by. Again, this shot displays a dynamic range of both color and detail that were completely invisible to my naked eye. Yay for me, something works for a change.

from green-wood.com

Founded in 1838 as one of America’s first rural cemeteries, the Green-Wood Cemetery soon developed an international reputation for its magnificent beauty and became the fashionable place to be buried. By 1860, Green-Wood was attracting 500,000 visitors a year, rivaling Niagara Falls as the country’s greatest tourist attraction. Crowds flocked to Green-Wood to enjoy family outings, carriage rides and sculpture viewing in the finest of first generation American landscapes. Green-Wood’s popularity helped inspire the creation of public parks, including New York City’s Central and Prospect Parks.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

So, that’s what I saw when I went to Greenwood Cemetery in Brooklyn on a chill and foggy November night. Have a good holiday, lords and ladies, and eat too much. Newtown Pentacle will be in single image mode until Monday, when further vainglorious efforts to “break out of my rut” will be displayed.

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Written by Mitch Waxman

November 27, 2013 at 7:30 am

old and exalted

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A night time trip to Greenwood Cemetery with the Obscura Society, part two.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

As discussed in yesterday’s post, an opportunity to join up with Atlas Obscura’s excursion to the Stephen Whitney monument at Greenwood Cemetery in Brooklyn presented itself. As is my habit, a profusion of photographs were captured while in the cemetery, which was encased in a foggy environment with little to no artificial light beyond that produced by the handheld lanterns and candles set out by the Obscura Society.

from wikipedia

Stephen Whitney (1776–1860) was one of the wealthiest merchants in New York City in the first half of the 19th century. His fortune was considered second only to that of John Jacob Astor. As a prominent citizen of the rapidly growing city, he helped to build some of its institutions, including the Merchants’ Exchange Building, the first permanent home of the New York stock exchange.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

At the Whitney monument itself, a refreshment was offered, and Allison Meier finished up her narration releasing the crowd to heterogeneous mingling. Your humble narrator had grown chill from the humid November night, but nevertheless continued to exploit this rare opportunity to visit with the tomb legions and night gaunts with the cemetery gates locked behind me.

from 1853’s Rules and regulations of the Green-wood cemetery; with a catalogue of proprietors, courtesy archive.org

” A correct idea, expressed in marble, may be very beautiful, so long as it is unique ; but by too frequent imitation, and in too close proximity with its original, it may destroy the charm of the first, and ultimately raise feelings in the beholder the reverse of those desired.”

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Stephen Whitney was the second richest man in New York City, and this is the monument he built to himself. He married into the Suydam family, a lineage of note dating back to that primeval era of the Dutch decadence when New York was called New Amsterdam.

from 1898’s Hendrick Rycken, the progenitor of the Suydam family in America. A monograph, courtesy archive.org

Hendrick Rycken had been preceded by other members of his family. The Annals of Newtown, page 301, reads : “When New Netherland invited the virtuous and the daring to seek a home in her wilds, several of the Rikers joined the adventurers coming hither. These were Abraham, Gysbert, Rynier, and Hendrick Rycken, the last of whom came out a few years after the others, and was the ancestor of the Suydam family, his sons assuming that name.” Hence the Riker genealogy is the same as that of the Suydams ; and the heraldry, the noble German ancestry extending back to the eleventh century ; these ancestors’ participation in the First Crusade, as ofificers in the army of Walter the Penniless, are equally their pride and glory.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The timed event was over, and the crew from Atlas Obscura needed to ferry the excursion participants back to the locked gates of Greenwood. I offered to stick around and “watch the stuff” while they did so, allowing a humble narrator a little “alone time.” I set up the tripod and got down to it, as I was alone in Greenwood for a spell.

from nytimes.com

At noon, yesterday, Mr. STEPHEN WHITNEY, one of the oldest and wealthiest of our citizens, died at his residence in Bowling-green. Some of his intimate friends state that he was but 70 years of age, while others affirm that he had completed his 80th year. He entered business, in this City, at an early period of his life, and has always been considered strictly upright in his dealings, but at the same time close and sharp in effecting bargains. These characteristics laid the foundation for a fortune which has accumulated of late years, until it is estimated at the enormous amount of $8,000,000.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

November 26, 2013 at 7:30 am

formal studies

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A night time trip to Greenwood Cemetery with the Obscura Society, part one.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

As mentioned in prior postings, your humble narrator has been in a bit of rut of late, so when the Atlas Obscura crew announced an opportunity for nocturnal exploration of Greenwood Cemetery over in Brooklyn was at hand, one jumped at the chance and leapt upon a Q train which would carry me to the Gowanus Heights.

from wikipedia

Green-Wood Cemetery was founded in 1838 as a rural cemetery in Kings County, New York. It was granted National Historic Landmark status in 2006 by the U.S. Department of the Interior.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The event was conducted by Alison Meier and Megan Roberts of the Atlas crew, and involved stopping at several notable or exalted mausolea and monuments while moving inexorably towards the grandiose structure on Ocean Hill which caps those catacombs housing the mortal remains of the Whitney family.

from wikipedia

Stephen Whitney (1776–1860) was one of the wealthiest merchants in New York City in the first half of the 19th century. His fortune was considered second only to that of John Jacob Astor. As a prominent citizen of the rapidly growing city, he helped to build some of its institutions, including the Merchants’ Exchange Building, the first permanent home of the New York stock exchange.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

A full moon certainly hung somewhere beyond the occluded sky, but a tenebrous fog had set in. Palpable darkness and flickering illumination lent an air of dread purpose to this perambulation of the notable polyandrion of New York. The fog, which did not smell of salt or wholesome sea, drove the airborne humidity levels up to 90% and higher, causing your humble narrator to perspire both precipitously and persistently. The chill temperatures worked with that moisture absorbed by my clothing, from both atmosphere and bodily secretion, to slowly drain all the energy reserves one such as myself can hope to claim.

from wikipedia

Fear is an emotion induced by a perceived threat which causes entities to quickly pull far away from it and usually hide. It is a basic survival mechanism occurring in response to a specific stimulus, such as pain or the threat of danger. In short, fear is the ability to recognize danger leading to an urge to confront it or flee from it (also known as the fight-or-flight response) but in extreme cases of fear (horror and terror) a freeze or paralysis response is possible.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Allison Meier led the group, narrating in the orange light of hand held lanterns, occasionally producing an electric flashlight for the purpose of illuminating this significant thing or that important monument. I will mention that the shot above was from sometime between 8:30 and 11 P.M., in November, as are all the shots in this series of posts. It was dark, as in “tenebrous dark”, and any ambient light extant was being swallowed up by the fog. Tripod shots weren’t really possible on the walk, and flash was out of the question because of the aforementioned fog.

from wikipedia

Necrophobia is a specific phobia which is the irrational fear of dead things (e.g., corpses) as well as things associated with death (e.g., coffins, tombstones). Necrophobia is derived from Greek nekros (νεκρός) for “corpse” and -phob- from the Greek phobos (φόβος) for “fear.” With all types of emotions, obsession with death becomes evident in both fascination and objectification.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

After a breath taking (literally, Greenwoood is very hilly) walk, the group finally arrived at the Whitney Mausoleum, which was ablaze with the light of candles. So then, at that moment, was the Obscura Society adjured to enter the crypt.

from wikipedia

A mausoleum is an external free-standing building constructed as a monument enclosing the interment space or burial chamber of a deceased person or people. A monument without the interment is a cenotaph. A mausoleum may be considered a type of tomb or the tomb may be considered to be within the mausoleum. A Christian mausoleum sometimes includes a chapel.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

November 25, 2013 at 7:30 am

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