What is “The Newtown Pentacle”?
The colonial era towns of Green Point, Brooklyn and the Queens towns of Astoria, Ravenswood, Hunter’s Point, Bowery Bay, and Middletown were called Newtown in Dutch and English times. In the early 19th century, the Queens villages combined to form Long Island City. The industrial center of the area was and still is Newtown Creek. The most polluted body of water on earth, this ancient inlet was once home to the Maspaetche Indians. Dutch Orchards and English farms gave way to Yankee rail and then Standard Oil as time went by. Today, its waters are a curious shade of copper green, and the largest oil spill in history gurgles back and forth through deep subterranean channels between Green Point and Long Island City. The architecture of the place is disturbingly heterogeneous. A rough tumble of styles are represented in this area — 19th century wrought iron row houses predominate, but 18th century warehouses are still on active duty in some places.Near Hunter’s Point and in Old Astoria, Antebellum mansions abut hideous Le Corbusier-influenced modernism. To the south and the east can be found some of the most interesting stone work in New York City as one explores the cemetery belt along the Brooklyn and Queens border. Three million New Yorkers lie in Calvary cemetery alone. In this, the Necropolis of New York City, the living population of Queens is outnumbered three to one.
After a health scare a couple of years ago, my doctors recommended a course of clean living and regimen of physical exercise as the best curative. An amateur antiquarian and connoisseur of odd information, I elected to use my prescriptive exertions as an opportunity to explore and record. I toured crumbling Long Island City, the tree lined lanes of Victorian Astoria, and rusty coastlines of foetid Newtown Creek. Headphones on, camera in hand. The journey has taken me to many odd and forgotten places, and led me to discover a fascinating group of people. Follow me on these long walks, I promise you’ll see something amazing.