The Newtown Pentacle

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Archive for July 6th, 2009

All these things I have seen…

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Giant flag by you.

-Photo by Mitch Waxman

Ribald pleasures have colored the recent holiday- celebrating the rebellion against the Hanoverian King of England, George the third, here in the Newtown Pentacle. Although a solidly Tory part of the colony of New York in 1776, Astoria defines itself as a fiercely federalist district of the United States in modernity. Expressions of this pride in the Republic developed in an autochthonic fashion in a thousand different locations, and manifested in a citywide orgy of carnivorous gluttony that might do any German prince proud. The fat and happy children of our saturnine village were then treated to a vast and uncoordinated campaign of pyrotechnic detonations perpetrated by an army of unpaid and unsolicited volunteers.

Glinting suggestions of fear filled canine eyes, staring from beneath beds and behind partially closed closet doors was hinted at by whispers in the darkness of Astoria’s landscaped and wooded yards.

I also enjoyed two noteworthy experiences upon the Hudson River, which I will be discussing in detailed postings later this week.

Astoria was here in 1776, but wasn’t called that yet- it was Hallet’s Point at the time. Another German Prince would someday put Astoria on the map, one who dreamt of the music of the spheres. That man would be called… but this post isn’t about him, or even about about the most successful terrorist operation in history- its about Newtown Road.

Newtown Road at night by you.

-Photo by Mitch Waxman

Newtown Road winds through the street grid
of Eastern Astoria. Distinct and geographically separated from the fabled Newtown Creek, this ancient pathway was one of the principal sites where British troops were garrisoned after the Revolutionary War’s Battle of Brooklyn, before they were sent to pursue the rebels across Manhattan. These troops were here to inflict disaster on the colonial army of Washington, and upon those that might support the rebel cause. Incidentally, Forgotten-NY has been down Newtown Road before, check out their slant on the place here.

Night on Newtown Road by you.

-Photo by Mitch Waxman

Amongst their number were the Seventeenth regiment of Light Dragoons, the Maryland Loyalist, and the Royal Highlanders— commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Sterling— with
cannon and horse; and the thirty-third regiment commanded by Lord Cornwallis himself. Also, a motley band of Hessian and mercenary irregulars were attached to the main garrison. Their connection
with the place ended when they crossed the East River -at the mouth of Newtown Creek moving west into Manhattan’s Kip’s Bay (approximately 34th street)— 
to pursue and harass the rebels. I need not recount
the story of Washington’s ignominious retreat or the ghoulish horrors heaped upon occupied New York City by the vengeful British Empire. 

Cast off chicken by you.

-Photo by Mitch Waxman

During the eighteenth century, this meandering street followed a stream which the local Mespaetche indians described as “bad water.” This stream still flows beneath the modern streets, in dank tunnels and dripping stone sewers. Remember, the actual ground is a minimum of ten to twenty feet down in New York City. Who can say what else may be buried down there, and perhaps— what else may still exist down there.

Written by Mitch Waxman

July 6, 2009 at 10:18 pm

Posted in Astoria

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