The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

In the cold waste 1

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from Vernon Blvd., Queensbridge Park – photo by Mitch Waxman

Fearful that I’ve drifted too far into the prurient and macabre aspects of the Newtown Pentacle, haunted by notions that infected me at Calvary and Zion, my wanderings of late have been familiar and “safe” ones along well traveled streets. Of course, with the arrival of winter, I have been burdened by the many layers of insulation my frail physique commands.

Simple coastal walks, through the soot choked brutalities of northwestern Queens, along the East River. Above, Queensboro thunders away , thrumming out ultrasonic scalar waves in the manner of some vast steel cello, with its eternal vehicle and subway traffic a bow etching against concretized fret boards.

from Vernon Blvd., Queensbridge Park – photo by Mitch Waxman

Through the mist appears the shield wall of Manhattan. Everything in Queens looks toward Manhattan.

Ravenswood, as it was and is known, once was home to mansions and in the early 19th century- luxury yachts docked at its private piers. The noveau riche who lived here were captains of local industry in Long Island City (which at the time was a series of individual villages) whose bellies had become swollen by the profits found in exploiting a thriving, natural, and wholesome body of water called the Newtown Creek.

from Vernon Blvd., Terracotta House and Queensboro Bridge – photo by Mitch Waxman

Further south, beyond the cacophony of Queensboro and its harmonic influences, the last remnant of Ravenswood’s second incarnation as manufacturing center lies in ruin.

After the millionaires, and after a period of their former estates being used as asylums and charity hospitals, came the factories. Unclean, 19th century industry’s only regulation and obligation was to profit. Municipal corruption and indifference to the environment allowed this second iteration of Ravenswood to pollute unbound by sense or statute.

When the 2nd Ravenswood went the way of all flesh, in the early-mid 20th century, the politicians and the banks were waiting.

from 43rd road – photo by Mitch Waxman

The city planners and their cabal of banking interests grabbed what they could by eminent domain and by condemning entire neighborhoods in the name of “urban renewal“, creating “the welfare state” and the Queensbridge Houses, along with thousands of similar “complexes” of public housing which rewrote the map of entire boroughs and even distant satellite cities. The blighting effect of siting these massive silos of poverty on the surrounding communities- however-  manifesting the radical crypto fascist architectural theories of LeCorbusier– was an unintended consequence. The third incarnation of Ravenswood.

Megalith from 9th street – photo by Mitch Waxman

When the Megalith was erected, a watchtower for some unholy thing that neither breathes nor lives yet hungers, it signaled the beginning of the Fourth World of Ravenswood. Manufacturing, which somehow survived the 20th century in Long Island City, does not fit the residential and financial business model of this 4th world. Ravenswood will be a gallery of towers, splendid and shining, facing toward the center- toward Manhattan. This corporate version of Ravenswood, the ultimate dream of LeCorbusier.

Queensboro from 9th street – photo by Mitch Waxman

One thing though, concerning this 4th world, which that thing in the Megalith and all the others like it, have not calculated is –

All the poisons in the mud are sure to leach out…

Written by Mitch Waxman

December 28, 2009 at 4:44 am

Posted in newtown creek

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  1. […] it seems that the “In the Cold Waste” postings (1, 2, and 3) from last week stirred the fecal material a little bit when LIQcity and Queenscrap […]

  2. […] Paranoid, absent minded, and an unreliable physical coward- the feckless quisling who serves as your humble narrator once more offers devotions and attention to a great pattern etched beneath the cement, marching across its sunlit reality like some obsequious pilgrim. Certain realities have been made abundantly clear over the vernal months, confirming specific fears and betraying closely held beliefs. A stalking horse walks my lands. […]

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