The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

Archive for May 23rd, 2010

roadside shrine

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– photo by Mitch Waxman

The Brooklyn Queens Expressway rudely occludes the sky at Laurel Hill Blvd. and 58th street in Queens, drowning the ancient lane in supernal shades. The Boulevard transits through the hallowed ground of Calvary Cemetery, between the second and third sections. Often I’ve wondered if the street itself is on hallowed ground.

from encarta.msn.com

hal·lowed [ hállōd ]

adjective. Definition:

  1. sanctified: holy or kept for religious use- buried in hallowed ground
  2. respected: regarded with great respect or reverence- the hallowed pages of our country’s history

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A cool and breezy place, as the eye of god itself never shines upon this asphalt, it is a route I favor when returning from sojourns in Maspeth or East Williamsburgh to the remote and troubled hillocks that my beloved Astoria is arrayed upon.

from nycroads.com

SERVING INDUSTRIAL AND DEFENSE NEEDS: In 1940, New York City arterial coordinator Robert Moses recommended that the road, which he saw as a gap in the metropolitan arterial system, “should be filled immediately as an aid to the national defense.” He went on the make the following case for the expressway:

In 1940, Robert Moses recommended that the road, which he saw as a gap in the metropolitan arterial system, “should be filled immediately as an aid to the national defense.” He further went on as follows:

With the completion of through arteries under construction in Brooklyn and Queens, more traffic will be funneled into the Williamsburg and Manhattan bridges than the streets tapping these bridgeheads can carry. The present streets are narrow and congested, with crossings at every block. The crazy quilt pattern of the streets inherited from the villages that grew together to form the present borough adds to the difficulty of travel.

This proposed artery should be built for six lanes of express traffic, separated for most of its length from service roads by malls. It is estimated that construction will cost $5,100,000. This project would require the acquisition of land assessed at approximately $7,000,000, and utilize city-owned property assessed at $345,00

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Encountering a roadside shrine is always an interesting experience, and such tributes are normally found at or near the site of a vehicular accident that claimed lives. In this case, the evidence presented would seem to indicate that 3 men in their 20’s died here- named Tommy, Arturo, and Eric according to the graffiti- although police reports differ from the scrawls on the name of the third man and call him Pedro.

Apparently, the accident occurred nearly one year ago, and made the news at NY1 and at ABC.

from forumnewsgroup.blogspot.com

Three men died last Thursday night when their car slammed into a concrete barrier on Laurel Hill Boulevard after skidding across the road. Police say the driver lost control of his 1992 Volvo while trying to pass another car at a high rate of speed.

A bottle of vodka and small amount of cocaine were later found inside the obliterated car, according to Deputy Inspector Thomas Kavanagh, commanding officer of the 108th Precinct. There was a witness to the crash, which happened at about 10:30 p.m. near 58th Street, where the boulevard runs beneath the expressway and through the cemetery.

The driver, 26-year-old Pedro Sanchez of Brooklyn, and his two passengers, Thomas Owens and Eric Sanguenette, both 27 of Woodside, were pronounced dead at Elmhurst Hospital.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Increasingly common in the last decade, such roadside shrines have been commented on before at this- your Newtown Pentacle. Another tragic accident that snuffed out young lives due to automotive excess was discussed in the post “A shrine in Greenpoint“.

from usatoday.com

Once an occasional sight along the nation’s highways, roadside memorials have sprouted in recent years like wildflowers after spring rains. There were 42,800 traffic fatalities in the USA last year. No statistics exist on memorials, though one national survey this year by the Maryland Department of Transportation estimates markers are erected after 10% to 20% of fatal crashes.

Family and friends increasingly want to mark the spot, and that can be a problem for everything from motorist safety to road maintenance to those who oppose religious symbols on public land.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Newtown Pentacle, on behalf of our readers, offers our sympathies to the family and friends of the occupants of the car.

from wikipedia

Roadside memorials have been placed for centuries.

The origin of roadside crosses in the United States has its roots with the early Hispanic settlers of the Southwestern United States, and are common in areas with large Hispanic populations. Formerly, in funerary processions where a group would process from a church to a graveyard carrying a coffin, the bearers would take a rest, or “descanso” in Spanish, and wherever they set the coffin down, a cross would be placed there in memory of the event. The modern practice of roadside shrines commemorate the last place a person was alive before being killed in a car crash, even if they should die in the hospital after the crash.

In the southwestern United States, they are also common at historic parajes on old long distance trails, going back to the roots of the tradition, and also marked the graves of people who died while traveling. A descanso may be decorated specially for the holidays, and for significant anniversaries in the person’s life. A descanso for a child may be decorated with special toys, even toy vignettes of family life, and votive candles may be placed there on special nights.

Written by Mitch Waxman

May 23, 2010 at 3:00 pm

restless lichens

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– photo by Mitch Waxman

A sharp eyed reader and fellow haunter of the tombs tipped me on to this, something I never noticed on 58th street, a sidewalk deprived viaduct that runs between two cemeteries- New Calvary and Mt. Zion.

from mountzioncemetery.com

Mount Zion Cemetery encompasses an area of 78 acres. This cemetery is located in Maspeth, Queens near the Manhattan Border. When this cemetery was first established the surrounding area was considered to be rural. There was an ongoing need for burial spaces to accommodate the explosion of the immigrant population in not only Queens, but also the nearby neighborhoods of Manhattan and Brooklyn. Mount Zion Cemetery has more than 210,000 burials on its 78 acres making it one of the more interesting burial grounds.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Nitre dripping, the walls of Zion are composed of conventional mortar and stone for much of their length, protecting its centuries of interments with a stout but rusty fence.

from wikipedia

Masonry is the building of structures from individual units laid in and bound together by mortar; the term masonry can also refer to the units themselves. The common materials of masonry construction are brick, stone such as marble, granite, travertine, limestone; concrete block, glass block, and tile. Masonry is generally a highly durable form of construction. However, the materials used, the quality of the mortar and workmanship, and the pattern in which the units are assembled can strongly affect the durability of the overall masonry construction.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As one nears Laurel Hill Blvd. and the stature of the masonry wall shrinks back to a human scale, a curious heterogeneousness in its composition is noticed. Suddenly granite and “finishing marble” is noticed.

from wikipedia

Sculpture

White marble was prized for its use in sculptures since classical times. This preference has to do with the softness and relative isotropy and homogeneity, and a relative resistance to shattering. Also, the low index of refraction of calcite allows light to penetrate several millimeters into the stone before being scattered out, resulting in the characteristic “waxy” look which gives “life” to marble sculptures of the human body.

Construction marble

Construction marble is a stone which is composed of calcite, dolomite or serpentine which is capable of taking a polish. More generally in construction, specifically the dimension stone trade, the term “marble” is used for any crystalline calcitic rock (and some non-calcitic rocks) useful as building stone. For example, Tennessee marble is really a dense granular fossiliferous gray to pink to maroon Ordovician limestone that geologists call the Holston Formation.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Proceeding up the block, certain familiar shapes become recognizable in the wall, and a cold dread is realized. Tombstones. They used tombstones to make this part of the wall.

from wikipedia

The stele (plural stelae), as they are called in an archaeological context, is one of the oldest forms of funerary art. Originally, a tombstone was the stone lid of a stone coffin, or the coffin itself, and a gravestone was the stone slab that was laid over a grave. Now all three terms are also used for markers placed at the head of the grave. Originally graves in the 1700s also contained footstones to demarcate the foot end of the grave. Footstones were rarely carved with more than the deceased’s initials and year of death, and many cemeteries and churchyards have removed them to make cutting the grass easier. Note however that in many UK cemeteries the principal, and indeed only, marker is placed at the foot of the grave.

Graves and any related memorials are a focus for mourning and remembrance. The names of relatives are often added to a gravestone over the years, so that one marker may chronicle the passing of an entire family spread over decades. Since gravestones and a plot in a cemetery or churchyard cost money, they are also a symbol of wealth or prominence in a community. Some gravestones were even commissioned and erected to their own memory by people who were still living, as a testament to their wealth and status. In a Christian context, the very wealthy often erected elaborate memorials within churches rather than having simply external gravestones.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Section markers and footpath monuments are used, as well as grave markers whose screed faces inward. Oh what treasures may be entrusted to the grave’s holding that only some future archaeologist will know?

from sciencedaily.com

“Until now we have relied on evidence from medieval rubbish – including food remains, pottery and other finds – to build up a picture of medieval life in the city. This group of burials represents the first opportunity to examine the medieval population itself, in terms of life expectancy, stature and health.

“Evidence of some communal burials and high infant mortality also indicate evidence of infection and disease.

“The skeletons are very well preserved – some were in coffins and others weren’t and were placed in shrouds. We were expecting there to be some 300 skeletons- but the scale of this discovery is stunning.”

The site dates from between the 12th century and the mid 1500s and is part of the medieval church of St Peter’s – one of two parish churches in the city which disappeared in the late medieval period.

Written by Mitch Waxman

May 23, 2010 at 10:00 am

the horror

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– photo by Mitch Waxman

Walking past the Sunnyside Yard on Skillman Avenue recently, your humble narrator encountered this loathsome package at the corner of 39th street. Foul seeming, I thought that I had found some sort of crime scene for a moment, until I realized that the bag was professionally sealed and laden with government regulated text.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

13.7 pounds of Chicken Pot Pie soup lay percolating on the sidewalk bathing in the radiate gaze of the thermonuclear eye of god itself. The questions that arise in my mind are multitudinous.

Written by Mitch Waxman

May 23, 2010 at 5:00 am

Project Firebox 3

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Project Firebox, 6551 – photo by Mitch Waxman

Northern Blvd., battered and apparently out of order. Also, just as a note- the numbers assigned to the fireboxes have NOTHING to do with FDNY numerical assignations.

from forgotten-ny.com

A road runs from the East River to the tip of the North Fork of Long Island, running through Long Island City, Woodside, Jackson Heights, Flushing, Auburndale, Bayside, Douglaston, Little Neck, Great Neck, Munsey Park, Port Washington, Muttontown, East Norwich, Oyster Bay Cove, Cold Spring Harbor, Huntington, Northport, Smithtown, Stony Brook, St. James, Port Jefferson, Rocky Point, East Shoreham, Wading River, Calverton, Riverhead, Aquebogue, Jamesport, Mattituck, Cutchogue, Southold, Greenport, Orient and Orient Point, and would go further were an ocean not in the way. It is a precolonial trace used by Native Americans before Verrazano and the Dutchmen who followed him caught sight of the lengthy island along whose north shore it limns. It’s Jackson Avenue, North Hempstead Turnpike, Lawrence Hill Road, Fort Salonga Road, North Country Road, Main Road, Route 25A, Route 25, and in NYC and Nassau County, it’s Northern Boulevard.

Written by Mitch Waxman

May 23, 2010 at 12:05 am

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