The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

Burgundy Crow

with 2 comments

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Wandering along the border between Ridgewood, Brooklyn, and Maspeth one afternoon- heading for one of the demoniac terminus points of the Newtown Creek’s tributaries found on Metropolitan Avenue, I realized that I was very much on the wrong side of the tracks.

from wikipedia

The majority of the neighborhood covers a large hill, more than likely part of the glacial moraine that created Long Island, which starts at Metropolitan Avenue, rises steeply for about two blocks, then slopes down gently. A good example of just how steep the hill is can be found at Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal Parish. The Front Entrance of the Church, which is at street level on 60th Place, is almost level with the second floor of the Parish school right next door.

Major streets in Ridgewood include Forest Avenue, Fresh Pond Road, Myrtle Avenue, and Metropolitan (“Metro”) Avenue. All of these streets are narrow two-lane roads (with parking lanes), and the high volume on these streets can cause traffic tie-ups during rush hour. The intersection of Fresh Pond and Metropolitan is especially notorious for being a bottleneck. The main shopping areas are on Myrtle Avenue and Fresh Pond Road. Other, smaller shopping strips are located on Metropolitan Avenue, Forest Avenue, and Seneca Avenue.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Shabby and poorly kept, these industrial neighborhood scenes observed in this angle between neighborhoods bred paranoia in your humble narrator, who is always given to musings and imaginings.

The people who work here, and even worse- those who live in the shadowed alcoves between buildings and along the rail culverts- would care little for the gentle ways and informed manner of one like myself. There are people, and other entities, which enjoy things around these parts exactly as they are.

from wikipedia

The area known today as Maspeth was chartered by Dutch and English settlers in the mid-17th century. The Dutch had purchased land in the area known today as Queens in 1635, and within a few years began chartering towns. In 1642 they settled Maspat, under a charter granted to Rev. Francis Doughty.  Maspat became the first European settlement in Queens. The settlement was leveled the following year in an attack by Native Indians, and the surviving settlers returned to Manhattan. It wasn’t until nine years later, in 1652, that settlers ventured back to the area, settling an area slightly inland from the previous Maspat location. This new area was called Middleburg, and eventually developed into what is now the town of Elmhurst, bordering Maspeth. Following the immigration waves of the 19th century, Maspeth was home to a shanty town of Boyash (Ludar) Gypsies between 1925 and 1939, though this was eventually bulldozed.

The name “Maspeth” is derived from the name of Mespeatches Indians, one of the 13 main Indian tribes that inhabited Long Island. It is translated to mean “at the bad waterplace” relating to the many stagnant swamps that existed in the area.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

My wanderings have brought me into contact with the high minded, the educated, and the entitled. From their offices in Manhattan, they spin a tale of “brownfield remediation” and “environmental reclamation” about the creek lands. They believe in policy, and regulation, and the force of law. Many have never walked these streets, and to quote a professor from a certain Manhattan university who was the institutions expert on this place- “ewww, it smells”.

She said this directly before one of her assistants, who wore sandals to Newtown Creek, stepped into a pile of animal droppings.

They also know nothing about the Crows.

from wikipedia

The scrap industry contributed $65 billion in 2006 and is one of the few contributing positively to the U.S. balance of trade, exporting $15.7 billion in scrap commodities in 2006. This imbalance of trade has resulted in rising scrap prices during 2007 and 2008 within the United States. Scrap recycling also helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions and conserves energy and natural resources. For example, scrap recycling diverts 145,000,000 short tons (129,464,286 long tons; 131,541,787 t) of materials away from landfills. Recycled scrap is a raw material feedstock for 2 out of 3 pounds of steel made in the U.S., for 60% of the metals and alloys produced in the U.S., for more than 50% of the U.S. paper industry’s needs, and for 33% of U.S. aluminum. Recycled scrap helps keep air and water cleaner by removing potentially hazardous materials and keeping them out of landfills.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

This Crow, who we will refer to as “Burgundy Crow” or “BC”, was visiting a scrap yard with his load of cast off mattresses. I have witnessed, although I was to cowardly to use my camera to record it, such men burning the bedding in Greenpoint to free the steel coil springs from the fabric- and I have seen the end product being sold as scrap. “Red Crow” was mentioned in a Newtown Pentacle posting a while back, as was “Blue Crow“.

This is not the sort of industry that the people who run Manhattan believe to exist, and represent an underground cash based economy of subsistence labor which most would prefer not to mention at cocktail parties. It wouldn’t matter to them anyway, as the Crows currently do not deal or compete in speculative Real Estate- which is all that Western Queens represents to them.

from a recent Queenstribune report

A recent achievement is a new grant program that will use financial incentives to spur the cleanup and redevelopment of contaminated lands known as brownfields. More than $9 million in City funds will be available over the next several years to fund environmental planning, investigation and cleanup.

“As our population continues to grow, turning contaminated land into usable space will allow us to develop new housing, create more open space, and spur new job growth,” Bloomberg said. “By awarding grants to those committed to cleaning up and developing brownfield sites, we can start revitalizations that may not otherwise have occurred, and that will bring real benefits to local neighborhoods.”

Written by Mitch Waxman

September 14, 2010 at 12:15 am

2 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. […] this crow a name “Blue Crow”, but both the “red crow” and the “burgundy crow” have been mentioned […]

  2. Just a bit further along from the train cars at the top of this page is a place that only your eloquence could aptly describe, which Im sure you have visited, the Montrose St bridge, carrying that line over the very very DEAD END of English Kills. Conrad would quail. “The horror, the horror”. Possibly the city’s scariest short walk.

    greg wood

    February 26, 2011 at 2:11 pm


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: