The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

Remember, Remember, the 6th of November

with 5 comments

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Five score and seventeen years ago today, the greatest swindle in the history of mankind was pulled off.

A cadre of super predators in Manhattan rigged an election which destroyed two cities in the name of a third. The decline of Brooklyn and Long Island City began when the notion of “the City of Greater New York” was concretized by the Tammany men, all nice and legal like.

from “Queens Borough, New York City, 1910-1920: the borough of homes and industry“, courtesy google books

At the election held November 6, 1894, the question of consolidating with the City of New York was voted upon by the residents of Queens County. The majority of votes in favor came from the Long Island City section whose inhabitants, because of their proximity to New York, had been in favor of the project for many years. The western part of the county therefore became part of the City of New York, and is known as Queens Borough; while the eastern part of the county was erected into a separate county, known as Nassau, taking its name from the early name for Long Island.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

This is one of my opinions which inspires credulity in folks from the Manhattan establishment, a group which to this day believes that the unsustainable “Shining City” is the rightful top dog of the five boroughs. Largely, this point of view ignores the fact that Manhattan has spent the last 117 years exporting its factories, garbage, and other problems to the so called outer boroughs. The decline of Newtown Creek, for instance, began when Peter Cooper was compelled to remove his glue works from midtown (vicinity of modern day Grammercy Park) to (formerly) greener pastures in Brooklyn.

In 1851, 10% of the wealth of the entire Untied States was found in Brooklyn.

Today- not so much.


John Purroy Mitchel, the Fusion candidate for Mayor, brought a new charge last night against Edward E. McCall. He asserted that Tammany’s nominee for Mayor and the other Tammany members of the Public Service Commission had turned the borough of Queens over to the Consolidated Gas Company and had given that concern a monopoly of not only the gas but the electric light and power business there under franchises which were perpetual in many cases.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

An interesting genre of historical speculation is the fictional genre of “alternate history”. “What if Hitler had won ww2” or “what if Hannibal and Carthage had conquered Rome instead of the other way around”.

Imagine if the alpha partner in the consolidation of New York City had been Brooklyn or Long Island City… Would Manhattan have become the home of the Dickensian mills and factories? Would it now be begging for scraps like Brooklyn and Queens? Would its hospitals be underfunded and shuttered as oligarchal Brooklyn real estate powers wiped away ancient Manhattan neighborhoods in the name of progress? Would the site of the Empire State building host a garbage transfer facility? Would Battleax Gleason or John McCooey be remembered as the father of this great metropolitan city, with Boss Tweed and Richard Croker relegated to footnotes?

It is important to ask, when new “development projects” are announced by Tammany’s admiring children – is this good for Brooklyn, Queens, Richmond, or the Bronx- or is this good for Manhattan.

from wikipedia

The earliest example of an alternate history is Book IX, sections 17–19, of Livy’s Ab Urbe condita. Livy contemplated an alternative 4th century BC in which Alexander the Great expanded his empire westward instead of eastward; Livy asked, “What would have been the results for Rome if she had been engaged in war with Alexander?”

Joanot Martorell’s 1490 epic romance Tirant lo Blanc, written when the loss of Constantinople to the Turks was still a recent and traumatic memory to Christian Europe, tells the story of the valiant knight Tirant The White from Brittany who gets to the embattled remnant of the Byzantine Empire, becomes a Megaduke and commander of its armies, and manages to fight off the invading Ottoman armies of Mehmet II, save the city from Islamic conquest, and even chase the Turks deeper into lands they had conquered before.

Written by Mitch Waxman

November 6, 2011 at 8:50 am

5 Responses

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  1. Hi Mitch:
    And here I thought that Hitler’s takeover of Austria, Prussia & Czech were the biggest swindles in the last couple of hundred years! (Not too mention Chamberlin’s ‘white paper’.

    Louis Kleinman

    November 6, 2011 at 3:54 pm

  2. It was a great idea to the lords of the city who had less than noble motives and a naive flight of vanity of the four then independent counties. The classic con job: promising something for nothing and giving the mark nothing for something. Brooklyn was largely skeptical but went along with the anschluss but Staten Island didn’t approve the referendum if I recall correctly. Of course, Tammany thought 4 out of 5 ain’t bad and pushed through the conquest.

    Its a cautionary tale of the people of that time in the boroughs of Queens and the Bronx pursuing their own neurotic fantasy of escaping the image of being country bumpkins and hoping to glom onto the glitz and glamor of being part of the Great Machine City of New York. Their descendents realizing later that they were nothing but cash cows to be milked or a place to dump their refuse by the lords of Manhattan.


    November 10, 2011 at 7:58 pm

  3. What I would give to have Queens separated from Manhattan and the Bloomberg mentality with its own mayor. I venture to guess that Brooklyn, the Bronx and Staten Island might presently feel the same.

    And I say that with the harsh realization that I live in one of the two most demonstrably corrupt boroughs in NYC as well as one of the two most demonstrably xenophobic boroughs in NYC. But I love my adopted borough and we would have worked all this out with our own mayor. Rather than a mayor who is a representative of 1% of the country. He’s the 12th richest American on this year’s Forbes 400 list with a net worth of $19.5B. He *does not* represent anyone in Queens.

    Regina Connors (@glindatheb)

    November 11, 2011 at 12:33 am

    • “What I would give to have Queens separated from Manhattan and the Bloomberg…”

      The problem is once you sell your soul to the devil, its awfully hard, if not damnably impossible, to get a refund. Staten Island has recently tried and failed to break away. But legislative approval aside is the economic costs of secession which like any divorce validates the old saying “its cheaper to keep her”. Unfortunately there’s no other devil around with which to make a deal and even if there were, there’s little chance of that being a better alternative.
      Sorry, all deals are final.

      “And I say that with the harsh realization that I live in one of the two most demonstrably corrupt boroughs in NYC as well as one of the two most demonstrably xenophobic boroughs in NYC.”

      Goodness, you are a newbie! I don’t mean that to be derogatory but check out the history and you’ll find that there’s always been corruption in the politics of any of the 5 boroughs. Unfortunately, the people of this city are just as much responsible for allowing this state of affairs by robotically voting in the same incumbents who screw them mercilessly due to laziness or straight party line voting patterns. As long as the local pols continue to supply the bread and circuses, i.e. pork (or usually a pat on the head with a lollipop) and telling the chump the noble sounding pablum he likes to hear, the pol will keep his job. And the machine merrily chugs on. Bloomberg, regardless of his wealth, is merely the latest in a long line of corrupt overlords (read The Power Broker and City for Sale) and chief servant of the machine god.

      As to xenophobic, with the problems that have come with the multiculti meme, a fank discussion of the issue is better than to hide our heads in the sand out of political correctness. Multiculti was foisted upon us by the machine gods and it’s the challenge to the diktats of our political overlords that may start to crack the machine.


      November 11, 2011 at 2:08 pm

  4. […] Also on this day, in 1894, what I refer to as “the great swindle” was voted into law, which resulted in the creation and consolidation of the City of Greater New York in January of 1898. This collossal mistake committed at the end of the 19th century rendered municipal supremacy unto Manhattan and eliminated its competitors in Richmond (Staten Island), Long Island City, and especially Brooklyn. It’s discussed in some detail in this 2011 post. […]

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