The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

Archive for November 21st, 2011

mighty temples

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– photo by Mitch Waxman

The neo gothic handiwork of architect Morrell Smith is hard to miss as one moves about Queens Plaza, and it is known to all as the former Bank of Manhattan Tower. Formerly the tallest structure in the borough of Queens at 14 stories (roughly 210 feet), the 1927 vintage building has since been dwarfed by the Citibank Megalith at Court Square. Smith was a noted architect of the early 20th century and had his hands in more than one landmarked structure in Queens (and Manhattan), and his projects also included the notable Jamaica Savings Bank which is found further east.

Crenellated, its spire carries a clock.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Personal observation has revealed that these clocks are seldom if ever accurate, and often they do not match up with each other. My understanding, gleaned from municipal and real estate industrial complex propaganda, is that the hidden mechanisms which drive these clocks are undergoing some sort of restoration as is the rest of the building- although specific detail remains elusive. The building itself is another one of the “black holes” in the historical record which distinguish western Queens- a noteworthy structure erected to serve a high profile company sited in a prominent location which is nevertheless relegated to an architectural footnote because its location is outside of Manhattan.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Your humble narrator acknowledges that, as always, whenever the subject of Queens Plaza and it’s locale comes up one must refer to the hierophants at the Greater Astoria Historical Society– however- one does not wish to stand on the shoulders of others forever and I have resisted making inquiries with them about the place. Unfortunately, independent research has offered little surcease to my curiosity about the clock tower or offered the deeper story and meaning of this building. Rumors of late 20th century bacchanals and Astorian apocrypha about certain rites conducted in its lofty heights during the thunder crazed nights of the the second world war era notwithstanding, there is a dearth of information available for me to share with you about the place. An open call is therefore made to you, Lords and Ladies of Newtown, for any information which might serve to inform your fellow citizenry on this enigmatic structure.

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