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I’ve done so many posts on the place that I thought a catch-all page was in order- This will live in the menus to the right of the screen, and will be added to as more posts on the place are added.

Walking Widdershins to Calvary

g10_img_6737_phwlk.jpg by you.

-photo by Mitch Waxman

Click here to preview this photowalk in a google map

Hunters Point avenue intersects with the ancient course of Greenpoint Avenue at the degenerate extant of Long Island City. The Queens Midtown Expressway also comes back down to earth here, feeding Manhattan vehicular traffic to all points east. This is a very busy intersection, so be mindful of traffic, as fellow pedestrians are rare.

As with anyplace else in Queens you’d want to see, Forgotten-NY has been through here before. Click here for their page on Blissville and Laurel Hill.

Up and Through Calvary

Cavalry Cemetery by you.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Addled as we are by the manipulations of the political class during the 20th century, with its “ism’s” and “movements“, Newtownicans have lost sight of the fact that the Newtown Creek was the center of the world for those who dwelt here in the 19th century. Before the American Civil War, the banks of the Newtown Creek were lined with homes built to the highest aesthetic standard, and peppered with grand hotels which catered to the sportsman and recreational fisherman. It was into this pastoral wildrness that the Calvary Cemetery was embedded in 1848, and which it sought to blend into with its fine arboreal stock and tasteful mastery of the art of landscaping.

It seems odd to us- sitting in our comfortable climate controlled and fully electrified homes and offices, to put a cemetery like this- with its ornate stonework and elaborate masonry, so close to the polluted industrial zones of the nearby Newtown Creek. Calvary spreads atavistically across a deserted and blasted landscape in our 21st century, surrounded by the trampled nest and discarded remnants of the industrial revolution.

Calvary Mystery Box

g10_img_6870_phwlk.jpg by you.

Calvary Cemetery at 48th street – photo by Mitch Waxman

As one proceeds up the glacier carved hillocks that define northwestern Queens- climbing away from the terrors of Laurel Hill and leaving the malefic secrets of Maspeth and the Newtown Creek behind, the intrepid pedestrian will pass under and above an arcade of highways and find second Calvary.

Old Calvary is the original cemetery- second, third, and fourth Calvary are the metastasized and sprawling additions to the venerable original- and a significant portion of the Cemetery Belt.

Calvary Cemetery Walk

Old Calvary looking toward Newtown Creek by you.

-photo by Mitch Waxman

Just across the street from the site of the former LIRR Penny Bridge station. Easily accessed via the street, upon crossing the gates of Calvary, one will find a staircase carven into the hill by whose ascent the Newtown acropolis may be obtained. Cresting over the surrounding neighborhoods, and soaring over the Newtown Creek’s former wetlandsCalvary Cemetery keeps its secrets buried in centuried silence. Looking south toward Brooklyn, the Kosciuszko bridge approach of the Brooklyn Queens Expressway looms over its passage, carrying millions of vehicles over and across the necropolis of New York City.

Tales of Calvary 1 – The O’Briens

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Hallowmas, or All Saints Day, is coincident with the running of the NYC Marathon’s tumult laden course. The secular spectacular merely whets the appetite of your humble narrator for the open skies and sacred vantages found along those unhallowed backwaters of an urban catastrophe called the Newtown Creek.Calvary Cemetery– dripping in centuried glory- sits incongruously in an industrial moonscape stained with aqueer and iridescent colour. It’s marble obelisks and acid rain etched markers landmark it as a necropolis of some forgotten civilization.

Today, I determined to ignore the psychic effects of the graveyard, which are both palpable and remarkable. Resolving to climb to the highest point on this Hill of Laurels, my aim was to discover whose grave would occupy such a socially prominent spot. Secretly, I hoped to discover some celebrity or famous mobster’s resting place. Instead I found the O’Brien’s.

Tales of Calvary 2 – Veterans Day

-photo by Mitch Waxman

21 Roman Catholic Union soldiers are interred amongst the 365 acres of first Calvary Cemetery in Queens, nearby the cuprous waters of the much maligned Newtown Creek.

The wars of the 20th century, terrible in scope and vulgar in effect, cause us to overlook these men whovouchsafed the American Republic in the 19th century as we focus in on the veterans of the second thirty years war which modernity myopically calls World Wars One and Two. Woodrow Wilson proclaimed a federal holiday called Armistice Day in 1919, celebrating the anniversary of the legal end of the first World War in 1918. Congress agreed, seven years later, and then took six years to pass an act which made Armistice day an official United States federal holiday celebrated on November 11 annually.

Ed Rees, a populist Representative from the state of Kansas during the post World War 2 era, spearheaded a successful campaign in 1953 to have “Armistice Day” reclassified as “All Veterans Day” so as to include the veterans of WW2, and the ongoing conflicts fought by our “permanent government” on the world stage.

Tales of Calvary 3 – Rumors and stories

-photo by Mitch Waxman

Swirling, my thoughts.

A vast and byzantine pattern which extends beyond even the coming of the Europeans into the mist of olden days, traced by rail and road, reveals itself step by step as the burning eye of god itself leads me to and fro across the glass strewn Newtown Pentacle.

Bits of information, nuggets of pregnant fact, theosophical themes and mystic iconography obfuscating itstruths and meaning, a maelstrom of barking black dogs crowds my mind. Cowardly and infirm, I run to the grave.

Solace is found amongst the tomb legions, and the nepenthe of their silence.

Tales of Calvary 4 – Triskadekaphobic Paranoia

Cavalry Cemetery, a morbid nutrition 04 by you.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Near the crest of one of Calvary Cemetery’s hills, can be found what I’ve described in previous posts as “a tree that is fed by some morbid nutrition”.

A convenient afternoon vantage point for photographing the Johnston mausoleum and a frequent destination, a Hallowmas (nov. 1) stroll through Calvary revealed some interesting goings on beneath the swollen boughs of this loathsome landmark.

Tales of Calvary 5 – Shade and Stillness

– photo by Mitch Waxman

In the past, the desolating loneliness and isolation which define my internal dialogue have been described to you simply – I’m all ‘effed up.

Shunned by those considered normal, my human– all too human- nature forces visceral desires for companionship. Lacking fellowship amongst the the living, one instinctively reaches out for those things which are no longer- or have never been- alive. That odd man in the filthy black raincoat that you might glimpse as you drive past the graveyard, scuttling along taking pictures of sewers and odd boxes in the Cemetery Belt- might very well be your humble narrator.

I was at Calvary Cemetery, intent on investigating the puzzling knots I had observed, beneath a hilltop tree- fed by some morbid nutrition, when I came across the Sweeney monument.

Tales of Calvary 6 – The Empire State Building and the Newsboy Governor.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Looming, in this place, is the megapolis. Here lies Tammany, gazing eternally upon their work. The city. The great city.

The greatest and last of their projects is promontory above the shield wall of Manhattan, a familiar vista of Calvary Cemetery offered as an iconic representation by most.

The tower called the Empire State building was built, almost as an act of pure will, by a former newsboy from South Street.

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Written by Mitch Waxman

December 19, 2009 at 3:35 pm

Calvary Cemetery walk

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feel like taking  a walk? I’ll show you something cool… Bring your camera- and ID

Here’s a google map.

For a larger contextual view of Calvary Cemetery- check out our previous posts- 

The Cemetery Belt

Walking Widdershins to Calvary

This post also intersects with 

Dead Ends, A short walk from Maspeth to Calvary

Old Calvary looking toward Newtown Creek by you.

-photo by Mitch Waxman

Just across the street from the site of the former LIRR Penny Bridge station. Easily accessed via the street, upon crossing the gates of Calvary, one will find a staircase carven into the hill by whose ascent the Newtown acropolis may be obtained. Cresting over the surrounding neighborhoods, and soaring over the Newtown Creek’s former wetlands, Calvary Cemetery keeps its secrets buried in centuried silence. Looking south toward Brooklyn, the Kosciuszko bridge approach of the Brooklyn Queens Expressway looms over its passage, carrying millions of vehicles over and across the necropolis of New York City

Cavalry Cemetery by you.

-photo by Mitch Waxman

Phantoms of what could have been haunt Calvary, roaming in soliloquy amongst the avenues of nitre dripping marble. The 1918 superflu and an earlier cholera epidemic staffed the ranks here with both the sacred and the profane. St. Patrick’s in Manhattan used this place for the interment of New York’s best and brightest. This is where the ossified remnants of the men who died battling the traitorous slavers of the Confederate South can be found in the Newtown mud. In subterranean vaults of marble and basalt, and within leaden coffins, these gentlemen– the ultimate product of an age of victorian aspirations- lie in putrid splendor, alongside the occasional merchant and immigrant whose life savings were traded to purchase their final resting place.

Cavalry Cemetery by you.

-photo by Mitch Waxman

A member of our flickr group, sorabji, has written an excellent description- in some great detail on the Civil War monument and the Johnston mausoleum. Which you’ll find in concrete reality when you gaze from the summit of the great hill. I won’t attempt to better sorabji’s efforts, and will simply ask you to follow the link and check out the research.

At the apex of the hill, which is the acropolis of Calvary on the Newtown Creek side, there can be found a tree. 

Cavalry Cemetery by you.

-photo by Mitch Waxman

Undoubtedly centenarian at the very least, the bark and leaves of this tree are of an unnaturally dark and forbidding aspect. Its branches sway in patterns that have nothing in common with the prevailing winds. Its trunk is observed wearing a a sickly blanket of moss. Vigorous and quite healthy despite its proximity to the poisons of the Newtown Creek, the tree is obviously nourished by some sort of morbid nutrition.

Cavalry Cemetery, a morbid nutrition 01 by you.

-photo by Mitch Waxman

An apocryphal story passed down by Brooklyn folks is that of the door to door salesman seeking to sell you a funeral plot “on a hill, under a shady tree, near a babbling brook”. The proper Brooklyn response is- ‘yeah? and I gots a bridge to sell youse”.

This, my friends, is the very archetype of that con job. The hill is called Laurel and the babbling brook is, and was, the Newtown Creek and the grave is in Calvary.

Cavalry Cemetery, a morbid nutrition 03 by you.

-photo by Mitch Waxman

How deep do the roots of this tree plunge into the tumulous earth? And where can they lead? What foul corruptions do they feed upon?

Cavalry Cemetery, a morbid nutrition 04 by you.

-photo by Mitch Waxman

Can it be, that just like every other place in New York’s megalopolis, Calvary’s “holy ground” is actually the roof of some cyclopean structure?

Anything you may experience, in situ, by following these walking directions is at your OWN RISK, and is offered by the Newtown Pentacle for documentary and entertainment purposes only. Remember- the rule we follow at the Newtown Pentacle is to NEVER trespass. Like Vampires, Newtownicans should wait to be invited into a house before they can do their work.  Also, Please note — if something you read here is inaccurate, DO NOT BE SHY- contact me– additions and corrections are always welcome at the Newtown Pentacle.

Written by Mitch Waxman

August 5, 2009 at 2:44 am

weird cadence

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The night time is the Creek time.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As mentioned in yesterday’s post, one had a City based event to photograph last week and an event in Greenpoint the same evening. At the start of the Greenpoint leg of my day, I apologized to the filmmaker whose work Newtown Creek Alliance was screening that night (as well as my colleagues) as I’d be disappearing for a few minutes while the projector was running.

I’d already seen the film, at a screening held at the Greater Astoria Historic Society last year, and I had permission from the owner of the property where we were doing the event to get down to his bulkheads – which face out on the fabulous Newtown Creek – and crack out a few shots.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A former petrochemical based lubricant mill, found next door to a modern day biofuel depot, the site I was at is in the section of the Newtown Creek which one refers to as “DUGABO” or Down Under the Greenpoint Avenue Bridge Onramp. That crazy nor’easter had blown through the day before, leaving behind a layer of now rotting snow and slush.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Next door at the biofuel company, specifically Metro Oil, an articulated tug and fuel barge were tied up and pumping material from the on shore storage tanks into the barge. On the horizon, in the shot above, is Calvary Cemetery in Blissville on the Queens side of Newtown Creek.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Looking roughly northwards, that’s the Long Island Expressway behind Railroad Avenue, with the Sapphire megalith of Long Island City and all the new residential towers surrounding it.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Northwest, and the Sims Metal Management facility.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

West towards the Shining City of Manhattan, past the Allocco Recycling company bulkheads.


Upcoming Tours and Events

Newtown Creekathon – hold the date for me on April 15th.

That grueling 13 and change mile death march through the bowels of New York City known as the “Newtown Creekathon” will be held on that day, and I’ll be leading the charge as we hit every little corner and section of the waterway. This will be quite an undertaking, last year half the crowd tagged out before we hit the half way point. Have you got what it takes the walk the enitre Newtown Creek?
Keep an eye on the NCA events page for more information.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

March 27, 2018 at 11:00 am

strange hills

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Shots from high over Greenpoint today, and a few things to do!

– photo by Mitch Waxman

At the end of last week, which was a doozy incidentally (I actually had to wear a suit and tie one night), one had a chance to head over to Greenpoint and get high. High above the ground, that is. The shot above looks east over some oil industry infrastructure towards the new Kosciuszcko Bridge from the rooftop at 520 Kingsland Avenue. Newtown Creek Alliance, the Audubon Society, and Broadway Stages have created a green roof there that these shots were captured from.

We need a lot of green roofs around the Newtown Creek, lords and ladies. That’s one of the points made over and over in the recently released visioning plan which NCA and Riverkeeper have just released.

Check out the Riverkeeper/Newtown Creek Alliance Visioning Plan,
which can be accessed at this link.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Last week, your Newtown Pentacle focused in on the Blissville section of LIC, but I’m hardly the only person to have fallen in love with the people and place. A fellow named a Hank Linhart has been bitten by the Blissville bug too, and produced a fantastic short film documentary about the place. I met Hank at a screening he did for the movie at the Greater Astoria Historic Society last autumn, and promised him that I’d find a spot to showcase it along the Creek.

So, what are you doing this Thursday on the 22nd of March? Want to come see a movie for free?

Film Screening: Blissville Stories

Thursday, March 22nd, 7:30pm – 520 Kingsland Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11222

Please join NCA as we host a screening of “Blissville Stories,” a documentary film about the Queens neighborhood bounded by the Newtown Creek, the Long Island Expressway, and Calvary Cemetery. We will be joined by filmmaker Hank Linhart. More info about the Blissville Stories can be found here.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

This shot looks southwest, over the sewer plant towards Manhattan. The middle section of the shot isn’t out of focus, rather you’re looking through jets of methane which are produced by the plant which the NYC DEP burns off. I’ve called it Brooklyn’s invisible flame in the past.

Finally – hold the date for me on April 15th.

That grueling 13 and change mile death march through the bowels of New York City known as the “Newtown Creekathon” will be underway on that day, and I’ll be leading the charge as we hit every little corner and section of the waterway. Keep an eye on the NCA events page for more information.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

elusive quality

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One last post in Blissville, Queens.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Department of Homeless Services seems hell bent on sending NYC’s mot vulnerable citizens up the creek. The Newtown Creek, that is. They’ve sworn up and down that their program will be phasing out the usage of private hotels for housing people. Instead, they’re renewing contracts with hotels like the Pan Am over in Elmhurst and creating new concentrations of population all over Brooklyn and Queens, except for Park Slope and the Upper East Side for some reason or another. Those of us who live in neighborhoods like Maspeth, LIC, Astoria, or Blissville who stand up and complain about this policy will be branded racists or “NIMBY’s.” That last one stands for “Not in My Back Yard” and I’m just going to ask how the Mayor would feel if I was to start camping out in a certain somebody’s back yard on 11th street in Park Slope. I’d talk about equity and sharing the burden to him, but I’m pretty sure he’d tell me I couldn’t take up residence in his back yard. I’m positive that if I listed his back yard on Air BNB he’d be a NIMBY.

The shot above depicts the newly constructed Kosciuszcko Bridge, a mega project going on in Blissville’s back yard.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A Sunday night in early March, on Review Avenue looking up 37th street, with First Calvary Cemetery’s walls forming the eastern border of that street here in Blissville. That’s when and where the shot above was captured. I could barely find a thirty second interval that didn’t have traffic running through it to capture this shot, so I decided to just roll with it.

No wonder, as the Greenpoint Avenue Bridge which carries just over ten million vehicle trips a year is only a block away, and the Long Island Expressway with its 85,000 daily vehicle crossings is less than a half mile distant. A not insignificant proportion of these vehicles are semi and garbage trucks, heading to the waste transfer locations found along a Federal Superfund site called the Newtown Creek. At these waste transfer stations, barges and trains are required to vacate Blissville of the load carried by these trucks.

37th street is mixed use, there’s residential buildings sitting right next to factories and warehouses. The world’s largest Fortune Cookie factory is at the end of the street nearby Bradley Avenue.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The people of Blissville deal with lots of trouble and stress due to the astonishing levels of traffic, severe environmental issues which include two nearby oil spills, and the presence of a sewer plant just across the water in Greenpoint. To the west and north, in Hunters Point and Sunnsyide, the fires of gentrification burn fiercely, driving rents up all over Western Queens, and even here in Blissville. Blissville has no supermarkets, no hospitals or urgent care centers, and access to mass transit is problematic at best. The 108th pct. is in Hunters Point, about a mile and half to the west. They do have a firehouse, so at least the City does something for Blissville other than open homeless shelters in it.

The shot above looks towards the intersection of Greenpoint Avenue, Van Dam Street, and Review Avenue at the Greenpoint Avenue Bridge. That self storage joint used to be the home of the B&G Pickle factory, incidentally.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, equity, and a fair shake for all New Yorkers is the sort of contrived rhetoric offered by the political establishment of City Hall under the current Mayor. Their policy, however, always seems to indicate that the needs of Manhattan outweigh the needs of Queens. Most importantly, to me at least, remains the eventual disposition and fate of the people whom the Mayor intends to house in this already overburdened community named for Greenpoint’s Neziah Bliss.

Is Blissville an appropriate place to house the homeless? 

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There are already two homeless shelters within a half mile of the proposed facility which would double if not triple the current population of Blissville. That’s one of the converted hotels pictured above, the other one is on the Sunnyside section’s side of the Long Island Expressway, behind St. Raphael’s church. Do these two shelters mean Blissville is already carrying enough “equity” or has their “fair share of burden” for the rest of the City not yet been met?

That’s a former public school, in the shot above. It was built for the independent municipality of Long Island City by its last Mayor, Patrick “Battle-Ax” Gleason. Battle-Ax Gleason said that if you built palaces for working men to send their children to, you’d never get voted out of office and you’d be loved by the voters. When he died, 5,000 school kids lined the streets of Long Island City along the route of his funeral cortège. He’s buried in First Calvary cemetery, incidentally, here in Blissville.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I’m expecting my phone to start ringing from 212 numbers in lower Manhattan this week, by the way, telling me to “back off.” Sorry, but no.

I’ve said this before and fear I’ll say it again – there is no “homeless problem,” rather there’s a million individual problems. By branding a vulnerable population of people whose only commonality is poverty as “the Homeless,” a demonized and stereotyped population is created. The shelter system is a jail without bars.

We are a rich and ostensibly “christian” society, and so we are both morally and legally obligated to help these folks lift themselves up. One bad day stands between all New Yorkers and homelessness. What these folks need is no different than what everybody needs – jobs, a roof, food. Jobs let them pay rent, which allows them to create a credit history, which allows them to pass out of the “system” and suffer like the rest of us.

Saying all that, and I’ll repeat myself again here – sending these people into industrial zone hotels nearby a superfund site with nearly zero access to transit, healthcare, just about everything they’ll need… that’s a human rights violation.

Mr. Mayor, this isn’t a homeless shelter you’d be creating here in Blissville, it’s a penal colony. It’s also the sort of heavy handed and deaf eared policy choices that you spent the twelve years of the Bloomberg administration complaining about.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

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