The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

Search Results

morbid shade

with 5 comments

A long overdue visit to Calvary Cemetery, in today’s post.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Consecrated by Archbishop “Dagger” John Hughes in 1848, who personally conducted the first interment (of literally millions) here in LIC’s Calvary Cemetery, this was and is the primary burying ground of the Roman Catholic Church in NYC. That first funeral was for an Irish immigrant named Esther Ennis, who is said to have died of a broken heart at her flat on Manhattan’s Clinton Street. Pictured above and below are views of the original part of the RC Church’s sprawling funereal complex, the “Saint Calixtus” or “First Calvary” division, found in the Blissville section of Long Island City. There are three other sections of Calvary, which are found nearby in the neighboring community of Woodside to the east. That large dome poking up through the bare tree limbs in the shot above is the Almirall Chapel, built in 1908.

The dome is forty feet across, eighty eight feet tall, and is capped by a statue of Christ the Redeemer created by a sculptress named Merro Beatrice Wilson. Ms. Wilson’s gender is mentioned for a reason, as it’s a pretty extraordinary thing for the Roman Catholic Church of that era to have handed out such a prominent assignment to a female artist. Conversely, the New York Archdiocese of the late 19th and early 20th centuries was a very different organization than it is now, politically speaking.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

During the second half of the 19th century, it was not uncommon for Calvary Cemetery to handle anywhere between fifty and one hundred funerals a day. The chaplain of the cemetery, named Reverend Hennessy, lived in a house found on the northeastern side of the grounds along with his staff – who were apparently monks and young priests.

Hennessy is also buried at the cemetery he devoted himself to, incidentally. His monument is white marble, adorned with delicate carvings depicting his priestly vestments. The monument hasn’t weathered well, what with the acidic rain and industrial pollutants produced by nearby factories found along the notorious Newtown Creek. Generally, marble in Calvary looks like melting ice cream, whereas granite seems to be fairly invulnerable to the atmospherics.

Fashions come and go. Hemlines, sideburns, hairstyles etc. Same thing occurs with mortuary architecture. A fad or fashion which seems, evidentiary speaking, to have occurred between the 1870’s and about 1900 was to erect enormous obelisk markers for subterrene family tombs. There’s a plane of these obelisks, right in the center of the place. Hawks like to hang out on them, waiting for rabbits to pop up from underground hidey-holes.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Looking roughly westward, towards Manhattan. You can just see Newtown Creek and the Pulaski Bridge peeking out from above the memorial stones. This particular section of the cemetery has been used as the set for dozens and dozens of television and movie funerals. Vito Corleone’s funeral happened to the east of this spot, nearby the Johnston Memorial, but this is where Spider Man’s Uncle Ben, Batman’s parents… i can’t even begin to list them all.

By the way – Is it just me, or has the Manhattan skyline been utterly screwed up forever by Hudson Yards and that monstrosity going up behind the Chrysler Building?


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Buy a book!

In the Shadows at Newtown Creek,” an 88 page softcover 8.5×11 magazine format photo book by Mitch Waxman, is now on sale at blurb.com for $30.


Events!

Slideshow and book signing, April 23rd, 6-8 p.m.

Join Newtown Creek Alliance at 520 Kingsland Avenue in Greenpoint, Brooklyn for a slideshow, talk, and book signing and see what the incredible landscape of Newtown Creek looks like when the sun goes down with Mitch Waxman. The event is free, but space is limited. Please RSVP here. Light refreshments served.

Click here to attend.

The Third Annual, All Day, 100% Toxic, Newtown Creekathon. April 28th.

The Creekathon will start at Hunter’s Point South in LIC, and end at the Kingsland Wildflowers rooftop in Greenpoint. It will swing through the neighborhoods of LIC, Blissville, Maspeth, Ridgewood, East Williamsburg, Bushwick, and Greenpoint, visiting the numerous bridges that traverse the Creek. While we encourage folks to join us for the full adventure, attendees are welcome to join and depart as they wish. A full route map and logistics are forthcoming.This is an all day event. Your guides on this 12+ mile trek will be Mitch Waxman and Will Elkins of the Newtown Creek Alliance, and some of their amazing friends will likely show up along the way.

Click here to attend.

Written by Mitch Waxman

April 10, 2019 at 11:00 am

moulder through

with one comment

It’s National Pepperoni Pizza Day, in these United States.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Positively cinematic, First Calvary Cemetery in the Blissville of Queens is. The Roman Catholic Church acquired Laurel Hill, found along the troublesome Newtown Creek, from the Alsop family back in 1848. The Alsops had held the land since 1648, when a fellow named Thomas Wandell acquired it from the Dutch colonial authorities. Wandell, an associate of Oliver Cromwell’s who had fallen out of favor with the Lord Protector, died in 1691 and the land passed to his nephew Richard Alsop (who died in 1718). The last Alsop who actually worked the land died in 1837, and it was a distaff member of the family who was a member of Manhattan’s “Knickerbocracy” that sold it to the church.

The Church sent armies of laborers to Blissville, who altered Laurel Hill into its current shape, installed a drainage system, and by 1860 or so there were as many as fifty interments a day taking place here.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There are a few simply gorgeous structures in First Calvary Cemetery (ultimately, there are four Calvary Cemeteries in Queens, with the other three found over in Woodside) such as the Almirall Chapel.

Archbishop Farley had returned from a visit to Rome in 1908 with the intention of creating a new funerary chapel at Calvary which would also host an ossuary for the nuns, monks, and priests of his diocese. Architect Raymond Almirall designed the structure pictured above, which is one of the earliest poured concrete buildings in New York City. The dome of the chapel is forty feet across and eight eight feet high. Atop it is a statue of “Christ the redeemer” designed by a female sculptor (her sex is mentioned as it is quite significant that a female was chosen for this commission during the particular time period) named Merro Beatrice Wilson. The Almirall Chapel sits atop a shaft which leads down a hundred feet to a partially completed cruciform vault where the bones of Farley’s priests and nuns lie.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The real show stopper at Calvary Cemetery is the Johnston Memorial. Erected in 1873, at a cost of $200,000 (that would translate to about $4 million in modern terms) the Johnston Memorial, like the Almirall Chapel, forms a centerpiece of the section it’s found in. There were three Johnston brothers, who operated a very successful milliners business on Manhattan’s “Lady’s mile,” specifically on Fifth Avenue and 22nd street. Brother Charles died in 1864, and brother John left the world in 1887. The remaining Johnston brother, Robert, went mad with grief and fell into poverty. He died in a barn on the grounds of a an upstate nunnery, during a thunderstorm, in 1888.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The Johnston memorial is well appointed with some exquisite carvings, and luckily the brothers sprang for granite rather than marble. The marble monuments all over Calvary Cemetery have the appearance of melting ice cream, due to the former presence of an acid factory in nearby Maspeth. A marble frieze over the entrance to the mausoleum, however, displays the characteristic damage from exposure to Newtown Creek’s corrosive atmospherics which one can see all over the cemetery’s acreage.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Calvary sits upon, and in, Laurel Hill. A natural prominence left behind by the glaciation process, Laurel is one of the foothills which lead through Maspeth towards the beginning of the terminal morraine of Long Island, which truly begins at another Roman Catholic cemetery called Mount Olivette. This “Y” shaped ridge of actual bedrock is what the elluvial shoals of the landform of Long Island are supported by, and they continue all the way to eastern shore with the the two branches of the Y terminating at Montauk and the Hamptons.

The view from Calvary is astounding, and I always remark that “you can see the whole soup bowl” of NYC’s inner harbor from up here. You used to be able to see a lot more, but… y’know… luxury towers and the real estate guys.

As a note, burial in First Calvary is quite desirable for Roman Catholics. Accordingly, the price of a grave hereabouts is astronomical, making this – from a square footage vs pricing ratio POV – the most valuable real estate in all of Long Island City.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Adorning the dome of the Johnston Mausoleum, in addition to the statue of Jesus at its top, are granite renderings of four angels who gaze out at the sky from the cardinal points of a compass.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

To the east, the industrial zone of West Maspeth is hard to miss. The Brooklyn Queens Expressway and the Koscisuzcko Bridge are just out of frame in the shot above.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As mentioned above, Calvary Cemetery is positively cinematic. It’s where Bruce Wayne’s parents, and Spider Man’s Uncle Ben, were buried in the movies. It’s also where Vito Corleone was interred in the Godfather movie. The place is seen regularly in television and movies as a set piece when you need a New York City backdrop for a funeral.

You never know what you’re going to find at Calvary Cemetery in the Blissville section of Queens, along the fabulous Newtown Creek, I always say. Bring a camera, and wander around the place without a plan, see what Calvary wants you to see. It’ll still be there the next time you come back, this history book etched in stone.


Upcoming Tours and events

The Insalubrious Valley of the Newtown Creek Walking Tour,
with Atlas Obscura – Saturday, September 23rd, 11 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.

Join us on the wrong side of the tracks for an exploration of the hidden industrial heartlands of Brooklyn and Queens, with Newtown Creek Alliance Historian Mitch Waxman details here.

Exploring Long Island City, from Luxury Waterfront to Abandoned Factories Walking Tour,
with NY Adventure Club – Saturday, October 7th, 1 p.m. – 3 p.m.

Long Island City is a tale of two cities; one filled with glittering water-front skyscrapers and manicured parks, and the other, a highly active ground transportation & distribution zone vital to the New York economy — which will prevail? With Newtown Creek Alliance Historian Mitch Waxman details here.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

September 20, 2017 at 1:30 pm

twelve of twelve

with 3 comments

“follow” me on Twitter at @newtownpentacle

January 2012- High Doors

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Finally, the end of 2012, and the arrival of the Newtown Pentacle Greatest Hits of 2012 posting.

It was actually a pretty good year for your humble narrator, which started off when I stumbled across the fact that the Paragon Oil building in Long Island City used to be Queens Borough Hall- back in the day. check out “high doors

February 2012- mural history

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Steve Brodie said he jumped off the Brooklyn Bridge and lived, becoming one of the great celebrities of the 19th century in the process. Mr. Brodie was buried in Calvary Cemetery and in February, we paid him a visit in “mural history“.

March 2012- skillfully wafted

– photo by Mitch Waxman

In “skillfully wafted“, an opportunity to visit the titan Waste Management facility at Varick Street in Brooklyn was taken advantage of, and the LIRR Bushwick Branch received some attention as well.

April 2012- strange corridors

– photo by Mitch Waxman

An opportunity to witness the procedures followed at the Newtown Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant in pursuit of “scientific odor control and engineering” came along, and your humble narrator leapt at the opportunity in “strange corridors“.

April was an interesting month for other reasons, especially since the news that I had discovered a missing piece of the Queensboro Bridge broke at several news sources.

Check out the dnainfo article here, and the cbs radio piece here.

May 2012- obscure world

– photo by Mitch Waxman

On the subject of odors and Newtown Creek, a great personal victory was announced when the definitive location of Conrad Wissel’s Night Soil and offal dock was revealed in “obscure world“.

June 2012- strange wanderers

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The Johnston Brothers were the proprietors of the J. & C. Johnston company, located ultimately at the corner of Broadway and 22nd street in Manhattan. Their mausoleum in Calvary Cemetery was the subject of interest in “strange wanderers“.

There was also that whole NYtimes article and video about me in June- check out “Your Guide to a Tour of Decay” and “Newtown’s Champion“. To be seen, by so many, diminishes me.

July 2012- virgin aether

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The answer to the question- “what- exactly- would you have done if you suddenly had to get rid of a dead elephant in pre 1977 NYC?” was answered with “call Van Iderstine’s” in “virgin aether“.

August 2012- the last birthday of the Kosciuszko Bridge

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The Kosciuszko Bridge was opened on August 23rd, 1939 by Mayor LaGuardia.

the last birthday of the Kosciuszko Bridge carries several historic shots recently made accessible via NYCMA’s Luna images.

September 2012- central chamber

– photo by Mitch Waxman

In September, the Tidewater building on the Queens bank of the Newtown Creek in Blissville received some scrutiny in the central chamber” posting.

October 2012- embowered banks

– photo by Mitch Waxman

In “embowered banks“, a little altar was discovered in Calvary Cemetery, alongside a certain “tree fed by a morbid nutrition”.

November 2012- open place

– photo by Mitch Waxman

November was defined first by Hurricane Sandy disabling New York City, and then by a back injury which disabled your humble narrator for a spell. An effort to document the post Sandy environment around Newtown Creek was detailed in several postings, the first of which was “open place“.

December 2012- palatial magnificence

– photo by Mitch Waxman

December of 2012 was dominated by the Mayan Apocalypse, and our extensive Newtown Pentacle bunker was described in palatial magnificence“.

Overall, its been a decent year.

I’ve done a plethora of walking and boat tours of the Newtown Creek- close to 900 people have attended one or another of these events.

The “Magic Lantern Show” has been presented at Universities, Colleges, and for community groups.

Thanks to everyone who has been reading and commenting here, and to everyone who came along on one of my crazy long walks around the Newtown Pentacle. Stick around, 2013 is shaping up to be a fun time.

Written by Mitch Waxman

December 31, 2012 at 12:15 am

Posted in Photowalks, Pickman

Tagged with , ,

strange wanderers

with one comment

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The Johnston Brothers were the proprietors of the J. & C. Johnston company, located ultimately at the corner of Broadway and 22nd street in Manhattan. They sold lady’s novelties, ribbons, parasols and other fripperies from their prestigious “ladies mile” location. Lady’s Mile was anchored on the busy industrial side by Union Square and Tammany Hall, and on the swank side by 23rd street with its new “department stores”.

Theodore Roosevelt was born a few blocks away, and the prestigious townhouses that still line the surrounding area speak to the former exclusivity and standing of the Manhattan neighborhood.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There were three brothers- John, Robert, and Charles. Charles died in 1864, John in 1887 (possibly of a suicide). Robert, reknowned as an unlettered yet expert scholar in the fields of literature, mathematics and history, was so consumed by grief and longing for his siblings that he lost the family business in 1888, and then retired to a country house at Mount St. Vincent on the Hudson (near a convent). During a later foreclosure on his properties- which he had financially mismanaged due to his grief, a fire broke out and nearly claimed Roberts life.

In the end he was found dying of pneumonia, and suffering from madness, in a Riverdale barn.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Like other immigrant industrialists, the Johnstons often reached out to contacts in their country of origin to recruit trustworthy laborers. Robert’s name appears as principal donor to the The Fermangh Relief society, offering to aid those deserving persons in destitute circumstance with the costs of emigration and freedom from the terror of landlords.

The Johnstons were also Tammany men.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Such is the story of the storied and somewhat forgotten Johnston Brothers (and just in the name of full disclosure- the core information offered above was originally presented in the August 2009 posting “Up and Through Calvary” at this- your Newtown Pentacle) who lie in the grandest of all the mausoleums in the Calvary Cemetery. The Johnston store would have been in the building that currently houses “Renovation Hardware” across the street from the Flatiron or Fuller Brush Building.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The funerary structure in Calvary was erected in 1873, and cost an outlandish $200,000.

That’s two hundred thousand in 1873 dollars mind you. According to an online tool designed to calculate monetary inflation over time, $200,000 of 1873 dollars would be worth: $3,846,153.85 in 2012.

The quality of the sculptural elements extant to casual perusal certainly speak to a high level of craftsmanship and developed skill, but the identity of the tomb’s architect and artisans continues to elude. One can only imagine what splendors adorn the central cavity of the building, wherein lie the brothers.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A shattered white bronze gate adorns the entrance, which is in turn blocked by a large block of marble. This is one tomb not intended for the inspection of passerby, unfortunately. Perhaps there are former groundskeepers or employees of the great cemetery that have been inside for maintenance or liturgical duties who can share their experiences with you- lords and ladies of Newtown- who might be reading this post and would be willing to bear witness.

If so, please do not hesitate to use the commenting link below, and indicate if you’d like me to have you appear “anonymous” or not.

_______________________________________________________________________________

Also:

June 16th, 2012- Newtown Creek Alliance Dutch Kills walk (tomorrow)

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The Newtown Creek Alliance has asked that, in my official capacity as group historian, a tour be conducted on the 16th of June- a Saturday. This walk will follow the Dutch Kills tributary, and will include a couple of guest speakers from the Alliance itself, which will provide welcome relief for tour goers from listening to me rattle on about Michael Degnon, Patrick “Battle Ax” Gleason, and a bunch of bridges that no one has ever heard of.

for June 16th tickets, click here for the Newtown Creek Alliance ticketing page

June 23rd, 2012- Atlas Obscura Thirteen Steps around Dutch Kills walk

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Additionally- the “Obscura Day” Thirteen Steps around Dutch Kills tour proved that the efficacy and charms of the Newtown Creek’s least known tributary, with its myriad points of interest, could cause a large group to overlook my various inadequacies and failings. The folks at Atlas Obscura, which is a fantastic website worthy of your attentions (btw), have asked me to repeat the tour on the 23rd of June- also a Saturday.

for June 23rd tickets, click here for the Atlas Obscura ticketing page

June 30th, 2012- Working Harbor Committee Kill Van Kull walk

– photo by Mitch Waxman

My various interests out on the sixth borough, NY Harbor, have brought me into association with the Working Harbor Committee. A member of the group’s Steering Committee- I also serve as the “official” group photographer, am chairman and principal narrator of their annual Newtown Creek Boat Tour, and occasionally speak on the microphone during other tours (mainly the Brooklyn one). This year, the group has branched out into terrestrial explorations to compliment the intense and extant schedule of boat tours, and I’m going to be leading a Kill Van Kull walking tour that should be a lot of fun.

The Kill Van Kull, or tugboat alley as its known to we harbor rats, is a tidal strait that defines the border of Staten Island and New Jersey. A busy and highly industrialized waterfront, Working Harbor’s popular “Hidden Harbor – Newark Bay” boat tours provide water access to the Kill, but what is it like on the landward side?

Starting at the St. George Staten Island Ferry terminal, join WHC Steering Committee member Mitch Waxman for a walk up the Kill Van Kull via Staten Islands Richmond Terrace. You’ll encounter unrivaled views of the maritime traffic on the Kill itself, as well as the hidden past of the maritime communities which line it’s shores. Surprising and historic neighborhoods, an abandoned railway, and tales of prohibition era bootleggers await.

The tour will start at 11, sharp, and you must be on (at least) the 10:30 AM Staten Island Ferry to meet the group at St. George. Again, plan for transportation changes and unexpected weirdness to be revealed to you at MTA.info.

for June 30th tickets, click here for the Working Harbor Committee ticketing page

of straw and willow

with 3 comments

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Before I left Calvary- that day when I finally located the grave of it’s first interment (Esther Ennis, 1848), stepped in a dead rabbit, and picked up a paranormal companion on my long walk- two things came to my notice.

The first was what I’ve been referring to for awhile as “disturbing subsidences”, which in the case of this posting, seem to have been a result of the series of those winter storm events which bedeviled New York City in January and February of 2011. On my few attempts to enter the place during this period, an untrammeled yard deep layering of snow and ice covered the ground.

The second… we’ll talk about that tomorrow.

from wikipedia

Snow remains on the ground until it melts or sublimates. Sublimation of snow directly into water vapor is most likely to occur on a dry and windy day such as when a strong downslope wind, such as a Chinook wind, exists. The water equivalent of a given amount of snow is the depth of a layer of water having the same mass and upper area. For example, if the snow covering a given area has a water equivalent of 50 centimeters (20 in), then it will melt into a pool of water 50 centimeters (20 in) deep covering the same area. This is a much more useful measurement to hydrologists than snow depth, as the density of cool freshly fallen snow widely varies. New snow commonly has a density of around 8% of water. This means that 33 centimeters (13 in) of snow melts down to 2.5 centimeters (1 in) of water. Cloud temperatures and physical processes in the cloud affect the shape of individual snow crystals. Highly branched or dendritic crystals tend to have more space between the arms of ice that form the snowflake and this snow will therefore have a lower density, often referred to as “dry” snow. Conditions that create columnar or plate-like crystals will have much less air space within the crystal and will therefore be denser and feel “wetter”.

Once the snow is on the ground, it will settle under its own weight (largely due to differential evaporation) until its density is approximately 30% of water. Increases in density above this initial compression occur primarily by melting and refreezing, caused by temperatures above freezing or by direct solar radiation. In colder climates, snow lies on the ground all winter. By late spring, snow densities typically reach a maximum of 50% of water. When the snow does not all melt in the summer it evolves into firn, where individual granules become more spherical in nature, evolving into a glacier as the ice flows downhill.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Take into account the size of this place, with vast acreages unshielded by geological feature or manmade structure (unless one considers that the entire place is a sort of construct). Next, imagine snow… a lot of snow.

With a square foot of snow estimated to weigh some 12.5 to 20 pounds (depending on density, i.e. fluffy versus wet), and calculate not just the crushing weight of this frosty load upon the ground and the graves themselves- but the actions of the tens of millions of gallons of water released into the soil during the melting process.

from wikipedia

In hydrology, snowmelt is surface runoff produced from melting snow. It can also be used to describe the period or season during which such runoff is produced. Water produced by snowmelt is an important part of the annual water cycle in many parts of the world, in some cases contributing high fractions of the annual runoff in a watershed. Predicting snowmelt runoff from a drainage basin may be a part of designing water control projects. Rapid snowmelt can cause flooding. If the snowmelt is then frozen, very dangerous conditions and accidents can occur, introducing the need for salt to melt the ice.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Understand what I’m attempting to show in these shots, which are not presented for prurient reasons.

The headstones in a cemetery almost always stand on a concrete base which acts a foundation against the shifting of soil and alleviates fears of the heavy monument falling over and shattering- perhaps even wounding a passerby like myself. In some cemeteries, where marshy conditions exist, the graves aren’t truly in the soil but are rather inside of a sort of cement or concrete vault which holds the interment in place (it also aids in not contaminating ground water) that is itself filled in with dirt. A coffin for a coffin, as it were.

The “b” sections of Calvary which are lower in elevation than the rest and lie along the Review Avenue and Laurel Hill Blvd. sides, I am told, use this sort of approach.

from wikipedia

Groundwater is water located beneath the ground surface in soil pore spaces and in the fractures of rock formations. A unit of rock or an unconsolidated deposit is called an aquifer when it can yield a usable quantity of water. The depth at which soil pore spaces or fractures and voids in rock become completely saturated with water is called the water table. Groundwater is recharged from, and eventually flows to, the surface naturally; natural discharge often occurs at springs and seeps, and can form oases or wetlands. Groundwater is also often withdrawn for agricultural, municipal and industrial use by constructing and operating extraction wells. The study of the distribution and movement of groundwater is hydrogeology, also called groundwater hydrology.

Typically, groundwater is thought of as liquid water flowing through shallow aquifers, but technically it can also include soil moisture, permafrost (frozen soil), immobile water in very low permeability bedrock, and deep geothermal or oil formation water. Groundwater is hypothesized to provide lubrication that can possibly influence the movement of faults. It is likely that much of the Earth’s subsurface contains some water, which may be mixed with other fluids in some instances. Groundwater may not be confined only to the Earth. The formation of some of the landforms observed on Mars may have been influenced by groundwater. There is also evidence that liquid water may also exist in the subsurface of Jupiter’s moon Europa.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

What’s interesting about these 2 images is not that the snow melt washed out a section of soil as it sought low ground. It’s that little peak of red brick and masonry in the extreme corner. It’s the first time that we’ve witnessed a part of (what I believe to be) the 1848 structural elements built into the ground poking out. Confidentiality restrains me from discussing certain reminiscences about these red bricks, and their meaning in Calvary’s original section at this point in time, but these are a very important feature. Possibly very important.

More on that in later postings, as researches into the place are going well beyond the normal scope of inquiry practiced by this, your Newtown Pentacle.

from wikipedia

Some couples or groups of people (such as a married couple or other family members) may wish to be buried in the same plot. In some cases, the coffins (or urns) may simply be buried side by side. In others, one casket may be interred above another. If this is planned for in advance, the first casket may be buried more deeply than is the usual practice so that the second casket may be placed over it without disturbing the first. In many states in Australia all graves are designated two or three depth (depending of the water table) for multiple burials, at the discretion of the burial rights holder, with each new interment atop the previous coffin separated by a thin layer of earth. As such all graves are dug to greater depth for the initial burial than the traditional six feet to facilitate this practice.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

At higher elevations in the ancient cemetery, the evidences of the “business” of the place intrude on the dispassionate and detached observer. This grave’s last interment was a mere 30 years ago, but the characteristic and familiar shape of its subsidence make it pretty clear what the rushing torrents of melting snow have caused as they filtered down through the soil. The grounds keepers of the place will add it to their labors, I’m sure, and cosmetically adjust the spot to an even grade.

Oddly, Calvary had it’s own odor this day, one which actually overwhelmed the perfumes emitted by that nearby assassination of joy called the Newtown Creek.

from wikipedia

The habitation of lowlands, such as coastal or delta plains, requires drainage. The resulting aeration of the soil leads to the oxidation of its organic components, such as peat, and this decomposition process may cause significant land subsidence. This applies especially when ground water levels are periodically adapted to subsidence, in order to maintain desired unsaturated zone depths, exposing more and more peat to oxygen. In addition to this, drained soils consolidate as a result of increased effective stress. In this way, land subsidence has the potential of becoming self-perpetuating, having rates up to 5 cm/yr. Water management used to be tuned primarily to factors such as crop optimisation but, to varying extents, avoiding subsidence has come to be taken into account as well.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

It wasn’t coming from this recent burial, nor from the one shown in the shots above. It was in Section 9, on top of the hill and behind the Johnston Mausoleum that it was emanated from. No photos were gathered, as it was a VERY recent burial, and it would violate Newtown Pentacle policy on this subject. Like this shot, the washout had carved a hydrologic pathway down and into the earth, cutting into the loam and descending into the vast unknown that underlies a world known only to these tomb legions. Unlike this shot, the melting water had eroded the soils covering the grave to the point… the outline of a coffin could just be traced out in the clay and sand, and… other… sensory information was also made available. The olfactory, unfortunately, was amongst them.

As the wind turned, your humble narrator shrieked in the manner of a small girl, and as I turned- the shadow which had been following me since I entered the place ducked behind the nearby Lynch Monument.

from wikipedia

Soil mechanics is a branch of engineering mechanics that describes the behavior of soils. It differs from fluid mechanics and solid mechanics in the sense that soils consist of a heterogeneous mixture of fluids (usually air and water) and particles (usually clay, silt, sand, and gravel) but soil may also contain organic solids, liquids, and gasses and other matter. Along with rock mechanics, soil mechanics provides the theoretical basis for analysis in geotechnical engineering, a subdiscipline of Civil engineering. Soil mechanics is used to analyze the deformations of and flow of fluids within natural and man-made structures that are supported on or made of soil, or structures that are buried in soils.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I always attempt to avoid using cemetery roads, partially because the fear of automotive encounter and disastrous consequences bedevil the frequent pedestrian, but mainly because of some instinctual desire to avoid crossroads in places like this…

But I really needed to get out of here…

from wikipedia

In the folk magic of many cultures, the crossroads is a location “between the worlds” and, as such, a site where supernatural spirits can be contacted and paranormal events can take place. Symbolically, it can mean a locality where two realms touch and therefore represents liminality, a place literally “neither here nor there”, “betwixt and between”.

%d bloggers like this: