The Newtown Pentacle

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Posts Tagged ‘Newtown Creek Waste Water Treatment Plant

untold agony

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Hoary Greenpoint, in today’s post.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Last weekend, the light was spectacular over in Greenpoint, and since I seldom find myself there in the early part of the afternoon – advantage was taken. Manhattan Avenue’s tenements and apartment buildings are framed by Saint Anthony’s Roman Catholic Church in the shot above. St. Anthony’s hosts both a rectory and a convent. The Church is built in the high victorian gothic style, with a 240 foot high steeple, and it laid its cornerstone back in 1873.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Linoleum signage on Manhattan Avenue, for the J. Josephs Sons Co. – a former appliance store. This is vestigial, and part of the character of the street which will shortly be cleansed by the bland homogeneity offered by the Real Estate Industrial Complex’s desire to eradicate all character from the streets of New York City in the name of lining the sidewalks with glass boxes. I cannot imagine what future generations will think.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Over on North Henry Street, a seldom seen point of view on the Newtown Creek Wastewater Treatment plant. This is a quite industrial spot, with a biofuel company and a recycling operation found along the bulkheads of the Newtown Creek. It’s also the “back door” to the sewer plant, where the contractors come and go.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Upcoming Tours –

May 3, 2015 –
DUBPO, Down Under the Pulaski Bridge Onramp
with Newtown Creek Alliance Historian Mitch Waxman, a free tour offered as part of Janeswalk 2015, click here for tickets.

May 31, 2015 –
Newtown Creek Boat Tour
with Working Harbor Committee and Newtown Creek Alliance Historian Mitch Waxman, click here for tickets.

grovelling obeisance

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“follow” me on Twitter at @newtownpentacle

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Having arrived at the venerable Nature Walk amenity found in Greenpoint, Brooklyn at the Newtown Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant early one morning, it seemed that all of my worst fears about the troubled waterway had come true. Bathed in the cascading emanations of the burning thermonuclear eye of god itself, the face of a seeming cacodaemon grinned proudly from a paramount several yards over the pavement.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Baleful, the grinning countenance of the thing had been set atop one of the modernist lighting fixtures which adorn the spot. Upon gazing into its hollow and glowing eyes, the phrase “there can only be one” rudely entered my mind, and unwelcome remembrances of the 1986 Russell Mulcahy film “Highlander” began to flower therein.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

With the assistance of one of the stalwart groundsmen employed by the government to clean and polish the place, what turned out to be a mere Halloween mask formed of latex or rubber was removed and laid out for display and examination. Were it instead the once ubiquitous “Tor Johnson” latex mask produced by the Don Post company, depicting the former wrestler’s infamous role in director Ed Wood’s “Plan 9 from Outer Space,” one such as myself very well might have gone mad and run off to the Cripplebush.

Upcoming tours:

Parks and Petroleum- Sunday, May 12, 2013
Newtown Creek walking tour with Mitch Waxman and Newtown Creek Alliance, tickets now on sale.

The Insalubrious Valley– Saturday, May 25, 2013
Newtown Creek walking tour with Mitch Waxman and Atlas Obscura, tickets now on sale.

Hidden Harbor: Newtown Creek tour with Mitch Waxman – Sunday, May 26,2013
Boat tour presented by the Working Harbor Committee,
Limited seating available, order advance tickets now. Group rates available.

for a full listing and schedule of tours and events, click here

positive knowledge

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“follow” me on Twitter at @newtownpentacle

– photo by Mitch Waxman

On Friday the 26th of April in 2013, a gathering at the Newtown Creek Waste Water Treatment Plant Nature Walk occurred.

The occasion which drew this large group together was the commemoration of the founding of a “Friends of the Nature Walk” group which will sponsor and oversee the upkeep and improvement of New York City’s most unique public space (found in Greenpoint, Brooklyn.)

Pictured above is National Grid’s President Ken Daly presenting a symbolic check to Irene Klementowicz of the Newtown Creek Monitoring Committee.

The $50,000 check is addressed to the Open Space Alliance group, a North Brooklyn non-profit which will act as bursar for the funds.

from nyc.gov

NCMC is a committee of volunteers from the Greenpoint community of Brooklyn established in 1996 pursuant to a City Council resolution allowing the City to acquire property required for the upgrade of Newtown Creek WWTP. NCMC members are appointed by the local City Council member, the Brooklyn Borough President and Brooklyn Community Board #1. NCMC is one of the longest standing citizen oversight committees in New York City.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The “friends of” group will include other large corporate sponsors, and National Grid is the first to sign on and support the effort. The company, formerly known as Brooklyn Union Gas, maintains a large footprint at Newtown Creek. The corporation also brought along several of its employees to volunteer with plantings and clean up work at the Nature Walk, which was severely impacted by Hurricane Sandy.

In the shot above are members of the Newtown Creek Monitoring Committee (NCMC), various elected officials, employees of NYC DEP, and Ken Daly and other employees of National Grid.

from wikipedia

The New York City Department of Environmental Protection (NYCDEP) manages the city’s water supply, providing more than 1.1 billion US gallons (4,200,000 m3) of water each day to more than 9 million residents (including 8 million in the City of New York) through a complex network of nineteen reservoirs, three controlled lakes and 6,200 miles (10,000 km) of water pipes, tunnels and aqueducts. The DEP is also responsible for managing the city’s combined sewer system, which carries both storm water runoff and sanitary waste, and fourteen sewage treatment plants located throughout the city. The DEP carries out federal Clean Water Act rules and regulations, handles hazardous materials emergencies and toxic site remediation, oversees asbestos monitoring and removal, enforces the city’s air and noise codes, bills and collects on city water and sewer accounts, and manages citywide water conservation programs.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One of the few term limited politicians I’m sorry to see go, Borough President Marty Markowitz was there. The main reason I’m going to miss Marty is that I like taking pictures of him during speeches. Markowitz speaks “with his whole body” as my grandmother would have said, and is a pleasure to photograph.

Admittedly, he’s no Lindsay Lohan, but boy is it fun taking photos of him.

from wikipedia

Marty Markowitz (born February 14, 1945) is the Borough President of Brooklyn, New York City, the most populous borough in New York City with nearly 2.6 million residents. Markowitz was first elected borough president in 2001 after serving 23 years as a New York State Senator. His third term began in January, 2010.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Assemblyman Joe Lentol also gave a short speech. Joe is a great guy, always there to lend a hand with problems that develop around the Creek. I live in Queens, of course, but I’d vote for him if he were in my district. Joe’s alright.

from assembly.state.ny.us

Assemblyman Joseph R. Lentol has represented North Brooklyn in the New York State Legislature since 1972. He is a lifelong resident of New York City, whose father and grandfather both also served in the New York State Legislature.

An attorney by profession, Mr. Lentol was Assistant District Attorney in Kings County prior to holding elective office.

Since 1992, Mr. Lentol has been Chair of the Assembly’s Committee on Codes, which reviews and evaluates all criminal justice legislation in the State. He has been Chair of the Committee on Governmental Employees, which oversees the State’s pension and employee benefits. In that capacity, Mr. Lentol presided over the State’s divestiture of its pension fund’s investments in South Africa. He also chaired the Assembly’s Committee on Governmental Operations, which monitors the operations of State agencies and departments.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Another speaker was Stephen Levin of the NYC City Council. He lives in Greenpoint, not too far from the Creek, and has been quite involved in the story and evolution of the place.

from council.nyc.gov

During his first term in the City Council, Stephen has proven to be a leader on education and early childhood issues, and an advocate for increased open space in our communities and transportation safety initiatives. He has passed legislation requiring the Dept. of Education to notify families and teachers about potential PCB contamination, and has sponsored resolutions calling for mandatory kindergarten and breakfast-in-the-classroom, as well as stronger standards for Rent Guidelines Board members.

In addition to serving as Chair of the Subcommittee on Planning, Dispositions and Concessions, Council Member Levin serves on the Education, Economic Development, Environmental Protection, General Welfare, Land Use, and Lower Manhattan Redevelopment committees.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Irene Klementowicz is a citizen activist hero in Greenpoint, a legend in the environmental community who has been fighting the “powers that be” since before I was born. I’ve seen her disassemble representatives of City Hall with just an icy stare, and you never ever want to find yourself on the opposite side of her in an argument or attempt to get something past her. The Nature Walk happened, in no small part, because of Irene.

from capitolwords.org

In the words of Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney-

“Mr. Speaker, I rise today to pay tribute to Irene Klementowicz, a resident of my district who has fought hard to protect the environmental health of her community.

Ms. Klementowicz has actively worked to improve her community since she first arrived in Greenpoint. Among her many activities, she helped ensure that a local factory started implementing pollution controls. This was especially important since it was situated directly across from two schools.

This early activism led to an appointment to Community Board 1, where she continues to champion the health and safety of her district. Among her accomplishments, she can be credited with a hard-fought and successful campaign to shut down the Greenpoint incinerator, long a source of pollution and nuisance.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The $50,000 donated by National Grid is a down payment to the community, the start of a new era of stewardship over the Nature Walk which will- as the public space is expanded in coming years to wrap entirely around Whale Creek and connect Kingsland Avenue with Paidge- allow a regular schedule of gardening and maintenance to occur.

One step forward, Lords and Ladies, for this once and future King of the Creeks called Newtown.

Also: Upcoming Tours!

13 Steps around Dutch Kills Saturday, May 4, 2013
Newtown Creek walking tour with Mitch Waxman and Atlas Obscura, tickets now on sale.

Parks and Petroleum- Sunday, May 12, 2013
Newtown Creek walking tour with Mitch Waxman and Newtown Creek Alliance, tickets now on sale.

The Insalubrious Valley Saturday, May 25, 2013
Newtown Creek walking tour with Mitch Waxman and Atlas Obscura, tickets now on sale.

Hidden Harbor: Newtown Creek tour with Mitch Waxman – Sunday, May 26,2013
Boat tour presented by the Working Harbor Committee,
Limited seating available, order advance tickets now. Group rates available.

crawl circuitously

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“follow” me on Twitter at @newtownpentacle

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Just last week, as a dramatic downpour doused New York City, your humble narrator was at a Newtown Creek Monitoring Committee meeting at the Newtown Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant in Greenpoint debating the finer points of some signage which the DEP wants to hang on their fence line at the plant and for which they were seeking community input. When the clouds burst, however, and rain began to lash at the windows- one grabbed for the camera and headed to the door. If you’re at the largest sewer plant in New York City during a cloudburst, you take some pictures.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A quarter inch of rain, citywide, becomes a raging river of one billion gallons surging through the combined sewer system. Combined sewers, a term indicating that storm and sanitary sewers share the same pipes, are one of the City’s “original sins.” This billion gallon per quarter inch torrent has no where to go except for sewers, which when added to the regular sewage flow, “outfalls” into those waterways which distinguish and define our little archipelago.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The system of waste water treatment plants which are maintained by the DEP can handle some of this flow, using ingenious systems of weirs and diversion tunnels to slow down and store it for treatment, but a lot of the water hurtling through their network of sometimes centuries old pipe ends up going directly into the environment untreated. This is the problem which most afflicts my beloved Newtown Creek, but its also a big part of what’s wrong with the East and Hudson Rivers as well as all the smaller waterways found all around the harbor. This is also the reason why advisories are issued not to swim at area beaches following a storm.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Unfortunately, there’s little that can be practically done about it. If we who are taxed asked those who are elected to spend our money to remedy the situation, the astronomical bill incurred would bankrupt the Municipal, State, and quite possibly the Federal governments. It would involve opening up every street in New York City, remapping the gravity driven sewer system which has grown in spurts over the last 300 years, and begin building a brand new dual system. This would be catastrophically expensive, disruptive to every facet of the community, and take decades.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A simple thing each of us can do, based on an old adage- don’t waste a gallon of water on a pint of piss- is simply to not flush the toilet unnecessarily when its raining. By not adding your “constituents” to the flow during rain events, and I mean number one not two, you can help alleviate a significant amount of stress on the system and ensure that sewage does not wash out into the harbor with the storm water. This may seem “gross,” but here’s the question- can you tolerate leaving a bit of urine in the toilet for an hour or two until it stops raining or would you rather swim or boat in your own piss tomorrow?

Also: Upcoming Tours!

Glittering Realms Saturday, April 20, 2013
Newtown Creek walking tour with Mitch Waxman and Atlas Obscura, tickets now on sale.

13 Steps around Dutch Kills Saturday, May 4, 2013
Newtown Creek walking tour with Mitch Waxman and Atlas Obscura, tickets now on sale.

Parks and Petroleum- Sunday, May 12, 2013
Newtown Creek walking tour with Mitch Waxman and Newtown Creek Alliance, tickets on sale soon.

The Insalubrious Valley- Saturday, May 25, 2013
Newtown Creek walking tour with Mitch Waxman and Atlas Obscura, tickets on sale soon.

Hidden Harbor: Newtown Creek tour with Mitch Waxman – Sunday, May 26,2013
Boat tour presented by the Working Harbor Committee,
Limited seating available, order advance tickets now. Group rates available.

moderate size

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– photo by Mitch Waxman

The news about the Queensboro Bridge Lamp Post broke into the larger City just the other day, and your humble narrator found himself being examined and interrogated by members of the news media.

That sounds worse than it actually was, they were all actually quite charming, but the abject self loathing which defines and informs my character is always a bit put out when dragged out into the light.

For the original postings about the thing, click here for “an odd impulse” and “wisdom of crowds

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Standing exposed, in front of a possibly angry crowd of villagers, can carry severe repercussion for so onerous an individual as that one which stares at me from beyond silvered glass.

Really, it might have been best to just pretend that I missed the message, or was out of town. Of course, it has been years since I’ve left this city for even a single day, so zero efficacy would have met the claim. Whether it be bacchanal or shift work, the megalopolis has become an involuntary prison, and I’ve learnt to obey its whims.

Like a leaf, you, and free will is some cruel myth.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

This Sunday, as detailed in the blurb below, just such random chance will carry me to the Newtown Creek Waste Water Treatment Plant Nature Walk. There, in the radiated splendors of the Newtown Creek itself, shall gather the Newtown Creek Alliance for an Earth Day Celebration and BYO Picnic.

The public is invited, and encouraged to examine and explore a fabulous waterfront space which presents an unparalleled panorama of that legendary waterway, in the company of those who understand her mysteries best. Do join, don’t let my attendance hold you back, as I plan on holding to the shadows and lurking- in fear- away from crowds.

Also from newtowncreekalliance.org

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Earth Day BYO Picnic Lunch at the Newtown Creek Nature Walk

Sunday, April 22nd at 1 p.m.

Come join in for this casual celebration of the victory that is the Newtown Creek Nature Walk. Bring your own brown bag lunch and join the Newtown Creek champions who worked hard for years to win this unique waterfront park.

Sunday, April 22nd at the Newtown Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant Nature Walk between 1pm – 2pm.

Finally,

Obscura Day 2012, Thirteen Steps around Dutch Kills

April 28th, 10 a.m.

Your humble narrator will be narrating humbly at this year’s Obscura Day event on April 28th, leading a walking tour of Dutch Kills. The tour is already two thirds booked up, so grab your tickets while you can.

“Found less than one mile from the East River, Dutch Kills is home to four movable (and one fixed span) bridges, including one of only two retractible bridges remaining in New York City. Dutch Kills is considered to be the central artery of industrial Long Island City and is ringed with enormous factory buildings, titan rail yards — it’s where the industrial revolution actually happened. Bring your camera, as the tour will be revealing an incredible landscape along this section of the troubled Newtown Creek Watershed.”

For tickets and full details, click here :

obscuraday.com/events/thirteen-steps-dutch-kills-newtown-creek-exploration

strange corridors

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– photo by Mitch Waxman

Staying current on the story of Newtown Creek involves attending a lot of meetings. Some are private, most public. Often, they came rapid fire and it feels as if every other evening is consumed. One of the many community groups which hold such gatherings is the Newtown Creek Monitoring Committee. I’m a guest at this particular gathering, and as such an attempt is made to remain silent and observe the proceedings.

The group engages in a dialogue with representatives of the NYC DEP, who are offered input from community representatives regarding issues that might arise from the presence of the Newtown Creek Waste Water Treatment Plant.

One of these issues, as you would imagine, is the spread of odors emanating from the vast facility.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The DEP contract with a company, called “Odor Science and Engineering”, who specialize in the detection and discovery as well as elimination of point sources for malodorous gases. Luckily, an inspection of the plant by the company was scheduled for the following week and Christine Holowacz (DEP community liaison) arranged for a few of us to accompany the effort.

Pictured above is Kate Zidar (Newtown Creek Alliance Executive Director) and Laura Hoffman (Newtown Creek Monitoring Committee), who with myself, showed up bright and early to be fitted with hard hats and vests.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

We were introduced to Dr. Ned Ostojic Ph.D and P.E., Odor Science & Engineering’s Vice President & Director of Engineering.

A tall and dignified fellow, Dr. Ostojic spoke with a barely detectable yet pleasant European accent and was extremely hospitable to us as he described his function at the plant. An engineer, he was tasked with not only finding the sources of odor but describing practical solutions to eliminate them.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Dr. Ostojic produced a device whose purpose was to combat a human perception bias called environmental adaptation. To describe it simply, the human mind filters out environmental stimuli to create a sense of “normalcy”. If you live on a noisy street, your brain filters out most of that noise and you become inured to the environmental background level. The brain functions in the same way with smell, something I know to be accurate. When I encounter the smell of the Newtown Creek, or of any sewer plant, no reaction is displayed while others openly gag.

My brain has become adapted to Newtown Creek.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

He asked us not to make fun of the devices name, which was a “Nasal Ranger”.

It allows calibrated measurement of smell based on a concentrating chamber which lies behind an aperture dial. The dial allows ever smaller samples to be inhaled into the device, which can then be graded on a subjective and numerical scale. Good science, don’t forget, is all about measurement and objective recording. The Nasal Ranger removes personal interpretation from data records, as its operators are trained according to an empirical standard.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

We three accompanied Dr. Ostojic on his walk through of the plant, and his duty this day was the inspection of the settling tanks which allow sewer borne debris to drop out, or be be skimmed from, the wastewater flow before it enters those famous digester eggs which distinguish this plant and betray its location on the skyline of New York City.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Several times has your humble narrator been allowed to enter and record the grounds of this facility, found along the Newtown Creek, but this side of things has always been off limits because of extreme danger.

One of the curious facts related to me that day was that , were one of us to slip and fall into the highly aerated water and sewage in the tanks surrounding us, the liquid would not display much buoyancy. Because of all the dissolved gas in the liquid, neither would it slow your fall much and you would plummet- as if through air- some two stories to a hard cement floor.

In no uncertain terms, I was told, you would die. This was confirmed by one of my union buddies, who works at another plant in the DEP system.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

This is somewhere around midway through the sewage treatment process, after the larger bits of solute and debris carried in the flow have been removed. When the raw flow hits the plant, it carries wood and boxes and all sorts of garbage and debris with it. This gross matter is removed mechanically at another part of the plant. Next up is grit, which can be sand, soil, or just plain old coffee grounds. The rate of speed at which the wastewater races through the system makes even such innocuous contaminants hazardous to the works, and is removed by more specialized machines housed in separate “grit buildings”.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Of course, nothing is perfect, and the job of these settling tanks is to skim off any floatable material which has evaded prior filtration. Fats, oils, and a surprising number of cigarette butts, tampon applicators, condoms, and other floatable material is seen at the collection side of the tanks. As they are open to the air, this is one of the spots which Dr. Ostojic regularly inspects and pays a great deal of attention to. He was constantly checking his readings and observations against the prevailing winds.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Dr. Ostojic wasn’t alone for the inspection and was working with the fellow pictured above, who introduced himself as Gary Grumley. Mr. Grumley was working with a different detection device than Dr. Ostojic, a hydrogen sulfide detector.

Hydrogen sulfide, of course, is a colorless gas which is infamous for the fecund smell of decay commonly referred to as “rotten eggs”. Such emissions are responsible for a lot of community complaints, and are unfortunately part of the complex chemistry which accompanies the disposition of sewage.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The device itself seemed sturdy, and Mr. Grumley arranged it neatly for photographing. He had begun work several hours prior to our arrival and began transmitting his findings and observations to Dr. Ostojic.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A graphic map of the plant with its multitude of buildings, service areas, and zones was on Dr. Ostojic’s clipboard.

A running tally of various areas where an unexpected or intense odor was encountered had been kept, and each occurrence was registered with a numerical value or rating. We didn’t encounter anything truly horrible btw.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

An example was offered later in the day by the DEP’s Superintendent of the Plant, Jim Pynn, of Dr. Ostojic’s contributions.

It seems that a problem had developed around the hatches leading to an underground tank, cylindrical in shape, which had been located in a rectangular shaped shaft. An onerous odor was regularly emerging from the shaft, and Dr. Ostojic was called in. He determined that as wind passed over it, a venturi was forming in the space between the cylinder and the right angled walls which suctioned the tainted air from it’s enclosure and into the open air.

Dr. Ostojic’s simple solution, adding chevrons to the sides of the tank which would abort the formation of a vortex, saved the plant a costly redesign of the affected area. The smell stayed where it was meant to, as well.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Dr. Ostojic was gracious and quite patient with us. A loving nickname for him, which is offered with wide smiles and a wink by those who work at the plant, is “Ned the Nose”.

Usually, when one is invited to attend a meeting at an industrial site in Greenpoint, Brooklyn- with someone named Ned the Nose- the encounter seldom turns out to be as pleasant as this was.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Newtown Pentacle, we go these places so you don’t have to.

ALSO:

Your humble narrator will be narrating humbly at this year’s Obscura Day event on April 28th, leading a walking tour of Dutch Kills. The tour is already a third booked up, and as I’m just announcing it, grab your tickets while you can.

“Found less than one mile from the East River, Dutch Kills is home to four movable (and one fixed span) bridges, including one of only two retractible bridges remaining in New York City. Dutch Kills is considered to be the central artery of industrial Long Island City and is ringed with enormous factory buildings, titan rail yards — it’s where the industrial revolution actually happened. Bring your camera, as the tour will be revealing an incredible landscape along this section of the troubled Newtown Creek Watershed.”

For tickets and full details, click here :

obscuraday.com/events/thirteen-steps-dutch-kills-newtown-creek-exploration

Veneralia

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– photo by Mitch Waxman

Technically speaking, this post is day late and a dollar short, as the holiday of Veneralia was traditionally observed by the Romans on April 1. Given the prankster traditions of our modern culture that revolve around the date, however, it was decided to run an acknowledgement of the holiday today- if the story of Troy has taught us anything, it’s “Don’t mess around with the Goddess of Love”.

from wikipedia

Venus was offered official (state-sponsored) cult in certain festivals of the Roman calendar. Her sacred month was April (Latin Mensis Aprilis) which Roman etymologists understood to derive from aperire, “to open,” with reference to the springtime opening of trees and flowers.

Veneralia (April 1) was held in honour of Venus Verticordia (“Venus the Changer of Hearts”), and Fortuna Virilis (Virile or strong Good Fortune), whose cult was probably by far the older of the two. Venus Verticordia was invented in 220 BC, during the last tears of Rome’s Punic Wars, in response to advice from a Sibylline oracle, when a series of prodigies was taken to signify divine displeasure at sexual offenses among Romans of every category and class, including several men and three Vestal Virgins.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Veneration… the very root of the word comes from her name, this Roman deity named Venus. She wore many hats, and was worshipped in several aspects. The one which we at Newtown Pentacle HQ revere is the personification of Venus Cloacina, goddess of the main drain. Myrtle adorns the entranceway to that ceremonial room with ceramic tiles which we maintain, and rhyming prayers will be offered before a porcelain altar.

from wikipedia

In Roman mythology, Cloacina (Latin, cloaca: “sewer” or “drain”) was the goddess who presided over the Cloaca Maxima (“Great Drain”), the main trunk of the system of sewers in Rome. She was originally derived from Etruscan mythology. The Cloaca Maxima said to be begun by one of Rome’s Etruscan kings, Tarquinius Priscus, and finished by another, Tarquinius Superbus.

Titus Tatius, who reigned with Romulus, erected a statue to Cloacina as the spirit of the “Great Drain”. As well as controlling sewers, she was also a protector of sexual intercourse in marriage. Despite her Etruscan origins, she later became identified with Venus.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Towering above the lowest point of New York City in Greenpoint, at the bottom of a geologic soup bowl (as it were), is the greatest temple of this goddess. If fancy strikes, as you drive along the BQE or traverse the streets of our ancient neighborhoods, remember to offer the ancient prayer:

“O Cloacina, Goddess of this place,

Look on thy suppliants with a smiling face.

Soft, yet cohesive let their offerings flow,

Not rashly swift nor insolently slow.

– courtesy sewerhistory.org

ALSO:

Your humble narrator will be narrating humbly at this year’s Obscura Day event on April 28th, leading a walking tour of Dutch Kills. The tour is already a third booked up, and as I’m just announcing it, grab your tickets while you can.

“Found less than one mile from the East River, Dutch Kills is home to four movable (and one fixed span) bridges, including one of only two retractible bridges remaining in New York City. Dutch Kills is considered to be the central artery of industrial Long Island City and is ringed with enormous factory buildings, titan rail yards — it’s where the industrial revolution actually happened. Bring your camera, as the tour will be revealing an incredible landscape along this section of the troubled Newtown Creek Watershed.”

For tickets and full details, click here :

obscuraday.com/events/thirteen-steps-dutch-kills-newtown-creek-exploration

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