The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

great elms

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– photo by Mitch Waxman

The AirBNB listing described the accommodation as having the “best views” of downtown Pittsburgh. Have to admit, they were pretty awesome. My Amtrak chariot arrived at Pittsburgh’s Union Station right on time at 11:44 p.m. I had ridden on Amtrak’s Capitol line here from Washington D.C., and the train continued on without me to its eventual terminus in Chicago.

I staggered out onto the mean streets of Pittsburgh with my 25-30 pounds of luggage, camera gear, and a whole lot of stress. Luckily, the accommodation I’d be staying at was only a few blocks away from the train station and after a couple of hurdles I was some 23 stories up and chilling out in a pretty nice set of rooms. Before you ask – the AirBNB was roughly one third of the cost of several of the local hotels.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

After calling home and letting Our Lady of the Pentacle know I had arrived safely, one began reordering “the carry.” Now that I had a secure home base, about 18 pounds of crap could be stowed there while I did my thing out of doors. I’ve been wanting to take the camera to Pittsburgh – with its 446 bridges and multiple active freight train tracks and it’s funicular railways – for a while. I had a plan, one which would start the next day at around 7 in the morning and play out over the next 72 hours.

For now, though, I set up the tripod (after offloading the Washington photos to the laptop) and got busy. The location of the AirBNB was at the Allegheny River side of the hypotenuse formed by the “Iron Triangle” of Pittsburgh’s three rivers. It was across the street from a local train station, which I did not use at all. Like I said – I had a plan, and it mainly involved walking rather than riding although I did use the occasional LYFT ride share car to get from A to B.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There are several corporate “powers that be” housed in this area, including Mellon Bank, UPMC, Huntington, and others. There was also a Federal courthouse a few blocks away. Everywhere I looked, there was something interesting which caught my eye.

Despite the dreamless sleep on the Amtrak ride, I was exhausted. Capturing photos drained away any remaining energy or motivation, and I was passed out cold shortly after shooting them.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The arrival in Pittsburgh was rather anticipated, but anticlimactic. Their grandiose Pennsylvania Railroad station has been converted over to a luxury apartment building, and Amtrak’s modern day station is somewhat reminiscent of late in the game Soviet municipal transit architecture – minus the chandeliers.

Nearby the Amtrak station is a Greyhound Bus terminal, as is the Pittsburgh Convention Center.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

All of the shots looked peculiar to me when I checked my exposure on the camera screen. What’s with all that yellow/orange light, thought I. Suddenly, it occurred to me that since the NYC DOT has nearly completed its decade long conversion of NYC’S street lighting over to the bluish white LED luminaires, old school sodium based lighting now looks weird to me. Son of a gun, it’s true what they say about a frog in a slowly heating pot of water not realizing that its environment is coming to a deadly boiling point, since it happened gradually.

It’s like how lousy a Mayor De Blasio has been makes Eric Adams look good in comparison. He isn’t though, he’s worse. Mayor Adams is going to turn the heat up and boil you alive. Don’t believe me? Go price out a home in Downtown Brooklyn, he’s been Borough President there for the last 8 years.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As you can see from the clock pictured above, it was now 1:20 in the morning when I made the conscious decision to go to sleep. All told, I had been on the move for nearly 23 hours. Thing is, I was just getting started, and adventure in the Rust Belt awaited.

More tomorrow, from the pretty city of Pittsburgh, at this – your Newtown Pentacle.

“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 for $30.

Written by Mitch Waxman

October 19, 2021 at 11:00 am

Posted in AMTRAK, railroad

Tagged with , ,

5 Responses

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  1. […] it’s almost as if I had planned out my 72 hours in Pittsburgh to involve collecting a systemic catalog of the Golden Triangle’s bridges and interesting points, […]

  2. […] postings from my autumnal visit, listed in chronological order – Great Elms, Gnarled Orchards, Ancient Walls, Lower Meadows, Choked Fissure, Human Clothing, Other […]

  3. […] postings from my first autumnal visit, listed in chronological order – Great Elms, Gnarled Orchards, Ancient Walls, Lower Meadows, Choked Fissure, Human Clothing, Other […]

  4. Great travel commentary. I love the last photo. I, too, would find it pretty and comforting.


    August 17, 2022 at 8:38 pm

  5. […] This area is on the central peninsular section of Pittsburgh where ‘Downtown’ and most of the large office buildings are found, but it’s eastward of that. I had figured out a path that I wanted to walk which would culminate in seeing something I’ve been desirous of witnessing up close since my first solo Amtrak based trip here back in 2021. […]

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