The Newtown Pentacle

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Archive for October 26th, 2021

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– photo by Mitch Waxman

The Allegheny River in Pittsburgh is adjoined on both banks by the “Three Rivers Heritage Trail” which offers pedestrians and bicyclists a series of stunning views. That’s the 16th street or David McCullough bridge, which is of the “steel trussed through arch” type. It was erected in 1922, replacing the earlier 1838 Mechanics Street Bridge. It’s some 1,900 feet long, on ramp to off ramp, and 40 feet wide. In 2013, it was renamed for historian and native son David McCullough.

As you may notice, I had retooled the camera back into its tripod mode at this point. Mid afternoon sunlight isn’t exactly kind to photographic pursuit, and I had to handle the situation. A ten stop ND filter allowed me to “slow the exposure” down, and all the shots in today’s post were accomplished using this particular technique.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

This shot looks towards the direction of the junction of the three rivers – Ohio, Allegheny, Monongahela – from the pedestrian pathway of the 16th street Bridge. One of the things that I really enjoyed in Pittsburgh was the near complete lack of chain link security fences occluding the views. It’s one of the truly frustrating things about NYC, these fences and occlusions. Actually, almost everything in NYC is annoying and frustrating.

A humble narrator was in a full sweat at this stage of the day as the atmospheric pressure began to build up ahead of that front of storms moving in. I got moving, looking for shade, and started heading towards the “point” of the delta.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A “steel and welded girder” type truss bridge, the fairly uninspiring Veterans Bridge opened in 1988. It carries the 7 lane interstate 579 into and out of the center city on a north/south axis, and one of those lanes is a reversible high occupancy vehicle lane meant for buses and other transit related usage. On ramp to off ramp, it’s 1,050 feet long, but the section spanning the Allegheny River is 410 feet which sits some 51 feet over the waters.

While shooting this image, I had to contend with a territorial gaggle of Canada Geese, who – as a specie – are dicks. Everywhere I go, gooses abound.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Next up is the American Bridge Company built “Fort Wayne Railroad Bridge” which continues the deal here in Pittsburgh of bridges having more than one name. According to the National Register of Historic Places, this is alternatively the Pennsylvania Railroad Bridge. It’s also known as “Bridge No. 1, Pittsburgh, Fort Wayne and Chicago Railway.”

It’s of the “double deck steel truss” type, and it’s 5 spans cross some 985 feet. The longest span is some 319 feet long. It’s 40.9 feet over the water, and replaced an 1868 forebear that sat just outside of this one’s footprint. It was opened for rail traffic in 1904, and was raised in 1918 to its current height to increase navigability. This is something that they managed to pull off without interrupting rail traffic.

I actually got pretty lucky with my timing right here.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The lower deck is inactive, and as you can see in the shot above (and not for the last time during my 72 hours in Pittsburgh), the upper deck carries freight and passenger traffic. Freight rail operator Norfolk Southern’s Fort Wayne Line, and Amtrak, cross the Allegheny on this bridge.

Score! Freight rail in the steel city. Little did I know… but that’s another post for another day.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The Ninth Street Bridge, aka the Rachel Carson Bridge, is one of three relatively small bridges which all seem to be very similar in design if not identical. Suspension Bridges with eye bar catenary cables, it sits in close association with the Andy Warhol Seventh Street Bridge and the Sixth Street Roberto Clemente Bridge. Unveiled in 1926, Ninth Street Bridge is on ramp to off ramp 995 feet long, and 840 feet of it spanning the Allegheny River is just over 40 feet from the water.

This was my “head back to the room” shot, incidentally, as that approaching line of thunderstorms was now only a half hour away and people’s phones were going off warning of possible tornado formation.

I’m not clear on what water level indicates in Pittsburgh, by the way. I keep on seeing references to an Emsworth Dam and it’s normal pool level as being 710 feet above sea level and that seems to be the effective level of the water locally. Any of you engineer types or Pittsburgh experts who might be reading this and who can elucidate – leave a comment on this post. I live by the sea, on an archipelago. It’s called NYC. I don’t know your mountain ways.

More tomorrow.

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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 26, 2021 at 11:00 am

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