The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

terrestrial gravity

with 4 comments


– photo by Mitch Waxman

Day two in Pittsburgh began before the sun came up, and I was showered/dressed/ and charging the camera batteries up for another bridges heavy shot list. The day’s weather forecast was perfect for me – middle 60’s, breezy, and a bit overcast but no rain.

At the center of that shot above is the tallest building in Pittsburgh. It’s the 58th tallest building in the United States, and used to be known as the USX tower. Today, it’s the called the U.S. Steel building, and it’s the HQ for that company as well as UPMC – the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center – whose illuminated logo adorns the summit.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Funnily enough, the shot above was total serendipity. I was throwing out a bit of garbage I had generated over the last two nights in the AirBNB at the Clark Building, and this is the view from the garbage room, which looks towards the Alcoa building on the Allegheny River’s north shore and the 10th and 9th street (Andy Warhol and Rachel Carson) bridges. I walked out onto Liberty Avenue at about 7 in the morning.

First thing on my list was breakfast, and since throughout these travels the heavy pancake/bacon/egg deal had served me well, I was looking for a diner or coffee shop to purchase a meal of that type. A bit of quick googling revealed a spot just a few blocks away, but it didn’t open until 8 a.m. so I had a little time to kill. After a cup of steaming black coffee was obtained at a convenience store, I was on my way.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Pittsburgh seems to have a lot of alleys. They also haven’t turned all of their downtown parking lots into condominiums with the proviso that you should ride a bike or you’re an asshole, or intone that you hate minorities if you oppose more luxury housing, the way they do in NYC. It’s almost like Pittsburgh has other industries whose opinion matters, beyond the one offered by big real estate, when the Electeds are making decisions here.

Naturally attracted to shunned places, I had to walk through a few of them. I spotted this hilarious sign in one of those alleys.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

While “photowalking” to breakfast, I spotted lots of intriguing and fairly old municipal buildings like the Firehouse pictured above. I also observed that the infamous Midwestern “Opioid Epidemic” has taken over a lot of lives hereabouts. Drug and addiction treatment centers abounded, and I saw hundreds of people waiting on line for their little plastic cups of orange liquid (methadone) who all wore the tell tale mask of heroin use on their faces. That sucks. I don’t wish that life on anyone, even if they did it to themselves. Heroin breaks people into little evil pieces, and turns them into shadows. You can call it OxyContin if you like, but it’s heroin. This drug epidemic is the actual consequence of going to war in Afghanistan, by the way.

Poor bastards.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

An old downtown department store was receiving a lot of attention from construction crews when I passed by, and luckily this amazing public timepiece wasn’t being demolished by them. Just look at that thing. Jeez. Talk about gilded age, huh.

Most of the historic building stock encountered was reminiscent of the early 20th century examples you encounter in Manhattan’s financial district. Ornate Neo classical facades, street level grand entrances, lots of massive stone structure punctuated with enormous plate glass windows. Cathedrals of Capitalism. Unlike NYC, setbacks for upper floors didn’t seem to be a thing here, and you have all of these dark and shadowed alleys between and behind which expose the “works” of the buildings – the HVAC piping, electrical hookups, and so on.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

After breakfast, I summoned a LYFT ride share to carry me to my first destination of the day on the south side of Pittsburgh on Mount Washington. Formerly called Coal Hill, the prominence was dubbed Mt. Washington in 1876. It hosts the two inclines – or Funicular Railways – and is on the south side of the Monongahela River. Mt. Washington offers an elevated point of view from which any visiting photographer is obliged to actuate the shutter. Ultimately, most of my second day in Pittsburgh was spent in close association with Mt. Washington and the Monongahela River. The boat tour I had purchased advance tickets for would leave its dock from this side of the city later in the day.

More next week – 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 29, 2021 at 11:00 am

Posted in AMTRAK

Tagged with , , ,

4 Responses

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  1. Mitch, great photos! I would recommend getting a sandwich at Primanti Brothers before you leave Pittsburgh, and make sure to have the fries on the sandwich. Worth doing at least once.

    Phillip Musegaas

    October 30, 2021 at 6:13 pm

  2. […] Walls, Lower Meadows, Choked Fissure, Human Clothing, Other Constellations, Certain Circumstances, Terrestrial Gravity, Needed Form, Without Dissolution, Calculations Would, Grave Doubt, Luckily Obtainable, Abnormal […]

  3. […] Walls, Lower Meadows, Choked Fissure, Human Clothing, Other Constellations, Certain Circumstances, Terrestrial Gravity, Needed Form, Without Dissolution, Calculations Would, Grave Doubt, Luckily Obtainable, Abnormal […]

  4. I love the ‘no peeing here” sign. Can you imagine what those bridges would look like if passage of major shipping and military vessels was required, like in NYC.

    “Heroin made from opium grown in Afghanistan makes up 95% of the market in Europe.
    However, only 1% of the US supply of heroin comes from Afghanistan, according to the US Drug Enforcement Agency. Most comes from Mexico.”


    August 26, 2022 at 9:30 pm

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