The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

lattice windows

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– photo by Mitch Waxman

Driving in Western Pennsylvania feels like a blood sport in comparison to the stop and go traffic of NYC. They don’t fool around out here, as far as aggressively pushing their vehicles forward, and high speed roads abound. My pal Max and I were on a “seeing tour” of the greater metropolitan area surrounding Pittsburgh during the last week of August, visiting the various population centers.

“Spokes and wheels” is how a long time resident described the setup of one community to another out here to me. The wheels being the population centers, with the spokes highways and expressways.

Even in the center of the city of Pittsburgh itself, traffic was moving along at a decent clip – to my eyes – but I currently live in a place where it’s not uncommon to spend 90 minutes crossing a 25-30 mile distance. Locals talk about horrific delays at rush hour, and the frustration of getting caught up in choke points leading to a certain tunnel or bridge, but compared to what I’m used to… I suppose it’s a matter of perspective and that it doesn’t matter where you are or how fast it’s moving – it’s still traffic congestion.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

We were heading north on this particular day. Eponymous in name, the county of Butler is where you find its governmental center – and our destination – the City of Butler. Butler is 35 miles north of Pittsburgh proper, but it feels like it’s part of a different world. Distance is very, very different in this part of the country. 35 miles from my house is where Staten Island is – a two hour drive with a bunch of tolls.

My pal Max and I were heading north for the day in his late model Mercedes, and he took the morning drive on. At least until we stopped off for the sort of heavy breakfast that I favor on “away games.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

That’s the 1885 vintage Butler County Courthouse pictured above, which is the tallest building in the municipality. It’s also the local seat of Government, and there were all sorts of Lawyerly, Uniformed, and Politician type people milling about its immediate vicinity.

Max and I decided to split up, and I marched the camera over to an overpass’s pedestrian sidewalk to try and get a few good views of the place.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

An amazing residential structure caught my eye, once which immediately said “rooming house or former hotel” to me. The building seemed to be of wooden construction. I flashed the lens around here and there, but in no ordered manner. I’m planning on getting to know these exurb areas well, after relocating to the region at the end of the year. Butler, as it turns out, was Diamond Jim Brady’s factory town.

As I’ve said several times in this series of posts – there is so much to learn.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One was quite amused at the setup on the fire escape on the building which caught my eye. I used to have a gas grill on my porch in Astoria, until I was told by a friend who works for the FDNY that such a setup is considered “murder level” illegal by the fire inspectors. Fines, AND jail time, he said.

After spending about a half hour waving the camera around at various points of interest in Butler, I had to head back towards my pal Max, and his late model Mercedes. We had other places to visit, on our “seeing tour” of the Greater Pittsburgh Metropolitan Area.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

We were heading off towards a fairly rural area that has a huge historical footprint next. One reconfigured the camera to the now familiar settings I was using for the last few days, which allowed for the capture of landscape snapshots that we were driving past at 70 mph.

More tomorrow.

“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 3, 2022 at 11:00 am

3 Responses

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  1. Do you know of any “go-to” guide on FDNY grilling regulations for NYC? I’m always grilling with charcoal in the backyard.

    georgetheatheist . . . soup's on

    October 3, 2022 at 5:55 pm

  2. […] over the place, and I’ve read about streetcar lines that went all the way out to the exurbs like Butler – which is about fifty miles to the north of the City […]

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