The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

finding perspective

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– photo by Mitch Waxman

Getting high is kind of a thing when you’re behind the camera. I don’t mean “smokin a doobie,” I’m talking about altitude. Finding somebody who will let me into an office building or up on a rooftop somewhere for a less common point of view is going to take me a while, I reckon.

At the start of the week, I was at West End Overlook park, and later on Polish Hill – both overlook the surrounding area. I’m trying to get a sense of where things are, how the light and weather travel through Pittsburgh, and develop a general geospatial awareness. I’ve mentioned a few times this week that even in Downtown Pittsburgh, it’s fairly easy to park at a metered spot and even simpler to put the car into one of the many multi story municipal lots. By a New Yorker’s standard, the price of parking in Pittsburgh is outlandishly cheap. The lot that I was on the roof of in this and the next few shots cost $6 for an hour, and it would have been $3 an hour afterwards.

Last time I was looking for a spot in Manhattan, a garage in Chelsea was charging $39 per hour. What? Yeah, I drove into the City. Why? Go ‘eff yourself, and mind your own business. Pfah!

– photo by Mitch Waxman

This one is looking more or less south, towards the PPG building, which is the mirrored job with the castellations. Wish I could tell you in one of my typically granular manners what it is you’re looking at, but I don’t know myself. Yet.

I have done no specific work regarding railroads yet. They’re everywhere here, and it’s pretty normal to spot a freight train going this way or that. So far, I’ve only seen Norfolk & Southern or CSX units. I did learn what the “Pittsburgh Subdivision” is, though.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

An observation I’ve made is that there’s a whole big bunch of stuff which the Pittsburgh natives grew up with and consider as being “normal,” and they thereby expect everybody to automatically know these things, and if they don’t they’re “jag offs.” The Pittsburgh Left is one of these things, for instance. It’s all learned cultural expectation, like the way that New Yorkers stand in the street while waiting for the light to change so you can make it across the road quicker when the traffic flow abides. I’ve been a New Yorker, living amongst 8 million other super predators, my whole life. Don’t believe you’re a super predator? Next time you’re on vacation, just try not to start a crime family or a revolution. We’re ready to kill if the kid at the bagel shop is working too slow, if somebody blows their horn too long, or if somebody is wearing too much cologne on the subway.

Also, everybody seems super nice here, which makes me nervous. It’s been impossible for me to not “last thing” check the various locks adorning the house New York style by pulling on the handle, to go outside and check if anybody is messing around near my car… that sort of thing, due to having always lived amongst this group of super predators.

Also, nobody’s this nice, they have to be hiding something… Additionally, Pickup Trucks are just called trucks here. There’s also “pierogi pizza,” which is surprisingly good.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The shot directly above this one and the one directly above with the “crown building” that looks like a super villain’s lair in it were shot from a second parking lot a few blocks from the first. Both gave me six stories worth of elevation, and together cost me $11. There’s another downtown lot I’m going to hit soon, one which will theoretically give me a point of view over a set of railroad tracks leading off a bridge over a river.

I spent the rest of this particular day driving around Pittsburgh and checking out the various neighborhoods and how they fit together.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

That’s one of the famous “Steps of Pittsburgh” pictured above, in an area called Greenfield. There’s hundreds of these municipal staircases scattered about the City, an accommodation to the terrain. As a note, it’s not a field nor is it overly green.

One of the things I’ve learned is that you don’t necessarily want to live on a street which has the word “run” in its name. That’s “run” as in river run, and during the spring thaw or even just a heavy bout of rain, these low lying valley areas can easily flood out. It’s a “thing” here.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One of the things I’m just fascinated by are these extreme changes in elevation – says the kid from a part of Brooklyn called Flatlands. The roads interchange pictured above is part of the reason that the neighborhoods here are so distinct from each other. You’re separated from the next “massing” of people by topography and water, possibly by an interstate and or a rail line too.

What an interesting place Pittsburgh is. Can’t wait to learn more.

Back 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

January 13, 2023 at 11:00 am

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