The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

The T is neat

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– photo by Mitch Waxman

On the 5th of January, one rode the T light rail from Dormont into Downtown Pittsburgh. One of the shots I was looking for is seen above, depicting a T line unit entering the 2001 vintage First Avenue Station after crossing the Monongahela River on the Panhandle Bridge. There seems to be an entire gaggle of law enforcement type offices nearby, including the city jail. There’s also a newly opened and fairly large homeless shelter a couple of blocks away from this station.

First Avenue Station is connected by a sky bridge to a large municipal automobile parking lot. Parking prices on the “Golden Triangle” of Downtown Pittsburgh hover somewhere between 6$ and $10. Just yesterday, on a separate scouting mission, I encountered a lot nearby the terminal stop of the T on the North Side nearby the Carnegie Science Center and the stadium that the Steelers play in which would’ve let me park “all day” for six bucks.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The North Side station nearby the stadium is a terminal/turn around stop, and it’s also where the T goes underground into a former privately held rail road tunnel that’s been converted over for transit usage, which allows it to cross the Allegheny River. It’s also the start of the “free zone” stops downtown. That free zone goes all the way to the other side of the Monongahela River at the Station Square stop, which is on the other side of that river and where the Panhandle Bridge’s tracks lead to. Leading away from Station Square and into the South Hills, that’s where you’re going to have to pay a fare – $2.75 for me, but it’s a zone system. They use “Connect Cards” which you can get at the local supermarket as well as kiosks downtown, or cash, to collect your due.

I left the car back at HQ for this particular day. I’ve been feeling really constrained by the vehicle in some ways. I love being able to just ride up on something and get a shot, mind you, but it’s “photowalk” not “photodrive.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The first shot is a T coming into Pittsburgh, the one above is one heading out of the city. My plan for the day was pretty simple, I’d take the T into town, walk around for a bit and grab “crime of opportunity” shots while shlepping towards the pedestrian walkways of the Smithfield Street Bridge across the Monongahela and then board the T on the “south side” again to get back to Dormont.

That parking lot, though, the one connected by the sky bridge… it beckoned.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

From the lot, the one above was gathered. There was actual security on duty at the lot, but they didn’t seem to give a hoot as far as my activities went. I walked up a few flights of stairs and found a fairly high vantage point to shoot from.

There’s another T unit entering Pittsburgh, via the Panhandle Bridge. Service is about every 15 minutes, although it changes depending on the time of day.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Panhandle Bridge sits alongside a vehicle bridge dubbed the Liberty Bridge. The latter carries a fairly high volume road that leads to the Liberty Tunnel, which are punched through the base of Mount Washington. When I’m driving home from extant points, this is the bridge and tunnel to which I’m now a member of “the bridge and tunnel crowd.” Actually, they don’t say that here.

Further, I haven’t encountered any shade yet from a city dweller towards me living in a suburb. I’ve heard Dormont natives deride the people who live literally next door to Dormont in the Mount Lebanon community, which is a good deal wealthier than the former. They call them “the Lebo’s” and offer tales of “Karen” style behavior being regularly displayed “over there,” which is about a mile distant.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

My T fascination temporarily sated, a humble narrator made his way down and out to the sidewalk. As mentioned, there’s a lot of jail business happening in this section. There are Bail Bondsmen outfits occupying storefronts, and you see cops of all kinds wandering about doing cop things. The ramps and infrastructure of the Liberty Bridge and the “Boulevard of the Allies” occupy the sky, and the sidewalks are shadowed. This isn’t a “friendly” area, if you know what I mean.

More tomorrow from Downtown Pittsburgh and a continuing exploration of this amazing American City at this – your Newtown Pentacle.

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Written by Mitch Waxman

January 19, 2023 at 11:00 am

4 Responses

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  1. Sorry if some of these comments are on the other recent post, I read a few at a time to catch up:

    Muddy Mon: in many aerial photos you can actually see the difference between the Allegheny and the Monongahela at the point, and Mon usually has a significantly lighter/muddier appearance.

    T Tunnels downtown: the portion from the Panhandle Bridge to approx Steel Plaza station follows the ex-PRR Panhandle line that continued on to Pennsylvania Station. The T service that ran to Penn Station used this portion. The Allegheny River tunnel is new – you could say its Pittsburgh’s equivalent of Second Avenue Subway or East Side Access…

    The “new” jail (late 90’s) and other buildings in that vicinity along the Mon are built where the former B&O station/terminal was.


    January 23, 2023 at 8:25 am

  2. […] of the afternoon involved scuttling down the Monongahela River shoreline towards the Station Square “T” light rail stop. This pathway leads into a connection with the Three Rivers Heritage Trail, which is another […]

  3. […] 1987 and 1994. It weighs 66,877 pounds and is powered by a 322 horsepower engine. Behind it is the Panhandle Bridge, and there’s also a concrete company down here which has docks on the Monongahela River, here in […]

  4. […] Pittsburgh’s Light Rail – the T – which has just left its First Avenue Station. The elevated track goes underground into an old freight train tunnel which has been converted for […]

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