The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

Highland Park Resovoir

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– photo by Mitch Waxman

That’s the 117 million gallon ‘Reservoir One’ pictured above, at Pittsburgh’s Highland Park. The region’s water and sewer people style themselves as pgH20, and they’re the Pittsburgh equivalent of NYC’s Department of Environmental Protection – or DEP – whom long time readers have endured multitudinous descriptions delineating both the infamy and charm of that organization here at Newtown Pentacle.

For you New Yorkers – the DEP is annually budgeted at $1.6 billion, and is committed to spend some $24.3 billion on capital improvements to their system on top of that, just in the next decade. Pay attention to this “black box,” somebody.

The reservoir, here in a suburb of Pittsburgh, is surrounded first by a walkway and then by a large park which also incorporates the city zoo and aquarium. The enveloping neighborhood is, I’m told, also called Highland Park and boy oh boy is this a pretty town, with gorgeous housing stock surrounding the park. This is literally just up the hill from the location on the Allegheny River which started up yesterday’s post about Lock and Dam 2. Of course, when I say “just up the hill” in Pittsburgh, we’re talking Mayan pyramid up. The reservoir is at an elevation of 1,030 feet above sea level, and the lock and dam I visited was at an elevation of 721 feet, so that would be about 25-30 building stories differentially.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There were all sorts of humans milling about, in their impermanence, so to remove any sign of life from these shots I set myself up for long exposures and got all artsy fartsy. That’s how you get those long mirror surface reflections, with long exposures of at least 20-30 seconds. Also, unless one of the humans stands stock still like a statue they disappear.

As opined yesterday, one remote scouts using Google maps’ satellite views to look for interesting things and locales which might be within reach of a humble narrator. In this case, it was a “what the hell is that” followed by “hey, there’s a parking lot.” Now that I’m a car guy, having a safe and legal spot to park the Mobile Oppression Platform has become part of my deal. Luckily, Pittsburgh doesn’t pretend that bike lanes can fix the universe nor do they opine that cars are the reason that housing is unaffordable. Instead, there’s places to park your car which adjoin safe and maintained trails for recreation and exercise.

Distributed load multi modal transportation network is the term you’re looking for. So’s acknowledging that people have kids, or mobility issues, and that public infrastructure like parks HAS GOT TO BE ACCESSIBLE BY PEOPLE WHO AREN’T NECESSARILY ABLE TO WALK OR RIDE A BIKE. You need to have places to bring and park vehicles. There is no one size fits all answer to anything when you’re discussing access to a public place.

Sorry, still scarred from being the Transportation Chair of a Community Board in Queens.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One spent about a half hour at the reservoir, pulling shots from various angles. The locals were wandering about on bikes and on foot, and I even spotted a couple of other blokes tugging their cameras about, but they were preparing to do some sort of portrait shoot with a video component from the look of their gear. We chatted briefly, Sony shooters.

A humble narrator has long used little strips of gaff tape to cover up the bright white Canon logos on my camera, ever since I had to retouch the reflection out of the eyes of somebody I was taking a picture of. Also, the evil people are clever, and also have google on their phones and can thereby figure out what your gear is worth and if you’re worth robbing. Why not camouflage that Canon or Nikon logo?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There were several signs forbidding certain things on the walkway – litter, smoking, dogs – all of which were prosaic cautions given this reservoir is full of what’s going to be used as drinking water. Where HQ is found in Dormont, the water system has been privatized and is controlled by a corporate entity called “American Water” which is apparently a fairly large corporation that I never heard of before moving here.

Pennsylvania politics flips hard “Red” or hard “Blue” during the various election cycles. Currently it’s in a blue phase. The reds ok’d fracking and a bunch of other ugly stuff, whereas the blues… man… this sort of thing really sounds like the last days of the Roman republic doesn’t it? If memory serves, for them it was Blues and Greens.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Luckily, I’ve managed to avoid having just about any political conversation at all so far. Let’s face it, it’s only a matter of time until I blunder into some sort of situation where I find myself in a “political room” but I really want to stay the hell out of all that until I have to. I’ve had enough of that for a while. You should see the look on the Pennsylvanian’s faces when I mention that my Congress member used to be AOC, back in Astoria.

At any rate… Highland Park in Pittsburgh…

– photo by Mitch Waxman

On my way back to the MOP, I cracked out this shot of the Highland Park’s formal entrance with its columnar accoutrements.

In yesterday’s post about Lock and Dam 2, I mentioned that a diversion of about an hour occurred in between my circling of the river infrastructure. Highland Park reservoir was where that diversion occurred.

Tomorrow, more from the corridors of the Allegheny River.

“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

February 1, 2023 at 11:00 am

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  1. […] last stop on my Allegheny River wanderings – after having visited Lock and Dam 2, Highland Park Reservoir, and Sharpsburg – was in Etna. Named for the Italian volcano, Etna was a steel town until […]

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