The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

Etna my heart out

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– photo by Mitch Waxman

A 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 1953. My interest in the place was piqued by the promise of a waterfront trail with an attached parking lot. It took me a minute to find the parking lot, but after doing so, I left the Mobile Oppression Platform behind and headed for the water.

Check me out, a troll who can always be found under a bridge.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

That’s the 62nd street, or Senator Robert D. Fleming Bridge, pictured above. It’s a 1962 vintage truss bridge which connects south side’s Morningside and Lawrenceville to north side’s Sharpsburg and Etna. It overflies a set of railroad tracks and the entrance to the waterfront public space is found right alongside of it.

One was really hoping for a train to roll by. These tracks are Norfolk Southern ones, same line as those carried by the decaying rail trestle mentioned yesterday. Denied, however, on the locomotive front.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The bridge is a bit over 1,000 feet long, I’m told. I won’t be offering any shots of the trail itself today, since that’s not what I came to Etna to do. Honestly, I had been running around all day at this point, and Etna had already been decided on as my last stop before heading back to HQ.

As is the case with most of the public spaces I’ve visited in the area, there was a Porta Potty set up for public usage. Imagine that? An acknowledgement of human biology.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I’m definitely going to come back here sometime, and bring a folding chair. This will be a great spot for a railroad photo, something which I haven’t even gotten started on yet. As mentioned, nearly everything I’ve done behind the camera since getting to Pittsburgh in mid December has been basic scouting. Learning the lay of the land, and all that. Where’s what, why is it there, how did it get built, and when. That sort of thing.

Ignorance really is bliss, incidentally. Back in NYC, when I looked at street signage that carried somebody’s name, I could often picture the face of the actual personage (photos, yes, but also paintings and etchings) that the City named the street for. Farragut Avenue, anyone? How about The Bronx?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As always, my odd appreciation of the elegant curves and supremely utilitarian nature of freeway on and off ramp architecture was particularly piqued here. As mentioned endlessly – scouting. That shot above? It’s a morning thing, and now on my list for a day when I went out before dawn for a sunrise and will need something to shoot during the breakfast part of the day. I’m planning to zoom in a bunch, towards the area nearby the do not enter sign, and frame the ramps up with the brightness of the morning sun lighting up the hill behind it. Should be sweet.

That’s the problem with the remote scout stuff, using Google maps and whole other bag of tricks, you don’t know what it looks like – really. Sometimes you get there and decide it’s best not to get out of the car. That’s the other thing which digital research can’t tell you – vibe. Instinct is something which is honed, and especially so after all those years walking around Brooklyn and Queens’ “picturesque” areas – Newtown Creek, LIC, the Happy Place, Skelson’s Office on Staten Island, industrial Greenpoint and Bushwick, Sunset Park and Red Hook, the Gowanus, several random but picturesque docks and abandoned railways, all those bridges, etc.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

On my way out of Etna, I spotted this absolute unit of a Roman Catholic Church. It’s the 1856 vintage St. Mary – Christ the King Parish church, I’m told. Wow.

That’s it for this week, from Pennsylvania’s Pittsburgh.

“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 3, 2023 at 11:00 am

2 Responses

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  1. That church must be something to see on the inside!

    Valerie DeBiase

    February 3, 2023 at 11:39 am

  2. […] Etna my heart out […]

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