The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

Eliza Furnace Trail

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– photo by Mitch Waxman

After having crossed the Monongahela River here in Pittsburgh, via the Hot Metal Bridge, one then proceeded onto the Eliza Furnace Trail heading in a generally westerly direction towards Downtown Pittsburgh. In yesterday’s post, I walked on the two other trails found on the south side of the river, and then on one set on the Hot Metal Bridge itself. It’s all very confusing, really, but you get where you want to eventually.

Eliza Furnace Trail is cut through a weird liminal space formed by bridges, highways, industrial activity, and is set against very high ridges and cliffs… wow.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There’s a maintenance project underway in this spot, involving one of the minor Bridge/Onramp structures weaving about on the north side of Pittsburgh. Workers were up on scissor lifts with concrete and metal working equipment. Scaffolding was in place, as were steel structures acting as drop cloths under the job site.

Pittsburgh is in a constant state of emergency repair, due to the challenging geology and a lack of systemic maintenance during its downward financial spiral at the end of the 20th century. Sinkholes are known to form here, and a few years ago – one opened up downtown and swallowed a city bus. It’s become an unofficial seal for the city, and people sell t-shirts and xmas ornaments of the scene.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The Eliza Furnace Trail wanders fairly far afield of the Monongahela River’s waterfront. My original plan for this scouting mission was to cross the river at the Birmingham Bridge and circle back to where I’d parked the Mobile Oppression Platform. Problem was that the construction project had obliterated the connection to the bridge and the surrounding streets, so I ended up having to scuttle about a mile further west than intended to get back to the south side. I need the exercise, anyway, so no big whup.

The traffic, the noise of construction, clouds of concrete dust and auto exhaust hanging in the air… it’s like I was back in NYC for a minute.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A bunch of people whom I’m in telephone contact with have asked “do you miss it?” The answer is “I don’t.” I still feel like I’m on vacation somewhere, but… we now live in a house, on a quiet and somewhat suburban street. The vibe here in Pittsburgh is awesome.

What I do miss is the ability to stagger out the door and walk over to Sunnyside Yards for a few quick train shots, or over to Dutch Kills in LIC for yet another series of loving shots of that unloved industrial canal. I don’t miss the noise, danger, and constant bullshit right under my bedroom window. I have never, ever, had the quality of sleeping that I’m currently experiencing. It’s quiet and dark here at night.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I’m also quite enjoying the discovery of novel and new here. Back in NYC, I was a dirty rotten “know it all.” Want to know who built the NYC Ferry and where? Which one of Kathy Hochul’s sponsors will profit from her interborough rail plan? Who will get to build those 15 foot sea walls they’re proposing for Brooklyn and Queens, and what it cost them to be the first in line when Congress starts writing checks?

It’s lovely not knowing everything. Saying that, I can already tell you that the green/blue steel is owned by the State of Pennsylvania and that the yellow part is owned by the city of Pittsburgh. At least that’s what I think the different colors mean.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

My walk continued, after having passed under the Birmingham Bridge and the nest of on and off ramps which feed into it. The Eliza Furnace Trail transmogrifies into the Three Rivers Heritage trail and overlays the Great Allegheny Passage trail somewhere around where the above photo was captured. This path ultimately leads the Point State Park on the golden triangle section of Pittsburgh, where the Fort Pitt Bridge can be found.

Point State Park is the de facto center of the Pittsburgh metropolitan area, which encompasses multiple counties and satellite cities, towns, and boroughs in four states – Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, Maryland. Culturally and financially distinct from the nearby East Coast, Great Lakes, and Toronto megalopolis, one continues to try to wrap his head around this amazing part of the United States which I now call home.

More tomorrow, from the Paris of Appalachia, at 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

February 15, 2023 at 12:00 pm

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