The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

The Hood

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– photo by Mitch Waxman

Last weekend, Our Lady of the Pentacle and myself found ourselves hanging around in the Pittsburgh suburb we landed in, which is dubbed Dormont. Given our proximity to the titular center of the City of Pittsburgh, which is about four and a half miles from here, it’s surprisingly well wooded and there’s critters all over the place. Deer, rabbits, every sort of bird you can imagine. It’s quiet and dark at night, and after midnight you can pretty much hear a pin drop. Of course, if you drop that pin, the neighborhood dog chorus is going to be forced to comment on the event.

We’ve been taking things one step at a time, and recently enjoyed a small bar crawl at several of the locals. This included what’s becoming my favorite spot – a pool hall which has a bar in it. They have Guinness on tap there, which is a bit harder to find here in Yuengling country than it was back in Irish Bar dominated Western Queens.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The terrain is something else, and Dormont is part of a region in Pittsburgh called the South Hills. One of the resources available here is “The T” street car line which leads directly into downtown Pittsburgh. It’s about a 20 minute ride from Dormont to downtown, and costs $2.75 for us. They use a distance based fare system for the service.

Our place is down the hill from the street which the T’s tracks are set into, and I can see the red flashing lights which signal its movement from the back deck. Thereby, I can confirm that the service is fairly frequent and you wouldn’t be waiting long for one to arrive at the station. Some of the stations are just set asides on the street, whereas others are high platform stand alone ones. The T has two sets of doors, one for the street level stops which has a set of steps, the other for the high platform ones.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There’s a little patch of woods in a… I’m not sure it’s gulley, a hollow, or a run… but it’s a shallow valley which sometimes has water running through it right across the street from our place. It’s meant to be connected across by a wooden bridge, but I haven’t found that yet.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As pictured above, the terrain here is madness when you’re on foot. The locals who grew up here display super muscular legs when they’re wearing shorts. They wear shorts (with a Steelers jersey) if the temperature is anything above 40. I’ve had people ask why I’m dressed for Antarctic clime when it’s literally freezing out and I have a winter coat on. Most of the blokes I see wear fleece sweatshirts in lieu of coats, but you do spend a lot of your time getting in and out of the car in this area so it’s a practical choice.

There are hundreds and hundreds of these municipal steps all over Pittsburgh, and it’s suburbs. As time goes by, I’m planning on exploring the somewhat hidden network of these things, and seeing what they’ll show me. I’ve been planning on taking a walk along one set that overlooks freight tracks which is tolerably nearby.

Good cardio, here in Pittsburgh.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One walk we undertook was around that gully or hollow mentioned above which is literally across the street from the house and which we haven’t gotten around to exploring yet. The street I live on dead ends about a block from my front door and then supposedly transmogrifies into a path leading towards one of those steps. We regularly see transients and never do wells heading in that direction and not coming back. According to the neighbors, there’s a quite lovely rock formation hidden back there somewhere. Maybe the corpses of all this transients we see heading in the one direction too. I’ll find it, and them, when the weather is warmer.

The ridge at the top of the hill in the shot above is where the T street car line runs, on a street dubbed “Broadway Avenue.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There are some truly lovely homes here, huge structures with decks and yards and multi car garages and driveways. There is not a single building style, it’s disturbingly heterogeneous.

One can confirm the “sylvania” part of the state’s name at this time. Lots of woods here.

Tomorrow – a walk along the Montour “rail to trail” is coming. Prepare!

“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 22, 2023 at 9:49 am

One Response

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  1. Very interesting.


    March 4, 2023 at 7:18 pm

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