The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

God almighty

with one comment


– photo by Mitch Waxman

Scuttling about in Pittsburgh’s Oakland, along a fairly random path, one encountered several amazing religious buildings. Pictured above is a Jewish Synagogue, dubbed “Rodef Shalom,” which was designed by Henry Hornbostel – who is better known back in NYC as the designer behind the Manhattan Bridge’s accoutrements. Hornbostel also worked on Queensboro, Hell Gate, and Pelham Park Bridges for NYC. The congregation’s website can be accessed here.

One intends on finding a way to get invited into this building with the camera sometime in the future. The sheer scope of this building is colossal, and it promises to be something far more grandiose within than the Eldridge Street Synagogue in Manhattan.

That’s the purpose of scouting, incidentally. Didn’t even know this was here before I was walking past it.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A couple of blocks away, these amazing mosaics were adorning a Byzantine Catholic Church. This particular church is dubbed the “Holy Spirit Byzantine Catholic Church.” Everybody knows that I’m a fan of photographing the ritual life of the Catholic Church in particular, and that I’m absolutely floored by Orthodox or Greek Churches. There’s a combination? Another institution that I’ve got to find some social engineering solution for getting the camera into.

Scuttling, always scuttling. One thing about Oakland, unlike the rest of Pittsburgh, is that there didn’t seem to be many opportunities to use a public bathroom. Most of the “street life” in this zone was focused on the campus of the university, with an absolute dearth of shops and restaurants, at least in the section that I was in. I did tug on the entrance doors of both the synagogue and church, but they were locked. This wasn’t exactly the sort of place where “watering the bushes” would be embraced by the local Gendarmerie either, so a certain sense of uneasiness set in.

This sort of created a time limit for me. Tick tock.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The fortress like building above caught my eye, and it turns out that it’s the “Central District Catholic High School.” Amongst its many, many famous alumni is Horror Movie legend and Monessan native Tom Savini.

One negotiated his way back to the parking lot where the Mobile Oppression Platform was waiting. It was just about “rush hour” in Pittsburgh and Our Lady of the Pentacle was cooking dinner back at home.

On a side note, strictly from the transplanted New Yorker’s POV –

Pfah, they call this traffic? You want traffic, try the BQE at 8 in the morning. Traffic… traffic doesn’t move at 30 mph, or even 15 mph. Traffic is when you turn off the car on the LIE in Maspeth and get out of the thing to stand on the highway and have a quick stretch. Traffic is three hours to get from Queens to Staten Island, or an hour and a half from Astoria to Flushing because Biden’s in town… traffic…

“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

March 16, 2023 at 1:00 pm

One Response

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  1. Thank you for finding the Rodef Shalom Synagogue. Very interesting!


    March 19, 2023 at 7:55 pm

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