The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

Saw Mill Run

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– photo by Mitch Waxman

A humble narrator found himself along an arterial roadway called Saw Mill Run Boulevard, after dropping off the recycling trash at a nearby municipal bin (they do cardboard, plastic, metals at the curb here but glass needs to be dumped in special places). The part of Pittsburgh I’m living in has a few high volume roads encircling it, which branch off into the various neighborhoods set into the hills and valleys that these high volume roads surround. These arterials eventually connect to a web of high volume and speed roads which move through the Pittsburgh region, many of which are interstate highways, as well as leading to the tunnels which feed traffic into the city center. For you New Yorkers – think Northern Blvd. or Eastern Parkway for an analogy.

Saw Mill Run Boulevard (part of Penn. Route 51) is one of these arterials, and there’s all sorts of commercial and light industrial activity happening along the length of it, as well as a constant flow of traffic. Saw Mill Run Blvd. travels through a shallow valley around the ‘South Hills’ which was formed by flowing water. Saw Mill Run Blvd. was officially created out of a couple of defunct railroad right of ways in 1928, and the investment was designed to compliment the connections to Downtown Pittsburgh which resulted from the opening of the Liberty Tunnel in 1924.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Saw Mill Run is a tributary of the Ohio River, and is named for a colonial era saw mill that was found nearby the modern day community of West End, which used to be known as Temperanceville. There’s a little over 9 miles worth of flowing water in Saw Mill Run, and its drainage watershed is something like 19 square miles of fairly dense urban and suburban hills and valleys. Further expansions of Saw Mill Blvd. and Route 51 were encouraged and actually advocated for by NYC’s own Robert Moses, who was apparently able to get his way here in Pittsburgh back in 1949. Powerbroker, indeed.

Check out this 2017 post at for the nitty gritty.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Residential buildings, clearly abandoned ones, were observed on the other side of the Saw Mill Run waterway. A small bridge, which was blocked off with concrete barriers and a sign warning that the bridge was closed, offered a crossing over the water. You’ll see what I saw tomorrow.

Tomorrow – the consequence of Demographic Collapse.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

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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

April 6, 2023 at 11:00 am

One Response

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  1. Regarding Robert Moses, I found this, concerning Moses’ plan for transforming the downtown area:

    I wonder if there are local regrets about the results of the city’s and state’s commitment to this plan back in 1939, a plan that took just three months to develop according to the website.


    April 9, 2023 at 10:08 pm

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