The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi


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– photo by Mitch Waxman

A decidedly nice Spring afternoon drew me out for a walk in another section of Pittsburgh which I hadn’t been to yet on foot. This route found me leaving the car at home and taking the T Light Rail into town. I’ve mentioned my fascination with the arcs and massing shapes formed by the interstate highways which snake through Pittsburgh before, and wanted to get a closer look at them when I’m not moving at high speed while operating a vehicle.

This area is on the central peninsular section of Pittsburgh where ‘Downtown’ and most of the large office buildings are found, but it’s eastward of that. I had figured out a path that I wanted to walk which would culminate in seeing something I’ve been desirous of witnessing up close since my first solo Amtrak based trip here back in 2021.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

That’s Interstate 579 or “Crosstown Boulevard” pictured above, looking towards Mount Washington, which the high speed road carries motorists and bicyclists or pedestrians to after crossing the Monongahela River via the Liberty Bridge.

This particular area has a controversial history, which includes Pittsburgh having made a colossal and costly mistake, one with serious racial undertones, and there seems to be quite a bit of new construction either fairly recently opened in this zone or is still underway. This section is all about ‘the car,’ and moving cars through it. The street grid crossing the highway is similarly all about ‘the car,’ and not the pedestrian. To analogize back to NYC, this is more or less what Robert Moses wanted to do to Manhattan’s 59th street back in the late 40’s.

I used to enjoy playing a video game called Frogger back in high school. It was the kind of game you played for a quarter, and the housing for the thing was a stand alone cabinet which was adorned with cigarette burns that – in my case – was found in a plywood shack set up on a patch of frozen mud on Flatlands Avenue in Brooklyn at a mob owned news stand which also sold porn magazines, candy, and potato chips.

The point of the game was to guide your frog back and forth across a busy road without getting squished by traffic. I thought of Frogger a lot while walking along this path with its enormous and exposed intersections. There’s also a couple of spots where you cross the street at a highway off ramp. Scary pants.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Where I was heading would end up involving Duquesne University and a couple of interesting churches, but that’s next week’s series of posts. The good news I can report is that I managed to walk for a several hours across a corduroy terrain – up and down hills, in other words – and got there and back using mass transit. The other bit of good news is that I only had to check my phone once to double check I was heading in the right direction. I’m actually starting to learn my way around!

More tomorrow at this, your Newtown Pentacle. Also, please like and or share this post if you dig it, as that sort of thing really helps me out.

“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

April 27, 2023 at 11:00 am

Posted in Pennsylvania, Pittsburgh

Tagged with , ,

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  1. […] section in particular is ‘mega massive.’ It cloverleafs with other high speed roads like ‘Crosstown Boulevard’ and they all feed southbound traffic first to the Liberty Bridge and then into the Liberty […]

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