The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

Uptown, or the Bluff?

with 6 comments


– photo by Mitch Waxman

My ignorance regarding the new habitat is admitted, but often feels suffocating. This is coming from the guy who used to conduct walking tours in NYC and would proudly stand on the county line delineating the currently undefended border of Queens and Brooklyn and say ‘welcome to…’

I have no idea where the lines are found which form the borders between Pittsburgh’s various zones and neighborhoods, nor which areas are war zones. More than once, I’ve described where I had been that day to some bartender or new neighbor that are local to Pittsburgh and they’ll say “you went where? Stay out of there, they’ll shoot you dead, that’s…”

If I had a dollar for every time I’ve been told that over the years… at any rate, the area I was moving through in the case of today’s missive abuts Duquesne University, so I felt pretty ok about scuttling through – personal security wise. Duquesne is a Roman Catholic college which is perched on a particularly dramatic chunk of land that overlooks the Monongahela River, and is located a bit eastwards of the peninsular landform that ultimately becomes Pittsburgh’s Golden Triangle.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The rough path I had laid out for myself the night before indicated that I’d need to cut across Duquesne’s campus to get where I was going. Luckily, the streets that flow through the campus are public ones and it was ok for me to do so. There’s a lot of ‘old’ buildings nearby Duquesne, clearly left overs of the mercantile and industrial eras. The building stock looks a lot like the sort of thing you’d encounter in Lower Manhattan on the west side of Canal Street.

Nature called, but unlike Manhattan, you don’t need to pee in the street like a dog in Pittsburgh. I stopped off at a restaurant and asked if I could use the bathroom. The kid at the counter looked at me like I was crazy and said ‘sure, it’s right there sir.’ On my way back out I dropped a few coins in the tips jar and said thanks.

Imagine that… you can find a bathroom when you need to.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The ground began to angle upwards as I headed towards the campus’ street grid. I kept on thinking about how my old pal Kevin Walsh from Forgotten-NY would be in absolute heaven wandering about this area with its stock of centuried buildings.

I was heading straight up the hill towards the titular edge of the landform, however, and didn’t have time for the ‘used to be, once, long ago’ thought process. Back tomorrow with where I was going and what I saw when I got there, at this – your Newtown Pentacle.

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Written by Mitch Waxman

May 3, 2023 at 11:00 am

Posted in Pennsylvania, Pittsburgh

Tagged with , ,

6 Responses

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  1. Last picture- are those historical history plaques on the houses? Amazing window trim on the one.
    2nd picture- I don’t remember ever seeing those rectangle toppers on electric poles before.

    Jaye Haviland

    May 3, 2023 at 11:26 am

    • I believe those were plaques, but I didn’t cross the street to read them. Next time. Also, yup – they have a whole other deal here when it comes to the utility poles.

      Mitch Waxman

      May 3, 2023 at 12:03 pm

  2. My family was from the lower hill… and they called Vicaroy Street the Bluff . We were on Locast Street. Our row house was torn down to make room for Duquesne Law Library

    trombetti gloria

    May 3, 2023 at 9:21 pm

  3. […] My next goal post was to get to the South Tenth Street Bridge, pictured above, and use that crossing over the Monongahela to situate myself properly to catch the T light rail back to HQ. Remember, I had left the Mobile Oppression Platform parked in my driveway, and used the T to get to the center of things in Pittsburgh – where I had a moment of Epiphany and then passed by St. Benedict the Moor, and admired the old timey vibe encountered on the Bluff. […]

  4. Interesting to see unburied utilities in a city setting.


    May 6, 2023 at 11:30 am

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