The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

Archive for May 22nd, 2023

Give me Liberty, you can keep the death

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– photo by Mitch Waxman

As described last week, one recently embarked on an afternoon constitutional walk. A ride on Pittsburgh’s Light Rail service arrived me to the north side of the Allegheny River, whereupon a short scuttle found me crossing one of the ‘3 sisters’ bridges, heading south to a crossing of the Monongahela River using the Liberty Bridge.

‘Photowalk’ as I use the term involves moving through an urban space you’re fairly ignorant about, while noticing literally everything with a camera in my hand, and using little more than street smarts and a vague sense of direction as a guide. That’s how you blunder across things, and find out why some things are found where they are.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Downtown Pittsburgh is how I think you’d describe the area I was moving through. Big Corporate, and Governmental, offices that are set back from the street by parklets – the whole Le Corbusier thing. The sidewalks are wide. When you want to cross a street, you are meant to push a big button on the utility pole which plays you recorded messages that instruct you when it’s safe to cross. Traffic moves pretty quickly around here. Downtown looks like ‘the Future,’ if you were imagining the 21st century back in 1983.

Hey, I’m a well known anti-fan of a lot of modern buildings. I had a less than stellar reaction to Hudson Yards, as you might recall.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I believe that the Romanesque fortress pictured above is part of some sort of court house, but that’s only if I believe the signage posted at its entrances. That is some serious Batman/Gotham City shit going on right there. They did, in fact, shoot one of the Dark Knight movies here in Pittsburgh.

Having crossed an admittedly flat and easy to walk section of Pittsburgh’s triangular shaped business district, reliance on the innate sense of direction carried me to the surprisingly long Liberty Bridge for my crossing of the Monongahela River.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

While walking up what turned out to be a dead end pathway towards where I thought the pedestrian path of the Liberty Bridge began (wherein that innate sense of direction I’m so proud of betrayed me and sent me into a hazardous circumstance), I encountered this amazing bit of engineering and spatial accommodation. This parking lot was built into every single available inch of space around the supports of the bridge. Wow.

So, I found myself having walked up the wrong path, which was basically an actual highway onramp. Yikes.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Apparently there used to be a pedestrian path here, once, long ago. It’s also clearly closed off. I drive over this bridge all the time, and what I’d seen while doing so had piqued my attentions. A humble narrator would not be defeated by mere geography!

No reason not to get a photo of it from this point, though.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I scuttled past of few down on their luck types who were standing alongside the ramp with signage describing their various plights which adjured passing vehicular strangers to render aid onto the sign wielder. One of these fellows had just stepped out of a fence hole, leading to a parking lot, a path which – once followed in reverse – allowed me to lope and scuttle back down to a regular sidewalk.

More tomorrow.

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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

May 22, 2023 at 11:00 am

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