The Newtown Pentacle

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– photo by Mitch Waxman

While Our Lady of the Pentacle was enjoying herself at an event occurring at the Pittsburgh Convention Center in the “Downtown” area, a humble narrator was busy exploring. One of the places on my list was Allegheny Cemetery, which I’d describe as being “Pittsburgh’s First Calvary,” although it actually predates Calvary’s founding by four years.

I’m glad that I drove there, as a note. The hills and valleys of Pittsburgh are physically daunting. As I’ve said to a few of the locals since arriving – I grew up in places with names like “Flatbush” or “Flatlands.” A walk in NYC is a walk across an alluvial flood plain, and even in hilly areas like Maspeth or Northern Manhattan, there’s nothing like the crazy changes in elevation you’ll encounter in Pittsburgh on just a single block. It’s taking a lot of getting used to, conquering these hills. I find myself having to stop and take a break mid block to allow my heart rate to simmer down.

Just a matter of getting used to it, I suppose. Saying that, the street I live on has a hill which rockets your “beats per minute” heart rate up into territories I normally only experience on the treadmill that my team of Doctors would make me run on during “stress tests.” It’s physical here, yo, but I’m still fat as a house after the COVID years and need the exercise so… win?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Allegheny Cemetery actually hosts a pond at its prominence, which was unfortunately providing a habitat to a pile of those noisome Canada Goose dicks. Nasty animals, the Canada Gooses.

The surrounding neighborhood around Allegheny Cemetery seems to house a large number of youngish people, suggesting to me that college students populate the area in large numbers. The residential housing stock nearby Allegheny Cemetery is reminiscent of Philadelphia, with row houses connected by narrow sidewalk pavement. These row houses are set up along tightly constrained roads that clearly predate motor vehicles, where people park their cars half up on the sidewalk so as not to block traffic. There is a significant commercial/nightlife footprint nearby as well, with large beer breweries and restaurants.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Hundreds of people were hiking about in the cemetery, which is truly enormous. I was driving around on the cemetery’s roads, pulling over occasionally to get out of the driver’s seat and wave the camera about, but I’d only consider this first encounter as being a scouting mission.

Of course, the first thing I do is go to a cemetery.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As you’d imagine, there’s several “notables” buried here. Who are they and what did they do to be notable? That’s something I’m planning on figuring out in the spring. My main goal for the last few weeks, other than handling the “have to’s” and making sure that the new digs are outfitted properly, has been to try and learn my way around. As you’re reading this, I’m actively beginning to look for a job.

Most of the phone based navigation software I’ve tried – Google maps, Waze, etc. – fails tragically in the vertical mazes that Pittsburgh’s neighborhoods offer. The software seems determined to put me on highways rather than local streets, and it never misses an opportunity to have me circle through residential areas which can mean climbing and descending a 1,000 feet in altitude for absolutely no reason.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Saying that, I’ve begun to be able to get back home from a few different points without getting lost, and the beginnings of a mental map of “turn here” landmarks has started to form.

In the case of this particular day, however, my pathway was more or less paralleled to the Allegheny River on the north side of the triangular center of Pittsburgh.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The burning thermonuclear eye of God itself was dipping down in the sky, and I still had an hour to kill prior to picking up Our Lady of the Pentacle at our designated time and spot. I began making my way back towards the local street grid outside of the cemetery. So much to see.

I will be back to Allegheny Cemetery, however.

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Written by Mitch Waxman

January 3, 2023 at 11:00 am

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