The Newtown Pentacle

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Posts Tagged ‘Downtown Pittsburgh

Shiver, me timbers

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Monday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Pictured above is a typical street in the part of Pittsburgh that HQ is now located in, in the section dubbed as “Dormont.” After a week long interval of wintry weather, a day long break without freezing rain or snow occurred and despite the temperature being in the 20’s – a humble narrator needed to get out and take himself a nice long walk. I left the snow covered car parked in the driveway at HQ, and used the T light rail to get from Dormont to Downtown Pittsburgh, which is called “Dahntahn” by the born -N- bred types. There is, I should mention, a fascinating regional accent here in Pittsburgh.

The T costs $2.75 to ride into downtown from Dormont. It’s about a 20 minute ride, and after running on regular streets alongside vehicular traffic for a bit, the light rail moves first onto an exclusive to its use steel bridge, and then it shares a closed roadway with several bus lines. I’m still trying to figure all this out, as a note.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Infrastructure, infrastructure. At the left hand side of the photo above, shot through the window of the T while it was traveling on the elevated trackway mentioned above, is the entrance to the Liberty Tunnel which carries automotive traffic from the South Hills under Mount Washington and to the Liberty Bridge over the Monongahela River. The tunnel is fed by a series of primary and secondary arterial roadways which are in turn supplied with traffic by the local streets, as well as providing interchanges with high speed roads which are classified as local, State, and Interstate. Pittsburgh sits at one of those points in the interstate system where several major roads cross or combine.

The T carried me into Downtown Pittsburgh, and I disembarked the service at the Gateway Center stop. I was desirous to scout a bit in the business and governmental center of the City, on foot. There is an abundance of interesting “robber baron” era architecture found in Pittsburgh.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Navigating the streets of Pittsburgh is something I’m getting better at. It’s confusing for this transplanted New Yorker, as they didn’t lay this place out using a grid system. The streets are often long helixes or curvilinear, traveling around the footprint of long gone factory and mill complexes, or railroads which are no longer there.

The shot above looks towards the ice and snow covered Mount Washington, on the other side of the Monongahela River, and the Duquesne Incline.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

My goal for the day, and of course it was only about 20 degrees out, was to scuttle over the Fort Pitt Bridge’s pedestrian walkway. One has a stunning admission to offer here – I wasn’t wearing the filthy black raincoat, or as I refer to it “the street cassock,” on this walk. It’s just not warm enough, the raincoat, and one has been forced to buy an actual winter coat. I purchased a brand which I’ve noticed most of the Pittsburgh blokes favor, a Carhartt, at one of the local sporting goods stores. It’s toasty warm, a bit too warm for certain situations actually, and one was wrapped up tight. I had the whole winter layers outfit on underneath the coat, with long johns and winter boots and everything.

Don’t worry, the new coat is black in coloration. I haven’t gone native.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There’s a ramp at Point State Park which allows egress to the pedestrian walkway of the Fort Pitt Bridge, so one maneuvered himself in that direction. There’s a bunch of early American history at work within the whole Fort Pitt and Fort Duquesne thing, which involves George Washington and the French and Indian War.

As far as the atmosphere goes, it was overcast, which is somewhat typical for Pittsburgh – the 5th cloudiest City in these United States. Once I was scuttling along at a good pace, the temperature wasn’t too hard to handle, and I wasn’t even wearing gloves at this point. Wearing gloves when you’re all bundled up isn’t always the best idea, since your body needs to vent heat from somewhere and you don’t want to start getting sweaty under all those layers.

As mentioned above – it’s a pretty warm coat, the Carhartt.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I found the walkway path right where the internet said it would be. It wasn’t a trick.

Tomorrow, a walk over the Fort Pitt Bridge.


“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 blurb.com for $30.

Written by Mitch Waxman

February 6, 2023 at 11:00 am

The T is neat

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Thursday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

On the 5th of January, one rode the T light rail from Dormont into Downtown Pittsburgh. One of the shots I was looking for is seen above, depicting a T line unit entering the 2001 vintage First Avenue Station after crossing the Monongahela River on the Panhandle Bridge. There seems to be an entire gaggle of law enforcement type offices nearby, including the city jail. There’s also a newly opened and fairly large homeless shelter a couple of blocks away from this station.

First Avenue Station is connected by a sky bridge to a large municipal automobile parking lot. Parking prices on the “Golden Triangle” of Downtown Pittsburgh hover somewhere between 6$ and $10. Just yesterday, on a separate scouting mission, I encountered a lot nearby the terminal stop of the T on the North Side nearby the Carnegie Science Center and the stadium that the Steelers play in which would’ve let me park “all day” for six bucks.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The North Side station nearby the stadium is a terminal/turn around stop, and it’s also where the T goes underground into a former privately held rail road tunnel that’s been converted over for transit usage, which allows it to cross the Allegheny River. It’s also the start of the “free zone” stops downtown. That free zone goes all the way to the other side of the Monongahela River at the Station Square stop, which is on the other side of that river and where the Panhandle Bridge’s tracks lead to. Leading away from Station Square and into the South Hills, that’s where you’re going to have to pay a fare – $2.75 for me, but it’s a zone system. They use “Connect Cards” which you can get at the local supermarket as well as kiosks downtown, or cash, to collect your due.

I left the car back at HQ for this particular day. I’ve been feeling really constrained by the vehicle in some ways. I love being able to just ride up on something and get a shot, mind you, but it’s “photowalk” not “photodrive.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The first shot is a T coming into Pittsburgh, the one above is one heading out of the city. My plan for the day was pretty simple, I’d take the T into town, walk around for a bit and grab “crime of opportunity” shots while shlepping towards the pedestrian walkways of the Smithfield Street Bridge across the Monongahela and then board the T on the “south side” again to get back to Dormont.

That parking lot, though, the one connected by the sky bridge… it beckoned.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

From the lot, the one above was gathered. There was actual security on duty at the lot, but they didn’t seem to give a hoot as far as my activities went. I walked up a few flights of stairs and found a fairly high vantage point to shoot from.

There’s another T unit entering Pittsburgh, via the Panhandle Bridge. Service is about every 15 minutes, although it changes depending on the time of day.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Panhandle Bridge sits alongside a vehicle bridge dubbed the Liberty Bridge. The latter carries a fairly high volume road that leads to the Liberty Tunnel, which are punched through the base of Mount Washington. When I’m driving home from extant points, this is the bridge and tunnel to which I’m now a member of “the bridge and tunnel crowd.” Actually, they don’t say that here.

Further, I haven’t encountered any shade yet from a city dweller towards me living in a suburb. I’ve heard Dormont natives deride the people who live literally next door to Dormont in the Mount Lebanon community, which is a good deal wealthier than the former. They call them “the Lebo’s” and offer tales of “Karen” style behavior being regularly displayed “over there,” which is about a mile distant.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

My T fascination temporarily sated, a humble narrator made his way down and out to the sidewalk. As mentioned, there’s a lot of jail business happening in this section. There are Bail Bondsmen outfits occupying storefronts, and you see cops of all kinds wandering about doing cop things. The ramps and infrastructure of the Liberty Bridge and the “Boulevard of the Allies” occupy the sky, and the sidewalks are shadowed. This isn’t a “friendly” area, if you know what I mean.

More tomorrow from Downtown Pittsburgh and a continuing exploration of this amazing American City at this – your Newtown Pentacle.


“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 blurb.com for $30.

Written by Mitch Waxman

January 19, 2023 at 11:00 am

finding perspective

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Friday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Getting high is kind of a thing when you’re behind the camera. I don’t mean “smokin a doobie,” I’m talking about altitude. Finding somebody who will let me into an office building or up on a rooftop somewhere for a less common point of view is going to take me a while, I reckon.

At the start of the week, I was at West End Overlook park, and later on Polish Hill – both overlook the surrounding area. I’m trying to get a sense of where things are, how the light and weather travel through Pittsburgh, and develop a general geospatial awareness. I’ve mentioned a few times this week that even in Downtown Pittsburgh, it’s fairly easy to park at a metered spot and even simpler to put the car into one of the many multi story municipal lots. By a New Yorker’s standard, the price of parking in Pittsburgh is outlandishly cheap. The lot that I was on the roof of in this and the next few shots cost $6 for an hour, and it would have been $3 an hour afterwards.

Last time I was looking for a spot in Manhattan, a garage in Chelsea was charging $39 per hour. What? Yeah, I drove into the City. Why? Go ‘eff yourself, and mind your own business. Pfah!

– photo by Mitch Waxman

This one is looking more or less south, towards the PPG building, which is the mirrored job with the castellations. Wish I could tell you in one of my typically granular manners what it is you’re looking at, but I don’t know myself. Yet.

I have done no specific work regarding railroads yet. They’re everywhere here, and it’s pretty normal to spot a freight train going this way or that. So far, I’ve only seen Norfolk & Southern or CSX units. I did learn what the “Pittsburgh Subdivision” is, though.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

An observation I’ve made is that there’s a whole big bunch of stuff which the Pittsburgh natives grew up with and consider as being “normal,” and they thereby expect everybody to automatically know these things, and if they don’t they’re “jag offs.” The Pittsburgh Left is one of these things, for instance. It’s all learned cultural expectation, like the way that New Yorkers stand in the street while waiting for the light to change so you can make it across the road quicker when the traffic flow abides. I’ve been a New Yorker, living amongst 8 million other super predators, my whole life. Don’t believe you’re a super predator? Next time you’re on vacation, just try not to start a crime family or a revolution. We’re ready to kill if the kid at the bagel shop is working too slow, if somebody blows their horn too long, or if somebody is wearing too much cologne on the subway.

Also, everybody seems super nice here, which makes me nervous. It’s been impossible for me to not “last thing” check the various locks adorning the house New York style by pulling on the handle, to go outside and check if anybody is messing around near my car… that sort of thing, due to having always lived amongst this group of super predators.

Also, nobody’s this nice, they have to be hiding something… Additionally, Pickup Trucks are just called trucks here. There’s also “pierogi pizza,” which is surprisingly good.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The shot directly above this one and the one directly above with the “crown building” that looks like a super villain’s lair in it were shot from a second parking lot a few blocks from the first. Both gave me six stories worth of elevation, and together cost me $11. There’s another downtown lot I’m going to hit soon, one which will theoretically give me a point of view over a set of railroad tracks leading off a bridge over a river.

I spent the rest of this particular day driving around Pittsburgh and checking out the various neighborhoods and how they fit together.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

That’s one of the famous “Steps of Pittsburgh” pictured above, in an area called Greenfield. There’s hundreds of these municipal staircases scattered about the City, an accommodation to the terrain. As a note, it’s not a field nor is it overly green.

One of the things I’ve learned is that you don’t necessarily want to live on a street which has the word “run” in its name. That’s “run” as in river run, and during the spring thaw or even just a heavy bout of rain, these low lying valley areas can easily flood out. It’s a “thing” here.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One of the things I’m just fascinated by are these extreme changes in elevation – says the kid from a part of Brooklyn called Flatlands. The roads interchange pictured above is part of the reason that the neighborhoods here are so distinct from each other. You’re separated from the next “massing” of people by topography and water, possibly by an interstate and or a rail line too.

What an interesting place Pittsburgh is. Can’t wait to learn more.

Back next week, at this – your Newtown Pentacle.


“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 blurb.com for $30.

Written by Mitch Waxman

January 13, 2023 at 11:00 am

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