Orbit Series

In The Orbit‘s first year, we covered a bunch of ground. From the strange hieroglyphics of “H.W. 46 ft. 3-18-1936” to a from-the-grave tribute to Jaws to why Italians like to paint everything green, white, and red. That said, we found a bunch of common favorite subjects bubbling to the surface. We’ve grouped these as Orbit series.

TALES FROM THE GRAVEYARD

Shark grave marker, Allegheny Cemetery, Pittsburgh

If The Orbit spent any more time in the cemetery, we’d be dead! Not all the exciting stuff happens above the ground–although that’s still where we’ve been hanging out. Cemeteries have such an abundance of strange curiosities and interesting stories, in fact, that we turned the tenth month of the year into “Cemetober.”

STEP BEAT: PITTSBURGH CITY STEPS

View from Rising Main city steps, Pittsburgh, Pa.

The city of Pittsburgh has some 750 sets of public staircases or “city steps.” Nearly every neighborhood has some. We won’t get to all of them, but we’re trying to make it to the more interesting of the lot.

THE PIZZA CHASE: WEIRD PIZZA

Three cuts of pizza from Beto's, Pittsburgh, Pa.

The Pizza Chase isn’t about locating the best pizza, it’s interested in the uniquest pizza. The Pittsburgh area is blessed with a bunch of oddball places that do something fundamentally different with cheese, sauce, and dough, and we’re going to try to figure out who, what, where, how, and why. We’ll leave when (and if) to you.

STREET ART

Toynbee tile, Smithfield Street, Pittsburgh

Linoleum tiles embedded in downtown macadam and a stretch of road used to conduct Dept. of Public Works line painting tests vie for the title of “the most street of art,” but we’re of course fans of all the more standard stuff: creative graffiti, stencils, wheat-paste, accidental collage, etc.

WEIRD RELIGION

Crucifixion scene with Sunoco gas station in background

Supposedly Pittsburgh has the highest per-capita population of Catholics in America. That means that even a pagan blogger feels the spirit–at least when it comes with sides of halushki and macaroni & cheese. Eastern Orthodox onion domes, Catholic rites, crazy person graffiti–there has been plenty of source material, and we’re just getting started.

THE OVER-THE-WALL CLUB

Brick wall with house dormers and rooftops behind, Pittsburgh, PA

If The Orbit is about anything, it’s the big circus tent of curiosity. Who’s that? Why is that there? What’s on the other side? The Over-the-Wall Club ponders these mundane mysteries and subjects its visitors to its musings. If you can’t handle it, stay on the other side, jack.

CYCLING AND BICYCLE-RELATED STUFF

Healthy Ride bicycle share station in the Bloomfield neighborhood, Pittsburgh, Pa.

The Orbit staff is pro-bicycle. We try to do as much reporting as we can on two wheels and get real excited about things like new bike lanes and the Healthy Ride bike share program.

GHOST HOUSES and GHOST SIGNS

ghost-house-brighton-hts

Collections of photos and ramblings on the paired endangered species of ghost houses (imprints of one no longer standing house on one that is still here) and “ghost signs” (the long-gone practice of painted wall advertisements, still visible, but inevitably with a ticking clock).

ORBIT DAY TRIPS

interior of Holy Transformation Russian Orthodox Church, Steubenville, Ohio

Notable places that are an hour or two drive from the city. Far enough to no longer count as metro Pittsburgh, but close enough to be in striking distance or “Pittsburgh region.”

ORBIT OBITS: THINGS THAT AIN’T THERE NO MORE

Window for former Myrtle Booth Tanning Salon, Pittsburgh, PA

Hey: you can’t make a salad without deep-frying a potato, right? Even in a place where a developmental spirit of “benign neglect” rules, not everything sticks around. These are some favorites that shuffled off the mortal coil in the short time we’ve been citizen-journaling.