May 10, 2014

Bethlehem Steel–Architecture in Rust

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A day in Bethlehem, PA with my hubby included a stop to see 
the coke ovens and blast furnaces of Bethlehem Steel. 
I will admit it. His idea to visit this place didn't make me stand up and cheer. 
Sounded like a "guy thing" to me. But.
I flashed back to the shops and craft bazaars (yes, hundreds) he'd tolerated for me.
I softened and gave in without protest. Hey, it's love.

And sure enough, I was secretly eating crow.
 I was taken in by the mystique of the place! 
Ruins of another era. The place was an abandoned ghost town,
but with an undercurrent that something great had happened here.
Once alive and thriving, but now still and silent.

After watching an excellent film at the Visitor's Center to learn some history, I was sold. 
We spent some time walking around to see the place up close and personal. 
At least as close as chain link fencing would allow.
I imagined men climbing the steep ladders for checks and repairs. 
I marveled at the colossal feat of designing and building it all.
Then, while snapping photos against a brilliant blue sky,
I started seeing the angles and curves of a piece of architecture.
Architecture now in rust.



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Fast Facts:

Began in 1860 to make iron rails for the railroad.

Grew to become America's second largest steel company.

Best known for the wide flange steel beam.

Used to build New York City's Madison Square Garden, 
The Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, CA and the 
center axle of the first-ever Ferris Wheel at the 1893 Chicago World's Fair.

85% of the New York City skyline was built with Bethlehem Steel.

Used to build guns, cannons, tanks and ships for both World Wars.



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Here's a far shot to appreciate the immense size of the structure.
 That's me (posing) at the bottom for scale.
Notice a corner of the Visitor's Center on the right.

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The beginning of the end was said to have been in 1966, 
when, although Bethlehem Steel was the lowest bidder to provide the steel 
to build the World Trade Center's Twin Towers in NYC,
the decision was made to obtain even lower prices by using imported steel. 
Other builders followed suit.



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Appreciating the patina of years.

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All of the buildings combined once stretched 4 1/2 miles along the Lehigh River!
The arched walls of many strong stone buildings remain, skeletons of the past.


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The Bethlehem, PA plant closed in 1998.

Learn lots more at this website:

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