SteelStacks in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania stands as a tribute to the area’s industrial previous and serves because the backdrop for a vibrant arts and tradition scene right now.
I used to be lately on a street journey by way of Pennsylvania once I stopped by this hulking landmark.
It’s the previous residence of Bethlehem Metal — one of many nation’s largest steel-manufacturing corporations.
Bethlehem Metal Stacks Historical past
Right now, all is quiet on the previous Bethlehem Metal mill, a now-defunct enterprise whose roots dated again to the 1850s and was based as a brand new firm in 1904. However from 1873 via 1995, numerous tons of metal have been produced at this website for every part from nice ships and tanks to bridges and skyscrapers.
A lot of the metal made by Bethlehem wound up in some superb landmarks you’ve in all probability heard about and perhaps even visited — together with:
- The Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco
- The George Washington Bridge in New York Metropolis
- The Empire State Constructing in New York Metropolis
- Madison Sq. Backyard in New York Metropolis
Sure, Bethlehem Metal was one of many nation’s nice bridge and ship builders!
Historical past Comes Alive Right here
It’s fairly fascinating, strolling up alongside the huge blast furnaces that also stand on the location at the moment, to consider how necessary this place as soon as was to constructing the America we all know at the moment.
At one time, greater than 31,000 individuals labored right here. At this time, the blast furnaces are chilly and the metal mill is silent — however the story of the Bethlehem Metal firm is superb. In the event you’re quiet sufficient, you possibly can virtually see and listen to the ghosts of hundreds of women and men proudly working the red-hot equipment.
A go to to SteelStacks transports you thru a serene, haunting, superb journey into the Lehigh Valley’s manufacturing previous — a time and place in American historical past that so many nonetheless pine to see resurrected.
Whereas SteelStacks is a well-liked vacationer vacation spot loved by historical past buffs and photographers, it’s additionally the backdrop for live shows, weddings, artwork festivals, and lots of different enjoyable group occasions and actions.
Right here’s every thing you need to find out about visiting and having fun with SteelStacks in Bethlehem, PA…
SteelStacks is a 10-acre campus devoted to arts, tradition, household occasions, group celebrations, schooling and enjoyable. As soon as the house plant of Bethlehem Metal, the second largest metal producer within the nation, the location has been reborn by means of music and artwork, providing greater than 1,000 live shows and eight totally different festivals yearly. —SteelStacks.org
My Tour Of Bethlehem Metal Stacks
Bethlehem Metal was as soon as one of many largest employers in Japanese Pennsylvania. However after closing the metal plant there in 1995, the corporate went defunct in 2003. Except for SteelStacks, the Bethlehem Metal legacy is quietly fading away into America’s previous.
Even the corporate’s former headquarters constructing, the Martin Tower, was demolished in 2019 to make means for progress within the Pennsylvania metropolis of Bethlehem. The Martin Tower was inbuilt 1972 and at 21 tales and 332 ft in peak was the tallest constructing within the Larger Lehigh Valley.
Fortunately, the mountainous blast furnaces didn’t succumb to an identical destiny because the Martin Tower. They nonetheless stand tall and proud alongside the Lehigh River.
My Pictures Of The Previous Bethlehem Metal Plant
At this time, guests to SteelStacks will discover a couple of relics from Bethlehem Metal’s superb previous.
Sure, you’ve acquired the long-lasting deserted manufacturing unit standing tall above the 10-acre SteelStacks campus. However there are additionally a number of different belongings you won’t discover at first.
Such because the pink, white, and black flag with the Bethlehem Metal emblem on it:
Or the I-beam emblazoned with the phrases “Bethlehem Metal” close to a again door on the customer middle:
Or the various classic pictures and memorabilia contained in the customer middle honoring the glory days at Bethlehem Metal:
Hold strolling previous the Customer Middle from the primary visitor parking zone and also you’ll get a closeup of the Bethlehem metal stacks:
Take a look at how tall these large furnaces are:
Good golly, take a look at the dimensions of these pipes:
They seem to have led throughout the Hoover-Mason Trestle pedestrian walkway and into this lengthy constructing with a number of flywheel-driven machines. Consider all of the metal merchandise these previous relics helped make:
And to function all of this equipment, Bethlehem Metal wanted numerous energy. It seems like they used to run energy into the metal mill by use of those previous towers, which nonetheless have energy line insulators hanging off them:
This massive pipe as soon as ran alongside a number of of the furnaces:
Now we’re wanting down an previous catwalk. I’m wondering what it led to:
Now we’re wanting down into the bowels of the cathedral-like blast furnace construction. Loopy… I’m wondering what it was like working down there:
If solely these partitions might speak:
And take a look at this adjoining narrow-gauge railroad alongside the Hoover-Mason Trestle:
The Hoover-Mason Trestle offers a feast for the eyes of photographers who need to rise up near the deserted Bethlehem Metal manufacturing unit. And it’s additionally teeming with life all year long, as this informational placard explains:
Stroll a bit additional alongside the Hoover-Mason Trestle and also you attain the opposite finish of SteelStacks. Now we’re wanting again within the path of the place this journey started on the Customer Middle:
Goodbye, Bethlehem Metal
Do you know the music “God Bless America” was performed when Bethlehem Metal snuffed out the final warmth from the essential oxygen furnace?
This photograph and accompanying captions from an info placard on the top of the Hoover-Mason Trestle put a human face on this large deserted metal plant:
The photograph of these males at Furnace C was taken on November 18, 1995 — the final day of operations at Bethlehem Metal in Pennsylvania. And, it wasn’t simply the top of the manufacturing unit, it was the top of an period within the Lehigh Valley. However it in all probability didn’t come as a shock for a lot of. By the late 1970s and early ’80s, the writing was on the wall… Metal crops and most of the different manufacturing jobs that folks in japanese Pennsylvania had relied on for generations have been on the best way out.
Ever hear Billy Joel’s 1982 hit “Allentown”? So, the title is a shout-out to the neighboring Pennsylvania metropolis of Allentown. However in the event you take note of the lyrics, you’ll hear loads of allusions to Bethlehem Metal and the top to a lifestyle within the Lehigh Valley:
Issues To See & Do At SteelStacks
It’s OK to shed a tear for yesteryear when you’re right here, however flip that frown the wrong way up. New life abounds on the deserted Bethlehem Metal firm website!
The PBS-39 Public Media middle stands simply throughout from the guts of the SteelStacks campus:
And SteelStacks hums with artwork and tradition:
Whereas paying homage to the previous:
There are numerous indoor and outside venues at SteelStacks the place all types of occasions are held all year long, together with:
- Free and ticketed live shows
- Comedy exhibits and workshops
- Courses and workshops
- Films and movie courses
- Dance performances
- Yuengling Oktoberfest 5K
- Arts and crafts festivals
- Household packages
My Ideas For Visiting SteelStacks
Planning a visit to SteelStacks?
Listed here are some good issues to know earlier than you go:
- Admission to SteelStacks is free, however a few of the occasions are ticketed. Be sure you take a look at the SteelStacks schedule of occasions for info on ticket costs and another charges.
- Apart from throughout particular occasions, crowds are usually fairly skinny from the late fall by way of early spring — a superb time for photographers to get some nice photographs of the surroundings on the previous Bethlehem Metal plant with out having to dodge different vacationers.
- Plenty of people cease by SteelStacks to take pictures of the blast furnaces or to take a look at an occasion. However don’t overlook to cease by the customer middle — not solely are there nice previous photographs of Bethlehem Metal there, however there’s additionally a brief movie profiling the historical past of the corporate and metal manufacturing in Bethlehem.
- Consideration, photographers: the Bethlehem Metal blast furnace complicated is usually located in an east-west orientation, with most photo-taking alternatives alongside the south aspect of the landmark. For most people like me who take pleasure in taking leisure photographs, lighting and such aren’t actually an enormous deal — however the shadows from a number of the metallic beams and pipes performed some funky tips on me in getting good closeups of the deserted plant within the late afternoon solar. Skilled shutterbugs take word… and convey alongside all the correct filters, lenses, and flash bulbs for the job!
What Else Is Close by?
Along with touring the Bethlehem Metal blast furnaces, there are numerous different enjoyable issues to do in and across the SteelStacks leisure and humanities campus:
- ArtsQuest Middle at SteelStacks is a performing arts palace that hosts all types of packages nearly each day. Situated adjoining to the PBS-39 Media Middle, there’s a cinema, group stage, and artwork reveals at ArtsQuest — together with quite a lot of outlets and cafes.
- Just some steps away from the primary SteelStacks campus is the Nationwide Museum of Industrial Historical past. This Smithsonian affiliate is the place you possibly can discover how America was constructed on the backs of corporations like Bethlehem Metal. Nevertheless it’s not nearly metal mills — it’s about all types of business in America.
- In case you and Woman Luck get alongside properly sufficient, only a couple blocks away is the Sands On line casino Resort. I didn’t attempt my hand at playing away my meager fortunes, nevertheless it seems like a enjoyable place to “metal” some winnings. Sorry for the rusty pun.
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I’m a curler coaster junkie, a climate fanatic, a frequent traveler, and a numismatist. My love for cash started once I was 11 years previous. I primarily gather and research U.S. cash produced through the 20th century. I’m a member of the American Numismatic Affiliation (ANA) and the Numismatic Literary Guild (NLG). I’ve additionally been learning meteorology and watching climate patterns for years. I take pleasure in sharing little-known information and enjoyable stuff about cash, climate, journey, well being, meals, and dwelling inexperienced… on a price range.