Monday, March 22, 2010

Bethlehem Steel Reborn

Like Chad Emerson, I've been blogging less of late, although not for the glamorous reason that I have a popular book out!  My excuses are more pedestrian - Spring Break (where I actually endeavored, mostly successfully, to take two and a half days off), recruitment for summer and fall clinic classes, and a 30 foot pile of dirt recently dumped in my neighborhood (more on that later).

Over Spring Break I visited Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Bethlehem is most famous for being the former home of Bethlehem Steel and for being the sister community of Allentown, Pennsylvania, which is the subject of a Billy Joel song.  As the song goes, "Well we're living here in Allentown...Where they're closing all the factories down..."

However, that was over 20 years ago - Bethlehem Steel stopped producing in 1995, and the site is being redeveloped.  The former plant is now the home of a Sands Casino and the Smithsonian's National Museum of Industrial History, as well as business incubator space and other industrial uses.  Also, a very cool website called Save Our Steel makes the case for retaining a historic industrial district on the site.  One woman feels so strongly about it she's had the Bethlehem Steel site tattooed on her back, which is much more artful than it sounds.  I'm wondering if Will Cook knows anyone else with a tattoo of their favorite historic site!

At any rate, Bethlehem is coming  back in its own way.  I'm attaching a photo of the Sands sign, which I took from a small Habitat for Humanity subdivision being built on a bluff overlooking the Bethlehem Steel site.  It's a community definitely worth keeping an eye on.

Jamie Baker Roskie

Sands 3

Development, Historic Preservation, History, Housing, Industrial Regulation, Redevelopment | Permalink

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