Photos: What is the meaning of Bethlehem Steel to Baltimore

Photograph of Sparrows Point steel mill
In the morning, the smoke from the Sky Point raises mills with the mist. The steel mill outside Baltimore was closed in 2012. Photos by J.M. Giordano

30,000 workers were employed at the large Bethlehem Steel mill in Point Point outside Donegal once. Now it's about something new.

On Thursday, 16 May, Phil Pack, a retired Bethlehem Steel worker, will be featured at “Workin ': Stories about Making a Living in Baltimore,” a live storytelling event from the Stoop and CityLab Storytelling Series. Baltimore Industrial Museum. For information on tickets and events, please visit here.

Sparrows Point steel works were born in the first Gilded Age and died in the second. In the mid-20th century, more than 30,000 families lived on his wages; by 2012, when the facility hulking outside Baltimore closed its doors well, less than 2,000 remained.

“Down the Point” was a brutal and dangerous job. Death and accident rates were high. For many years, the Sparrows Park employees worked in two grueling 10 to 14 hour shocks – with a 24 hour shift every other week to give the other team a day off. They had two unpaid leave in the year: Christmas and fourth July.

The ironworker's hall in Dundalk, Maryland, was the center of the Central Atlantic steel industry. (J.M. Giordano)

But survivors are still losing the regretted Sparrows Point, not only do the plant have high wage union jobs, but the pride and purpose they shared. For years, employees and their families have been living in company owned housing on a nominal rent, and they have built a community that suggests to those who have grown up there.

My father was born in the town of Sparrows Point – his father, grandfather and uncles all worked in the mills. When he and his brothers came old, they also did. The old town was demolished in the 1970s and many of its residents moved to nearby Dundalk where both photographer Joe Giordano and I were built. Giordano, who began his career at the Dundalk Eagles A newspaper began to shoot images of the steelworks and surrounding neighborhoods in the early 2000s, as the Beth Steel plant was flowing. Images from that ongoing project, Fallen: Images from the Fall of Bethlehem Steel, they are currently on display at Baltimore Industrial Museum.

Elizabeth Regulski, a retired steelwork, shows her American flag. (J.M. Giordano)

The steel has deep roots in this region. The Pennsylvania Steel Company broke at Sparrows Point, a 2,000-acre peninsula hitting the Patapsco River, in 1887. Two brothers, Frederick and Luther Wood, built and ran the mills: MIT had a highly trained engineer; Social Restorer A Progressive Era was the other person who convinced the Maryland legislature to prohibit the sale or manufacture of alcohol on the peninsula.

The Bethlehem Steel Company purchased Sparrows Point in 1918, building a nice new home for its shipyard workers across the hip from the mills. It was named for an Irish hometown called Dundalk. During the two World Wars, workers came to the area. By the 1960s, Dundalk covered 13 square miles and had a population of 115,000.

Every holiday season Knockaun Point mill would light the giant star at the top of its "L" furnace. The furnace was laid in 2015. (J.M. Giordano)

Here, iron ore and limestone were melted in large coal furnaces, shaping in rails and rods and beams for New York ships and skyscrapers and Chesapeake Bay Bridge.

Produced by the American Steelmen after 1941, steel workers at Sparrows Point enjoyed wages and benefits steadily rising in the post-boom. The highest paid jobs for white men were reserved until black steel workers put the federal agency to notice that the federal government issued two consents in 1974, giving equal opportunities to color and women.

Lee Douglass, a sparkling sky park, was the founder of Shipyard Workers for Equality, a black steelworker who fought for equal rights in the 1970s. He worked at the plant for over four decades after serving in the Marines. (J.M. Giordano)

By the 1980s, old signs began to emerge by disrupting the Point – outdated technology, sclerotic management, and competition from newer and more efficient mills in the US and abroad. The cost of cleaning the environmental damage occurred due to a hundred years of steel-making on the banks of Chesapeake Bay – at a cost which is subsequently estimated by executives named Steel Bethlehem $ 48 million. In 1997 Bethlehem Steel signed a decree of federal consent to recycle water contamination around the works, poisoned by toxic chemicals leaching into the harbor.

When the World Trade Center collapsed in 2001, Bethlehem Steel was on its death bed; The company filed bankruptcy shortly afterwards. In 2002 Wilbur Ross, a private equity investor (now Commercial Secretary) offered Sparrows Point and Bethlehem Steel other harmless steel works if the deal allowed him to dump his heritage costs – pensioners' and healthcare pensions. The discussion progressed; less than two years later, Ross and his fellow investors reached $ 2 billion when he sold the infant International Steel Group after the new company community increased its value.

The Wallet Point mill has abandoned stores in keeping with the fence. (J.M. Giordano)

Three other owners then moved on and off the Point quickly until the private equity investor, Ira Rennert, pulled the plug in 2012. Finally, the liquidation firm based in Chicago bought the property with for $ 72 million and in the next two years the old mills were left leaving ripe seaside wastewater for redevelopment.

When the massive “L” furnace ended, and it was a bright star each holiday season, in January 2015, locals gathered to present the works and colleagues who worked there. They tried to determine what went wrong

The old Bethlehem Steel building has sub-buildings in the Sparrows Point. (J.M. Giordano)

Were they not stuck to the social contract laid back in 1888 and entered into cooperative contracts after 1941? This was the discussion: They would work in dangerous, dirty jobs for years, and their families would always live because of serious injury or serious death of the family. In return, they receive equal pay and benefits and the commitment to retire. Did they not get their final market?

The Republic of Ireland is working in Dundalk, once a Democratic stronghold, now firmly in place. The town supported Donald J. Trump over Hilary Clinton in 2016 62 to 33 per cent.

Sign in the ironworker's hall in Dundalk. (J.M. Giordano)

Today, the red-dust neighborhoods from the steel-making process have planted all cars better economically than would have been expected. The average annual income in Dundalk is $ 51,098, about two thirds of the average income for the state as a whole, but better than the median $ 47,000 across the Baltimore city line. Most residents have their own homes (66 per cent).

But that does not mean that everyone is doing equally well, that life-long residents, many of them working at Sparrows Point, welcome the newer, poorer residents compared to affordable but going housing. age.

Crosses are shown in a house with former plant Bethlehem Steel dedicated to drug and alcohol addiction victims. (J.M. Giordano)

The changing demographics of the population in the primary population are reflected in age. Although Dundalk has a lot of white (75 per cent), many of the young families are moving into the community. “The community is moving demographically, racially and ethically,” says Amy Menzer, executive director of Dundalk Renaissance, a non-profit community development organization. “We feel this is positive. But in the case of long-standing residents the process is processed. The school population is more diverse than the community as a whole. ”

Despite his historical association with Bethlehem Steel, “by the time the plant closed, Dundalk and the plant were not synonymous,” says Menzer. “When I moved here in ,04, the plant manager was proud that 20% of employees lived in Dundalk. Most of the people here were not working in the plant. ”

End of line: Rail tracks continue to where Point Sparrows once mills. (J.M. Giordano)

Now home is once making steel and is repeating itself. The Wallet Point peninsula now has a “global logistics park” named as Tradepoint Atlantic, which was created to leverage the transport assets – railway lines, highways, and deep-water wharves for cargo ships – built to move steel. There are huge distribution stores for Amazon, FedEx, and UnderArmour rising on the site of gone mills.

Last year, Baltimore County pledged $ 78 million to construct roads, water and sewer lines at the Point, updating the infrastructure laid down in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Tradepoint Atlantic ensures that the upgrade will help create 10,000 jobs.

Pete, a retired steel worker, at his social club, The Moose, in Baltimore. (J.M. Giordano)

This investment, and the vision behind it, could be one of the small issues agreed between the local Democrats and Republicans. “After growing up in the shadow of the Sparrows Point – and seeing how a decline in industry can destroy communities – I love to see the progress that is happening there,” said the County Executive. New Baltimore, John “Johnny O“ Olszewski Jr., Democracy built in Dundalk. “While the opportunities are different, Tradepoint Atlantic is connecting with people in communities where opportunities are urgently needed.”

Tomorrow's workers working at Sparrows Point will not be doing the jobs that their predecessors have done in the last hundred years. But the peninsula remains a microcosm of American economy.

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