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Ghosts in the Machines

Bethlehem Steel, once a symbol of American industry, went bankrupt in 2001. These photos help us imagine its glory days.
Photographs by Jeremy Blakeslee
December 19, 2011
The machine shop was thought to be the world’s largest building of its kind at the time of its ­completion in 1891.
In the welfare room, workers would place their valuables and street clothes in a basket for safekeeping during the work day.
Internal-combustion engines pumped air into the blast furnaces to get them hot enough to smelt iron from ore.
Blast Furnace A, built in 1915, is the only remaining furnace of its kind in the United States.
Much of the plant was demolished in the 1990s, and Bethlehem Steel went bankrupt in 2001. In 2007 and 2008, some of what was left was cleared to make way for retail and entertainment buildings.
One of the largest new residents of the Bethlehem site is the Sands Casino Resort. A major challenge in building the $743 million facility was finding enough steel.

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