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  • Bethlehem Steel was once a symbol of American prowess in industrial manufacturing. One of the country’s largest steel producers, it supplied ships and guns for wartime, created steel beams for the first skyscrapers, and ushered in an age of mass production. Steelmaking at its main plant in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, continued for nearly 150 years, until 1995.

    In the heart of the Lehigh plant, in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, five blast furnaces smelted iron from ore in the first phase of the steelmaking process.
  • 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

    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.
    This story is part of our January/February 2012 Issue
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    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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