If you aren’t on Jackson media overload, take a look at this story examining Jackson’s legacy in his hometown of Gary, Indiana.
Gary was founded as company town for U.S. Steel.
Jackson’s father, Joseph Jackson, was a steelworker here.
The share of people living below the poverty line in Gary, a city of about 97,700, grew to 33.2 percent in 2007 from 25.8 percent in 2000, according to Census statistics cited in the story.
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania is a city built by steel. The belching smoke and fire from the great mills was an omnipresent reminder of the area’s dominant industry. Pittsburgh’s vast steel operations played a large role in building the nation’s infrastructure; at one point, half of the country’s steel came from the three rivers. The city’s mills were at the heart of a war machine that won two world wars and made America the manufacturing envy of the world.
However, a confluence of events in the 1950’s and 60’s exposed fatal chinks in the armor of Pittsburgh’s steel industry: overseas competition, inadequate capital investment, bad labor-management relations; and the exhaustion of local natural resources proved devastating.
The late 1970’s marked the beginning of the end for Pittsburgh’s dominance in steel. Hundreds of thousands of steel workers would lose their jobs as the once mighty blast furnaces were silenced. The city and the region were plunged into a economic depression that challenged the area’s very future.
Today, Pittsburgh has largely reinvented itself as a center for robotics and emerging technology. Large scale urban renewal and the expansion of retail has erased much of historic Pittsburgh. The steel industry and the struggles of labor have often been forgotten, or downplayed. Most people now would probably be more apt to recognize the “steel mark” logo as belonging to a football team, instead of US Steel, who it was originally designed for.
These photos I’ve taken are from the remains of U.S. Steel’s, Homestead Works. The Carrie Blast Furnace, abandoned in 1978, was once part of this sprawling industrial complex. Now, nature and the elements have begun to reclaim her. Though her mighty furnace is now quiet, this rusted hulk is a powerful reminder of the painful death of the region’s steel industry.
This post was authored and photographed by Sean Posey, a documentarian and a graduate student in history at Youngstown State University.
This article in yesterday’s Pittsburgh Post-Gazette discusses the redevelopment of the Carrie Furnace site – “an expanse of blast furnaces that once produced as much as 1,200 tons of iron per day for the former Homestead Works of U.S. Steel.”
The 168-acre parcel is now owned by the county and is close to being ready for development, the article states, in the final stages of environmental cleanup.
What will replace the furnaces, which operated for 102 years?