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The Rise & Fall of Bethlehem Steel

New exhibition opens at Baltimore Museum of Industry
The Rise & Fall of Bethlehem Steel
Posted at 4:00 PM, Sep 24, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-24 17:19:40-04

BALTIMORE, Md. — The crane from Bethlehem Steel’s shipyard towering over the Baltimore Museum of Industry is one of many, which helped build hundreds of ships to turn the tide of World War II, and inside the museum, you’ll now find an exhibition featuring three-dimensional objects from the steel mill to transport you back in time.

“You’ll see there were quotes from steelworkers talking about just how dangerous it was. How they knew that they had to count on their fellow workers literally to keep them alive,” said Museum Executive Director Anita Kassof.

Once a backbone of the region’s economy, bankruptcy wiped out retiree health benefits and shrunk pensions before the plant finally shut down almost a decade ago.

The exhibit, entitled “Fire & Shadow: The Rise and Fall of Bethlehem Steel”, is sure to bring back memories good and bad.

“We expect and we’ve already seen it,” said Kassof. “We had some preview days to which we invited many of the people who had been involved in creating the exhibition including many steelworkers and their families and it was emotional for them.”

Tradepoint Atlantic, which now operates on the site of the former steel mill has placed its legacy in the museum’s hands including this exhibit featuring women of steel erected along Key Highway.

A shared past at a mill that lifted Baltimore to new heights built on the backs of 30,000 workers in its heyday before its untimely demise.

“It affected people all over the region, and we certainly wanted to tell that story,” said Kassof. “But we also wanted to tell that human story. The story of hard work and of comradery and sacrifice.”

If you’d like to view the exhibit, right now the museum is open from 9am to 3pm on Fridays and Saturdays or by appointment for larger groups.

Click here to recount the lives touched by the Sparrows Point steel mill.