Bethlehem Steel
The Bethlehem Steel Corporation (1857-2003), base in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania,
once was the second largest steel producer in the United States (after Pittsburgh,
Pennsylvania-based US Steel).  But following its 2001 bankruptcy, the company was
dissolved and the remaining assets sold to International Steel Group in 2003.  In
2005, ISG merged with Mittal Steel, ending U.S. ownership of the assets of
Bethlehem Steel.  During its life, Bethlehem Steel was also one of the largest
shipbuilding companies in the world and was one of the most powerful symbols of
American manufacturing leadership.  Bethlehem Steel's demise often is cited as one
of the most prominent examples of the U.S. economy's transition away from industrial
manufacturing and its inability to compete with cheap foreign labor.
The Company began on April 8, 1857 as the
Saucona Iron Works in South Bethlehem,
Pennsylvania.  Then, on May 1, 1861, the
company changed its name to Bethlehem Iron
Works.  Alfred Hunt was elected president by the
board of directors on July 15, 1860.  In it's early years, it produced railroad rails, and
armor plating for the U.S. Navy.  In 1899, the company assumed the name,
Bethlehem Steel Company.  In 1904, Charles M. Schwab (recently resigned from
U.S. Steel, and unrelated to the stockbroker Charles R. Schwab) and Joseph Wharton
formed the Bethlehem Steel Corporation with Schwab becoming the first President
and chairman of its board of directors.  The Bethlehem Steel Corporation ascended to
great prominence in American industry, installing the revolutionary grey rolling mill
and producing the first wide-flange structural shapes to be made in America.  These
shaoes were largely responsible for ushering in the age of the skyscraper and
establishing Bethlehem Steel as the leading supplier of steel to the construction
industry.  In the early 1900s, the corporation branched out from steel, with iron mines
in Cuba and shipyards around the counrty.  In 1913, it acquired the Fore River
Shipbuilding Company of Quincy, Massachusetts, thereby assuming the role of one of
the world's major shipbuilders.
Behind American Landmarks
In 1916, Eugene Grace became the company's president, and, in 1945,
he became its chairman, leading the company until 1957.  Grace
aquired a number of additional steel plants in the 1920s, and
Bethlehem produced the steel for many of the country's most
prominent landmarks, including New York City's Rockefeller Center
and Madison Square Garden and San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge.
The Steel for American armed forces
During World War I and World War II, Bethlehem Steel was
a major supplier of armor plate and ordnance products to the
U.S. armed forces.  Many of the nation's fighting ships used
armor plate and large caliber guns supplied by Bethlehem
Steel.  During World War II, Bethlehem's 15 shipyards
produced a total of 1,121 ships, more than any other builder
during the war, employing as many as 180,000 persons in the
process (company total employment was 30,000).  When
peacetime came, the plant continued to supply a wide variety
of structural shapes for the construction trades and forged
products for defense, power generation and steel-producing
companies.  Bethlehem Steel's high point came in the 1950's, as the company began
manufacturing some 23 million tons per year, and it built its largest plant, at Burns
Harbor, Indiana, between 1962 and 1964.  In 1958, the company's president, Arthur
B Homer, was the highest paid business executive in the U.S.
Fore River Shipyard - Massachusetts Aerial View

Sparrows Point Shipyard - Maryland (now Barletta Industries Sparrows Point
Shipyard and Industrial Complex)
Aerial View

Alameda Shipyard - California  Aerial View

San Francisco Shipyard - California (formerly U.S. Iron Works, now BAE Systems
San Francisco Ship Repair)
Aerial View
Freight Cars
From 1923-1991, Bethlehem Steel was one of the world's leading producers of
roailroad freight cars thorugh their purchase of the former Midvale Steel and
Ordinance Company of Johnstown, Pennsylvania.  Despite its status as a major
intergrated steel maker, Bethlehem Steel Freight Car Division pioneered the use of
aluminum in freight car construction.  The Johnstown plant was purchased from
Bethlehem Steel through a management buyout in 1991, creating Johnstown  
America Industries.  Johnstown America has since expanded with the accquisition of
a second manufacturing plant in Danville, Illinois and a public offering on the
Nasdaq under the new name FreightCar America Corporation.  FreightCar America
is the only American-owned part of the former Bethlehem Steel that remains
Facing foreign competition
While the U.S. steel industry prospered during WWII, the steel industries in Germany
and Japan were devastated by Allied bombardment.  As a result, they had to be
rebuilt after the war, but were rebuilt with more modern techniques such as
continuous casting in their now newer plants.  This efficiency, plus the high benefit
concessions given to U.S. steel workers during the two decades that the U.S. steel
industry opperated without signfificant foreign competition, set the stage for a
significant price differential in the 1980's.
In the mid-1980's, the market for the plants structural products began to diminish,
and new competition entered the marketplace.  Lighter, lower construction styles,
resulting in low-rise buildings not requiring the heavy structural grades produced at
the Bethlehem plant, caused Bethlehem Steel to discontinue its steel making
activities at the main Bethlehem plant by the end of 1995.  After roughly 140 years
of metal production at its Bethlehem, Pennsylvania plant, Bethlehem Steel ceased
operations in Bethlehem.  Bethlehem Steel exited the railroad car business in 1993
and ceased shipbuilding activities in 1997 in an attempt to preserve its core
steelmaking operations.
Cheaper foreign steel began being imported in the 1980s, negatively impacting
Bethlehem Steel's market share in the U.S. steel industry.  In 1982, the company
reported a loss of 1.5 billion U.S. dollars and was forced to shut down many of its
operations.  Profitability returned briefly in 1988, but restructuring and shutdowns
continued through the 1980s and 1990s.
Closing and bankruptcy
With the closing of its local operations and its extraordinary
ensuing impact on the local Lehigh Valley area, Bethlehem
Steel decided to help revitalize the South Side of
Bethlehem, and hired outside consultants to develop
conceptual plans on the reuse of the massive property.  The
consensus was to rename the 163-acre site Bethlehem
Worksand use the land for cultural, recreational,
educational, entertainment and retail development.  The
National Museum of Industrial History, in association with
the Smithsonian Institution, and
the Bethlehem Commerce Center, consisting of 1,600 acres of
prime industrial property, were erected on the site.  In 2001,
Bethlehem Steel formally filed for bankruptcy.  Two years later, in
2003, the company's remnants, including six massive plants, were
acquired by the International Steel Group.
Hall, P.J. (1915),  "History of South Bethlehem, PA." ,
Semi-centennial, the borough of South Bethlehem, Pennsylvania,
1865-1915, Quinlan Printing Co.

"The Sinking of Bethlehem Steel", Fortune magazine, April 5,
2004.  Photo documentary of the Bethlehem Steel plant "Forging
America: The History of Bethlehem Steel".  The (Allentown)
Morning Call.

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