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Carnegie Steel: 1905

Carnegie Steel: 1905

Circa 1905. "Carnegie Steel Plant, Homestead, Pennsylvania." 8x10 inch dry plate glass negative, Detroit Publishing Company. View full size.


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Immigrant experience

Wow!, what a photo. My grandfather came to America from Croatia, alone, age 18, in 1914. His first job was unloading steel scrap from gondola train cars, by hand, bound for the furnaces in Pittsburgh. Later he moved up to a job that my father said he would come home from work and his shirt would be burned with little holes from splattering hot metal. The good ol' days.

Parton, not Dickens

"There is one evening scene in Pittsburgh which no visitor should miss. Owing to the abruptness of the hill behind the town, there is a street along the edge of the bluff, from which you can look directly down upon the part of the city which lies low, near the level of the rivers. On the evening of this dark day, we were conducted to the edge of the abyss, and looked over the iron railing upon the most striking spectacle we ever beheld ... It is an unprofitable business, view-hunting; but if any one would enjoy a spectacle as striking as Niagara, he may do so by simply walking up a long hill to Cliff Street in Pittsburgh, and looking over into — hell with the lid taken off."

― James Parton, (The Atlantic Monthly. January, 1868)

The Waterfront

This is now a sizable outdoor walk-around mall called The Waterfront with plenty of nice shops, restaurants and distractions.

A different time

Back when smoke showed progress, jobs, and prosperity.


This is an area I know as Munnhall, Pa. My grandfather worked for Jones and Laughlin Steel for 45 years. His profession for the company was River Boat Engineer; the old paddle wheel tugs. He retired in 1956.

I have a great photo of his boat, the VULCAN, racing other Paddle Wheel tugs on the Monongahela around the 1920's. From the looks of the photo's, these races seemed fairly popular, the banks of the river show onlookers lined for miles to watch the event.

Hell with the lid off

That's how Dickens recorded his impression of Pittsburgh. This scene brought the phrase to mind.

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