United States Steel Corporation Homestead Works mould yard 1972--south of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

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    Photograph (C) copyright 2010 Ivan Safyan Abrams. All rights reserved.

    In the summer of 1966, when I was a 19-year-old university student, I worked for the Union Railroad as a yard clerk on the extra board (on-call). Though I worked mostly the midnight shift, sometimes I'd be fortunate and have a day turn. I couldn't take my camera to work, so I don't have any photos of the many interesting things I encountered and experienced during the 2 months I worked for the Railroad. A few years later, I was able to take this and a few other photos of some of the places I worked.

    The Union Railroad was a wholly-owned subsidiary of the United States Steel Corporation. It served the many US Steel (USS) mills that lined the shores of the Monongahela River, in Allegheny County, near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The Union Railroad still exists (2009) and still serves the USS mills--both of them (and a coke plant), the last remnants of what were once 38 such mills and a powerful industry.

    The area depicted in this photograph is now, I believe, a parking lot for a shopping mall. Similar sights can be seen to this day in China, India, and other nations where basic industries still exist. Admittedly, the air in and around Pittsburgh is much cleaner than it was in 1972, but the region's industrial lifeblood has vanished. Couldn't there have been a better compromise?

    Many critics believe that US Steel intentionally failed to modernize its plants and processes in order to extract the maximum profit from them in their last years. The final years of the Homestead Works, and others along the river, were their busiest. Then, one day, the fires went out, and thousands of people lost their jobs. The company blamed organized labor (a theme that resonated for nearly a century) and environmental regulations for its increased costs. Most of us who lived in Pittsburgh still find more fault with the management practices that were common in the industry; sustainability took a back seat to expedience, and quick profits triumphed over social responsibility. Others may differ, but that's how it seems to me.

    Nick Suydam, contemplative imaging, and 17 other people added this photo to their favorites.

    1. wmfan3798 88 months ago | reply

      WOW!! and to think that this is all gone now

    2. loose_grip_99 86 months ago | reply

      Thanks for the link Ivan. Great shot. I remember ingot molds like these. It was always so impressive when they were filling them.

    3.  rednaxela_west 75 months ago | reply

      Foto 55

      !!★ High Quality Image ★

      Qualified Members Only

    4. ARTomitsch 75 months ago | reply

      This great photo is seen in:

      Please tag your photo with:

    5. Fan-T 61 months ago | reply

      Hi, I'm an admin for a group called Steel Mill Railroads, and we'd love to have this added to the group!

    6. Sean Posey 61 months ago | reply

      You are right. It's all a mall now. Sad...

    7. TeodoraC 61 months ago | reply

      "This photograph is a WINNER!"

      the BEST of Flickr!!!

    8. emilius da atlantide 61 months ago | reply

      very interesting picture and text..

    9. danvartanian 61 months ago | reply

      Your photo is a GREAT capture!!! Thanks for sharing it with the group.
      This photo was seen in:

      A Memory of our Daily Life

    10. jwtca 39 months ago | reply

      Quick profits always triumph over social responsibility in big business.

    11. Ivan S. Abrams 39 months ago | reply

      No question that US Steel knew what it was doing as it bled the last few tons of steel out of that plant in Homestead. It was a business decision to not modernize, to use the old and dirty equipment, and then to shut down the plant forever. how many lives were ruined by this cynical and arrogant method of doing business? Thousands, I'm sure.

    12. jrfj4 26 months ago | reply

      Ivan, in 1966 I too was a university student working my second summer as a Brakeman on the URR. I worked most of that summer on the third trick URR ore dumper crew at Carrie Furnace. During the summer of 1965 I worked several Extra Board jobs in Homestead. I too feel that in general the management of most USA steel mills failed and just let their steel plants just fade away (or be sold and moved to China). But this photo brings back some of the best memories in my life...and I thank you. Although it was sold by USS, the URR is still working at the remaining USS steel plant in the Mon Valley...ET.

    13. Ivan S. Abrams 26 months ago | reply

      It's difficult to believe that this vast industrial complex is gone, replaced by a shopping mall and assorted amusements. I've eaten at one of the restaurants that's located where the mill used to be and it was an odd feeling; I felt both out of place and out of time. I wish I had more photos of the steel mills in and around Pittsburgh, but this one, for me as well as for you, brings back fond memories of what is now a very distant time.

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