Bethlehem Steel in Lackawanna

Bethlehem Steel in Lackawanna (HM1M6F)

Location: Buffalo, NY 14203 Erie County
Country: United States of America
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N 42° 50.042', W 78° 51.28'

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The Industrial Heritage Trail

— Part 4: The Decline of Bethlehem Steel —

After World War II, America's insatiable appetite for steel kept mills across the country bustling and highly profitable. The modernized Lackawanna plant remained at near-wartime production levels and continued to employ nearly 20,000 workers for the next several decades. Further modernized in the 1960s with the addition of basic oxygen furnaces, the plant continued its remarkable output into the 1970s, helping its parent company set production records in 1973 of 23.7 million tons of raw steel and 16.3 million tons of finished steel, totals which trumped those achieved during World War II. By the late 1970s, foreign competition made it financially impossible to continue to manufacture most of the products produced at Lackawanna. In addition, increased state property taxes and new environmental regulations further curtailed the Lackawanna facility's profitability. By late 1977, the workforce in the plant had been reduced to 8,500. Bethlehem Steel allowed the Lackawanna Steel plant to become obsolete. The company built a new facility in Burns Harbor, Indiana, and stopped investing in new steel production methods at Lackawanna. Looking north up the Ship Canal. The coke ovens are on the left (circa 1984). Image Source: Historic American Engineering Record, Library of Congress. A nationwide recession in 1981 resulted in less demand for durable goods such as cars and appliances, and high interest rates put capital building projects on hold. Bethlehem Steel, like many American steel companies, was encountering significant financial problems. Although the company made several public attempts to reassess the plant's viability and keep the plant open, closure was a foregone conclusion. On December 27, 1982, Bethlehem Steel announced it would permanently shut down steelmaking at the facility. The company laid off workers in waves before the final closure, and transferred many others. In October, 1983, the last steel was processed, and more than 3,900 workers lost their jobs. The closure of the plant after 80 years in operation spelled disaster for the surrounding communities. Unemployment skyrocketed as steel workers and those who worked in secondary trades were laid off, and property taxes for the citizens of Lackawanna rose drastically. The exodus of working class jobs and the resulting economic depression rippled throughout Western New York for years. The Steel Plant Museum of WNY
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HM NumberHM1M6F
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Placed ByThe Industrial Heritage Committee, Inc
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Saturday, July 25th, 2015 at 2:01pm PDT -07:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)17T E 675335 N 4744617
Decimal Degrees42.83403333, -78.85466667
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 42° 50.042', W 78° 51.28'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds42° 50' 2.52" N, 78° 51' 16.8" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)716
Which side of the road?Marker is on the right when traveling South
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 1807-1813 Fuhrmann Boulevard, Buffalo NY 14203, US
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