Youngstown

When I was about 15 years-old a family friend gave me $25 of LTV Steel stock. It was of nominal value, but it was an amazing gift — the memory of which has remained with me in to this day. It was especially poignant the day LTV filed for Chapter 11 and closed the last remaining steel mill in Cleveland. That was a disappointing time for me. While LTV was shuttering, the local newspaper — the Cleveland Plain Dealer — ran a series of articles called The Quiet Crisis, about the deflating Northeast Ohio economy and the eroding industrial tax base. It is tough to see things like that happen to any town, especially a town you grew up loving and defending.

I found these beautiful black and white photos from the Library of Congress (via the Detroit Publishing Company archive) and was listening to Bruce Springsteen’s Youngstown and it took me back to the glory days of American industry. Or at least the American industrial 1970s (think Deer Hunter) or when I was a kid in Cleveland in the 1980s. Most of these photos are from Western Pennsylvania — places like Homestead and Braddock — and some are from Cleveland, but the spirit is from Bruce and Youngstown, Steel Town.

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Comments on “Youngstown

    Jeremyon April 6, 2010 @ 3:37 PM:

    this is where my grandfather lived and worked most of his life. its a tough town.

    Jameson April 6, 2010 @ 3:43 PM:

    Mom’s from Braddock; her family was from Youngstown. Still a Pittsburgh kid.

    Matton April 6, 2010 @ 4:12 PM:

    That’s where my pop was from…he worked his way through college as a boiler tender.

    Paul Michaelon April 6, 2010 @ 4:31 PM:

    My grandfather’s family lived a practical blue collar, Italian life in Braddock and my father taught my twin brother and I everything we know while living Youngstown. It’s amazing what you can learn from stoic men of an age passed.

    I also stumbled upon this in my tangled memory about a good friend:

    “I read part of a poem Michael wrote about him and me. It described nice
    weather and denim. Bruce on the radio and Youngstown in our voices. It
    made my heart swell that he got it too.”

    Brohammason April 6, 2010 @ 5:01 PM:

    These pictures and tales from the 80’s make me think of Tom Cruise playing a high school football player.
    Will I get run out of this forum if I say “Go Eagles?”

    Sean Kellyon April 6, 2010 @ 5:31 PM:

    My grandfather worked for Republic Steel in Cleveland, which became LTV, My uncle worked for LTV when it went under.

    I live in Seattle now. Few people outside the Rust Belt comprehend how that region has been abandoned.

    Chuck Hatton April 6, 2010 @ 6:37 PM:

    My grandfather quit school in 4th grade and went to work in the steel mills in Homestead PA and later McDonald Ohio, just outside of Youngstown. He had five sons who served in WWII at the same time, five battle stars in his window and everyone came home. Bill went to OSU and picked up a pharmacy degree and then was drafted and saw combat in Korea. Yes, that region has been abandoned and now I’m watching it happen to Detroit as I live in Ann Arbor. A great tribute in photos and song.

    Michaelon April 6, 2010 @ 6:39 PM:

    I lived in Buffalo during the decline and collapse of the steel industry there. It was terribly sad to see middle aged men lose jobs like that, knowing they would never replace the wages they had been receiving. It remains very much an open question whether regions around the Great Lakes will develop a new economic base. Let’s hope so.

    I also want to note what I consider the beauty of much early 20th century industrial architecture and form. It is form following function in its truest form, and it sometimes produces structures of great visual beauty. Notable in this regard are the grain elevators of the Buffalo waterfront, pictures of which helped to form the European interest in Cubism.

    Camfordon April 7, 2010 @ 12:08 AM:

    Looks like China today!

    JMPon April 7, 2010 @ 9:29 AM:

    I grew up there and that’s where my family still lives. Great post!

    Matton April 7, 2010 @ 10:06 AM:

    Hey Camford – you can thank the lemon squeezers on Wall Street and Bill Clinton (for signing the NTA with China) for that!!

    Adamon April 7, 2010 @ 10:19 AM:

    I grew up in Youngstown, refused to give up on it until I was 27. I remember the skies downtown being black from the mills then driving out to my grandparents’ house in the suburbs and it being a beautiful blue skied spring day. That city shaped me in ways I am still learning. Thanks for this post.

    Drewon April 7, 2010 @ 11:02 AM:

    My family is scattered all over the rust belt valley and its great to see such appreciation amongst my peers for this culture and time period.

    Stuon April 7, 2010 @ 2:31 PM:

    Great post and love the photos! We recently acquired a few pieces from a picker who was able to get into the now defunct Bethlehem Steel factory in PA. We were certainly envious and it was si fascinating to hear some of the stories about the cultural inner-workings of the mill.

    Robon April 8, 2010 @ 2:37 PM:

    Grew up in youngstown and I’ve been in most of those buildings before they were torn down. I did a few photo projects using the shots from the empty mills. They were incredibly eerie because they just closed the doors and left… stuff still in guys lockers, personal items, everything just stopped. Great series. Thanks for posting them.

    MR.DIXONon April 10, 2010 @ 1:23 PM:

    I was born and raised in Cleveland Ohio{Collinwood]…most of my family worked for GM or LTV..the town was amazing and still has tons of great talented people,it is sad when I land at Hopkins International and take the rapid into Tower City and realize that this is not the kind of city it use to be and it does not deserve to be abandon.

    JACK MARTINon April 29, 2010 @ 11:29 PM:

    I JUST RETIRED WITH 32 YEARS FROM THE YOUNGSTOWN , OHIO FIRE DEPARTMENT ! I HIRED ON THE P & LE RAIROAD ( PITTSBURGH AND LAKE ERIE ) WHEN I WAS 18 , SEPTEMBER 30 , 1969 WITH MY DAD ! WE LIVED ON THE SOUTH SIDE OF YOUNGSTOWN NEAR THE YOUNGSTOWN SHEET AND TUBE ! ! I WORKEDALOT OF SWITCHING JOBS IN THOSE MILLS ! ! LATER ON I RAN TRAINS OUT OF MCKEES ROCK , PA . NEWELL . PA , UP TO ASTABEULA . OHIO ! ! THOSE WERE GREAT TIMES ! ! !

    Alex.Emersonon May 2, 2010 @ 12:34 PM:

    I am too young to have known the glory days, but I still rep Cleveland (albeit now in DC). Nice to see some NEOhio love!

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