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.