While in Special Collections last week, I happened to look up and I caught sight of the word “Bethlehem” on one the supporting beams. And then I got super excited, which may not be everyone’s reaction.
Prior to the Architecture and Planning Library, I worked at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, PA. Whenever I told people that I lived in Bethlehem, their reaction was usually: Oh like Mad Men.
If you are familiar with the episode, New Amsterdam (Season One), you might remember that Bethlehem, PA was home to Bethlehem Steel. And I am madly in love with the factory ruins. The history of the steel mill is complicated, and I am an outsider. However, I care very deeply about the town and the factory. I recognize, however, that my appreciation for the site comes from a different place than those that worked at the steel mill and lived in Bethlehem while it was in operation. Whenever the weather was good, I would walk home from the university and cross the New Street Bridge to the north side of town. I often would pause for moment, captivated by stacks. Occasionally, they would be artfully illuminated at night and would glow the like the Emerald City in the Wizard of Oz.
If you are intrigued by the photos, Lehigh University Libraries has two projects that seek to document the history associated with the steel mill and Bethlehem, PA. The first is Beyond Steel: An Archive of Lehigh Valley Industry and Culture. The second is Still Looking for You: A Bethlehem Place + Memory Project. Or feel free to stop by and chat about the projects and the site.