Monday, July 31, 2006

Homestead then and now

Mark Roth has a nice piece in the Sunday PG on what the Homestead Works was really like. It is an American thing to pretty much obliterate any traces of the past when redeveloping areas. To a degree, the Waterfront Development is lucky that it has the few artifacts that it has down there including the smokestacks and the gantry crane.

Unless you work at the Edgar Thompson Works, the only way one can really experience what it is like to have worked in a steel plant is to head to Germany. There the nexus of industrial tourism in the world is in the German town of Duisburg, one of Pittsburgh's innumerable sister cities. Duisburg's Landscape Park has kept in place the nearly intact remains of the Thyssen Steel plant, which is another oversized integrated steel plant just like Homestead was. You can wander through the site from ground level to the top, inside and out. I have some pictures of the place. It really is amazing. Most of you know that they want to do something similar at the Carrie Furnace site. American insurance companies will prevent there from ever being the same kind of untfettered access at a US version of Landscape Park.. the place is one big tort waiting to happen. You can get away with that in Europe, but not here. I do see there are now some limited tours available to the public of the Carrie Furnace site though.

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