Originally published on June 7, 2012
For generations no one imagined Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, without steel. But after the bankruptcy of the steel plant, the city had to rethink its identity. Situated as it is, between New York and Philadelphia, reimagining the plant as cultural magnet seemed equally implausible, but that is what it has become. Bethlehem kept its silenced furnaces as both conduit to a shared past and a backdrop for contemporary culture. With the completion of a new band shell called the Levitt Pavilion and a redesigned streetscape, both by Philadelphia-based WRT, the city has an arts attraction and town plaza so close to the plant, one can almost touch the preserved stacks.