Sunday, November 06, 2005

Sunday Confidential

This weather is unnatural and unnerving, but it made for a beautiful weekend, no? I made an impromptu trip to PA this weekend for a date with a special guy... my pops. We checked out the old Bethlehem Steel property, which is the source of much controversy in the city of Bethlehem because ever since Steel closed down shop in 1995, the grounds have been sitting empty and unused; now the Sands casino wants to build a gambling haven there on the South Side. While the city needs the revenue, there is naturally also significant opposition to turning the Christmas City into Sin City. I don't know what I think about all that, except that Lehigh University students would certainly be happy not to have to drive all the way to A.C. to blow all their cash, but the site itself is quite amazing. The grounds of the plant have thousands of acres of low-lying buildings made of brick and stone, covered by rusting roofs or hollowed out, open to the elements, with blown-out, darkened windows. Rusting blast furnaces rise into the air like bent fingers, and the chutes and ramps and rail lines imply a halted potential motion that will never begin again. Everywhere, on all the equipment, there are walkways, and you can almost see the ghosts of the workers who built the World War II battleships and the Chrysler Building; you can almost hear the deafening clang of metal striking metal. This may be a sentimental account of a place that was dangerous and difficult to work in, but it's strange to see a physical place that exists in the past rather than the present, where the old history hasn't been supplanted by something new, where today's abandonment and decrepitude threatens to obliterate the plant's former moxie.


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