SteelStacks tour guide Loretta's father's Bethlehem Steel workers tag (photo by Sheila Scarborough)

This photo is of the ID tag that Loretta’s father wore during his 40 years working as a crane operator at Bethlehem Steel in Pennsylvania.

She wears it around her neck today as she gives guided tours of the industrial complex that once powered a nation, and is now a collection of rusting hulks and falling-down buildings.

Except, it’s not all falling down.

Today, the plant site is an incredible example of revitalization and industrial tourism called SteelStacks;  it includes a music pavilion next to a former blast furnace, the modern ArtsQuest performing arts building, a new building housing local public television station PBS39 and a bit down the road, a huge (and tastefully designed to fit the industrial theme) Sands Casino.

Loretta will tell you the history of the place during her tour – including fun stories about her Dad – but you’ll have to take care not to fall off of the sidewalk or into a fence while gawking at the renaissance taking place all around you.

Thanks, Loretta, and everyone in Bethlehem PA who honors the past, but believes in and builds a new future.

(Disclosure: I was in the Lehigh Valley as a keynote speaker for their annual regional tourism meeting, so my travel expenses were covered by the Convention and Visitors Bureau, but there was no cost to seeing SteelStacks.)

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