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I had always known that my great grandfather worked at a steel mill in the 20s, but it wasn't until recently that I found out it was Bethlehem Steel. After doing some quick research on the company, I realized that a lot of the original furnaces were still standing, despite a casino being built close by (which is steel mill themed). I found a 1920 census record that listed my great grandfather as a 'pipe fitter'. This is probably why he ended up getting lead poisoning and passing in 1925. Needless to say, I have a nostalgic connection to this place.

Unfortunately when I arrived I quickly found that I couldn't get very close to the structure, unlike some former photographers. Most of the site is surrounded by heavy fencing with warning signs on the perimeter. Some new construction is going on, which I found odd. The city has done tours of the site in the past, but it looks like maybe they're expanding on this idea, and cleaning things up with the help of the casino.

After I returned home from the trip I realized that some scenes for Transformers 2 were actually filmed on the site. It was made to look like a Chinese town (it was supposed to be Shanghai to be specific). This also explains why I spotted a large grey electrical box on the side of the main building. It was for the lighting they set up. I'm unsure whether the newly paved roads and street lamps going in-between the old buildings were added before or after the movie.

Edit: It looks like the construction I saw is part of the plan to eventually convert everything into part of the casino:

Anyway, here are some photos I snapped while wondering around the site. They were all taken with my d5000 and 18-55 kit lens w/ a CPL filter.

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Thanks/Like jengajoh, Ranie, Carolina Photo Guy, Carroll, WhiteLight Thanks/liked this post
Photos , Architecture


  1. Carolina Photo Guy's Avatar
    Great shots, Mr Admin Guy. If they ever do a remake of ThunderDome, this would be the place.

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  2. jdeg's Avatar
    Thanks Pete!
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  3. jdeg's Avatar
    I'm proud to say I did the Runner's World half marathon in Bethlehem on Oct 20th. It was a great way to see the beautiful town in 2 hours
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  4. BackdoorArts's Avatar
    Nice shots. The casino should have been done by the time these were taken. I'm guessing the Artsquest facility was nearing completion, as was the PBS39 studios. They've since done some great work restoring and repurposing some of the buildings on the west side of the stacks (information and history center). I know they do occasional tours of the interiors and I'm working with the Artsquest folks to try and get access to the inside for a day of shooting.
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  5. jdeg's Avatar
    Yeah I was there in Oct for the half marathon and was shocked how dramatically different it was around the stacks. When I took those pics, they were just getting started cleaning things up.

    I would love to get into the interior - based on past photos I've seen it looks incredible.
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