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Bethlehem Steel

American steel company, 1857–2003 / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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The Bethlehem Steel Corporation was an American steelmaking company headquartered in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Until its closure in 2003 it was one of the world's largest steel producing and shipbuilding companies. At the height of its success and productivity, the company was a symbol of American manufacturing leadership in the world, and its decline and ultimate liquidation in the late 20th century is similarly cited as an example of America's diminished manufacturing leadership. From its founding in 1857 through its 2003 dissolution, Bethlehem Steel's headquarters and primary steel mill manufacturing facilities were based in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, in the Lehigh Valley region of the United States.

Quick facts: Type, Industry, Founded, Founder, Defunct...
Bethlehem Steel Corporation
IndustrySteel, shipbuilding, mining
  • 1857 (roots)
  • 1899
    (as Bethlehem Steel Company)
  • 1904
    (as Bethlehem Steel Corporation)
FounderAugustus Wolle
Defunct2003; 20 years ago (2003)

The company's steel was used in the construction of many of America's largest and most famed structures. Among major buildings, Bethlehem produced steel for 28 Liberty Street, the Chrysler Building, the Empire State Building, Madison Square Garden, Rockefeller Center, and the Waldorf Astoria hotel in New York City and Merchandise Mart in Chicago. Among major bridges, Bethlehem steel was used in constructing the George Washington Bridge and Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge in New York City, the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, and the Peace Bridge between Buffalo and Fort Erie, Ontario.

Bethlehem Steel played an instrumental role in manufacturing U.S. warships and other military weapons used in World War I and later by the Allied forces in ultimately winning World War II. Over 1,100 Bethlehem Steel-manufactured warships were built for use in defeating Nazi Germany and the Axis powers in World War II. Historians cite Bethlehem Steel's ability to quickly manufacture warships and other military equipment as decisive factors in American victories in both world wars.[1]

Bethlehem Steel's roots trace to an iron-making company organized in 1857 in Bethlehem, which was later named the Bethlehem Iron Company. In 1899, the owners of the iron company founded Bethlehem Steel Company and, five years later, Bethlehem Steel Corporation was created to be the steelmaking company's corporate parent.

Bethlehem Steel survived the earliest declines in American steel industry beginning in the 1970s. In 1982, however, the company suspended most of its steelmaking operations after posting a loss of $1.5 billion, attributable to increased foreign competition, rising labor and pensions costs, and other factors. The company declared bankruptcy in 2001 and final dissolution in 2003 when its remaining assets were sold to International Steel Group.