BETHLEHEM -- With a sledgehammer in one hand and a check in the
other, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge recently helped knock down part
of an old Bethlehem Steel building that will become the new Preview
Center for the National Museum of Industrial History, and he
presented a $4.5 million check to make the center a reality.
The National Museum of Industrial History is affiliated with the
Smithsonian Institution and is the cornerstone of the $450 million
Bethlehem Works Project on Bethlehem's south side -- the largest
land-recycling project in America.
This project was enabled when the state's general assembly
approved Ridge's plan to raise the cap on the capital budget's
redevelopment assistance fund by $650 million for vital community
and economic development projects statewide.
After serving nearly 140 years as an iron and steelmaking site,
the Bethlehem Steel facility, on 1,800 acres of land, closed in
Envisioned as a public-private partnership to restore economic
and social vitality to Bethlehem's south side, the site will be
transformed into a mixed-use, urban destination center that is
expected to help invigorate the local economy with new jobs,
investments, tax revenues, services and entertainment.
The Bethlehem site has been divided into two parcels --
Bethlehem Works (about 160 acres) and the Bethlehem Commerce Center
(about 1,600 acres).
The National Museum of Industrial History, will serve as the
anchor for Bethlehem Works.
The $9 million Preview Center will serve as the museum's base of
operations during the planning and construction stages of the main
The agreement between the Smithsonian and Bethlehem Steel is the
first in the Smithsonian's nationwide affiliates program to share
its collections with institutions across America. The Smithsonian
said the long-term loans of objects will allow it to fulfill its
goal of becoming a truly national institution.
An adaptive recycling program planned for the project includes
the reusing of almost 2 million square feet of building space, some
dating back to the 1870s, as well as five blast furnaces, an
elevated train truss and an ore bridge to serve as icons of the
site's industrial past.