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South Side Works: Our Changing Community

South Side Works: Our Changing Community

"The most interesting thing was when our teacher told us about the steel mill. It made so much dirt in the air that it would make so many houses dirty that they had to be cleaned off each day." —student quote

South Side Works: Our Changing Community

Communities change over time and the way land is used reflects the values and needs of the people. For more than 140 years, since before the Civil War until 1986, steel was produced on a South Side site extending from the Monongahela River shore to East Carson Street, in the area between S. 25th and S. 33rd Streets, and beyond.

The American Iron Works, established in 1854 by Benjamin Franklin Jones and James Laughlin, later became Jones & Laughlin (J & L) Steel. At its peak in the 1960s, J & L employed about 8,500 people. In 1968, LTV purchased J & L, and then merged with Republic Steel in 1985. One year later, Republic Steel was forced to close due to foreign competition, high labor costs, and a lack of modern steel-making equipment. The property was abandoned and the mill was demolished in the early 1990s.

In 1993 the Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh purchased the former LTV Steel South Side Works property, and worked with the local community and various developers to create a master plan for a mixed-use development including a riverfront park, office space, housing, health-care facilities, and the Pittsburgh Steelers and Pittsburgh Panthers indoor practice field. New construction began in 1998, and SouthSide Works is now open for business.

During a field trip to SouthSide Works, students learn about the steel-making process and evaluate how the site is being re-developed. They discuss how the use of the land has changed over time and sketch new buildings or monuments that they would like to see constructed at SouthSide Works.

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