The four-story ArtsQuest Center and an adjacent structure housing a television studio face hulking blast furnaces on the former Bethlehem Steel campus.
Bethlehem Steel’s five blast furnaces, with their 285-foot-tall smokestacks wrapped in tangles of metal pipes, embodied the very idea of industry for generations. Beginning in the late 1850s, the company fabricated structural material for a long list of monumental projects, including the Golden Gate Bridge and the Chrysler Building. But by the time I was growing up near Bethlehem in the 1980s, the furnaces stood as emblems — for eastern Pennsylvanians and, thanks to a Billy Joel song about my native Allentown, for the rest of the country as well — of the economic and cultural fallout from the decline of U.S. manufacturing. In November 1995, Bethlehem Steel shut down the last operations at its sprawling campus along the Lehigh River.