The perky Perkeo II and Pennsylvania Rust Belt
With a bit of luck, and some inspiration from bliorg's recent thread about Birdsboro and his Ansco Super Speedex ...
My wife had last Monday off and we wandered up to Bethlehem to see what was happening. The massive steel mill shut down in the early nineties and there was a major effort to redevelop the site that occasionally got mired in disagreement and controversy. We had a tasty but expensive lunch at the Sands Casino, then wandered toward the blast furnace area - a section that's hard to miss!
A look at a furnace and the skip car incline used to load it:
This is cool, but I found considerable sadness in looking at it:
A first guess might be that it was a compressor, but I actually toured this mill as part of a metallurgy class (in 19-aught-62!) and seem to recall it was a generator. Combustible gasses off the blast furnaces were burned to power it. At any rate, the studs sticking off the left hand side once held cylinders that were probably four feet long. The cylinders, pistons, cross heads and part of the rods have been lopped off in a pure butcher job. Damn!
An-n-n-d, totally unexpected, there was ACTION! A pair of cranes were there to install a sculpture - "The Bridge" designed by Elena Columbo, who was there to see the work happening.
I post this because of something in the lower left. At a distance, I assumed it was a video camera, but it turned out to be a Bolex H16 with a bunch of auxiliary goodies to shoot time lapse! Its owner looked at my Perkeo and said "Whoa - a folder. Is that a Voigtlander?"
I said yes and he asked "Skopar lens?" Etc., etc. On another tripod, he had a Mitchell 35 mm movie camera, also rigged to do time lapse. Interesting stuff.
Setting the cantilvered arch in place:
This has a slot over the top of the arch and will be able to burn a gas flame over the top third or so (as I understand it from conversations there). This is a part of the "SteelStacks Campus" where there are some food places with outdoor seating, and a covered stage for outdoor concerts, the Levitt Pavilion, right in front of the furnaces. Need to go back and check that out some more.
Along the bottom, a bit right of center, is the 35 mm movie camera. Film is alive!
I took the Perkeo and a you-know-what P&S on the assumption casinos probably don't want cameras inside and I wasn't too cool on leaving good stuff in the car. I can see another trek with the Bronica might come up soon. There is open public parking right near the furnaces. Various things are fenced off so one can't climb inside, etc. but there are certainly some worthy sights. There is still active construction going on, some other buildings are reduced to shells but perhaps moving toward rehab, I'm not really up on Lehigh Valley goings on.
Part of the grand plan was supposed to include an industrial heritage museum that would include and preserve the furnaces; I hope that's still happening.
Last edited by DWThomas; 07-17-2011 at 02:16 PM. Click to view previous post history.
Great photos for sure. I am saddened for the loss of jobs that it represents, and the loss to our economy. There are those in the land that are happy that the steel mills are shut down, no more pollution(bullcrap), the pollution has shifted to less apparent means. At least it is getting a make-over and rejuvenated, I would like to see what it becomes myself. Keep shooting Dave.
You guys are inspiring me to go out and shoot my 6x6 folder as well. These are great pics and I bet you had a lot of fun with these small MF systems. I re-fall in love with film sometimes by using the simplest cameras...makes me remember why i love shooting film in the beginning.
Nice pics, thanks for sharing!
Thanks guys, I did definitely enjoy myself, as the whole day was just a spontaneous sort of happening. There are art-related centers, and a whole schedule of almost daily concerts lined up this summer. The surrounding parts of town have gentrified a bit, galleries, restaurants and such since I spent a few years there fifty years ago(!)
The film was three rolls of my fast-fading supply of Plus-X (snif!) And I just put a bunch more shots up in my PBase galleries. I shot a bunch of color with "other technology" but in my mind, B&W fits the subject so well I may not bother to put them up.