Growing Industry

    Under Grace, many changes occurred in Bethlehem Steel.  In the 1920’s it spent billions of dollars expanding its facilities in South Bethlehem and at the newly acquired Midvale Steel and Lackawanna Steel.  (265)  The booming twenties led to the depression of the thirties, and Bethlehem Steel was hit as hard as most other industries since its business was based on construction and the railroads.  Yet even though industrial expansion was slow during this time, the Steel still fabricated and erected many of its well-known structures, including the George Washington Bridge, the Golden Gate Bridge, New York’s Waldorf- Astoria Hotel, and Chicago’s Merchandise Mart.  (3)

   Once the country emerged from the depression, labor organization began in earnest.  The Steelworkers Organization Committee was organized by Bethlehem’s production and maintenance employees, which was the forerunner of the United Steelworkers of America.  (16)  By World War II, production had again produced  an all time high of 13 million tons of steel per year.  Employment was up to 300,000 workers.  During the war, Bethlehem built 1,121 naval and merchant ships, and repaired 38,000 other ships.  (20)  Once again both the steel industry and the community benefited from the wartime economy.