Social Growth and Change in Bethlehem

    So how was the town of Bethlehem effected by the growth of "the Steel"?  One very concrete indicator was the Bethlehem population: In the South Bethlehem area alone, population increased from 947 in 1861 to 20,000 in 1910!  Of these 20,000, 14,000 were foreigners from southern and eastern Europe.  In fact, 8 out of 10 Slovak males worked for "the Steel".  (92)  Along with a population surge, Bethlehem was helped by increased profits from the steel industry, which were $10,000,000 in 1904 and $230,000,000 in 1916.  (226)  Much of this money was reinvested in the company, paid out to workers and stockholders, or given to local causes.  Wages were also increased from $2-$3/day in 1910 to $5-$7/day in 1918.  (196)(98)  This money was then reinvested in the growing community. 

    By the early 1900ís, the demographics of Bethlehem had changed from those of the early Moravian Community.  While Moravians still inhabited Bethlehem proper, South Bethlehem was a mixture of industries and south-central European ethnic communities, especially on 3rd St. and the southeastern hillsides.  On the western hillsides was Lehigh Universityís campus and its facultyís houses. Even further west was Fountain Hill, where the lavish homes of "nouveau riche entrepreneurs" were found.  (55)  For many of the first generation  crucible worker, ca.1910-1915 immigrants who lived in South Bethlehem, their dream was to save a "fortune" of a thousand dollars so that they could escape the drudgery of work at the steel mill and return home to Slovakia.  (93)  However, for the second generation who knew of no other way of life, work at "the Steel" was all their future held.  Mark Stolarik describes it as follows: Thus entered the next stream of workers who would carry the company through a depression, through a world war, and into the next half of the century.
 

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