A glimpse of Steel City

The Land Of Steel City: Tour The Steel Mills Of Pittsburgh

Nov 29, 2021Surya Gopal

The Land Of Steel City: Tour The Steel Mills Of Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh has forever been known as the Steel City to the world. As the famous journalist Herbert Casson describes in his ‘The Romance Of Steel’, da 'Burgh was ‘an industrial cyclone’ shaped from ‘sweat and gold’. And, this stunning history of resilience has an everlasting impact on the city's culture and its people.

Pittsburgh has a unique place when it comes to the world of steel industries and steel production. The Golden Trio simply added to the fact that the location was just the perfect to launch an industrial boom. Today, what every yinzer and the whole world witness is the vibrance of Pittsburgh buzzing with business centers, educational institutions, and cultural landmarks. So, shouldn't we just dig deep in through those pages of history and learn about this mighty city?

Yes, of course! The city is an absolute wonder in showcasing its history. The industrial heritage is of such stellar magnificence that you should not miss out on visiting these spots if you're in Pittsburgh. And, here we have put together a little tribute to our cultural evolution as the Iron City and about the exciting steel tours, you can engage on in Pittsburgh!

Smoky mills of Pittsburgh

Photo from Brookline Connection

Why Are Steel Tours Important To Pittsburgh?

The American Revolution was the precursor to all of the steel history in Pittsburgh. Being a strategic location at the confluence of the 3 rivers Monongahela, Ohio, and Allegheny, the city soon began to play a crucial role in the steel and iron manufacturing sector in America. Settlers flew in and more productional activities commenced in and around Pittsburgh.

By 1852, railroads and multiple factories were lining the riversides. Through the early 1900s, different steel complexes like Homestead, Duquesne, Braddock, and Clairton developed over the region, evoking the golden age of Steel City. However, as World War 2 ended, New York City took in the major center for steel production and heavy pollution degraded the richness of Pittsburgh.

Production factories in America

Photo from Medium

Slowly, the official authorities commenced projects to clean up the air of Pittsburgh. The coal usage was reduced to a huge extent. “Pittsburgh Rennaissance” was achieved with the help of proper city planning and the relentless contributions of yinzers. Today, Pittsburgh owns an epic past and cultural background. Steel tours began in the honor of steel history, commemorating this legacy!

Legendary Spot Of Carrie Blast Furnaces

Out of the many steel mills that existed, Homestead Steelworks even stands out up to this day. An important furnace inside Homestead, named Carrie Blast Furnace is a huge landmark of Pittsburgh today. It reveals all about our story as a steel city and is open to the public. The entire setup remains intact, thanks to the team Rivers Of Steel!

Inside Carrie Blast Furnace

Photo from Uncovering PA

You can actually move around the core functioning spots inside the blast furnace. Carrie furnace was a major contributor to the steel required for the construction of the Empire State Building, Golden Gate Bridge, and Hoover Dam. But, sadly, its functioning came to a halt in 1978. Yet, even after 35 years, this historic location symbolizes our epic past as well as our brighter future.

Endless relics from the past have been transformed into astonishing art installations that signify the blue-collar culture of yinzers. For example, you will notice a lever with an open cup set in to and fro motion, balanced by an iron load. It resembles a hard-working father who drives to and fro from work and toils with an open-ended cup instead of a luxurious travel mug. The place also hosts a wide variety of events such as weddings, nature tours, etc. 

All About Rivers Of Steel

To showcase the brilliance of Pittsburgh in the industrial revolution, a group of history enthusiasts called Rivers Of Steel had set themselves into action. They revived the area around Homestead Steelworks. The whole locality has been converted into a beautiful tourist space where you can be around the local setting of a steel mill from the 80s and 90s.

Today, Carrie Blast Furnaces are identified as a National Historic Landmark. This might be a unique tourism mode in the world, where you get to experience a real glimpse of the archaic. People come from all over the world to experience this truly special remnant of the golden age of the industrial revolution in Pittsburgh.

Art installation outside blast furnace

Photo by Jared Murphy

They have even retained the graffiti wall. Besides, they welcome artists to pay homage to the unfortunate time when the furnaces were shut down. Along with Carrie Blast Furnace, Rivers Of Steel have been active in conserving Bost Building, The Pump House, WA Youngs & Sons Foundry & Machine Shop, and The Explorer Riverboat.

Celebrate The Steel Legacy Of Pittsburgh

Besides the steel mill tours offered by Rivers Of Steel, there are other classic locations in the city that unfurls the steel history beautifully. Some of them are Mon River Valley, Edgar Thomson Steel Works, and Carnegie Museums. Pittsburgh has in-store a ravishing experience about people and culture. Just a curious mind and exploring mode are all you need to behold this. So, set up a weekend, take a newbie friend of yours, and show them how mighty and powerful is the Pittsburghese culture!


Embrace the magic of Steel City with Yinzershop and collect the charming souvenirs to celebrate the Pittsburghese memories!

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