Hannah Hakim

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Bethlehem Steel
Hannah Hakim

Bethlehem Steel was an integral part of the war effort during World War II. Bethlehem Steel was in operation from 1863-1995. It was a crucial part of the success of the United States during World War II. Pennsylvania's steel mills manufactured one-third of the United States' steel supply. Bethlehem Steel was based in Bethlehem, PA. At the start of World War II, there were 13,055 employed at Bethlehem Steel. In 1943, there were 31,523 people working in Bethlehem Steel. The number of employees more than doubled. Bethlehem Steel also had plants throughout the state, and in Baltimore, Buffalo, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Massachusetts, and Seattle. Throughout the whole country, there were a total of 283,765 people employed by Bethlehem Steel during World War II.

Bethlehem Steel supplied the United States military with much needed supplies. A few weeks after Pearl Harbor was bombed, Bethlehem Steel had $1.3 billion in orders to make all sorts of military supplies including bomb casings, armor piercing shells, gun forgings, airplane parts, and warships. Bethlehem Steel made parts for the radial, air-cooled engines mounted on all of the Navy planes. Bethlehem Steel also made parts for all of the Army Air Corps Bombers, and they made forgings for submarine air flasks. Bethlehem Steel produced 70 percent of all airplane cylinder forgings, one-fourth of the warships' armor plates, and one-third of the cannon forgings, during World War II. Bethlehem Steel's most important production was the production of steel ships. Bethlehem Steel produced 1,127 ships for World War II. The plant trained thousands of workers to build the ships. Bethlehem Steel made almost every part of the ship too, not just the frame. They made the engines and the armor plates that protected the engines. Bethlehem Steel also produced the guns and shells used on the ships. It was responsible for making one-fifth of the entire US Navy's fleet. Pennsylvania industries also produced radio crystals, parachutes, rations, and 100-octane aircraft fuel.

The Bethlehem Steel plant closed in 1995. The one hundred thirty-five year old plant was important to the success of the United States during World War II. The steel mill is not being forgotten in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. In Bethlehem, the area around the blast furnaces at Bethlehem Steel is being transformed into an entertainment, arts, and education center. There is a casino, hotel, outlet center, art movie house, entertainment complex, and an ice rink on the grounds of the old Bethlehem Steel. The exterior of the blast furnaces are being illuminated almost every night and there is a concert stage where outdoor concerts are held right in front of the plant several times a week during the summer months. People, in the future, can visit Bethlehem Steel and go to the Smithsonian museum they are building there. The National Museum of Industrial History is currently under construction on the Old Bethlehem Steel site. The museum will be about America's industrial achievements from the mid 1800's to the present. Bethlehem Steel was an integral part of the American war effort during World War II. Bethlehem Steel's contribution to the military ensured the success of the Americans and the Allies during World War II.