The Steel Valley is looking to show that it's got more going for it than its moniker implies.
The Mon Valley area, which encompasses Homestead, Munhall, West Homestead and Whitaker, was the center of steel production for many decades. But with the mills long closed, the Steel Valley is in search of a new identity. And what better way to look toward the future than to build on the past? A past that deviates from the established story of the Steel Valley, that is.
The Society for Pennsylvania and Surrounding-Area History (SPSAH) has announced an open call for a new Historic Landmark in the region, but with one condition--the landmark must have nothing to do with steel. The landmark can be a place or thing or even a person, and cannot, the guidelines state, be "related to the steel industry that reigned in the Steel Valley 1875 to 1982."
"What's interesting about the Steel Valley region is that its identity is confined by a period of industry that is no longer active. About 75 percent of historic designations in the Steel Valley region are directly related to the steel industry," says Albert Ana with SPSAH. "What we would like to do is help people think about another identity that is more contemporary and relevant to conditions in the community as it is today. The number one job sector in the region is now the service industry, not steel. I wouldn't expect the community to be renamed Service Valley, but we want to do it begin to think about other important elements of our community."
So far, Ana says, nominations have ranged from people (an influential teacher, a friendly shopkeeper) to physical structures, including buildings at the Waterfront, the major commercial center built on the Carnegie Steel Company brownfield.
Nomination deadline is April 30. Nominations are being accepted at www.historyofpa.com and at 412.894.0655.
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Writer: Caralyn Green
Source: Albert Ana, executive president for strategies and historic initiatives, SPSAH
Photograph of previously designated historic landmark courtesy of SPSAH