("Homestead Town" music video)
I was born in Homestead and lived there until I was 18, first in a third-floor apartment on the corner of Eighth and McClure, then in a second-floor apartment above Jones & McClure Realty on Ninth and Ann. Even then, I recall how people said Homestead was past its prime, but Eighth Avenue was still at nearly 100% occupancy, with two Isaly's, two supermarkets, a McCrory's, Grants, Penney's, and enough foot traffic that you avoided Amity Street at shift changes.
I remember the sick feeling in the pit of my stomach the first time I drove through the town after the mills had been torn down. It's hard to describe- imagine how the residents of New York felt the day after 9/11. And the destruction of Homestead was something America did to itself.
"In its 105-year history," the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette recalled in a 2006 story on the 20th anniversary of the mill's closing, "the Homestead Works produced more than 200 million tons of steel: Rails and railroad cars, armor plate that covered battleships and tanks from the Spanish-American War through the Korean War, and beams and girders that went into the Empire State Building, the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, the U.S. Steel Building in Pittsburgh and the Sears Tower in Chicago."
Its replacement, the Waterfront complex? I've been there a handful of times since it's opened, and it makes me angry. The world's largest steel plant, replaced by big box stores selling Chinese crap.
Some people see a shopping center. I see a white flag.