Sparrows Point: An American Steel Story In 1887, it was an isolated stretch of marshland on the shore of the Chesapeake Bay. By 1958, it was the biggest steel mill in the world. It went bankrupt in 2001. And by 2015, it was a pile of demolished rubble. Sparrows Point is a story of capitalism, labor unions, race, gender, civil rights, pride, and hubris. It's the story of American steel.
Sparrows Point: An American Steel Story

Sparrows Point: An American Steel Story

From WYPR - 88.1 FM Baltimore

In 1887, it was an isolated stretch of marshland on the shore of the Chesapeake Bay. By 1958, it was the biggest steel mill in the world. It went bankrupt in 2001. And by 2015, it was a pile of demolished rubble. Sparrows Point is a story of capitalism, labor unions, race, gender, civil rights, pride, and hubris. It's the story of American steel.

Most Recent Episodes

The Writing On The Wall

By the mid-20 century, Bethlehem Steel was the biggest steel company in the US. It was an industrial giant that seemed too powerful to fail. But in 2001, it declared bankruptcy, decimating retirees' pensions and health benefits. In this episode, we examine how the empire collapsed, and we bear witness to the aftermath. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Bonus Episode: What Didn't Get Said

Back in the third episode of this series (Hard Fought Negotiations), we introduced you to Eddie Bartee, Jr. and after he heard the episode, he got in back in touch to share some feedback. In this bonus episode, we hop on the phone with Mr. Bartee for a candid conversation about what's been said – and what hasn't been said – in our telling of the Sparrows Point story so far. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Women of Steel

In the 1970s, Bethlehem Steel was forced by a federal consent decree to start hiring women in all operational departments, and at Sparrows Point, a brave generation of female steelworkers first walked through the doors. They stepped into a work environment that was crass, sexist, and often openly hostile to their presence. This episode, we meet three 'Women of Steel' from that pioneering generation and hear their stories of setbacks and perseverance. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Hard-Fought Negotiations

A unionized workforce was never part of the original plan at Sparrows Point. Neither was racial equity. Workers were meant to be cogs in a machine, and black workers got channeled into the hottest, dirtiest, and lowest-paying jobs. It took until World War II before the plant was unionized, and it took until the 1970s before the company was forced to desegregate its job classifications. This episode, we learn about the uphill battle for worker rights and racial justice at Sparrows Point. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

The City In The Marshes

How did a swampy peninsula on the Patapsco River get picked as the site for a revolutionary, state-of-the-art steel mill? What was it like to live and work in a self-contained company town? Did Bethlehem Steel help the Allies win World War II? And, by the way, just how complicated is it to make steel, anyway? This episode, we rewind to the origins of Sparrows Point and trace the growth of what would become the biggest steel mill in the world. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Smoke, Noise, Steam, and Heat

From the labor gang to the blast furnace, the open hearth to the shipyard, the plate mill to the 68 hot strip mill, what was it like to walk into Sparrows Point and do a day's work? Some say it was an adventure. Some say it was like fighting a fire. And some say it was like going to war. This episode, we feel what it was like to walk a mile in the boots of a Sparrows Point steelworker. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Sparrows Point: An American Steel Story Trailer

Sparrows Point is a story of capitalism, labor unions, race, gender, civil rights, pride, and hubris. It's the story of American steel. Check out this trailer and what's in store in the upcoming series. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

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