Jan 10: “Bethlehem Steel, Going Going Gone?” Buffalo Rising

Originally published by Buffalo Rising, “Bethlehem Steel, Going Going Gone?” by David Steele.

Based on recent activity witnessed around the old Bethlehem Steel North building on Route 5 in Lackawanna it looks as if the structure is likely to be demolished within the next few days. New fencing has gone up and heavy equipment has been moved in. This is a major piece of Western New York history – American history actually.  It is going to be thoughtlessly destroyed. Much of Buffalo and WNY was built from activity conducted within this building.  The United States won the war in Europe and Japan in no small part due to what was done inside this building.  It is important historically and it is important for its architectural craft and beauty but it will be destroyed because of small thinking.

The mayor of the City of Lackawanna, Geoffrey Szymanski, has been quoted by the Buffalo News saying that demolition is progress.  Perhaps he gets this belief from the “progress” exhibited along the city’s main thoroughfare, Ridge Road.  That once bustling street of shops and institutions is now a bland, gap-toothed poster child for the mayor’s form of progress. The Lackawanna progress that the mayor promotes leads to basically nothing of any worth from what I can see.  The recently cleared St. Barbara’s Church site is now an extravaganza of progress in the form of an empty grassy lot.  The corner across the street from the magnificent Our Lady of Victory Basilica once held a busy commercial building that was removed for the progressive use of surface parking. What is a great landmark building without surrounding it with asphalt, right? Progress Lackawanna style will now add more nothingness to this once mighty industrial city.  In the warped logic of today’s throw-away America nothing = progress.
Get down there to the building while you can so you can see what Lackawanna had before progress came along. Document it for future generations as thoroughly as you can.
Want to help save what is left of Buffalo and Western New York?  You can start by letting Mayor Szymanski know what you think of his form of progress. You can also connect with like minded people on the Preservation Ready Sites FaceBook and join Preservation Buffalo Niagara or The Campaign for Greater Buffalo http://greaterbuffalo.blogs.com  There is no gain to WNY in allowing delinquent owners and shortsighted small minded municipalities to continue stealing our unique and irreplaceable heritage. Tear down for real progress and I am with you but let’s not pretend that anything of substance is coming to the glorious Lackawanna waterfront once the Bethlehem Steel office building is taken to the garbage dump.
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