Inside Bethlehem Steel The Final Quarter
Century is a visual tour of what was once the
second-largest steel producer in the United States, and the
story of how it struggled to survive in its last 25 years.
Through the photographs of Peter B. Treiber
and the text of Elizabeth A. ("Bette") Kovach, the book
celebrates the majesty and might of the steelmaker while
chronicling the long decline of the company that literally
built, transported and defended America for nearly 99
Treiber and Kovach were both employees of
Bethlehem Steel's Public Affairs Department, working out of its
corporate headquarters in Bethlehem, Pa. Treiber was a staff
photographer from 1977 to 1983 and then was contracted to
photograph the company's facilities and products for use in
Kovach worked in corporate and employee
communications from 1976 until the company's sale of assets to
International Steel Group Inc. in May 2003. She was Bethlehem
Steel's last director of corporate communications and
"Bethlehem Steel was a dangerously beautiful
place," said Treiber, now proprietor of Peter Treiber
Photography, Bethlehem. "The texture of the surfaces fluctuated
wildly from the rough and tumble to the shiny and smooth.
Sometimes brilliantly lighted by the furnace's fire and
sometimes dark and dingy, it was always a challenge to work in
For Kovach, the book was a journey of life
experiences. "The challenges were plentiful as the company
slowly, painfully found itself in a long downward spiral," said
Kovach, now proprietor of BK Communications Inc., Bethlehem.
"But there was enormous pride in our work and a constant hope
that the company would persevere."
The book showcases Treiber's photography in
the mines, shipyards, integrated steelmaking operations and
finishing facilities. Kovach's text provides insight into the
operations, history, challenges and employee commitment that
enabled Bethlehem Steel to celebrate nearly a centennial as an
American industrial icon.
"Our intent is to celebrate the work and
accomplishments-through photography and text-of the millions of
people who worked for Bethlehem Steel from 1904 until 2003,"
Kovach said. "This book is not a decade-by-decade history of
the company, but instead a glimpse of the company in its last
years as it struggled mightily to survive."
Treiber said he and Kovach believe the memory
and history of the company deserve to be preserved as a
testimony to American ingenuity and hard work. "We do not offer
an opinion of what went wrong with Bethlehem, but instead
through our photos and words offer a view of Bethlehem Steel as
it continued to serve its customers and improve its facilities
during the last years," he said. "We purposefully chose to
celebrate the legacy of a company that gave so much to so many
The leather-bound book measuring 12 by 9
inches has 92 photographs and accompanying text spanning 140
pages. Nearly all the photographs are full color, and all were
taken between 1977 and 2000, when the mill was in full
Inside Bethlehem SteelThe Final Quarter
Century is available through local bookstores.
Additional information is available at
Treiber's Web site, www.ptphoto.com.