The legendary US underground band Pere Ubu from Cleveland, Ohio was one of the first to address the atmosphere of their declining heavy industrial homeland in lyrics and on record covers.
From now demolished Pershing Av. bridge. No. 1 slabbing mill in the foreground, no. 2 BOF right, open hearth shop in the background.
Frontman and mastermind David Thomas on growing up in Cleveland in the 1970ies: We were savages living in the ruins of a great civilization of Rockefellers and Carnegies. Growing up, we owned downtown. Nobody wanted it. We roamed the streets like they were ours. The Flats was a place of deep mystery. It was our modern art museum. We would drive through the steel mills and within 20 yards of open blast furnaces. We weren’t duplicating those sounds. Those sounds were showing us the way to change the narrative vehicle of modern music. (Cleveland Magazine, 11/22/2017)
In 1965 there were 237 blast furnaces at 72 locations in the U.S. . This series will briefly introduce all of them.
Library of Congress, Photographer Jet Lowe
In 1965, the United States Steel Corp. was the largest steel producer in the world. In the U.S. it still operated 16 blast furnace sites. One of their lesser known plants was Central Furnaces in Cleveland, OH.
This plant was founded in 1881 by the Cleveland Rolling Mill Co. and supplied iron to the Newburgh steel mill until it was closed in 1933.
After that, the Cuyahoga River plant became a pure ironworks, selling merchant pig iron and hot metal to foundries.
In the 1960ies, after the demolition of furnaces B & C and the rebuilding of blast furnace A in 1954 the mill operated two furnaces.
Blast furnace A now mostly supplied pig iron to the Ford Motor Company’s Cleveland
With no integrated steel production the Central Furnaces became what USS called a “marginal unit” and were shut down in 1978.
Famous German industrial photographers Bernd and Hilla Becher visited the plant in 1979, pictures 3, 92 and 159 in their book “Hochöfen” (Blast Furnaces) show the furnaces.