Carrie & The Fields

by chrisgiuliano

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AFFUNERALThese photos are from another wonderful trip to Pittsburgh. I went out to that glorious place over spring break to do some research for my project in my preservation class. I’m writing my paper on the Carrie Blast Furnace site, which is currently being leased by Rivers of Steel, an organization dedicated to preserving the relics of the steel making industry in the Pittsburgh region. The site contains two blast furnaces, hot blast stoves, a stack, a stationary car dumper, and a couple of massive sheds, which Rivers of Steel plans to adaptively reuse for various purposes, mostly as spaces for performing arts and events, as well as a museum space.

I took my tour of Carrie on a blustery, overcast day. I got to Homestead to Rivers of Steel’s office and my tour guide, Kelsey, drove me to the site and took me around to take pictures and gain a better understanding of the spaces that are there and how they plan to use them. The first thing I have to say is that these pictures do no justice to how massive these structures really are. It’s amazing how big they are when you get up close and personal with them, since they don’t look so large from across the river as there are trees lining the waterfront that block the view. The hot blast stoves and stack are massive, and the furnaces themselves are giant hulks of steel, making for a powerful monument to the legacy of the thousands of people that worked there over the years. These photos just really can’t fully capture the silent power of industrial structures like these, so if you really want to understand a steel mill, set up a tour next time you’re in Pittsburgh. It’s well worth it.

Rivers of Steel seems to have some great plans for the portion of the site that they lease from Allegheny County, who owns the land, and is currently developing a flyover ramp for better access, as well as some facilities for “light industrial and warehouse” uses. When I asked Kelsey about why they decided against residential, she said that there’s no need for new residential development in Pittsburgh or the surrounding area, since there is already so much existing housing stock that is unused. After all, the city’s population has only started climbing again recently. Regardless, it is really amazing to see the structures of the Carrie Furnace being preserved and turned into a museum and an arts facility, as well as a mixed use industrial facility. It’s quite rare to see such brilliant adaptive reuses, but if there’s anywhere to do it, it’s Pittsburgh, where residential development pressure is low and there is little need for new office space.

After my tour of the Carrie site, I took some shots of 8th Avenue in Homestead, the main drag of the city, which has suffered greatly from urban decline. Unfortunately some of these shots came out with huge light leaks, which I was pretty mad about, but the idea is there: empty businesses, empty streets, and an empty town that could greatly benefit from the foot traffic and the creation of jobs that the redevelopment at Carrie will bring (although, don’t take it the wrong way, there are still businesses in Homestead, I just didn’t take any photos of the ones that are still in business). The rest of these photos are from Pittsburgh proper, including Bloomfield, Downtown, Lawrenceville, and the section of Greenfield known as “The Run”, which is an awesome little neighborhood tucked underneath two bridges and separated from the rest of the city. In the run, I think I found my favorite bar I’ve ever been in, although unfortunately I didn’t have my camera with me when I visited it.

Hope you enjoy these photos, and coming up next is a photo shoot I did back in New York on black and white film which I’m really excited about.

Chris

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