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Pittsburgh Iron & Steel Heritage Collection

Pittsburgh Iron & Steel Heritage Collection is a digital collection of books, journals, photographs, trade catalogs, and other items related to the iron and steel industry in Western Pennsylvania. To learn more about this project visit our About page, or begin browsing the collection using the menu below.

Anderson, Cook & Co., Pgh. Steel Works

Companies - Histories

From railroads and bridges to skyscrapers, the innovations in iron and steel production of the late 19th and early 20th centuries shaped the world we know today. Major industrialists including Andrew Carnegie (steel) Henry Clay Frick (coke), Henry Phipps and Henry Oliver (iron), led companies in Western Pennsylvania, amassing fortunes for themselves and revolutionizing the nation with their products.
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Jones & Laughlin Steel Company sales agents

Companies - Labor and Management

“No question at the present day is of greater interest to the public than that of the relations between employers and their working men,” states Jeremiah W. Jenks in his foreword to Analysis of the Interchurch World Movement Report on the Steel Strike. Before the establishment of modern regulations and legislation protecting workers, labor disputes and strikes developed into dramatic power struggles that sometimes involved lockouts, Pinkerton Detectives, hastily deputized citizens and violence.
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United States Steel Corporation [electronic resource] : hearings before the Committee on Investigation of United States Steel Corporation / House of Representatives.

Companies - Legal Issues

Along with Western Pennsylvania's industrial successes came concerns. As the entrepreneurs became millionaires, many of the workers remained poor, putting in long days with unfavorable conditions. In a 1868 issue of Atlantic Magazine, James Parton described Pittsburgh as "Hell with the lid off."
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[Portrait of Andrew Carnegie]


Carnegie, Mellon, Phipps, Frick – we see their names on libraries, buildings, businesses and street signs, but what did these wealthy businessmen look like? This collection includes numerous portraits of famous industrialists and financiers, posing together or with their families.
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Pgh. from Brownsville Ave. & Gray Road (now William Street), Knox School on right


The development of Pittsburgh, and its neighborhoods was driven by the tremendous growth of the manufacturing of iron and steel, as well other forms of industry in the 19th century. The prominence of industry to the region was marked by one writer, who in 1896, referred to Pittsburgh as the "Workshop of the World." It was under the shadow of industry that Pittsburgh gained world prominence, and a city grew.
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Industries. Iron & steel. Homestead 1912, U.S. Steel 140” plate mill shear


By the late 19th century the United States was leading the world in steel production. At the center of this was Andrew Carnegie, who described his interest in the manufacturing and production of iron and steel,
“ …to insure uniform quality, and also to make certain shapes which were not then to be obtained, we determined to embark in the manufacture of iron. My brother (Thomas) and I became interested with Thomas N. Miller, Henry Phipps, and Andrew Kloman in a small iron mill.”

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Erie City Iron Works : manufacturers of steam engines and boilers, feed water heaters and tanks


The products generated by Pittsburgh's iron and steel and related industries in the late 1890s and through the early parts of the 20th century ranged from industrial equipment and commercial goods (steam turbines, roll makers, sheet iron, steel tubes, pipes, hoisting engines, valves and gear drives), to products that enhanced everyday life (lawn fences, soda fountains and bathroom fixtures) and those that improved infrastructure (beams for skyscrapers, steel and iron bridges, as well as suspension bridges).
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Reuben Wells engine--1894


The development of a network of transportation was both an impetus for the industrial growth of the Pittsburgh region and a result of its progress. Situated at the confluence of the Allegheny and Monongahela Rivers, river travel was an essential mode of transportation in the area. The rivers were considered highways for commerce carrying tons of goods each year. Steamboats, barges and tows were a common sight on the rivers. Not surprisingly, the first steamboat that ever travelled on Western waters was built in Pittsburgh.
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The Ironworkers' Noontime

Way of Life

Both the captains of industry and the common men and women of Pittsburgh lived, worked and played in cultural surroundings whose riches were as just as important to citizens as those gleaned from iron and steel. From the very beginning, Pittsburghers supported strong life of the mind, bolstered by multiple newspapers and bookstores and several scientific societies. As early as 1813 support for an early form of library services existed in the establishment of the Pittsburgh Permanent Library Company. The host of churches that sprung up at the city's inception co-existed peacefully with a variety of public charities designed to serve the poor, and a flourishing local music scene provided both entertainment and enlightenment.
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