The remains of Bethlehem Works.

Eerily Lit Steelworks Hulk

Field review by the editors.

Bethlehem, Pennsylvania

The Sands Casino, which is operating a slots parlor in a reclaimed portion of the old Bethlehem Steel Works, is only part of the big plans for this hulking symbol of diminished American industrial muscle. The Bethlehem Works, which opened in the 1850s, stopped metal production operations in 1995.

During the day, the closed work complex is a rusting, partially gutted post-nuke vision; at night, it's even better. The casino has paid to illuminate the intricate pipes and tanks with red spotlights from below, simulating the long extinguished furnaces. It is visible from many places along the river in Bethlehem.

The vacant steel works has not been entirely idle; it was used as a backdrop for some robot movie mayhem in Transformers 2, according to a friendly security guard at nearby Lehigh University. Construction on the site is still underway, and most of the complex is not accessible to the public.

Sand Casino sign on steel trusses.

Inside the casino, the steel industry theme is present -- lots of raw bolts and beams, though not in a way that might distract patrons from the slot machines. From the ceiling overhead dangle hundreds of bright orange rods, like red hot metal ready to drop on gamblers.

And one of the bars is named "Molten," but that's about it.

Eerily Lit Steelworks Hulk

Bethlehem Works

Address:
101 Founders Way, Bethlehem, PA
Directions:
Bethlehem Works. From Hwy 378, head south across river -- factory is visible to the east. Go east on 3rd St to Polk and turn left, then right on 1st St. Guard may prevent entry to complex, but it's all around you in the public area.
Phone:
610-297-7100
Admission:
Free
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In the region:
Grumman Greenhouse, Philadelphia, PA - 47 mi.

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December 22, 2014

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