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Pittsburgh / "hell with the lid taken off" - Lara L. Schenck

Pittsburgh / “hell with the lid taken off”

Vestiges of Pittsburgh’s legacy as “Smoketown” or “hell with the lid taken off” still remain.

A factory emitting plumes of smoke up into the clouds

I took this picture yesterday on a morning bike ride along the Great Allegheny Passage (GAP) bike trail:

A factory emitting plumes of smoke up into the clouds
Braddock, PA from the GAP trail

That’s about 20 minutes outside Pittsburgh proper in a town called Braddock, where there is a functioning U.S. Steel factory known as Mon Valley Works. To the right, above the train tracks, is the outline of roller coasters – that’s a theme park called Kennywood.

Here’s a picture of the same spot, taken last summer, when the factory isn’t running:

Braddock, PA in the summer

And one more view – on a different day last summer – where, across the river, you can see a lick of open flame coming out of the top left of the factory:

A view of the back of the steel factory, with train tracks visible and a flame coming from one of the stacks
Mon Valley Works from the GAP trail

In Braddock, across from the factory, is a fancy restaurant called Superior Motors. Here’s a picture outside the restaurant:

Mon Valley Works in Braddock, PA

Pittsburgh’s urban redevelopment began after the steel industry collapsed in the 1970s. Before that, people called Pittsburgh “hell with the lid taken off” or “Smoky City” or “Smoketown”:

Pittsburgh’s Strip District in 1906, from

It’s amazing how much the city changed in less than 50 years – and amazing that there are places where it hasn’t changed.