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Press Room

The Explorer Riverboat with the Carrie Blast Furnaces in the background. and early fall leaves.

Rivers of Steel Announces Mini-Grant Funding Opportunity

By Press Room

Rivers of Steel 2020 Mini-Grant Program Applications Available

Homestead, PA (September 9, 2020)—Rivers of Steel is now accepting applications for its Mini-Grant program, which assists heritage-related sites and organizations, as well as municipalities, within the borders of the Rivers of Steel National Heritage Area. The Mini-Grants may be used to develop new and innovative programs, partnerships, exhibits, tours, and other initiatives that are consistent with the mission and vision outlined in Rivers of Steel’s Management Action Plan. The Mini-Grant program is funded by a grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR), Bureau of Recreation and Conservation, via DCNR’s Community Conservation Partnerships Program and the Environmental Stewardship Fund.

Proposals that increase heritage tourism, enhance preservation efforts, involve the stewardship of natural resources, encourage outdoor recreation and / or include collaborative partnerships are strongly encouraged.

Application Deadline: Thursday, October 15, 2020 at 5:00 p.m.

Grant Awards Announced: December 2020, anticipated.

Rivers of Steel works to conserve the industrial and cultural heritage that defines southwestern Pennsylvania. Through its Rivers of Steel National Heritage Area program, Rivers of Steel champions the region’s natural, cultural, educational, recreational, and industrial resources as key components for preserving the region’s heritage, focusing on developing a sense of place, as well as contributing to the economic vibrancy of the region’s citizens and communities.

Applications are ranked using the following criteria: 1) a detailed and complete project narrative, 2) budget, 3) alignment for heritage tourism development, 4) and project outcomes.

New for 2020, special consideration will be given to organizations applying for the 2020 Mini-Grants that are black- or minority-led organizations or organizations that primarily serve BIPOC (black, indigenous, people of color) audiences and communities. Rivers of Steel reiterates our long-held belief in diversity, equity, accessibility, and inclusion and strengthens our commitment to fighting systemic racism and discrimination against people of color amidst the nationwide call for ending racism.

Non-profit organizations with a 501(c) (3) tax-exempt status, local governments and educational institutions are all eligible for the Mini-Grant program. All projects must be within or across Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Butler, Fayette, Greene, Washington, or Westmoreland Counties and have a significant connection to the mission of Rivers of Steel. Grant requests for a minimum of $1,000 to a maximum of $25,000 will be considered. Applicants must match (at a 1:1 ratio) these grant funds with additional funding and/or pre-approved eligible non-cash (in-kind/volunteer) services.

More information and the application can be downloaded here [Word document].

About Rivers of Steel
Founded on the principles of heritage development, community partnership, and a reverence for the region’s natural and shared resources, Rivers of Steel strengthens the economic and cultural fabric of western Pennsylvania by fostering dynamic initiatives and transformative experiences.

Rivers of Steel showcases the artistry and innovation of our region’s industrial and cultural heritage through its historical & 21st-century attractions―offering unique experiences via tours, workshops, exhibitions, festivals, and more. Behind the scenes, Rivers of Steel supports economic revitalization—working at the grassroots level to deepen community partnerships, promote heritage tourism, and preserve local recreational and cultural resources for future generations.

About the Rivers of Steel National Heritage Area

This eight-county region is one of 55 National Heritage Areas designated by the U.S. Congress and one of 12 State Heritage Areas. A National Heritage Area is a place of national significance to America. For Rivers of Steel, Congress recognized the industrial and cultural heritage of southwestern Pennsylvania. Through a public-private partnership with the National Park Service and the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Rivers of Steel supports heritage conservation, heritage tourism, and outdoor recreation as a means to foster economic redevelopment and enhance cultural engagement.

Contact Amy Baldonieri at 412.464.4020, ext. 235 or by emailing amyb@riversofsteel.com.

Rivers of Steel | The Bost Building, 623 East Eighth Avenue, Homestead PA 15120

riversofsteel.com

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LightPlay at the Carrie Blast Furnaces

By Press Room

Rivers of Steel presents LightPLAY—a light-based exhibition at the Carrie Blast Furnaces

Homestead, PA (September 1, 2020)—Rivers of Steel is excited to present LightPlay, an evening, light-based experience at the Carrie Blast Furnaces. Showcasing eleven unique multimedia installations created by a diverse group of local artists and engineers, LightPlay will be on display at the Carrie Blast Furnaces during select evenings from September 10 through October 1.

LightPlay features a range of video projection and light-based installations that engage with the site’s intricate structural characteristics, cavernous pathways, and unique industrial aesthetic. This one-of-a-kind experience includes immersive light and sound installations, digital video artworks, and illuminated sculptures that transform the former blast furnace into a sensorial maze.

Danny Bracken, Ian Brill, Aaron Henderson, Ryder Henry, Lori Hepner, Ricardo Iamuuri, Shohei Katayama, Todd Keebs, Julie Mallis, Projectile Objects, and Alisha Wormsley have contributed artworks to this exhibition.

LightPlay is unlike anything we have done at the Carrie Blast Furnaces to date,” said Chris McGinnis, director of arts for Rivers of Steel. “We really wanted to try something new and exciting that would offer a COVID-safe viewer experience while highlighting the site in a different way.  Opening the site up for evening exploration provided just this type of opportunity. Visitors to LightPlay can expect a well curated evening complete with light art and video installations that feed off the site’s textures and introduce new locations at the Carrie Blast Furnaces—places never before open to the public!”

A project of Rivers of Steel Arts, LightPlay is made possible through the generous support of Eaton Corporation.

Tickets are $9 / person. Tickets for this special exhibition are timed to help to maintain adequate social distancing throughout the evening.

For more tickets and more information, click here or contact Chris McGinnis, director of arts, at cmcginnis@riversofsteel.com.

About Rivers of Steel
Founded on the principles of heritage development, community partnership, and a reverence for the region’s natural and shared resources, Rivers of Steel strengthens the economic and cultural fabric of western Pennsylvania by fostering dynamic initiatives and transformative experiences.

Rivers of Steel showcases the artistry and innovation of our region’s industrial and cultural heritage through its historical & 21st-century attractions―offering unique experiences via tours, workshops, exhibitions, festivals, and more. Behind the scenes, Rivers of Steel supports economic revitalization—working at the grassroots level to deepen community partnerships, promote heritage tourism, and preserve local recreational and cultural resources for future generations.

About Rivers of Steel Arts

Rivers of Steel Arts celebrates creative inquiry by crafting opportunities to interpret the region’s past, reimagine its future, and explore a sense of place. Through exhibitions, festivals, workshops, tours, and happenings, Rivers of Steel Arts helps individuals connect with their communities in meaningful ways.

About the Carrie Blast Furnaces

Once part of legendary U.S. Steel Homestead Steel Works, the Carrie Blast Furnaces are a vestige of Pittsburgh’s 20th-century domination of the steel industry. In 2006, Blast Furnaces #6 & #7 were declared a National Historic Landmark. Today, visitors to the site can connect with the region’s industrial and cultural past through a myriad of public tours and programs offered by Rivers of Steel.

 

Contact Carly McCoy at 412.464.4020, ext. 243 or by emailing cmccoy@riversofsteel.com.
Rivers of Steel | The Bost Building, 623 East Eighth Avenue, Homestead PA 15120
riversofsteel.com

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Detail of Report Cover Stating "Economic Impact Assessment" with a photo of the pittsburgh skyline and the explorer riverboat

Rivers of Steel Economic Impact Assessment

By Press Room

Rivers of Steel National Heritage Area Visitor Spending Generates Economic Impact of $92 Million Annually

Homestead, PA (August 18, 2020)—Rivers of Steel released an economic impact study today that estimates the generation of more than $92 million of economic benefit and 922 jobs each year as a result of spending by visitors to Rivers of Steel and its partners, including the expenditures of Rivers of Steel on grantmaking, operations, and capital improvements.

  • More than 25,000 individuals visit Rivers of Steel’s sites each year to participate in more than 50 experiences, attractions, and programs.
  • More than one million individuals visit sites and programs operated by close partners throughout the Rivers of Steel National Heritage Area region who have significant ties to Rivers of Steel and to the history and heritage they collectively showcase.
  • Together with its close partners, this assessment estimates that Rivers of Steel influences or helps to attract more than 400,000 visitors to the region on average each year.
  • Between 2016 and 2018, Rivers of Steel awarded an average of more than $71,000 in mini-grants per year awarded to its partners – regional nonprofits and municipal governments for heritage-related projects.
  • Throughout its 25-year history and especially over the past seven years, Rivers of Steel has invested in its built environment, creating or renovating historic sites, National Historic Landmarks, and various facilities under its control. On average, Rivers of Steel spends approximately $176,000 on construction each year, contributing to capital expenses.
  • The annual average of direct, indirect, and induced economic impact estimates a $92 million return on the annual investment of $664,000 by the National Park Service through the National Heritage Area program and an average investment of $200,000 by the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources through the Heritage Parks Program. The result is more than a 100-fold return on investment in terms of ultimate economic benefit for the eight-county region.
  • In addition, all these activities and the resulting ripple effect in the economy generate significant estimated tax revenue for municipal, county, and state governments totaling more than $5.6 million and for the federal government of more than $7.4 million.

August Carlino, President and CEO of Rivers of Steel, said, “The unstated conclusion of this report proves that heritage tourism, and the National Heritage Area program of the National Park Service, along with the State Heritage Area program of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, are true economic drivers and worthy of the investments of the public and private sectors.”

“We have to remember,” Carlino continued, “that old, historic buildings can become economic booms to communities if there is a commitment to invest.  Once they are gone, the unique character of a place changes forever.  We not only lose the building, but we also contribute to the loss of our identity.  Heritage Areas not only support jobs and generate revenue, but they also invest in these other intangibles that are so critical to the quality of life of the places we call our home.”

Today, Rivers of Steel operates a portfolio of historically-significant sites in the Monongahela River Valley, including the renowned Carrie Blast Furnaces National Historic Landmark in Rankin and Swissvale, along with the Bost Building National Historic Landmark—a museum and visitors center in Homestead, and the historic Pump House and Water Tower in Munhall, in addition to the W.A. Young & Sons Foundry and Machine Shop—another National Historic Landmark located in Rices Landing, Greene County.

Support for Rivers of Steel from Elected Officials

Recognizing the value of the annual investment from the National Park Service, several elected federal officials voiced their bi-partisan support for Rivers of Steel in response to this newly released assessment.

From U.S. Senator Bob Casey:

“The Rivers of Steel National Heritage Area has proven to be a cost-effective model for leveraging federal funds and private-public partnerships to stimulate local economies, increase tourism and promote education and conservation in Southwestern Pennsylvania,” said Senator Casey. “That is why it is critical for Congress to pass my legislation, the Pennsylvania National Heritage Areas Act (S.4009), which would extend Rivers of Steel’s authorization for 15 years, ensuring the preservation of Pennsylvania’s cultural sites for many years to come.”

From U.S. Congressman Mike Doyle:

“This report shows that the Rivers of Steel National Heritage Area is making an important contribution to our region’s economy in addition to the contribution it makes to our culture by preserving Pittsburgh’s remarkable history,” Congressman Doyle said. “It demonstrates the economic benefits that investments in historic preservation can produce.”

From U.S. Congressman Guy Reschenthaler:

“The Rivers of Steel National Heritage Area celebrates southwestern Pennsylvania’s historic steel legacy while generating tens of millions of dollars in economic benefits and hundreds of jobs for our region,” said Reschenthaler. “Importantly, the National Heritage Area (NHA) program is incredibly cost-effective, with every federal dollar matched with an average $5.50 in other public and private funding. I support Rivers of Steel and the NHA program, which will boost tourism and help facilitate a strong economic recovery for communities in southwestern Pennsylvania.”

Additionally, Rivers of Steel’s funding from the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources is supported on the state level as well, as demonstrated here by Pennsylvania State Senator Jay Costa.

“Rivers of Steel’s portfolio of historic sites is one of the many treasures that make our region a destination for tourism and a desirable place to live year round,” said Senator Costa. “ I’m not surprised to see such a large economic impact associated with their activity and would encourage anyone who has not yet visited their historic sites to take advantage of the outstanding adventure they offer.”

Rivers of Steel also operates one 21st-century attraction—the Explorer riverboat, docked on Ohio River along Pittsburgh’s North Shore. Explorer, the world’s first LEED-constructed commercial passenger marine vessel. Explorer is a STEM education boat – the culmination of Rivers of Steel’s long-standing goal of connecting the region’s waterways to history – that offers unparalleled opportunities to experience the beauty of Pittsburgh and southwestern Pennsylvania from its rivers that once served as critical arteries for the steel industry.

Through its historical and 21st-century attractions, Rivers of Steel showcases the artistry and innovation of Pittsburgh and southwestern Pennsylvania’s industrial and cultural heritage―offering unique experiences via tours, workshops, exhibitions, festivals, and more. Behind the scenes, Rivers of Steel supports economic revitalization—working at the grassroots level to deepen community partnerships, promote heritage tourism, and preserve local recreational and cultural resources for future generations.

This assessment, conducted by The Hill Group, is a follow-up to an initial economic impact study examining the period of 1996-2012 that was conducted by the National Park Service and released in 2013. The new economic impact assessment serves as an assessment of annual average impact incorporating the evolution of experiences, attractions, programs, and partnerships developed since the last report and through 2019.

Rivers of Steel took a conservative approach to this study, careful not to present figures that may be difficult to defend or justify. It is an estimate of the economic impacts of history and heritage activities that are within the span of control or influence of Rivers of Steel Heritage Corporation.  The economic impact results presented in this report are annual averages, not cumulative impacts for Rivers of Steel’s activity.

The full report is available here.

About Rivers of Steel
Founded on the principles of heritage development, community partnership, and a reverence for the region’s natural and shared resources, Rivers of Steel strengthens the economic and cultural fabric of western Pennsylvania by fostering dynamic initiatives and transformative experiences.

Rivers of Steel showcases the artistry and innovation of our region’s industrial and cultural heritage through its historical & 21st-century attractions―offering unique experiences via tours, workshops, exhibitions, festivals, and more. Behind the scenes, Rivers of Steel supports economic revitalization—working at the grassroots level to deepen community partnerships, promote heritage tourism, and preserve local recreational and cultural resources for future generations.

About the Rivers of Steel National Heritage Area

This eight-county region is one of 55 National Heritage Areas designated by the U.S. Congress and one of 12 State Heritage Areas. A National Heritage Area is a place of national significance to America. For Rivers of Steel, Congress recognized the industrial and cultural heritage of southwestern Pennsylvania. Through a public-private partnership with the National Park Service and the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Rivers of Steel supports heritage conservation, heritage tourism, and outdoor recreation as a means to foster economic redevelopment and enhance cultural engagement.

 

Contact Carly McCoy at 412.464.4020, ext. 243 or by emailing cmccoy@riversofsteel.com.
Rivers of Steel | The Bost Building, 623 East Eighth Avenue, Homestead PA 15120
riversofsteel.com

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Carrie Carpool Cinema Banner image

Rivers of Steel Presents Double Feature Movie Screenings at the Carrie Blast Furnaces

By Press Room

Rivers of Steel Presents Double Feature Movie Screenings at the Carrie Blast Furnaces

Homestead, PA (July 7, 2020)—Rivers of Steel is excited to announce new programming at the Carrie Blast Furnaces—the Carrie Carpool Cinema. This drive-in movie-style experience offers a double feature of curated films, along with mini-tours of the National Historic Landmark site and concessions for purchase.

The series begins on July 24 and 25 with four films shot in and around Pittsburgh. The premiere event on July 24 features the classic Pittsburgh film, Flashdance, followed up Out of the Furnace, which includes scenes shot at the Carrie Blast Furnaces. The following evening, July 25, movie-goers can take in Perks of Being a Wallflower, followed by Kingpin.

The rest of the series will offer double features that are also thematically linked. August 28 and 29 will feature family-friendly films from the 1980s, while September 19 and 20 will highlight movies that have music as a central theme. Classic horror films will be on the bill for October 16 and 17, and cult classics will close out the 2020 season on November 6 and 7. Specific titles will be announced approximately one month before each showing.

Pricing is $10 for adults and $7 for children ages 4 through 17. For July 24 and 25, the site will open at 7:30 p.m. with the first film to follow at 9:00 p.m. Mini-tours of the site are available for purchase at $10 / person. The 45-minute tours will begin at 8:00 p.m. Times will be adjusted for sunset throughout the season.  Concessions by Iron Oven Catering, in partnership with Rogue BBQ, will also be available for purchase.

Outside of the vehicles, social distancing protocols will be in place for the safety of guests and staff, including mandatory masks, available hand-washing stations and hand sanitizer, and marked directional flow with six-feet spacing, among other cautionary considerations.

Tickets are available at https://riversofsteel.com/experiences/carrie-carpool-cinema.

About Rivers of Steel
Founded on the principles of heritage development, community partnership, and a reverence for the region’s natural and shared resources, Rivers of Steel strengthens the economic and cultural fabric of western Pennsylvania by fostering dynamic initiatives and transformative experiences.

Rivers of Steel showcases the artistry and innovation of our region’s industrial and cultural heritage through its historical & 21st-century attractions―offering unique experiences via tours, workshops, exhibitions, festivals, and more. Behind the scenes, Rivers of Steel supports economic revitalization—working at the grassroots level to deepen community partnerships, promote heritage tourism, and preserve local recreational and cultural resources for future generations.

About the Carrie Blast Furnaces

Once part of legendary U.S. Steel Homestead Steel Works, the Carrie Blast Furnaces are a vestige of Pittsburgh’s 20th-century domination of the steel industry. In 2006, Blast Furnaces #6 & #7 were declared a National Historic Landmark. Today, visitors to the site can connect with the region’s industrial and cultural past through a myriad of public tours and programs offered by Rivers of Steel.

 

Contact Carly McCoy at 412.464.4020, ext. 243 or by emailing cmccoy@riversofsteel.com.
Rivers of Steel | The Bost Building, 623 East Eighth Avenue, Homestead PA 15120
riversofsteel.com

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Carrie Blast Furnaces

Rivers of Steel Reopens the Carrie Blast Furnaces for Modified Tours and Workshops

By Press Room

Rivers of Steel Reopens the Carrie Blast Furnaces for Modified Tours and Workshops

Homestead, PA (June 12, 2020)—Rivers of Steel is excited to announce the opening of its 2020 season at the Carrie Blast Furnaces, located in Rankin and Swissvale. Beginning Friday, June 19, modified Industrial Tours of this National Historic Landmark will resume, followed by a variety of arts workshops, starting on June 28.

In preparation for these events, Rivers of Steel has been working with a local consortium of museums and cultural entities to determine best practices to safely open our institutions. The safety of our employees and visitors is of paramount importance, so it has been decided that at this time only to resume programming that occurs primarily outdoors, with additional restrictions.

Tours and workshops will be limited to 50% of the usual capacity, and social-distancing guidelines will be in place. Additional details regarding Rivers of Steel’s COVID-19 policy can be found at https://riversofsteel.com/covid-19-policy/.

Industrial Tours of the Carrie Blast Furnaces will initially be offered to the public on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays, with the potential for additional tour times as the season continues through the end of October. Private tours are also available. Tours highlight the site’s iron-making technology, its workers, and their culture. Additional information and tickets for purchase are available now at https://riversofsteel.com/experiences/tours/industrial-tour/.

Arts workshop offerings include a range of metal casting workshops, for the novice to the professional, along with photography and graffiti / style-writing experiences.  For the creative and the curious, Rivers of Steel’s workshops are designed to foster new perspectives while providing opportunities to build skills, network with peers, and connect with southwestern Pennsylvania’s cultural and industrial heritage. For more information, visit https://riversofsteel.com/experiences/workshops/.

Rivers of Steel is taking a tiered approach to opening its other four attractions. At the historic Pump House, located at the Waterfront in Munhall, the parking lot is now open to provide trailhead access and the venue is again available for rental events, with some limitations in place to fit within Green Phase mandates. The Bost Building in Homestead, the Explorer riverboat in Pittsburgh, and the W.A. Young & Sons Foundry and Machine Shop in Rices Landing, Greene County are currently closed. However, Rivers of Steel is continually evaluating options for their safe reopening.

Details on this phased reopening are available at https://riversofsteel.com/reopening/.

About Rivers of Steel
Founded on the principles of heritage development, community partnership, and a reverence for the region’s natural and shared resources, Rivers of Steel strengthens the economic and cultural fabric of western Pennsylvania by fostering dynamic initiatives and transformative experiences.

Rivers of Steel showcases the artistry and innovation of our region’s industrial and cultural heritage through its historical & 21st-century attractions―offering unique experiences via tours, workshops, exhibitions, festivals, and more. Behind the scenes, Rivers of Steel supports economic revitalization—working at the grassroots level to deepen community partnerships, promote heritage tourism, and preserve local recreational and cultural resources for future generations.

About the Carrie Blast Furnaces

Once part of legendary U.S. Steel Homestead Steel Works, the Carrie Blast Furnaces are a vestige of Pittsburgh’s 20th-century domination of the steel industry. In 2006, Blast Furnaces #6 & #7 were declared a National Historic Landmark. Today, visitors to the site can connect with the region’s industrial and cultural past through a myriad of public tours and programs offered by Rivers of Steel.

 

Contact Carly McCoy at 412.464.4020, ext. 243 or by emailing cmccoy@riversofsteel.com.
Rivers of Steel | The Bost Building, 623 East Eighth Avenue, Homestead PA 15120
www.riversofsteel.com

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8:46 We remember George Floyd

We Remember George Floyd

By Blog, Press Room

We Remember George Floyd: Rivers of Steel’s Call to Action to Ourselves and Our Region

Rivers of Steel condemns the murder of George Floyd. Starting today, we will work aggressively through our programming and projects to help put an end to racism, bigotry, inequality, intolerance, injustice, and prejudice directed toward black Americans and other people of color.

The Rivers of Steel National Heritage Area was created by an Act of Congress in 1996 to commemorate, interpret, and help conserve the industrial and cultural heritage of southwestern Pennsylvania. Over the years, we have proudly told the stories of the industrial might of Pittsburgh and the region, and how those companies and the hundreds of thousands of people that came here to work built America. We take pride in the fact that our industrial prowess and the sweat, brawn, and blood of the workers manufactured the armaments that defended democracy and won world wars. We see this heritage still reflected in the neighborhoods where we live, the houses of worship in which we pray. We celebrate our diverse ethnicity and tell stories about how our grandparents and great grandparents came to southwestern Pennsylvania and settled in the mill towns, coal patches, and cities to build a better life for themselves and their children. Our romanticized memory has jaded the reality of our history and the conditions of our communities today that stare us directly in our faces.

The reality is that we live in a region with an ugly cultural heritage of racism, bigotry, and segregation, and it is all tied to the industrial heritage—the very issue Rivers of Steel was created to “commemorate, interpret, and help conserve.” Industrial towns and regions—which Pittsburgh and southwestern Pennsylvania are—were established to build infrastructure with the labor of their workers. These industrial towns controlled the factories and the community, imposing segregated places on the shop floor and in the neighborhoods. There is a reason why Pittsburgh and surrounding communities have distinct ethnic and racial compositions. Did you ever wonder why there are clusters of ethnic populations in Pittsburgh’s neighborhoods, some with names like Polish Hill and Deutschtown? Or why Aliquippa has “planned communities,” and within those planned communities there is one that was designated explicitly for black steelworkers and their families? It is not because all the people that settled in these places wanted to live with those of similar backgrounds. It is because the industrial system that we commemorate had isolated our ancestors into enclaves so they could be easily controlled. Our system of fragmented local government is the result of the industrial system, adding to the disparity of services from public safety to public education we live with today. Why does a community like Homestead, Pennsylvania, have so many ethnically-distinct Catholic churches? It’s because a Slovenian Catholic could not worship at the Irish Catholic church, and the Irish Catholics could not worship at the Lithuanian Catholic church. And if you were black…

We celebrate the greatness of our famed Negro League teams, the Homestead Grays and the Pittsburgh Crawfords, and often fail to remember that these men, only because of the color of their skin, were prohibited from playing in the major leagues. We also fail to tell the story that many of these same men, and their teams, grew out of segregated “company teams” created to provide some recreational activity for their workers, separated by race—another aspect of our industrial heritage.

Our city and our nation have changed over the century-and-a-half of its industrial prowess. While we lost most of the mills and mines, we wake each morning to a regional economy that was once on life-support but has been reconstructed and rebirthed to a new, high-tech system. We wake to skies that once blocked almost all sunlight and obstructed our views but now permit our gaze at glittering skyscrapers and a vibrant city. We wake to a region whose hills were denuded of trees but now are green, and rivers that once were devoid of life continue to support industry today but also provide recreation and health benefits to our citizens.

And for the past week, we wake to a city, like so many other cities in America, that has erupted with anger and rage at the inexcusable and intolerable murder of George Floyd. We, as a nation, have accomplished so much over our history and changed so many things, but we have failed to solve the most insidious and destructive problem of our society—racism.

Rivers of Steel’s mission―to commemorate the industrial and cultural heritage of Pittsburgh and southwestern Pennsylvania―has led us to develop successful programs and projects that embrace our culture and celebrate our diversity, but we can and must do more. We have told the stories of those who came to work here, but have skirted the stories of racism in the steel industry. We hold tours at the Carrie Blast Furnaces National Historic Landmark and point out that it was one of the most dangerous places to work within the mill but fail to uniformly illuminate the fact it had a predominately black workforce. We fail to tell the story that black men were enticed to come to Homestead after the Lockout and Strike in 1892, to act as scab laborers, adding to prejudices and injustices they endured because of the color of their skin. Furthermore, the industrial system intentionally pitted ethnic groups against one another as a way of fending off unionization, and this included taking advantage of black / white animosities.

But today we, the staff and board of Rivers of Steel, recognize our need to do things differently and do more. Today, we issued a challenge to ourselves to work with our partners, the African American community, and our region to tell a story that doesn’t hide behind wistful, romanticized, visions of our living heritage (a term that, properly understood, describes both “the past” and “today”). Instead, we will build our arts and education programs to reach further into the communities of color, and other disadvantaged populations. We will make sure our interpretation does not end with the generalized terms of the struggles of all workers but point out those long-established discriminatory practices that kept black workers from being able to attain equal status in the factory and the communities. We will grow our education programs with our partner schools, intermediary units, and teachers, to make sure that we help break down the prescriptive barriers of the state system of public education which restrict free and equal education in the disadvantaged and black communities we work within. We will build an organization that works to celebrate the diversity and uniqueness of us all, recognizing that this mosaic of race, ethnicity, culture, gender, sexual identity, and religion should bind us as human beings―all the same, equal to each other, and deserving the constitutional freedoms that are inherent to us all.

With the Rivers of Steel board of directors, we will work to be more diverse, recognizing our desire to be more inclusive, and re-doubling our efforts to build a more diverse board. We will create a board committee of diversity, equity, and inclusion to work with staff and the board guiding our mission and our policy as we work within our communities of southwestern Pennsylvania. And we will re-examine our strategic plan to improve and establish more programs and projects that reach into our communities and to keep a lens focused on equity, diversity, and inclusion in all of our work, operations, and management.

We do this in the memory of George Floyd, who should be alive today. We do this in the memory of Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery. We do this in the memory of Jonny Gammage, Antwon Rose, Jr., and so many others. We do this recognizing that it should be done; it must be done. Rivers of Steel, alone, cannot solve the problem of racism in our region or our country, but we have to start to put an end to this evil. We welcome our partners and communities to join and help guide us.

 

August R. Carlino
President & Chief Executive Officer
Rivers of Steel Heritage Corporation / Rivers of Steel National Heritage Area

hero image alloy pittsburgh featuring Oreen Cohen's Spectre and Shade

Rivers of Steel to Receive Grant from the National Endowment for the Arts

By Press Room

Rivers of Steel to Receive Grant from the National Endowment for the Arts

Homestead, PA (January 15, 2020)—Rivers of Steel has been approved for a $35,000 Art Works grant from the National Endowment for the Arts to support the expansion of Alloy Pittsburgh 2020.

Alloy Pittsburgh is a unique visual and performing arts initiative developed for the Carrie Blast Furnaces National Historic Landmark and administered by Rivers of Steel. Through Alloy Pittsburgh, Rivers of Steel seeks to examine the history, current condition, and possible future of the Carrie Blast Furnaces without permanently transforming the characteristics of the site, while offering regional artists a unique exhibition opportunity and career-building experience.

With the funding from the Art Works grant, Alloy Pittsburgh 2020 will reach beyond the walls of the Carrie Blast Furnaces to place resident artists in five neighboring communities of Braddock, Hazelwood, Homestead, Rankin, and Swissvale, Pennsylvania. Five visual and/or performing artists will be paired with partner organizations in each municipality for a three-month residency period during which time artists can communicate, collaborate, and connect with local residents to develop their final projects at the Carrie Blast Furnaces.

Overall, the National Endowment for the Arts has approved 1,187 projects in every state in the nation, as well as the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. The Art Works funding category supports projects that focus on public engagement with, and access to, various forms of excellent art across the nation; the creation of art that meets the highest standards of excellence; learning in the arts at all stages of life; and the integration of the arts into the fabric of community life.

“The arts are at the heart of our communities, connecting people through shared experiences and artistic expression,” said Arts Endowment chairman Mary Anne Carter. “The National Endowment for the Arts is proud to support projects like Rivers of Steel’s Alloy Pittsburgh 2020 artist residency and exhibition.

“Community art programs like Alloy Pittsburgh provide a vital pathway for residents across the Mon Valley to celebrate their shared industrial heritage and re-imagine the role of places like the Carrie Blast Furnaces in the region’s future,” said Augie Carlino, president and CEO of Rivers of Steel. “Generous support from the National Endowment for the Arts, and all of our local partners helps ensure these meaningful connections thrive.”

Rivers of Steel is currently seeking visual and performing artists to apply. Alloy Pittsburgh 2020  is open to regional artists and collaborative groups. Artists must live in one of the following PA counties: Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Butler, Fayette, Greene, Indiana, Washington or Westmoreland. Interested artists can view the submission guidelines here.

Selected artists will be provided with funding, publicity, and support to develop temporary site-based artworks that will be presented to the public in an exhibition held at the Carrie Blast Furnaces site from August 29th to September 30th, 2020.

Additional support for Alloy Pittsburgh 2020 has been provided by the Fine Foundation and the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation.

About Rivers of Steel
Founded on the principles of heritage development, community partnership, and a reverence for the region’s natural and shared resources, Rivers of Steel strengthens the economic and cultural fabric of western Pennsylvania by fostering dynamic initiatives and transformative experiences.

Rivers of Steel showcases the artistry and innovation of our region’s industrial and cultural heritage through its historical & 21st-century attractions―offering unique experiences via tours, workshops, exhibitions, festivals, and more. Behind the scenes, Rivers of Steel supports economic revitalization—working at the grassroots level to deepen community partnerships, promote heritage tourism, and preserve local recreational and cultural resources for future generations.

About Rivers of Steel Arts
Rivers of Steel Arts celebrates creative inquiry by crafting opportunities to interpret the region’s past, reimagine its future, and explore a sense of place. Through exhibitions, festivals, workshops, tours, and happenings, Rivers of Steel Arts helps individuals connect with their communities in meaningful ways.

Contact Carly McCoy at 412.464.4020, ext. 243 or by emailing cmccoy@riversofsteel.com.
Rivers of Steel | The Bost Building, 623 East Eighth Avenue, Homestead PA 15120
www.riversofsteel.com

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Fifth Annual Festival of Combustion

By Press Room

Festival of Combustion sizzles with headline bands, extended hours, fireworks finale

Homestead, PA (August 15, 2019)— Rivers of Steel and 91.3 WYEP present the Festival of Combustion, Rivers of Steel’s signature event, celebrating its fifth anniversary with an array of arts and entertainment embedded in history and industry at a red hot venue—the Carrie Blast Furnaces, Carrie Furnace Boulevard., in Rankin and Swissvale.

On Saturday, September 28, from 1 p.m. to 10 p.m., headline bands and an evening lineup have been added to the traditional daytime family entertainment that showcases the region’s creativity and innovation in industrial arts and American crafts.

The day features blacksmithing, glassblowing demonstrations, and stations for welding, metal fabrication, and even custom automotive work. Rivers of Steel’s skilled foundry team will fire up furnaces and smelt iron—a scaled down version of the industrial process that Carrie Furnaces are remembered for.

The Carrie Blast Furnaces were part of the Homestead Steel Works. Built in 1884 and in operation until 1982, the site produced 1,000 to 1,250 tons of iron each day during its peak. Remaining on the site are Furnaces #6 and #7, which operated from 1907 to 1978. The Furnaces were designated a National Historic Landmark in 2006. Today, visitors to the site can connect with the region’s industrial and cultural past through a myriad of public tours and programs offered by Rivers of Steel.

Hands-on workshops allow festival-goers on September 28 to experience the industrial arts and American crafts for themselves. They may carve a scratch mold to be cast during the iron pour, glaze raku-fired vases, create a Fiestaware mosaic, or join in on free kids zone workshops. Mini-tours of the Furnace and Iron Garden will be offered throughout the day.

“The Festival of Combustion has seen a trend of increasing interest as we have added more and more features to this unique event each year. The venue has a multigenerational appeal that evokes the region’s storied past as a steel powerhouse, while engaging young families, and attracting millennials in a trendy, experiential way,” says Chris McGinnis, director of Rivers of Steel Arts. “Children are not only amazed but inspired by the demonstrations and workshops that appeal to their creativity while imparting bits of history, science, and art,” McGinnis adds.

Craft beer, food trucks, live music, and Second Shift Crafters’ maker marketplace with regional artisans will add to the festival atmosphere.

An evening of activities and performances, including nationally recognized recording artists and an iron pour, will be capped off with fireworks.

Nashville singer Nikki Lane has emerged as one of country and rock’s most gifted songwriters. Blending potent lyrics, unbridled blues guitars, and vintage sixties country-pop swagger, Lane’s music resonates with Lana Del Rey and Jenny Lewis fans as well as those of Neil Young and Tom Petty.

The Ruen Brothers are making a mark with a throwback rock and roll sound that intersects the early days of the genre with a dynamic present day act. Natives of an English steel town, they were inspired by their music aficionado father who raised them on a steady diet of The Rolling Stones and The Everly Brothers.

Pittsburgh’s own Turbosonics, a three-piece surf-rock band, will keep festival-goers entertained throughout the afternoon with their straight-up rock-n-roll, surf style. Their concerts feature new, original surf rock with a loud rock-n-roll edge, as well as classic covers from the likes of Dick Dale, The Ventures, The Chantays, The Trashmen, The Surfaris and more. DJ Zombo will provide a soundtrack to the day between sets.

Free parking is available on the grounds; paid VIP parking has also been added. Tickets are $30, which covers both day and evening activities, with free admission for those under 18. Live demos, marketplace admission, and some workshops are included in the event ticket. This event is made possible, in part, through financial sponsorship from Eaton Corporation, Green Mountain Energy, and Kopp Glass, with media sponsorship from 91.3 WYEP, 90.5 WESA, Pittsburgh City Paper, and Local Pittsburgh.

For a full schedule of activities and tickets, go to FestivalOfCombustion.com.

About Rivers of Steel
Founded on the principles of heritage development, community partnership, and a reverence for the region’s natural and shared resources, Rivers of Steel strengthens the economic and cultural fabric of western Pennsylvania by fostering dynamic initiatives and transformative experiences.

Rivers of Steel showcases the artistry and innovation of our region’s industrial and cultural heritage through its historical & 21st-century attractions―offering unique experiences via tours, workshops, exhibitions, festivals, and more. Behind the scenes, Rivers of Steel supports economic revitalization—working at the grassroots level to deepen community partnerships, promote heritage tourism, and preserve local recreational and cultural resources for future generations.

About Rivers of Steel Arts
Rivers of Steel Arts celebrates creative inquiry by crafting opportunities to interpret the region’s past, reimagine its future, and explore a sense of place. Through exhibitions, festivals, workshops, tours, and happenings, Rivers of Steel Arts helps individuals connect with their communities in meaningful ways.

Rivers of Steel | The Bost Building, 623 East Eighth Avenue, Homestead PA 15120
www.riversofsteel.com
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