The cornerstone of Rivers of Steel’s work is its dedicated effort to the preservation and interpretation of the region’s cultural and industrial heritage.
From the smallest bits of ephemera—such as a worker’s pay stub or a political pin—to the scale of the landmarks such as the Carrie Blast Furnaces, Rivers of Steel’s archives and heritage sites are rich interpretive resources that make up the foundation of our education, arts, and heritage tourism programs.
The Rivers of Steel Archives have served as a repository for thousands of donated and sourced items that tell of the story of the Pittsburgh Industrial District’s domination of the steel industry throughout the better part of the 20th century.
As the physical landscape transformed in the late 1980s with the closing of mills throughout the region, Rivers of Steel’s visionary founders understood that preserving a sampling of these structures could help tell the story of Big Steel in an impactful way for future generations.
As a National Heritage Area, Rivers of Steel is charged with telling the local stories that celebrate our region’s contributions to our nation’s diverse heritage. In service of this, Rivers of Steel has initiated an array of interpretive projects that support heritage conservation by cataloging and disseminating those stories.
Rivers of Steel curates, hosts, and presents a variety of exhibitions—from pop-up events and large-scale site-specific installations to traditional gallery shows and traveling archival cases.