BETHLEHEM, PA (CBS / AP) – Sixteen thousand tons of Bethlehem Steel crashed in seconds on Sunday when a demolition team imploded Martin Tower, the former headquarters of the deceased steelmaker. Crowds gathered to watch the demolition of the region's tallest building, a 21-story monolith that opened at the height of Bethlehem Steel but stood empty for a dozen years after America's second largest steelmaker ceased its operations.
Explosives pulled out the steel columns of Martin Tower and crumpled the 47-year-old building, which, despite its relatively young age, had earned a place in the National Register of Historic Places. The implosion, which lasted 16 seconds, produced a thick cloud of dust that lasted a few minutes.
Martin Tower was the headquarters of the former Bethlehem Steel Corporation and is the tallest building in Pennsylvania outside of Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.
] Eyewitness News had exclusive access to the 21
Tyler Kent, whose father had worked at Bethlehem Steel for 46 years and raised 11 children, said his "heart stopped" as he watched the fall of the building. His father and other relatives were proud to work for the Industrial Giant, who armed the US military and helped shape the skyline across the country.
"When I saw that it fell off, there was a tear in my eyes. I did not think it would affect me that way emotionally, but I just can not imagine it's gone. It's so sad, "said Kent, who could see the tower from his house.
"It was state-of-the-art": The historic Martin Tower in Bethlehem is crumbling on Sunday
] Martin Towers current owners have spent years trying to renovate the 101-meter-high building – the highest in a densely populated region of Pennsylvania, which includes the cities of Allentown, Bethlehem and Easton – but concluded that this was more economically sound knock it down and start from scratch. Plans envisage a $ 200 million development with doctors' offices, retail outlets, a restaurant, a grocery store, a hotel and 528 apartments.
Bethlehem Steel was an important supplier of ships and armaments to the US military during the Second World War. The steel is located in the Empire State Building, the Golden Gate Bridge and many other attractions.
The company moved to its new headquarters in 1972, just before the US steel industry entered a severe recession. Bethlehem Steel, which had more than 120,000 employees at the time of the opening of Martin Tower, filed for bankruptcy in 2001 and closed two years later.
For some, the tower, which was cruciform to maximize the number of corner offices, was a symbol of business
"Here was the money the workers never got," said Fran Maiatico, his father at Bethlehem Steel worked. It was among hundreds of people gathered several blocks from the building on Sunday to see how it fell off. He said he linked the building to corporate executives driving Bethlehem Steel into the ground.
But his son, 49-year-old Mike Gentilcore, a former metals researcher from Bethlehem Steel, said, "It breaks my heart," that an important piece of the company's history no longer counts. He remembered looking out the windows of the tower as a child and later working there himself.
"It's the end of an era, and I'll miss it there," he said.
The company's flagship mill in Bethlehem
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