by Chrysa Smith
Then and now.
Thanks to some creative minds and an influx of cash, the decaying remains of one of America’s greatest companies, Bethlehem Steel, have been transformed into something truly special. Appropriately named ‘Steel Stax’, the modern building houses a theater that draws top performers, including concerts, comedy, film, festivals, visual arts and more. An open space is available for community events, a microbrewery, and a food court. It’s all part of a redevelopment program that’s taken the better part of seven years. A compendium of civic, city and state funding has allowed for new life to be brought back to a very dead piece of property.
On the site are numerous other venues to explore, like the Banana Factory; home to theater, arts studios and camps. The MusikFest Cafe and Sands Deck offer dining, fireworks and views of the grounds. And of course, the Sands Casino, offers up slots and table games complete with an Emeril Lagasse restaurant.
What I found so very interesting is the mixing of old and new (there are still a number of eyesores leftover from steel days); the rebirthing of a dead zone–a zone that reminds us, unfortunately, of the once prosperous towns and businesses that have changed the faces of communities nationwide. Hopefully, with ingenious creations like this one in Bethlehem, the arts may breathe their life and joy back to our towns.
It’s a great day trip from anywhere in the Delaware Valley and beyond. Check it out at: www.artsquest.org.