The steel industry has been a major part of Western New York’s economic and cultural life for more than 100 years. When the Lackawanna Steel Company moved from Pennsylvania to the small Western New York town of West Seneca in the early 1900s, it set the area on a path to become one of the largest steel producing regions in the country. The impact on the region was so pervasive that the community where the plant was located took on the name of the company. In good times and bad, steel and Western New York were forever linked.
Following a merger with Bethlehem Steel in 1922, the company controlled 10 percent of the steel output in the country, making it the second largest steel producer behind U.S. Steel. At one time, the mill in Lackawanna was one of the largest steel plants in the world, employing more than 20,000. Bethlehem Steel manufactured steel for some of America’s most recognizable landmarks, including the Golden Gate Bridge, Hoover Dam and Madison Square Garden.
Although Bethlehem’s Lackawanna mill was the largest in the area, it was not the only steel operation in Western New York. Others included Republic Steel in Buffalo, Alleghany-Ludlum in Dunkirk, and Roblin Steel in Tonawanda.