Insider Header
FocusOn Landscapers | FocusOn Equipment Rentals | FocusOn Mining, Aggregates & Construction | FocusOn Land Improvement Contractors
Spacer
ROTOTILT
Trending Industry Stories
Spacer
USDOT Secretary Elaine Chao Sells Stock In Vulcan Materials After Conflict Of Interest Questioned
Komatsu on Intelligent Mining in the 4th Industrial Revolution
Michelin Tweel Expanding Beyond Skid Steers & Zero Turn Mowers
Rototilt Increases The Pace Of Development - Presenting Four Updated Tiltrotators
Doosan Expands Mini Excavator Offering
One year to go until Hillhead 2020
Cedarapids® Develops New Cone Crusher
Haver & Boecker, formerly WS Tyler, Name Change Again, Now– Haver & Boecker Niagara
Volvo Leads The Way With New Crawler 20-Ton Excavator
Which Pickup Truck Has The Most Recalls?
Can't Move It, Go Around It
It’s Business As Usual At Mccloskey International
Hitachi Launches Compact Loader Line With New ZW80
Spacer

Spacer
Name*

Spacer
Email*

Spacer
City*

Spacer
State/Province*

Spacer

Spacer
Video: Watch Implosion Of Pennsylvania Skyscraper, A Landmark Of Steel Industry’s Glory Days

Original source: The Morning Call

Screen Shot 2019-05-22 at 3.40.13 PM.png Martin Tower vanished from the Lehigh Valley landscape in 14 seconds Sunday, a poignant and fittingly spectacular end to the former world headquarters of Bethlehem Steel.

As bystanders lined the streets of Bethlehem and gathered on rooftops to watch its long-awaited demolition, the building that once marked the might and influence of American industry collapsed with a crackling roar, raising a cloud of dust over the neighborhood on the city’s west side.

The heap of tangled steel and concrete on the building’s footprint at 1170 Eighth Ave. may take a year to clean up. Growing accustomed to a skyline without the 332-foot tower at its center may take longer than that.

“It’s the end of an era,” said Steve Smith, who calls himself the “last janitor” at Martin Tower, having left as head of maintenance in 2003. “I was shocked, with all that steel in it, how easily it came down. I feel sad.”

About 6,500 cubic yards of concrete and nearly 16,000 tons of structural steel collapsed at 7:04 a.m. after a series of explosive charges broke the steel bones of the 21-story building.

The implosion produced a series of bangs within a half-second of each other. Then came a boom, as the demolition contractor predicted, like a strong thunderstorm that reportedly could be heard from as far away as Hunterdon County, N.J.

Gravity dropped the Valley’s tallest building slightly southeast of its cruciform footprint.

“A textbook implosion,” said Duane Wagner, a representative of site owners Lewis Ronca and Norton Herrick, who were both on site to watch the spectacle.
The owners were among the thousands across the city that gathered in the early morning hours to witness the implosion.

By 5 a.m., the Wawa convenience store on Eighth Avenue was doing business more typical of a Saturday afternoon. Customers Serita Dunst and Sean Wundling of Saylorsburg said they left home at 3 a.m. to get a good viewing spot.

“When are you going to see something like this?” Wundling said.

He watched the implosion among a polite crowd. Some cheered, and others wiped away tears, as the tower fell.

People within a 1,000-foot perimeter of Martin Tower were instructed to stay inside their sealed residences or leave for a couple of hours. The demolition was delayed a few minutes because some people were too close to the exclusion zone on Ralston Road.

A third-party contractor monitored the air quality. Robert Novatnack, Bethlehem’s Emergency Management director, said it’s too early to have those air quality results, but he didn’t anticipate problems.

“Exactly what we said was going to happen — that there would be dust coming down from the concrete in the building — and that’s what you witnessed today,” he said.

The dust coated nearby lawns, windshields and roads. Major roads were reopened by midmorning and contractors used leaf blowers to push away dust from adjacent properties.

The cleanup of the rubble could take up to a year. The concrete will be processed, crushed and used as fill material, and the structural steel recycled.
Martin Tower was imploded by Controlled Demolition Inc., a 72-year-old Maryland company that has brought down thousands of buildings, including many of the casinos in Las Vegas, and Three Rivers Stadium in Pittsburgh. The Martin Tower cost was estimated at $575,000.

Julie Rygiel of Lower Saucon claimed a viewing spot on Eighth Avenue with her husband Bryan and 10-year-old son Zach. They brought masks in case the dust spread farther than the demolition team predicted.

"It’s history, said Rygiel who, like many people, used the tower as a landmark when learning her way around the Valley as a young driver.

That won’t be an option when the site is redeveloped. Ronca and Herrick plan to replace the tower with a mix of residential and commercial buildings that rise no higher than three stories.

The master plan includes 528 garden-style apartments, a 132-room hotel, three office buildings, retail and a gas station at the 53-acre site at 1170 Eighth Ave.

The proposal and ultimate demolition follows a long effort to redevelop Martin Tower after the demise of Bethlehem Steel Corp., once an industrial titan that fueled efforts for both world wars and built skylines across the country.

Martin Tower, which is on the National Register of Historic Places, opened in 1972 when the company was the second largest steelmaker in the world. It was named after Bethlehem Steel Chairman Edmund F. Martin, under whose leadership construction began in 1969.

The offices exuded modern elegance with hand-woven carpets, walnut-paneled walls in the executive office and marbled restrooms. The building’s cruciform design created a glut of corner offices awarded to the company’s vast leadership and professionals. At 332 feet, the building exceeded the height of the PPL building in Allentown by 8 feet, making it the tallest in the Valley.

Even as the office workers began moving into the skyscraper, newspaper accounts provided glowing reviews of the company’s future and suggested, using unnamed sources, that Martin Tower could be the first of two towers at the site. (Some locals still refer to the structure as “Martin Towers” today.)
But rising competition, labor costs and other challenges soon beset the company, which posted its first deficit in 1977 and downsized as it tried to modernize for a new era. The company ultimately declared bankruptcy in 2001 and sold its assets in 2003.

Much of the attention in the company’s hometown was focused on the redevelopment of the manufacturing plant, which ultimately became home to the Sands Casino, business parks and an arts and entertainment center at the foot of the iconic and preserved blast furnaces.

But Martin Tower sat quietly in the city’s suburban West Side, quietly occupied by two tenants — D&B Corp. and Receivable Management Services — even as the the company’s assets were sold off. Those tenants moved elsewhere in the Lehigh Valley in 2007. The tower has been vacant ever since, serving only as a guidepost to motorists around the Valley and reminder of the company’s storied past.

Initially, the new owners envisioned Martin Tower as the anchor of a $300 million residential community. The owners even got the building listed on the National Register of Historic Places 12 years shy of its 50th birthday, a benchmark for such a listing, in an attempt to take advantage of historic federal tax credits.

The plan stalled and ultimately collapsed after the Great Recession and the owners’ unsuccessful pursuit of real estate tax subsidies.

The property landed a powerful tax incentive, the City Revitalization and Improvement Zone, in 2013. Two years later, it was rezoned so that an incentive to preserve the tower was removed.

In the last couple years, the owners have removed asbestos from Martin Tower and demolished more than 400,000 square feet of ancillary buildings on the campus. The decision to demolish Martin Tower was announced earlier this year after the interior of the building was gutted to the steel beams and concrete floors.

The decision was met with bittersweet acceptance from some, who acknowledged the building had sat idle for far too long, while others pushed back at the idea of losing such a historic structure in a city prized for its historic preservation and in the running to become a UNESCO World Heritage site for its Moravian beginnings. Fans of Martin Tower took to social media to rally support.
In its waning days, Martin Tower has been immortalized in photos, scale models and schoolchildren’s art projects, ensuring that while the concrete and steel are gone its memory will live on.

... GO TO Video: Implosion Of Pennsylvania Skyscraper TO READ MORE

Google Email Twitter Linkedin Facebook

Spacer
The FocusOn Group

FocusOn Landscapers
FocusOn Equipment Rentals & Retailers
FocusOn Mining, Aggregates & Construction
FocusOn Land Improvement Contractors
About

The FocusOn Industry Insider, bringing you breaking news and information relevant to your industry.
Contact

We hope you enjoy this no charge service for FocusOn subscribers. Suggestions for making the Insider better? editor@thefocusongroup.com.

Would you like to advertise with us?
Advertising Inquiry
Email to a friend Subscribe Advertise