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Men of Steel Open Access

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Men of Steel is a documentary photography and film project exploring the connections among industry, economy, and the American Dream. Over the last 150 years, America has evolved from a rural and agricultural economy, to a manufacturing and production economy to a service economy model. Towns and communities developed around the steel industry and built Main Streets, factories, mills, facilities, housing, and services for residents who worked to support the towns and the industries. With the gradual decline of U.S. steel beginning in the late 1970’s, mills began to file for bankruptcy and shut down, residents lost jobs, pensions, retirements, insurance, income, and livelihoods and the economy of many small towns crumbled. This project highlights the struggle to survive and avoid poverty, homelessness, and ruin while maintaining family traditions and values. This multimedia project explores the town of Weirton, West Virginia, in the Ohio River Valley and the impact of the closure of Weirton Steel; and the collapse of multiple steel companies including Republic Steel, U.S. Steel., LTV Steel, Youngstown Sheet and Tube in Youngstown, Ohio, in the Mahoning River Valley. Through interviews with former steel and current steel workers this project documents the changes in the Rust Belt caused by the steel industry.

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