BETHLEHEM, Pa. -- A popular landmark in the Lehigh Valley that was part of the steel industry's glory days came down Sunday morning.
Martin Tower, the former home of Bethlehem Steel, was completed in the early 1970s, and for decades, it signified the gold standard in the steel industry. But as that industry went downhill, so did the skyscraper’s value. Around 7 a.m. Sunday, the tower and all the history that came with it crumbled in a matter of seconds.
The 21-story iconic building that used to be the tallest building in the Lehigh Valley was reduced to a pile of rubble consisting of heaps of concrete as well as twisted steel, the same steel that made the company thrive.
“I’ve been seeing that building every day since I was born. I never saw a building get blown up, so I wasn't going to miss it," said Brian Bond of Bethlehem.
Thousands gathered in several locations across the Bethlehem area to witness this historic moment. Martin Tower has been vacant for 12 years, but the skyscraper was a key fixture in this part of the Lehigh Valley for so long.
“It's been an iconic landmark for decades, and there's a lot of bittersweet memories because it kind of symbolized the steel company, and then when the steel went down, it's sad to see the building now go too," said Lorraine Pasquali of Bethlehem.
All throughout day, people lined Eighth Avenue in Bethlehem to gaze at the pile of rubble and take pictures, many looking on in awe at what used to be.
“Now when you look at it, it's a monument of mismanagement. It was like a failure to adapt. Father time caught up with them. They didn't adapt. They couldn't keep up, and they died," said Paul Kodiak of Bethlehem.
People we spoke with tell Newswatch 16 they're sad to see Martin Tower go because there was so much history here, but they're excited to see what the future holds.
“It was a real important part of our city’s history, but now we're moving forward, making progress, and building our economy,“ said Pasquali.
Martin Tower's current owners looked into redeveloping the building, but decided it made more sense financially to tear it down and start over. There are plans in place to redevelop the site and add medical offices, stores, a hotel, and apartments.