The heritage of steelmaking is central to the history and culture of Northwest Indiana. In the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries, several major steel companies built their flagship plants along Indiana's Lake Michigan shoreline and transformed the area and some of its communities into the steel manufacturing capitol of the United States.
As they erected state-of-the-art steelmaking complexes and brand-new cities, the corporations pursued another activity: they photographed themselves. While work crews poured concrete for blast furnaces, leveled miles of dune shoreline, and tamed huge ladles of liquid iron and steel, company photographers captured in great detail the laborious process of building heavy industrial plants and producing record numbers of tons of steel. In essence, the companies left behind a visual documentary record of what occurred here a century ago.
Inland Steel Company, founded in 1893 in Chicago, arrived first in northwest Indiana, establishing its Indiana Harbor Works in 1901 in East Chicago, Indiana. A very large and important source of historical information about the local steel industry is the Inland Steel Company Photograph Collection housed in the Calumet Regional Archives at Indiana University Northwest. Inland Steel created a visual materials collection comprising over one million images, including prints, negatives, slides and transparencies. Select images from this huge collection are presented here for use by students, scholars, and the general public.
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