WNY’s steel producing heritage- part of what makes Buffalo Buffalo

By Steve Cichon

Our steel producing heritage—One of the things that makes Buffalo Buffalo.

We often talk about and remember Bethlehem Steel, and with good reason.

The Bethlehem Steel complex, 1984.

At one point, Lackawanna’s Bethlehem Rte. 5 complex was the world’s largest steel plant. At one point, the plant employed more than 20,000 men.

Just as amazing to think about is that there were nearly as many men working in other steel plants around WNY as well.

A DEC photo from 1967: Historic photo of the Buffalo River. The former Republic Steel plant is to the left of the river and the former Buffalo Color plant is to the right.

The Republic Steel Plant on South Park Avenue at the Buffalo River in South Buffalo was one of the biggest.

Now the site of the Elon Musk and Panasonic solar panel plant, but in 1950—the Cleveland based Republic Steel was making plans to increase the South Buffalo plant’s production to 900,000 tons of steel per year. Nearly a million tons of steel at Buffalo’s second largest steel plant.

The plant was closed and demolished in the mid 1980s and again, is currently the site for the state-funded RiverBend project.

Buffalo Evening News, August 3, 1950


Torn-Down Tuesday: Signs of Bethlehem Steel along Route 5

Torn-down Tuesday: Bethlehem Steel from the air

Buffalo in the 60s: Bethlehem Steel builds Buff State

Buffalo in the 50s: South Buffalo’s Republic Steel aims for nearly a million tons

Buffalo in the 40s: Before SolarCity, there was National Aniline and Republic Steel at RiverBend

Buffalo in the 70’s: Steelworkers called back to work



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Steve Cichon

Steve Cichon is a proud Buffalonian helping the world experience the city he loves. writing about the people, places, and ideas that make Buffalo unique and special. The storyteller and historian has written six books, worn bow ties since the 80s, and is the News Director at WECK Radio. A 25 year Buffalo media veteran, Steve's contributed more than 1400 Buffalo History stories to The Buffalo News, worked at WIVB-TV, Empire Sports Network, and spent ten years as a newsman and News Director at WBEN Radio. He's also put his communication skills to work as an adjunct professor, a producer of PBS documentaries, and even run for Erie County Clerk. Steve's Buffalo roots run deep: all eight of his great-grandparents called Buffalo home, with his first ancestors arriving here in 1827.