On Thursday, May 16, retired Bethlehem Steel worker Phil Pack will appear at “Workin’ It: Stories about Making a Living in Baltimore,” a live storytelling event from the Stoop Storytelling Series and CityLab, at the Baltimore Museum of Industry. For ticket and event info, go here.
The Sparrows Point steelworks was born in the first Gilded Age and died in the second. In the mid-20th century, more than 30,000 families lived on its wages; by 2012, when the hulking facility outside Baltimore closed its doors for good, fewer than 2,000 remained.
Working “down the Point” was a brutal and dangerous job. Death and accident rates were high. In its early decades, Sparrows Point employees worked in two grueling 10- to 14-hours shifts—with one 24-hour shift every other week to give the other team a day off. They had two unpaid holidays a year: Christmas and the Fourth of July.