This photograph of the local steel mills was taken when Europe was fighting against the Nazi aggression. Adolf Hitler’s armies were advancing toward the Soviet Union, which was invaded in June. The American newspapers were covering the war and debating to what extent the U.S. should get involved.
Great Britain needed help and America was in a position to provide it, argued retiring ambassador to Britain Joseph A. Kennedy. The headline on The Pittsburgh Press on Jan. 19 read: “Kennedy fights drastic powers for Roosevelt in aiding Britain, urges outright gifts of weapons to beat dictators.” In March, President Roosevelt signed the Lend-Lease Act, the program under which America supplied the Allied nations with arms, nine months before the U.S. entered the war.
In 1941, American industry was booming. Pittsburgh’s industrial potential placed the city and its region at the center of the nation’s military-industrial might. An article in The Pittsburgh Press on Jan. 19 discussed the status of local industry: “Peak plant employment… fat payrolls… night and day shifts… crammed order books… record production. This is the current picture of industrial activity throughout the Pittsburgh district, based on reports from leading steel, coal and glass areas and other manufacturing communities. In contrast to sagging production last year, steel operations are holding fast to the all-time high rate of 98 percent of capacity. Some companies are producing at more than 100 percent.”
We found this photograph in an oversized folder marked “S” for steel. On the back of the photograph, there was a date and three words: “Steel mills exterior.” It does not look like this photograph was published in the newspaper.
(Pittsburgh Press photo)