Two 20-foot tall steel sculptures were moved Wednesday from an old coke plant, where they were built, to their new home on the South Side. The planning and constructing of “The Workers” has taken about 15 years and included 21 artists.
“The intention of the project is to commemorate the steel industry, but through the process of construction the scope and scale of the project has grown to be more encompassing and to celebrate the working spirit of Pittsburgh and the folks that go to work every day,” said Tim Kaulen, artist and member of the Industrial Arts Co-op, which built the sculptures.
The sculptures were partially taken apart, loaded onto large trucks and moved from the old LTV coke plant in Hazelwood to a permanent home at the Southside Works, a site that was chosen for its historical significance.
“Given that J and L (Jones and Laughlin) Electric Furnaces were a really important part of the building of our nation and the world, it’s really great for us, for Pittsburgh, to take a stand and celebrate that history, but also look to the future,” said Kaulen.
In addition to honoring current and former Pittsburgh workers, Kaulen said “The Workers” were built from bits of Pittsburgh’s history.
“All of the materials are recycled from industry itself,” he said, “the I-beams that make up the figures came from the first renovation of the Hot Metal Bridge on the South Side. Some of the other materials came from what was J and L Electric Furnaces, the Southside Works.”
The sculptures, originally commissioned in 1997 and funded by the City of Pittsburgh, the Department of City Planning, and the Heinz Endowments, will now be permanently on display at South Side Riverfront Park. The moving and installation was done by PJ Dick Corporation and Century Steel Erectors.