For most, when they think about the city of Pittsburgh the first thing that pops into their mind are the Steelers. The great Steel Curtain Dynasty. People think about greats like Terry Bradshaw, Franco Harris, and Lynn Swann. People think about the Immaculate Reception and the four Lombardi Trophies that Steeler greats hoisted up in the 1970’s. But do today’s fans stop and think about the importance of the 1970’s Steelers? Those teams not only built a football dynasty, but they rebuilt a town. The Steel City.
The steel industry was one of the biggest things to hit this country since the pilgrims landed on Plymouth Rock. It stimulated America’s economy, which in turn provided jobs, which in turn put food on most of America’s plates. In 1911, Pittsburgh was producing nearly between one third and one half of the nation’s steel. This caused the population of Pittsburgh to skyrocket. Pittsburgh was a great place to harvest this steel because of the water ways that flowed through the town and the availability of resouces. Pittsburgh was thriving.
Shortly after World War II, the steel mills in Pittsburgh were dying off one by one. It became too expensive to get the materials after the companies had used up all of the resources that once flourished in the city of Pittsburgh. With the steel mills gone, there was only one thing left behind: dirt. The city, as one would imagine from all of that steel production, was covered in smog and soot. This was not only a physical thing but also a mental thing for most of the people in the town.
Steel was all Pittsburgh had known for the better of 60 years. It fed the families in the city. It kept a steady income in the working man’s hand. The collapse of the steel mills eventually killed Pittsburgh’s spirit.
But with the downfall of those mills came something else. The Steel Curtain Dynasty. The Steelers were a football team trying to make a name for themselves somewhere in the NFL. Chuck Noll took over the reigns as the Steelers head coach in 1969 and in 1970, the Steelers moved into Three Rivers Stadium. In that first season’s draft, he found “Mean” Joe Greene. While Noll’s first season wasn’t anything to brag about, the Steelers proceded to draft Terry Bradshaw with the first pick in the 1970 NFL Draft. Noll followed the coming years up with draft selections like Jack Ham, Franco Harris, Jack Lambert, Lynn Swann, and John Stallworth.
Between 1974 and 1979, the Steelers won four Super Bowl titles. They solidified themselves into NFL history and thus the Steel Curtain Dynasty was formed. But what the people of Pittsburgh really recieved in that decade was their town back. They needed a reason to be happy again. They needed something to bring back excitement to Pittsburgh. The Steelers represented the hard working class of the Pittsburgh area and they credited their success to the fact that they were providing hope to their fans.
With the town getting cleaned up after the steel mills were gone, the Pittsburgh Steelers stepped in and helped fill the void in the heart of Pittsburgh.
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