I finally got to go into Martin Tower today.
My three regular readers might remember Martin Tower from this November 2012 post, which is still one of the most popular things I’ve ever posted here.
Martin Tower is the tallest building in the Lehigh Valley. It was the headquarters of Bethlehem Steel Corp. from 1972 until sometime in the early 2000s, when the Steel went bankrupt and closed up shop.
For the most part, the property has been empty ever since. Nowadays it comes to life only two weeks each summer as a satellite parking lot for Musikfest, Bethlehem’s annual music festival.
The tower and its low-slung two-story annex sit locked and moldering, waiting for some economic-development equivalent of a prince’s kiss to bring them back to life — or, more likely, for a wrecker’s implosion to erase them.
The building isn’t open to the public. But the Lehigh Valley’s tourism organization talked the current owners into opening up the grounds and first floor today for an InstaMeet.
Apparently, an InstaMeet is a public gathering where people take pix and post them on Instagram, and everyone looks at each other’s pictures. I don’t use Instagram but I went anyway, armed with my Kodak point-and-shoot. (Kodak and the Steel have a few things in common, I think, so it seemed like an appropriate camera to use.)
Even in decay, Martin Tower retains some of the gravitas it once had as the headquarters of a major American corporation.
As I walked around, I couldn’t help but think of my own workplace — also a Fortune 500 company whose headquarters tower building is locally well-known.
My company’s doing OK right now, as far as I know. But the people who staffed Martin Tower probably felt that way too, once. In their welcoming first-floor entrance, I saw our welcoming first-floor entrance; in their empty conference room, I saw our full one.
I wished for a couple of minutes that I could truck everyone from my company over to Martin Tower.
We could all walk around the first floor for a while in silence, reflecting on how little it takes to get from where we are to where they are, and what we have to do to steer clear.
It would be a team-building exercise better than any ever cooked up by some jargon-spewing consultant.
(I’m even thinking of making one of my Martin Tower pictures the background on my work monitor, replacing this picture. An ever-present reminder to keep my eye on the ball wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world.)
Speaking of pictures, you probably want to see those more than you want to read any more of my words.
So here’s what the aging, more-or-less-abandoned headquarters of a former Fortune 500 company looks like: