Carrie Furnaces

Through October
Various times

Since closing in 1982, the Carrie Furnaces have served as a storied site captivating photographers, filmmakers and urban adventurists alike. Today the National Historic Landmark is poised to play a significant new role as a tourist destination and cultural venue within the Rivers of Steel National Heritage Area along the Mon.

For those who have anxiously awaited the opportunity to gain access to the icons of industry and their grounds, the wait it over. Through October, the majestic 92-foot blast furnaces will fuel a new crop of creativity as the site of a special Photo Safaris, Urban Art Tours and Graffiti Workshops offered by the Rivers of Steel National Heritage Area.

Active blast furnaces from 1907 to 1978, the plant supplied iron that was made into steel at Carnegie Steel/USS Homestead Steel Works. After it closed, artists and urban explorers began to venture into the site to explore and create work. In 2012, local artist Shane Pilster of 82 Concepts began working with Rivers of Steel, the nonprofit which manages the site, to help preserve many of the site’s existing artworks created by top East Coast street artists. Legal areas for artists to return to produce new works were established, and the unique partnership led to the development of Urban Art Tours and Graffiti Workshops for the public and educational groups.

Fillins, King, Fat Caps, Pieces—you may have seen the colorful tags around town. Learn about these graffiti terms and how they were created during an Urban Art Tour and Graffiti Workshop led by Pilster. Attendees will tour the historic site, as graffiti works are highlighted and discussed. Attendees will also learn about the underground culture of graffiti, its history and how it continues to evolve as a contemporary art form, and will try their hand at graffiti techniques such as letter design and painting with aerosol.

Urban Art Tours and Graffiti Workshop are offered on June 21, July 19, August 16, September 20 and October 18. Space is limited. Register online. Recommended for ages 8+.

The formerly abandoned industrial site is also the setting for three-hour Photo Safaris open to both novice and experienced photographers alike. Led by Cuban-American photographer, video artist and educator Ivette Spradlin, Photo Safaris are offered at different times of day, including sunrise and sunset. Dates are: May 31, June 29, August 2, September 13 and October 19. Space is limited. Register online. Open to all ages.

Photo by Ron Baraff

Jennifer Baron

Jennifer has worked at the Mattress Factory, Brooklyn Museum of Art and Dahesh Museum of Art and is co-author of Pittsburgh Signs Project: 250 Signs of Western Pennsylvania. She also is co-coordinator...