Lehigh Valley

Martin Tower memories take shape as dust from implosion settles

Police warn trespassers to stay away

BETHLEHEM, Pa. - The implosion of Martin Tower had and is continuing to have a ripple effect on the Lehigh Valley. Bethlehem Mayor Bob Donchez called Sunday's demolition "a bittersweet moment."

There were thousands of people who either came to see the demolition in person or watched it on air or online with 69 News. The building came down in a hurry but the memories will last a lifetime.

"We're sad. We're sad but we'll always remember that," says Amber Diamond of Whitehall.

Sixteen thousand tons of Bethlehem Steel collapsed in seconds. Officials say it was a "textbook implosion." What was once the defunct steelmaker's former world headquarters and the Lehigh Valley's tallest building is now dust. And since the plume has settled, emotions are setting in as well.

"Bethlehem Steel pretty much built the country and even the city of Bethlehem and this is sort of like the last chapter of that," says Mike Edgar of Nazareth.

Tons of people gathered to watch the demolition including Mark Perucki who drove down from Scranton with his two sons.

"It's not everyday you get to see a 21-story building come down," says Perucki. "It was pretty cool to see fall. I mean, it looked like a stack of cards coming down."

Nazareth's Bryson Flurer also came before the crack of dawn to watch with his family.

"It was cool. It was like a light in the window and it was like the dynamite exploding (it was) so fun," says Flurer.

Bethlehem Mayor Bob Donchez says he understands what Bethlehem Steel still means to the city but he thinks it is another one of their former properties that residents care more about.

"I think the majority of people in the city have a stronger to attachment to the blast furnaces and to the original world headquarters, the SGO (Steel General Office) building on 3rd Street, than they do to Martin Tower," says Donchez.

Others feel plenty attached to the 47-year-old building and will have a hard time letting it go.

"It was a beautiful iconic building and you're not gonna see something like that built again," says Perucki.

Robert Novatnack, the city's Emergency Management Coordinator, says the air quality in the area is being monitored by both the DEP and a third party the owners of Martin Tower hired. He says each will have reports comparing the air quality before, during and after the implosion.

Bethlehem Police Chief Mark DiLuzio contacted 69 News Sunday to get the word out about the danger of trespassing on the Martin Tower property. He said the area is still an active work zone and only authorized trained professionals should be inside the fenced area. DiLuzio said trespassers will be charged.

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