Martin Tower

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Martin Tower
Former namesBethlehem Steel Martin Tower
General information
TypeCommercial offices
Architectural styleInternational
Location1170 8th Avenue
Bethlehem, Pennsylvania
Coordinates40°37′54″N 75°23′40″W / 40.6317°N 75.3944°W / 40.6317; -75.3944Coordinates: 40°37′54″N 75°23′40″W / 40.6317°N 75.3944°W / 40.6317; -75.3944
Construction started1969
OwnerLewis Ronca and Norton Herrick
Roof101.19 m (332.0 ft)
Technical details
Floor count21 above ground
Floor area59,789 m2 (643,560 sq ft)
Design and construction
ArchitectHaines Lundberg Waehler
DeveloperLewis Ronca and Norton Herrick
Martin Tower
NRHP reference #10000401
Added to NRHPJune 28, 2010

Martin Tower is a 21-story, 101.2 m (332 ft) building at 1170 8th Avenue in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. It is the tallest building in the city as well as the greater Lehigh Valley—8 ft (2.4 m) taller than the PPL Building in Allentown.

Martin Tower was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on June 28, 2010.


Begun in 1969, the framework of the Tower was completed in a short time. The building was completed and opened in 1972. The skyscraper was named after then-Bethlehem Steel chairman Edmund F. Martin.

Bethlehem Steel spared no expense in their new skyscraper headquarters. The building was built in the shape of a cross (or plus-sign) rather than a more conventional square, in order to create more corner- and window-offices. The original offices were designed by decorators from New York[who?] and included wooden furniture, doorknobs with the company logo, and handwoven carpets. The building was a testament to the economic heights the Lehigh Valley reached in the 1970s before the large economic turndown caused by the decline of the steel industry.[citation needed] The building was a symbol of Bethlehem Steel's power, money and dominance in the steel industry and an excellent statement of their company. The building has 21 floors and each floor was a different department of the company. When Martin Tower was opened, Bethlehem Steel was the second largest steel producer in the world and the 14th largest industrial corporation in America. In 1973, the first full year the Tower was occupied, Bethlehem Steel set a company record, producing 22.3 million tons of raw steel and shipping 16.3 million tons of finished steel. It made a $207 million profit that year, and exceeded that the following year.[4]

By 1987, a shrinking white-collar work force had the Tower sitting almost completely vacant; it was then put up for sale and other companies occupied the Tower its annex. In 2001, Bethlehem Steel filed for bankruptcy and officially left Martin Tower in 2003. Several companies remained until the last tenant, Receivable Management Services, departed in 2007, leaving it completely vacant.[5]

Under the initial plan, Bethlehem Steel was to build a second Tower, which is why some people refer to it as, "Martin Towers." The Annex was going to connect the two Towers, but the second was never built.

The architect for Martin Tower was Haines Lundberg Waehler. It was built by George A. Fuller Construction Co. of New York, which also built the Flat Iron Building in New York in 1903, the CBS Building in New York in 1963 and 1251 Avenue of the Americas at Rockefeller Center in 1971.[6]


In 2007, the entire building became vacant. Surface parking around the building is used for park-and-ride lots for local festivals. Plans to create condominiums or apartments inside the Tower, along with recreational and retail space on the property, proved unfeasible due to the presence of asbestos and the cost of its removal along with the housing market crash.[citation needed]

Bethlehem has since applied for the CRIZ, (City Revitalization and Improvement Zone,) winning one of the two CRIZ designations on December 30, 2013. Restoration of the Tower, including the removal of asbestos and addition of a sprinkler system, was expected to begin in year three of the CRIZ, renovations beginning in 2016.[7][8]

In July 2015, Bethlehem Mayor Robert Donchez announced plans to rezone the Martin Tower property. The current zoning at that time allowed mostly residential in and around the Tower, and protected the Tower from being taken down. After many public hearings and votes, on December 15, 2015, the Martin Tower property was approved for rezoning. It allows more retail space on the property, and allows Martin Tower to be taken down if the owners (who are also the developers) wish to do so. The public had many concerns about the new rezoning. Some feared it would make it easier to remove the Tower. Others feared it would create a third downtown in the city and create competition to business owners. City Council passed the zoning despite the concerns of a few members of the public.[9]

On January 13, 2017, almost 10 years since the Tower was vacated, it was announced work will be done to the Tower and property. Owners Ronca and Herrick signed the permit Friday, January 13 to start removing the asbestos from the Tower and Annex building.[10]

In January 2019 it was announced that the owners would have a master plan ready by April 2019 which will outline the demolition of the tower. Due to the rezoning in 2015 which Labels the land for mix use made it easier for demolition of the building.[11]

On March 28, 2019, it was announced that the tower would be imploded on May 19, 2019. [12]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Martin Tower". CTBUH Skyscraper Center.
  2. ^ Martin Tower at Emporis
  3. ^ "Martin Tower". SkyscraperPage.
  4. ^
  5. ^
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  11. ^ Radzievich, Nicole (January 28, 2019). "Martin Tower, landmark of the Bethlehem Steel era, to be demolished". The Morning Call. Retrieved January 29, 2019.
  12. ^ Radzievich, Nicole (March 28, 2019). "Bethlehem sets date for Martin Tower implosion". The Morning Call. Retrieved March 28, 2019.

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