Martin Tower

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Martin Tower
Former names Bethlehem Steel Martin Tower
General information
Status Vacant
Type Commercial offices
Architectural style International
Location 1170 8th Avenue
Bethlehem, Pennsylvania
Coordinates 40°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 started 1969
Completed 1972
Owner Lewis Ronca and Norton Herrick
Roof 101.19 m (332.0 ft)
Technical details
Floor count 21 above ground
Floor area 59,789 m2 (643,560 sq ft)
Lifts/elevators 10
Design and construction
Architect Haines Lundberg Waehler
Developer Lewis Ronca and Norton Herrick
Martin Tower
NRHP Reference # 10000401
Added to NRHP June 28, 2010

Martin Tower is a 21-story, 101.2 m (332 ft) skyscraper at 1170 8th Avenue in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. It is the tallest building in the city, and the greater Lehigh Valley, and 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.


Started in 1969, the framework of the Tower was completed in a short time, but there were insufficient funds to complete the elaborate building and the skeleton of Martin Tower dominated the western horizon of Bethlehem for 2 years before work was resumed. The building was completed and opened in 1972. Bethlehem Steel spared no expense in creating their new skyscraper headquarters. The skyscraper was named after then-Bethlehem Steel chairman Edmund F. Martin.

In 1972, Martin Tower became the new headquarters for Bethlehem Steel. The building was constructed in the shape of a cross (or plus-sign shape) 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, the Tower was almost completely vacant as many of the Steel workers had left the Tower due to various reasons. The Tower was then put up for sale and other companies had occupied the Tower and the Annex building. In 2001, Bethlehem Steel filed for bankruptcy and left Martin Tower in 2003. Several companies remained until the last tenant, Receivable Management Services, left the Tower in 2007 leaving it completely vacant.[5] A 2015 video, "Historic Martin Tower", has views of the exterior of the building and portions of the building's campus.

There were also ideas planned by Bethlehem Steel 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 one 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 I 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, or 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 public's concerns. Now we must wait to hear the plans for the property and go from there.[9]

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