Johnstown is a small town in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, USA, and is home to one of the largest and most important steel mills in America. It is the second largest city in Pennsylvania in population terms after Pittsburgh and the third largest in North America after New York.
The area was home to an Indian village in Shawnee, Delaware, before Joseph Johns, a Swiss Mennonite, founded the city in the 19th century. Johnstown was connected to Baltimore, Ohio, and became a stop on the Pennsylvania Railroad's main line. It connected Baltimore and Ohio with Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the second largest city in Pennsylvania and the third largest in North America after New York, but it has since become another stop along the main Pennsylvanians Railroad line and has become a major hub for the steel industry in Allegheny County and other parts of Pennsylvania.
Johnstown was important in the 19th century as a stopover on the Pennsylvania Canal Barge, which was transported piggyback on its western arm to Pittsburgh. Johnstown was at the head of the western tributaries of the canal, transporting and drifting canal boats that crossed the water from Pittsburgh to the Ohio Valley. It was also the beginning of a large waterway system in Pennsylvania and Ohio, transporting canal boats and washed up on its eastern arm before continuing across the water to Pittsburgh and the Ohio Valley, and ending its canal branch in Ohio and western Pennsylvania.
New regulations ordered by the EPA in the 1970s hit Johnstown hard, with the closure of the aging Cambria plant and the construction of a new plant at the site. With the Pennsylvania Railroad now crossing the state, canal traffic became superfluous, and with it the city's role as a stopover for canal boats and their role in waterways, as well as the development of railroads and other transportation systems, which it has since made superfluous. The Pennsylvania Railway now crosses the states, but its expansion into the Ohio Valley has made canal traffic obsolete.
Bethlehem Steel, which had made a large contribution to the fund, committed to bringing new steel technologies to Johnstown after being impressed by the city's own diversification efforts. The city received another reprieve from the company's top management, who had always regarded the work in Johntown with special affection because of its history and reputation.
When the new workers settled, the city, like most industrial cities in the north, was settled, and there were few black neighborhoods in Johnstown. This exacerbated the racism that had been stoked over the years to demonize black and Latino residents. There were a few white neighborhoods like Rosedale that were separated from the rest of the city, but not as much as the others. Indeed, Johntown declared itself "flood-free," a sentiment that intensified when it was the only riverside town in Pennsylvania not to flood after Hurricane Agnes in 1972.
An estimated 20 million tons of water began to flow into a winding gorge that led to the collapse of a bridge over the Allegheny River, one of the largest in the United States. The resulting 40-foot-long wall of water crisscrossed the city, killing more than 1,600 people, most of them blacks and Latinos, destroying more than 1,600 homes, and earning Johnstown the nickname "Flood City" that it still bears today.
In the twenty years since its inception, Cambria Works has been a huge company, covering more than 1,000 acres of land in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, and employing over 7,000 people. The largest earth dam in the United States, made of earth and rock instead of steel and concrete, measures 1.50 by 1.50 meters and covers an area of 1.5 million hectares, making it one of the largest man-made lakes in North America.
Cambria Iron Company in Johnstown is the leading steel producer in the United States, outpacing steel giants Pittsburgh and Cleveland. The industrialization of the area, along with the construction of a number of other industrial parks, helped attract manufacturing and transform Johntown into a thriving steel city during the 19th century. A recent study by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) showed how the development of bike paths, bike lanes and bike lanes could provide recreational opportunities and at the same time promote tourism, as well as how parks can provide green spaces and play areas while absorbing and storing flood water. Residents pointed to pollution problems caused by abandoned coal mines and the low-frequency bus routes that reduce traffic.
But, encouraged by steel companies, the city fathers formed an association called Johnstown Area Regional Industries (JARI) and raised $3 million to develop a new public park and bike path system in the area. Students inspect the new bike path outside the Cambria Iron Company factory in Johntown, Pennsylvania.
The students began to visit the city and learn about the challenges and opportunities it faced. The students' trip to Johnstown was funded by the Green New Deal, which is being unwrapped as part of President Obama's State of the Union address in Washington, D.C.