BETHLEHEM, P.a. — A new exhibit focusing on Bethlehem’s General Superintendent and Chief Engineer John Fritz is now on display at the National Museum of Industrial History. The Works of a Mechanical Genius: The Legacy of John Fritz explores the life and legacy of an innovative ironmaster who has been touted as founder of the American Steel Industry, alongside names like Andrew Carnegie.
Fritz built and oversaw the operations at the Bethlehem Iron Company from 1860-1893. The Bethlehem Iron Works is described in engineering journals of the day as, “one of the most famous enterprises in the world – the Mecca of engineer-pilgrims from abroad and the pride and pattern of American practice.”
From modest beginnings, Fritz was mechanically inclined and determined to learn all he could about the iron trade from the workers themselves. Constantly striving to improve every step in the process, he enthusiastically implemented new ideas. His innovative spirit and determination to surmount challenges drove the transformation of the Lehigh Valley into the first heavy industrial heartland of the nation.
Explore the early decades of the Bethlehem Iron Company, parent company to the Bethlehem Steel Corporation, and examine Fritz’ impact on work, technology, defense, and the rapid cultural changes experienced during the 20th Century. Showcasing rarely seen special collections pertaining to the life of this trailblazing industrial pioneer, this exhibit fosters exploration of the process of innovation and the role of the iron and steel industry in the formation of our nation and cultural identity.
This exhibit marks the 200th Anniversary of the birthday of industrial pioneer and mechanical genius, John Fritz. The Works of a Mechanical Genius opened November 17, 2021 and will be on display through October 2022 at the National Museum of Industrial History.
Learn more at nmih.org/the-works-of-a-
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About The Works of a Mechanical Genius: The Legacy of John Fritz
Fritz’ thirst for knowledge led him on a path to become one of the most revered ironmasters of his day, leaving behind an incalculable imprint on the world. As we approach the 200th anniversary of his birthday, we celebrate the life and legacy of an individual who poured the foundation for a steel empire with great impact on the regional and national stage. On view November 17 through October 16.
About the National Museum of Industrial History
A Smithsonian Institution Affiliate, the National Museum of Industrial History is dedicated to preserving America’s rich industrial heritage. Housed in an 18,000-square-foot, 100-year-old former Bethlehem Steel facility on the largest private brownfield in America, the Museum is home to exciting exhibits, engaging programs, and amazing history. Learn more at nmih.org.
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Director of Marketing and Public Relations
National Museum of Industrial History