Author Archives: Stephen Speranza, Documentary and Editorial Photographer

Scenes from the Valley: When the Money Dries Up in a Company Town


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From the series ‘Wilmerding’ by Stephen Speranza.

Wilmerding is an ongoing photo project documenting the postindustrial town of Wilmerding, Pennsylvania, which is located 12 miles southeast of Pittsburgh in the Turtle Creek Valley. Established in 1890 by industrialist George Westinghouse (known for the invention of alternating electrical current and a revolutionary air brake system for trains), this suburban enclave is a planned company town originally intended to house the workforce and families of the Westinghouse Air Brake Company.

My grandfather was born and raised in Wilmerding. It’s where he spent his entire life—not only as a resident, but like so many men in the area, as an employee at Westinghouse Air Brake. My introduction to the town was through his stories, which included growing up through the Great Depression, leaving home to fight in World War II, working at the Air Brake for 35 years, and his displeasure when the plant was downsized in the mid-1990s.

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