Steel City


Heavy Cast Iron Bookends from McKeesport Foundry, Pittsburgh (LEO Design)


In the Late Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Centuries, Pittsburgh was one of the engines of America's national economic growth.  It was the height of American Industrialism and Pittsburgh was the heavy hitter.  Great fortunes were made in The Steel City—Carnegie, Frick, Mellon, Scaife, Heinz, Westinghouse—and they were fortunes which endowed other American cities (like New York and Washington, DC).  There were big companies, like US Steel, which (at its peak) employed hundreds of thousands of employees.  But there were many hundreds of smaller companies which serviced the giants or further-processed the raw material produced by the behemoths.

Such a focus on industry came at a great cost.  It was terribly polluting.  It perpetuated a "caste system" that insured there always would be many more low-paid, interchangeable laborers than managers.  And, when the bottom fell-out, the city hit the skids—leaving few other mature, comparably-sized businesses.

This handsome pair of bookends was made in the 1920's or 1930's by the McKeesport Foundry (on the outskirts of Greater Pittsburgh, just down the Monongahela River from the biggest steel mills).  Please click on the photo above to learn more about them.


Though our Greenwich Village store is now permanently closed, LEO Design is still alive and well!  Please visit our on-line store where we continue to sell Handsome Gifts (

We also can be found in Pittsburgh's historic "Strip District" at Mahla & Co. Antiques ( or in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania at The Antique Center of Strabane (

Or call to arrange to visit our Pittsburgh showroom (by private appointment only).  917-446-4248