Cement City Historic District
Category: Historic District
Location: Roughly counded by Chestnut and Walnut Streets from Modisette to Bertha Avenue and along Ida and Bertha Streets
This is a highly intact neighborhood composed of 100 poured-in-place concrete units in 84 buildings built in 1916-17 for middle management at the Donora plant of American Steel and Wire Corporation. One of only two built in Western Pa., it was built on a hill overlooking the south end of Donora, as far away as possible from the high pollution end of the mill's zinc works. Almost identical in style, with some duplexes and attached row houses, the predominatly two-story houses are constructed in Prairie style four-square design. There were made using movable forms, with hipped roofs covering closed flat roofs of sealed concrete.
Additional significance was added to this development when in 1948 the mill drew national attention when an atmospheric inversion held down the zinc works pollution to produce poisonous smog which resulted in 20 deaths and several hundred hospitalizations. The incident accelerated clean air efforts in the Pittsburgh area and eventually led to the closure of the mill complex in 1964. [the Donora Historical Society has thousands of glass plate negatives and photos of the project including Cement City under construction.]