Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, was once synonymous with steel. But after the factories closed, the city bet its future on a new industry: casino gambling. From Steel to Slots tells the story of a city struggling to make sense of the ways in which local jobs, landscapes, and identities are transformed by global capitalism. Postindustrial redevelopment often makes a clean break with a city's rusted past. In Bethlehem, where the new casino is industrial-themed, the city's heritage continues to dominate the built environment and infuse everyday experiences. Through the voices of steelworkers, casino dealers, preservationists, immigrants, and executives, Chloe Taft examines the ongoing legacies of corporate presence and urban development in a small city-and their uneven effects. Today, multinational casino corporations increasingly act as urban planners, promising jobs and tax revenues to ailing communities. Yet in an industry premised on risk, short-term gains do not necessarily mean long-term commitments to local needs.
While residents often have few cards to play in the face of global capital, Taft argues that the shape economic progress takes is not inevitable, nor must it always look forward. Citizens see alternatives for more equitable futures in the layered landscapes all around them.