Granite City

One GCADD lot includes a crane sculpture and art truck by Christopher Carl
Willis Ryder Arnold | St. Louis Public Radio

Last year Galen Gondolfi bought an entire city block in Granite City for roughly $75,000. The Fort Gondo Arts Compound founder bought the abandoned block to launch his new project: the Granite City Art and Design District.

“It’s exceeded expectations exponentially, there’s just been overwhelming support,” said Gondolfi. “We were a bit, you know, tentative about what to expect, and we’ve just been overwhelmingly pleased.”

A view of the outside of the United Steelworkers office in Granite City, Ill.
Wayne Pratt | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated 12:30 p.m., April 27,  with CEO comments — There is still no firm timeline for production to resume at the U.S. Steel plant in Granite City.  The company continues to describe the shutdown as temporary and operations will not start again until demand picks up. 

With U.S. Steel set to start idling operations in Granite City next week, some Metro East leaders are calling on federal lawmakers to take a tougher stance on overseas steel producers selling on the U.S. market at unfairly low prices.

Granite City Steel Mill
Davd Schaper|NPR

Updated at 1 p.m., November 24, 2015, to include comments from a union representative:

Dave Dowling, the sub district director for the United Steelworkers union, says he doesn't expect to know the date of the plant's idling for about two weeks.

Steelworker Jerry Koroby
Wayne Pratt|St. Louis Public Radio

Updated September 1, 2015 at 1:23 p.m.

A contract between the United Steelworkers and U.S. Steel is set to expire midnight Tuesday, and a last-minute deal is not expected. The company employs roughly 2,000 in Granite City, and operations at the plant will likely continue past the deadline.

Members of the United Steelworkers say they are not planning a strike at this point and the company says it remains committed to operating "without disruption as labor contract talks continue."

U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, right, and Madison County State's Attorney Tom Gibbons take part in a roundtable on heroin abuse on Monday in Granite City.
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin provided a fairly blunt reply to the proposition that the War on Drugs failed.

“By some measure, it has failed,” said Durbin, D-Ill. “If the measure is the cost of drugs on the street, it has failed. But when we look at the individual lives saved, there are certainly heroic great stories to be told. But we have to be honest about what works and what doesn’t.”

Some objects found inside the newly acquired GCADD buildings will remain
Willis Ryder Arnold | St. Louis Public Radio

In Granite City, $75,000 can buy you almost an entire city block. At least if you’re an arts organization.

“This is the promised land is what it is, it’s the land of opportunity. And as much as it may sound hackneyed or trite, it’s true,” said Galen Gondolfi, founder of Fort Gondo Compound for the Arts.

Geoff Turk, U.S. Steel
U.S. Steel

Steel produced in Granite City is part of an international trade case that is subject to new regulations signed by President Barack Obama.

Jason Rosenbaum, St. Louis Public Radio

The second-ranking Democrat in the U.S. House was in Granite City, Ill. on Wednesday to boost his longstanding focus on bolstering manufacturing jobs. 

Mary Delach Leonard|St. Louis Public Radio

It takes just a moment to hand a child a sack lunch, but it is THE moment -- the one that matters – for the volunteers with Twigs, a program that feeds children from financially struggling families in the summertime in Granite City.

You’ll find the volunteers in their bright yellow shirts at 11 designated spots -- street corners, parks and churches -- from 11:30 to 12:30, Monday through Friday, rain or shine, starting the day after school lets out for summer vacation and until it opens again.

(Flickr/Paul Sable)

The price of steel pipes and tubes are at the center of a rally in Granite City Friday afternoon.

It's one of six rallies planned around the U.S. this spring. The goal is to bring attention to what steelworkers and steel companies say are unfair trade practices by companies in nine countries.

The products are Oil Country Tubular Goods, used in natural gas and oil exploration, an industry that has boomed in the U.S. in recent years.

(UPI/Bill Greenblatt)

The Illinois Department of Transportation is considering two options for a high-speed rail line between St. Louis and Granite City. 

It’s part of a broader high-speed rail corridor between St. Louis and Chicago that’s aimed at shortening commute times between the two cities.

Construction is already underway on rail improvements between Alton and Joliet. But Congress hasn’t issued federal funding yet to build a high-speed rail line between St. Louis and Illinois. IDOT is taking the preliminary steps to apply for the federal money.

KWMU photo

(Updated at 5:25 p.m., February 18)

Vice President Joe Biden will be joined by past and present top federal transportation officials on Wednesday when he stops by Granite City to promote the five-year anniversary of the passage of the federal stimulus measure.

In Granite City, Biden is expected to highlight the spending on port improvements along the Mississippi River that were made possible by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which was aimed at stemming the economic downturn underway in early 2009.

(National Institutes of Health)

Updated at 4:35 p.m. with response from Barnes-Jewish Hospital.

Updated at 3:30 p.m. with additional information and clarifications.

A reported explosion at a southwestern Illinois steel plant has injured at least nine people, including two who remain hospitalized.

Fire officials say the blast happened shortly after 8 a.m. Thursday at American Steel Foundries in Granite City, just northeast of St. Louis.

Part of a monthlong series

The Great Recession has hit the industrial Midwest especially hard in recent years, from big cities to small factory towns. But now, in at least one small Illinois city, local leaders believe the worst is finally behind them.

Sitting across the Mississippi River from downtown St. Louis, Granite City, Ill., has certainly seen better days. In its downtown, there are more boarded-up and empty storefronts and vacant lots than there are businesses.


Authorities near Alton in southwestern Illinois are investigating the electrocution of a man whose body was found near snipped electrical power lines investigators believe he was trying to steal.

Madison County Coroner Stephen Nonn says 34-year-old Mark Becker of Granite City was found dead early Friday. Investigators believe he died Thursday night.

Nonn says evidence at the scene suggests that Becker made contact with charged overhead power lines after they had been cut from the utility pole.

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

Since his election in 2005, Granite City Mayor Ed Hagnauer has helped steer his community of about 30,000 through some trying times.

In July 2006, severe storms battered Granite City, downing trees and power lines and leaving hundreds of residents without electricity for a week. An ice storm the following November again left many in the community in the dark. But no one was injured or killed, and the city worked with Granite City Township officials to set up emergency generators in cooling and heating shelters.

U.S. Steel in Granite City
Mary Delach Leonard | St. Louis Beacon | File photo

Dan Simmons, president of Local 1899 of the United Steelworkers, said he never forgets his own mantra -- to buy American-made products -- even when it turns out to be a real challenge.

Simmons said that he and a fellow union official spent hours scouring the warehouse of a St. Louis candy wholesaler recently searching for union-made -- or even American-made -- candy to toss to kids at Monday's annual Labor Day parade in Granite City.

"We had to really work at it," Simmons said. "We spent way longer than we should have to make sure it was American-made."

Granite City used TIF funds to build a new movie theater.
Mary Delach Leonard | St. Louis Beacon | File photo

There is a glowing sign of changing times in downtown Granite City: a stylish marquee on a just-completed state-of-the-art cinema, within eyeshot of an old landmark steel mill that's up and running again.

Granite City used $4.6 million in tax-increment financing funds to pay for the theater, in hopes that it will draw people downtown.