Road Trippin’ with Truda: Youngstown Historical Center of Industry & Labor
Posted April 1, 2024
Yellow block with Road Trippin' with Truda written with the image of a vintage car.

Join me as I visit the sites in the Ohio History Connection network! This month's road trip took me to the Youngstown Historical Center of Industry & Labor in Youngstown.

The Youngstown Historical Center of Industry and Labor (YHCIL), known locally as the "Steel Museum," documents the rise and fall of the steel industry in Youngstown and the Mahoning Valley.

Exhibits combine artifacts, videotaped interviews and full-scale recreations of the places where steelworkers lived and worked. The museum features hundreds of photographs representing labor, immigration and urban history. Objects on display range from workers’ tools and clothing to hundreds of photographs. Life-sized scenes—including a mill’s locker room, part of a company-built house and a blooming mill, where steel ingots were shaped for further processing—help visitors understand steelmaking and the lives of steelworkers.

A large brick building in the background with some trees along the right side.

Be sure to check out the unique architecture of the Youngstown Historical Center of Industry & Labor.

Image looking down into a steel industry control room with two figures working.

Some of the most important work in a steel mill is performed in the pulpit or control platform. The pulpit in the Steel Museum was originally installed in 1915 at the Corrigan, McKinney & Company’s blooming mill in Cleveland.

Address: The Youngstown Historical Center of Industry & Labor is located at 151 West Wood Street in Youngstown, on the campus of Youngstown State University. Please note, the museum has a limited amount of free, on-site parking right out front. Additional parking is available on the street, metered parking or for a fee in a Youngstown State University parking lot.

How much time: To really explore the museum, I would budget two hours. There’s a lot to see, read and experience. And if you have kids with you, they will definitely want time to experience all the interactive displays.

My favorites: My favorite thing about the Steel Museum is the opportunities it creates for discussion. The museum doesn’t shy away from presenting the hard history–strikes, racism, sexism, poverty–in an accessible way. This would be a great place to take multiple generations. I know I’m planning to visit again and take my kids and my parents. I think we’d all learn a lot from the exhibits, but also from the resulting conversations. If you have parents or grandparents who grew up in the steel culture, I would highly recommend bringing them along to the museum.

Truda's Tips: Don’t miss the lower-level exhibits. You can take the elevator (located near the lobby) or the stairs (located partway through the exhibits on the first level). There are some fascinating exhibits, as well as a pulpit, or control platform, from the Corrigan, McKinney & Company blooming mill.

Also, be sure to check out the historical markers and statues outside the museum, as well as the architecture of the building itself. It was designed by noted architect Michael Graves. Each side of the museum resembles the design of a steel mill from a different period.

Kid Friendly? Heck, yeah!: A museum that focuses on steel culture might not be the first place you’d think to take kids. However, the staff at YHCIL have created a VERY kid friendly place. Interactive displays are sprinkled throughout the museum, including my favorite, the locker room, which features hats, boots and other safety equipment kids can try on to get a feel for what it was like to work in a steel mill. There’s also a model train display that kids can control with the push of a button, paper dolls, raw materials and more. I was really struck with how many things kids would be able to do.

A room with lockers lining the left side. A bench with hard hats on it. A man drinking from a water fountain.

The Locker Room exhibit is a great place for kids to get hands-on experience with what it would have been like to work in a steel mill.

Picture of a pizza with red sauce and cheese.

Brier Hill-style pizza is a Youngstown favorite that’s prepared with thick tomato sauce, bell peppers and Romano cheese.

Lunch: If you’ve read other road trip articles, you know that lunch is a very important component of my visits to our sites! I asked the Steel Museum staff for a recommendation, and they pointed me to Avalon Downtown, which is a short drive away in downtown Youngstown. You’ll need to park on the street, but we didn’t have any trouble finding a spot. We enjoyed our short walk to the restaurant. Youngstown is full of historic buildings and historical markers.

Avalon Downtown features a huge variety of pizzas, sandwiches, salads, bowls and traditional Italian favorites with a twist. I took advantage of the opportunity to have the Brier Hill pizza, a Youngstown favorite that is prepared with thick tomato sauce, bell peppers and Romano cheese. I loved it and can see why it’s beloved in Youngstown. My coworkers had the meatball sub, the pepperoni roll and the hot honey pizza. We all loved our selections, as well as the fun atmosphere and excellent service. I would heartily recommend a stop at Avalon Downtown.

On the way back to the car, we stopped by The Mocha House for coffee. It was packed with YSU students and other locals. They have a big coffee menu, as well as delicious pastries and a full menu of breakfast favorites, sandwiches, salads and soups. It would definitely make a great stop for a casual lunch. Parking is also on the street but wasn’t difficult to find.

For more information: To learn more about the Steel Museum, you can visit our website or the site’s website. You can call the site directly at 330.941.1314.

Want to make a day of it? Discover everything Youngstown and Mahoning County have to offer at Adventures in Northeast Ohio.

Ohio History Connection members enjoy free general admission to the Youngstown Historical Center of Industry & Labor, as well as our 50+ other historic sites and museums. Visit to become a member!

Subscribe to Our Blogs