Throughout the twentieth century and so far into the twentieth first century, Monterrey has been internationally noted for its industrial strength. The city, that for years was recognized as the Mexican industrial capital has now nearly four million inhabitants and a highly diversified economy. Twentieth-century industry activities coexist here in such diverse sectors as: Heavy industry, construction materials, food and beverage, and a dynamic service sector encompassing global-level financial, real estate, educational and medical services. Entrepreneurial spirit is so deeply ingrained in Monterrey's nature that, for many, it stands for the leading edge in Latin American business culture.
The close relationship between Monterrey and the United States, dating back to mid-nineteenth century, resulted in economic growth that led to an industrialization process spanning from 1890 to 1910, a period of emergence for a group of major entrepreneurs and companies that survive up to date. This was the period of inception of the city's boom, with the arrival of large industries, and especially with the establishment of Compañía Fundidora de Fierro y Acero de Monterrey S.A. de C.V. The company's 113-hectare site comprised various facilities that were constructed starting in 1900, when the company was founded, and up to its closure in 1986. Among those structures, Blast Furnaces one and three stand out due to their monumental characteristics and historical relevance. They remained in place even after plant closure, together with other buildings and facilities, such as: the general offices, the director's house, the Steel School, the Model workshops, carpentry and electrical, model and oil warehouses, the oxygen plant, the bronze and railroad wheel foundry, the machinery building, the power generating and converting plants, the Blast Furnace blowers, and the Combination Mill, among other areas. By 1986, this industry was the distinctive symbol of Monterrey city throughout the country, because modern Mexico was built using Fundidora's steel.
Justification of Outstanding Universal Value
The Old Blast Furnaces of Fundidora Monterrey are an extraordinary example of Mexican technological progress, because they are the origin of the first modern siderurgical company, fully integrated for steel production to be established in Latin America. It was constructed in the period of stability and industrial promotion of president Porfirio Díaz; an important period in Mexican history, when foreign investment was encouraged, which was a factor in the creation of Compañía Fundidora de Fierro y Acero de Monterrey. This, coupled with regional capitals, led to the installation of the first Blast Furnace. The company's legacy to Monterrey was not just its capital, but also its machines, its scientific discoveries applied to industry, its work management systems and its architecture. It was in these very Furnaces, in "la Maestranza" training facilities, where former farmers acquired new knowledge and skills, to give rise to a new lifestyle and a new social organization to build the foundations of the national history of work and labor culture.
Fundidora's Furnaces are undoubtedly a truly representative example of the introduction or the siderurgic industry in Latin America because, as the first steel producing company in Mexico - and the first and largest one in Latin America - it was the pioneer among developing countries in the installation of a fully integrated siderurgic process, consisting of machinery and equipment contemporary to the ones then used in industrialized countries with a recognized siderurgic tradition, namely Germany, England and the United States.
Blast Furnace No. 1 was one of the most remarkable pieces of equipment due to its highly technical elements. It was installed in Fundidora Monterrey during the plant's early years. The complex pertained to the latest generation in siderurgical technology and was ideally suited to national requirements, for its production capacity exceeded the domestic market demands at that time.
Both, the continuous demand for steel and unmet needs, led company management to install a new pig iron producing furnace, and so, the company's last and tallest Furnace - and the most modern in Latin America - was built: Blast Furnace No. 3. It was one of the most important pieces of equipment in the siderurgical plant's history, due to the fact that it was a technological breakthrough in its time. Fully automated Blast Furnace No. 3 boosted pig iron production and set Monterrey back as the first steel producer in Latin America in the sixties. After company closure these furnaces were about to be dismantled, but remained virtually intact, although some pieces of equipment were sold to be reutilized at other Mexican plants. Nowadays, Fundidora Monterrey's Blast Furnaces one and three are the only blast furnaces in Latin America to be preserved for cultural purposes. They have been declared a National Heritage of Mexico, as a symbol of historical industrial heritage - both domestically and internationally - because they were instrumental in turning Monterrey into one of the most important industrial cities in the American continent in early Twentieth Century, and they represent the emergence of modern Mexico and fueled the country's industrial growth.
Satements of authenticity and/or integrity
The origin and development of both Fundidora and the Blast Furnaces are recorded in numerous documents and publications that have been safeguarded in Fundidora's Historical Archives. After plant closure in 1986, the federal government expropriated company land and assets. Two years later, a decree was published declaring that the preservation and improvement of the area that had been occupied by the company's plant was of public interest. On the same year, the assets were assigned to Nuevo Leon State government to construct an ecological park and to establish the necessary entities to undertake property utilization. Finally, in 2000, Fundidora Park rescue committee was created. The committee is intended to care for and manage the park.
Fundidora Park, now merged with the facilities of former Peñoles factory and merged also with the city's monumental downtown square - "Macroplaza" - through a channel, is one of the mainstays of Monterrey's urban revitalization. The facilities have been declared an Industrial Archaeology Site Museum and they still retain a large part of its original installations, including Blast Furnaces one and three, that are symbols of the technological evolution of the steel industry, in its second and fourth generations.
These Blast Furnaces have been declared National Monuments because they represent two of the best examples of recovery and safeguarding of the Mexican industrial heritage. The Furnaces are in excellent state of preservation because, after plant closure, restoration work was carried out on them for maximum preservation of their industrial appearance, their patina and the colors acquired through the passage of time, so as to maintain its authenticity and integrity. In order to preserve Blast Furnace Three, it was necessary to find a new use for it as a Museum of Steel and interpretation center to promote the study of science and technology applied to steel industry. Also, the operation of this huge machine is presented so as to preserve it for the future generations of Monterrey, Mexico and the World at large to enjoy.
Comparison with other similar properties
Fundidora's Blast Furnaces are not comparable to any other industrial facilities in Mexico, for all other integrated siderurgical facilities in Mexico are still operative and the ones that have been preserved due to its antiquity and heritage value are small iron mills and foundries such as Ferrería Guadalupe (Guadalupe Iron Mills), in Coalcomán, and Ferrería De Flores (De Flores Iron Mills) (Piedras Azules), in Durango, both of them dating from early Nineteenth Century. However, the list of World Heritage, features Völklingen siderurgic plant in Germany, constructed and equipped in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries, a site that should be studied as a reference, and so is also the case with the Museo de La Siderurgia (Museum of Siderurgy) - MUSI, in Langreo Asturias, Spain and the Museo de las Ferrerías (Steel Mill Museum), in Subachoque, Colombia.
The above three examples have been transformed into museums or parks, and so has been the case with Fundidora Monterrey, and some of the processes that used to be carried out in the plant are now being recreated within the furnaces, such as a full recreation of a pig iron casting in Furnace No. 3 - currently the Museum of Steel.