Sestao could be considered as the typical example of an industrial city. For many decades during the 19th and 20th centuries the town enjoyed the industrial growth all the region suffered. A metalurgic company called “Altos Hornos de Vizcaya” and a ship building company “La Naval”, were the biggest two. Altos Hornos de Vizcaya often called as AHV employed almost 10.000 people when production was at its height. AHV closed its doors at the beggining of the 90’s because its obsolete facilities couldn’t compete with other industries as Spain entered the European Union.
Linked to the industrial growth appeared inmigration. And for this inmigrants accomodation thousands and thousands of houses were built. Very high concrete residential towers one after the other, sometimes using low quality materials, which has triggered many problems. La Naval still remains but it’s maintened by public funding because it wouldn’t be viable as a private company.
Right now Sestao has one of the highest unenmployment rates in the Basque Country and has suffered for many years the industrial recession. However, things seem to be changing because of public intervention trying to boost industrial activity and the arrival of the underground of Bilbao.