Workshop of the World

stories of industry in & around Philadelphia

PRESENTATIONS sponsored by the Oliver Evans Chapter—Society for Industrial Archeology (list is illustrative, not all-inclusive):

UNION GOODS—illustrated stories of manufacturing by Union League members in Philadelphia during the Civil War (1861-1865) (Friday Jan. 25, 2008 at the Union League).

Pasted Graphic "The Commercial Museum, 1894-1991—Philadelphia's Window on the Industrial World" by Ed Grusheski (September 23, 1993 & February 24, 2002). The Philadelphia Commercial Museum, founded in 1894, was the first institution in the United States to actively promote America's businesses and industries in foreign markets. As such, it boasted memberships by many companies from New York, Chicago, Boston, Pittsburgh, and other major cities, as well as Philadelphia. When President William McKinley opened the Commercial Museum-sponsored National Export Exposition in West Philadelphia in 1899, he urged American businesses to sell their goods in the expanding markets of Latin America, Asia, and Africa. Indeed, for the next 30 years, Philadelphia's Commercial Museum was the front line institution for American business on these three continents. The Museum provided its business members with typing and translating services, marketing research, and lists of international companies of spurious reputation. The information that Mr. Grushesid will present on the Commercial Museum and its periodical Commercial America is known by few people in Philadelphia. As a source for industrial research and history, it is barely used, but it contains a wealth of information highlighting Philadelphia area companies, as well as companies from all over America in the early 20th century.

Pasted Graphic 1 "The Architect as Collaborator with the Engineer—Paul Cret and the Delaware River Bridge" by Dr. Jonathan Farnham (November 14, 2001). Designed by chief engineer Ralph Mojeski in collaboration with architect Paul Cret, the Delaware Piver (now Ben Franklin) Bridge between Philadelphia and Camden, New Jersey was the longest in the world when completed in 1926. Architects applauded the tremendous suspension bridge's beauty and grace. Engineer's hailed its many significant technological innovations, which set the stage for a series of record-breaking spans like, the George Washington and Golden Gate Bridges. And, most importantly, both architects and engineers lauded the bridge, for reuniting their divorced disciplines, which had been one until the dawn of the modern era. In "The Architect as Collaborator with the Engineer: Paul Cret and the Delaware River Bridge," Jonathan Farnum proposes that architect Paul Cret employed the abstract notion of "collaboration" to guidee his design for the bridge. For the Frenchman who emigrated to Philadelphia in 1903, both architecture and engineering had faltered in the late nineteenth century. Turning from its roots in technology, architecture had become preoccupied with beauty, ornament, and the past. Likewise, forsaking its origins in the arts, engineering, Cret claimed, had become crassly utilitarian. Denigrating earlier spans like, New York's Manhattan and Williamsburg Bridges, which should have stood as examples of connection, Cret designed the Delaware River Bridge to rejoin myriad alienated domains including beauty and utility, art and technology, ornament and structure, past and present, tradition and innovation, and architect and engineer. More, than simply a physical link from Philadelphia to Camden, this great suspension bridge proffered itself as a path to a truly modern, unified architecture and, more significantly, a truly modern, unified society. Jonathan Farnham recently received his PhD. in architectural history from Princeton University's School of Architecture. He is currently a Visiting Scholar in the Art History Department at the University of Pennsylvania and is also preparing an exhibition and publication celebrating the 75th anniversary of the Central Branch of the Free Library of Philadelphia, which was designed by architect Horace Trumbauer and completed in 1927. He is the author of "Staging the Tragedy of Time: Paul Cret and the Delaware River Bridge," which appeared in the Journal of the Society of Architectural historians in September 1998.

Pasted Graphic 2 "Early Industrialization of Kensington" by Rich Remer (January 25, 2002). Few industrial districts in the world can match the rapidity or complexity of Kensington's early growth and development, home of such progenitors of American industry as William and Charles Cramp (shipbuilding), Thomas Dyott and Charles B. Austin (glassmaking), Henry Disston and William Sellers (toolmakers), John Harrison (chemicals), John Hewson and John Bromley (textiles) to name but a few. This presentation will be a general survey of the historical developments that made Kensington a veritable "workshop of the world". After a discussion of the origins, foundation and enigmatic geography of the Kensington district, the pre-industrial growth of craft industries in the 18th century and the succeeding enterprises of the Industrial Revolution (up to the outbreak of the Civil War) will be discussed.

"Wool Scouring at Eavenson & Levering, Camden, NJ"by Paul Schopp (Fall, 1990).

"The Coke Ovens at Connelsville, PA" by Fred Quivik (April 15, 1983). The Shoaf Coking Works, in Shoaf, PA, (just southwest of Uniontown) is the only intact beehive coking works extant in the region. It contains 300 ovens and at onetime (c.1910), the region contained over 40,000 ovens. The Shoaf works, and other similar companies, used bituminous coal from the Pittsburgh Seam to produce metallurgical coke in the beehive ovens; at the turn of the century, the Connellsville Region produced over half the nation's metallurgical coke (which was used in the production of steel). Connellsville coke was the standard by which all other cokes in the country were measured. Fred will also talk about the background history of the Connellsville coke region, and with slides, will illustrate the environmental impact of beehive coking on the region, and he will also offer some explanations on why the beehive coke industry, which was extremely labor-intense, persisted in the area when other, more-efficient, by-product coking technologies existed elsewhere.

"The Valley Forges—Industry on Valley Creek" by Helen Schenck (March 18, 1993). The name "Valley Forge" commonly evokes images of Revolutionary War soldiers, log huts, and bloody footprints in the snow. Less frequently does one imagine the glowing hearth and rhythmic pounding of the hammer in the 'Valley Forge" that gave the locale its name. But Valley Creek provided the power for as many as three forges and numerous other mills and manufactories in the 18th and 19th centuries. This illustrated program will cover the background to the refining of iron in the 18th century and give a brief history of the forges at Valley Forge. In addition, the results of the early 20th century excavation that uncovered an extraordinarily well-preserved two-fire forge about a half-mile upstream from Washington's Headquarters will be described. Helen Schenck is a member of the Oliver Evans Chapter; in 1978-79, she was joint field director of a geophysical survey project at Valley Forge. She also conducted research on Revolutionary War hut site artifacts and the forges of Valley Forge, including metallurgical analysis of artifacts from the Upper Forge.

"Cast and Wrought Iron Bridges in America" by Eric Delony, Chief, Historic American Engineering Record, National Park Service (January 29, 1993). Of all bridge types, the prefabricated metal truss is the most threatened. Hundreds of patents were granted and thousands were built. However, contemporary highway standards, such as weight limits and sight lines, and infrequent maintenance and painting have contributed to the removal and replacement of hundreds of historic metal truss bridges. Plan to attend our annual dinner meeting and listen to an illustrated lecture focusing on this rapidly disappearing type of bridge on the American landscape. Eric DeLony has been investigating historic bridges with the Historic American Engineering Record (HAER) for the past two decades. In 1975, HAER recognized the threat of massive federal and state highway improvement programs to historic bridges, and initiated a program to identify, document, and where possible, to save outstanding examples of America's bridge building technology. In 1992, Mr. DeLony accepted a National Preservation Award from President Bush on behalf of HAER's Historic Bridge program.

"Lathe Turning—Machines and Products" by Albert LeCoff (May 12, 1994). Turning is an ancient and important craft that needs to be more widely understood and appreciated. It covers a wide range of professional interests, from industrial scholars and collectors, to artists and museum curators. Albert LeCoff is Executive Director and Curator of the Wood Turning Center, an international nonprofit research and development foundation, dedicated to the education, preservation, and promotion of wood-tumed and other lathe-tumed materials, located here in Philadelphia. He is also a member of the Oliver Evans Chapter. He is former production turner and a scholar in turning technology. In April 1993, he organized the World Turning Conference at the Hagley Museum; he also organized the ongoing Exhibition of International Turners, which, at present, is on display at the Fine Axts Museum of the South, in Mobile, Alabama. In August, it opens at the California Crafts Museum in San Francisco, and in November, it opens at the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum, in Wausau, Wisconsin.

"Turbines at the Fairmount Water Works" by Joel T. Fry (September 21, 1994). Joel T. Fry is an archaeologist who works with the Philadelphia Water Department conducting research and investigation at the Fairmount Waterworks. He will discuss his recent findings from his work at the site. His presentation will include slides and a description of the remains of the 1851 Jonval turbine, discarded at the Waterworks' Engine House c.1928 (when the sewer line was placed through the site). At the time the sewer line was installed, the turbine was literally cut in half, with the entire upper casing and the gearing left in place, but the inner and lower portions, including the runner, guide vanes, and draft tube were discarded. Mr. Fry's investigations uncovered some of these discarded elements, which gave evidence of construction details not discemable in the written record. Mr. Fry has an M.A. in American Civilization and is a Ph.D. candidate in American Historical Archaeology. He has over fifteen years expenence in field archaeology, with
special emphasis in Industrial Archeology and Garden Archaeology. Since 1988, he has been involved in archaeological and historical research at Fairmount Waterworks. He also prepared a detailed interpretive catalogue of the Water Departnent's collection of industrial artifacts recovered during stabilization and reconstruction work at the Fairmount Waterworks between 1982 and 1990.

"An overview of the Schuylkill River Heritage Corridor with an emphasis on the Phoenix Iron Works" by Mark Connelly (October 17, 1995). An illustrated presentation by Mark Connolly, the new Manager of the Schuylkill River Heritage Corridor, is a mechanical engineer with a special interest in Phoenix Iron. His presentation will begin with a discussion of Heritage Corridor activities, then advance to a discussion of the progress on the proposed Phoenixville Visitor Center (at the Foundry Building), and an update on the Industrial Reach brochure (for the region).

"Pennsylvania Turnpike—A Drive Through History and Technology" by Dan Cupper (January 26, 1996). Dan Cupper is a noted historian and author of books on the history of the Pennsylvania Turnpike, the Horseshoe Curve and other areas of industrial interest. He is an excellent lecturer and presents a fine selection of slides. The Pennsylvania Turnpike celebrated its 50th year in 1989. Dan's presentation will touch on the political and technological factors that led to the Turnpike's design (relative to the abandoned South Penn right-of-way), the extremely accelerated design and construction schedule dictated by the Roosevelt administration as a condition for bacldng the bonds, the now-abandoned tunnel sections of the Turnpike in Fulton, Bedford, and Somerset Counties, and general discussion of the Turnpike's operation and future plans. Dan also has an interesting array of Turnpike stories to share.

"Archeology of the Philadelphia Street Railway" by Joel Spivak (December 12, 1995). Joel has been digging around for years looking for the lost history of Philadelphia's street railway system in the buildings, streets, old photographs, early guidebooks, deeds and unusual locations. As an added bonus, Joel's colleague, Ed Torpy, will set up a seven foot square model trolley system, operated by an actual trolley controller. Mr. Torpy will invite members and guests to operate the model trolley system and he will issue certificates upon completion of operation.

"The History of Shipbuilding at William Cramp & Sons Shipyard" by Gail Farr (April 21, ?). Located on several hundred acres at Beach and Nonis Streets in Fishtown, William Cramp & Sons Shipyard employed more than 18,000 workers at the height of its operations during World War II and was one of the city's most important industries. Hundreds of Philadelphians still recall working at Cramp's or having relatives employed there. Cramp built not only naval vessels, but also passenger liners, luxury yachts for J. P. Morgan and Jay Gould, and even a few Coney Island excursion boats. The company is credited with building the first American Dreadnought, "South Carolina," and the first screw tugboat. Gail E. Farr served as a project archivist for a major effort to preserve records of Philadelphia shipbuilders at the Philadelphia Maritime Museum. She will discuss the project and the research which led to the comprehensive illustrated history, Shipbuilding at Cramp & Sons, published by the Maritime Museum in 1991. Her presentation will detail the transformation of shipbuilding from a craft mode of production focused around wooden sailing vessels to an industry centered around steam engines and iron and steel construction.

"The One Best Way—Frederick Winslow Taylor and the Enigma of Efficiency" by Robert Kanigel (January 30, 1998). Kanigel will discuss his newly-published biography of Taylor and what led him to search for "the one best way" to accomplish any task. Taylor was born into an old Philadelphia family from Germantown yet opted to work as an apprentice at Ferrell & Jones, a smal I pump-works on Race Street. He worked in the machine shop at Midvale Steel Company in the Nicetown section of the city, and at other steel mills, intent on analyzing the work patterns of individual industrial jobs. By establishing his "time-studies" Taylor became the first efficiency expert and the father of scientific management. His prediction that "In the past man has been first. In the future the System will be first" has surely been fulfilled. In the 1890s Taylor was prominent in the American Society of Mechanical Engineers; initially "Taylorism" stirred great excitement among the members. Controversy followed as labor and management defended what each considered its rights. The relationship of Philadelphia to this visionary man's efforts to abolish class hatreds will be of interest to all. Rob Kanigel lives in Baltimore and teaches writing in the University of Baltimore's Publications Design Program. He is the author of "Apprentice to Genius" and "The Man Who Knew Infinity" and he writes for such periodicals as The New York Times Magazine, Civilization, and The Sciences.

"In Perfect Uniformity of Appearance—Woodworking Mechanization, 1800-1850" by Donna Rilling (January 26, 2001). Learn how housing was provided in Philadelphia for the rapid growth in population in the early 19th Century. Based on information gathered over the last several years, Ms. Rilling will highlight the ways that the technology and organization of making joinery (windows, doors, etc.) for houses changed during the period under study. As her title indicates, the mechanization of woodworking played a part in this. Ms. Rilling is the author of "Making Houses, Crafting Capitalism: Builders in Philadelphia, 1790-1850," just published by University of Pennsylvania Press. In that book she follows the work of entrepreneurial builders, from the procurement of bricks and mortar to the eventual marketing and sale of a finished house. By tracing these activities, Rilling demonstrates the diverse ways capital markets, worksites, raw materials and the real estate business changed over six decades. She opens the world of artisans to reveal their creative impact on the Philadelphia economy and the ways they exploited the shifting organization of work and capital to secure their financial independence.

"Colonial Wooden Shipbuilding—Tools of the Trade and the William West Shipyard" by Bill Ward (March 21, 2002). Philadelphia in Colonial times was a "port city" and important shipbuilding center. There was a ready supply of the kind of woods needed for the ships and there were men skilled in the art of building the ships. The tools of the trade were quite simple but in competent hands were capoable of producing the graceful ships that plied the seas. William West's Shipyard was on Delaware Avenue at the foot of Callowhill Street near the heart of the city, and in 1987 and archeological dig uncovered wooden shipways in a parking lot at the site.

"A Rare Projection of William Rau's Glass Lantern Slides Showing Views of Philadelphia from 1880-1920" by Lance Metz (December 6, 2001). The use of 4" x 5" glass lantern slides was once widespread in movie, lecture halls and churches throughout America. Through the medium of glass lantern slides, explorers, scholars, ministers and singers could illustrate their performances and presentations to large audiences. Many of this country's most talented photographers produced glass lantern slide shows; among the most prominent of whom was William Rau of Philadelphia. William Rau had a distinguished career, serving at various times as official photographer for the Pennsylvania and Lehigh Valley Railroads, the Philadelphia Navy Yard, and the Chicago and St. Louis World's fairs. This presentation will focus on William Rau's views of Philadelphia and the surrounding regions between 1880 and 1920 including City Hall, the Bourse, the Operations of the U.S. Mint, the Navy Yard, Cramp's Shipyard and the New Jersey shore. These slides are old, fragile and difficult to manipulate. This is a rare showing of a portion of one of the most outstanding collections in the archives of the National Canal Museum in Easton, Pennsylvania. We are once again indebted to Lance Metz, historian at the National Canal Museum, who will project the slides and provide his unique commentary.

"From Creek to Sewer" by Adam Levine (March 12, 2001).

"Historic Joanna Furnace" by Suzanne Fellman Jacobs (April 23, 2001).

"The Winpennys of Manayunk—An Alternative Approach to the Burgeoning Nineteenth Century Textile Industry" by Thomas Reese Winpenny (January 31, 2003).

"Historic Bridges of New Jersey" by Mary McCahon (March 15, 1994).

"Industrial Preservation—Its Past, Present & Future" by Emory L. Kemp, PhD., P.E. (March 4, 1994).