For The Railroad Nation, The House Of Zinc

 

window-2

Photo: Ethan Wallace

In Fishtown, where Richmond Street meets Frankford Avenue, developer Michael Shamschick will turn the former Ajax Metal Company complex, dating to 1893, into the concert venue Live Nation. The complex contained everything from the company offices to foundries and furnaces, and even laboratory facilities. The company started off melting brass and bronze in standard crucible ovens. They moved to smelting zinc, lead, copper, brass and tin, producing alloys that were essential to the railroads and the emerging automotive industry. In the labs they invented products with names like Bull Babbitt, Ajax Metal, and Plastic Bronze, and the company became a leader in the production of high quality machinery bearings.

This was not only not that efficient, but could also cause the zinc to be released as a vapor which caused nausea and a condition referred to as the “zinc shakes.” In 1912, the company began working on creating an electric furnace, and eventually they came out with their own design, the Ajax-Wyatt Furnace. The company holds numerous other patents such as the Ajax-Hultgren Salt Bath Furnace.

The company continued in its Fishtown location until 1950 when the property was sold. For a while some of the buildings were used as warehouses. The company eventually moved to Trenton and became Ajax Electrothermic Corporation.

Ajax Metal

Photo: Ethan Wallace

window-3

Photo: Ethan Wallace

window-4

Photo: Ethan Wallace

window

Photo: Ethan Wallace

Ajax3

Photo: Peter Woodall

Ajax4

Photo: Peter Woodall

Ajax Metal

Photo: Peter Woodall

Ajax6

Photo: Peter Woodall

Ajax7

Photo: Peter Woodall

Ajax2

Photo: Peter Woodall

About the author

Ethan Wallace attended Temple University, where he received a BA in Communications. He has always been interested in the forgotten, unknown, or unseen parts of the city and has spent the last several years photographing Philly’s hidden and vanishing locations. He is also involved with the National Museum of Industrial History in Bethlehem, Pa. More of Ethan's photography can be seen HERE



1 Comment


  1. Environmental clean up nightmare? Probably. The D.E.P. MAY want to see soil samples…just a maybe…

Trackbacks

  1. We Heart This Bar? | Hidden City Philadelphia
  2. The Buzz: Year in Transportation | AVI update | Temple’s new boathouse | NLNA on Canal Street North | inside Ajax Metal
Recent Posts
A Look Inside Gilded Age Parkside

A Look Inside Gilded Age Parkside

April 18, 2014  |  Morning Blend

A tour of a nearly intact Victorian mansion in West Philly, two civics explore the possibility of creating improvement districts, Stotesbury Gateway to be remade, and cleaning up Clark Park > more

Widdy Dialect: The

Widdy Dialect: The “Hoagie” Of Darts

April 17, 2014  |  Makin' It

Under the rumbling El and amidst the hustle and bustle at Kensington and Somerset, a distinctly Philadelphian brand of darts is made the same way it has been for over 100 years—by hand. Brad Maule throws a round with Widdy Darts > more

New PWD Project To Teach Children Ecology & Technology

New PWD Project To Teach Children Ecology & Technology

April 17, 2014  |  Morning Blend

GreenSTEM systems to be installed in four schools, the inequality of urban pollution, jazz month in Philly, parklets being installed in West Philly, and terrible timing in closing Kensington store > more

A Last Look at Second Baptist Church

A Last Look at Second Baptist Church

April 16, 2014  |  Last Light

The demolition of a former house of worship in Northern Liberties has provided a glimpse into the building's history > more

PATCO Announces $7.5 System Upgrade

PATCO Announces $7.5 System Upgrade

April 16, 2014  |  Morning Blend

Clearer information and working escalators for PATCO, delays in UC student housing development, the William Penn Foundation’s new approach to safe watershed awareness, and what the Lower Northwest invented for the world > more

A Golden Glow For <em>The Inquirer's</em> Saffron

A Golden Glow For The Inquirer’s Saffron

April 15, 2014  |  News

Yesterday, the Pulitzer Prize board announced its 2014 winners. After 15 years with a watchful eye on Philadelphia's built environment, the Inquirer's Inga Saffron won journalism's highest award for criticism > more