For The Railroad Nation, The House Of Zinc

 

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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

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Photo: Ethan Wallace

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Photo: Ethan Wallace

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Photo: Ethan Wallace

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Photo: Peter Woodall

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Photo: Peter Woodall

Ajax Metal

Photo: Peter Woodall

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Photo: Peter Woodall

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Photo: Peter Woodall

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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

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1 Comment


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

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  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

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