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

Send a message!



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

Leave a Reply

Comment moderation is enabled, no need to resubmit any comments posted.

Recent Posts
Design Coalition Aims To Bridge The Old-New Divide

Design Coalition Aims To Bridge The Old-New Divide

October 12, 2018  |  Walk the Walk

Move over Miami, the Philadelphia Design District is getting ready for some time in the spotlight. The coalition of gallery owners, artisans, and tech startups want to transform Old City into a hive of contemporary design, while preserving the neighborhood's historic character. Joe Brin takes a look inside the idea with co-founder Eugenie Perret > more

Germantown Boys & Girls Club Compromise Brings Peace To Penn Street

Germantown Boys & Girls Club Compromise Brings Peace To Penn Street

October 9, 2018  |  News

Owners of Germantown Boys and Girls Club reach an agreement with preservationists after two years of heated debate. Starr Herr-Cardillo has the news > more

Shakespeare & Co. Brings Old Bank Back To Life

Shakespeare & Co. Brings Old Bank Back To Life

October 4, 2018  |  Buzz

Manhattan-based bookstore and café revives an old banking storefront in Rittenhouse Square. Michael Bixler takes a look > more

Historic Districts Make A Comeback

Historic Districts Make A Comeback

October 2, 2018  |  Vantage

After nearly a decade of lost opportunities, creative new strategies emerge for protecting Philadelphia's historic neighborhoods > more

Bearing Witness To Destruction On Christian Street

Bearing Witness To Destruction On Christian Street

September 28, 2018  |  Vantage

This summer contributor Mickey Herr recorded the slow demolition of Christian Street Baptist Church from the beginning to the end. In this photo essay she shares what it was like to watch a 128-year-old neighborhood landmark being reduced to rubble > more

New Audio Archive Gives Voice To Philly Immigration History

New Audio Archive Gives Voice To Philly Immigration History

September 26, 2018  |  News

Relive Philly public history in high fidelity through those who came before us. Historian Janneken Smucker gives us a listen inside the inner workings of the digital oral history project, "Philadelphia Immigration" > more