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…

Leave a Reply

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

Recent Posts
Historic Maritime Landmark Under Threat After Construction Mishap

Historic Maritime Landmark Under Threat After Construction Mishap

August 15, 2019  |  News

Deferred maintenance and a construction error endangers Edward Corner warehouse, one of the waterfront's last prominent reminders of Philadelphia's shipping history. Starr Herr Cardillo has the details > more

In Northeast Philadelphia, A Rich History Of Train Tracks And Acquisitions

In Northeast Philadelphia, A Rich History Of Train Tracks And Acquisitions

August 13, 2019  |  Vantage

Ed Duffy give us a panoramic view of railroad history in Northeast Philadelphia with this longform essay > more

Eastern State Penitentiary Illuminates “Hidden Lives” Of The Incarcerated

Eastern State Penitentiary Illuminates “Hidden Lives” Of The Incarcerated

August 9, 2019  |  News

"Hidden Lives Illuminated," an animated film project created by inmates of SCI Chester, debuts at Eastern State Penitentiary on August 15. Kimberly Haas went inside the state prison to speak with the incarcerated artists > more

Rittenhouse SoundWorks Keeps The Tune Ups Coming In Old Auto Garage

Rittenhouse SoundWorks Keeps The Tune Ups Coming In Old Auto Garage

August 7, 2019  |  Vantage

A Germantown couple bet big on adaptive reuse when they converted an old garage into a full-service recording studio in 2014. Today, they are sought out by musicians from around the globe. Stacia Friedman has the story > more

In Germantown, Saving A Neighborhood's Character One Renovation At A Time

In Germantown, Saving A Neighborhood’s Character One Renovation At A Time

August 2, 2019  |  Vantage

Emily Birdie Busch profiles nine renovation projects in Germantown that are keeping the neighborhood's architectural history within view > more

Thunderbird Lodge Museum Connects Arts & Crafts Movement With Utopian Community

Thunderbird Lodge Museum Connects Arts & Crafts Movement With Utopian Community

July 29, 2019  |  Walk the Walk

Joe Brin takes use out to Rose Valley, Pennsylvania where a new house museum puts the Arts and Crafts movement front and center > more