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Factory Vintage Tour

We do enjoy sewing machine history, especially when it comes to Singer, and their manufacturing process, advertisements, catalogs and antique publications.  Yesterday we managed to find some information and illustrations that we thought you would all enjoy seeing as well and taking a virtual tour with us.  This old Singer Catalog is from the late 1800’s – a few decades before the household Singer Featherweight was even invented!  It was made for manufacturers – whether it be for clothing, shoes, books, leather work, etc., the Singer Manufacturing Company wanted to make the industrial market aware of the machines it had to offer for their products at that time.  In so doing, they provided to their prospective clients (and us, future historians and collectors) a history of their company.
So, let’s begin the virtual tour today with “The Factory” at Elizabethport, New Jersey in 1896.  

The Main Building - Street Front

“At Elizabethport, New Jersey, in the suburban district of the city of New York, is situated one of the factories of one of the largest industrial establishments in the world – The Singer Manufacturing Company.  Although located in such close proximity to a crowded metropolis the surroundings are pastoral and quiet, conducive to the good morals and excellent discipline generally prevailing among the thousands of men and women employed here.  The ground occupied by the Singer Manufacturing Company’s plant at this point has an area of about 50 acres with a water frontage on Newark Bay of about 1600 feet, and a building frontage about a mile in length; 1090 feet of this is five stories in height, 500 feet is three stories and the remainder is one and two stories.  The entire factory contains 18 acres of floor-space, filled with material and machinery, and forming a veritable hive of industry for thousands of operatives employed in the manufacture of sewing-machines.  The five-story main buildings shown in the illustration have a ground area of 230 x 60 feet fronting the park and 800 x 50 feet on the side street.  The buildings fronting on the tracks of the Central Railroad of New Jersey are 1750 feet long and comprise the Foundry Department and Forging Shops.  The illustrations fail to adequately represent the great extent of this plant because the buildings are so arranged as to surround and enclose, except on the water front, the land used for factory purposes.  The entire block of land adjoining the north-west side of the main building has been transformed into a beautiful park by the Singer Manufacturing Company, to whom it belongs, and who keep it in perfect condition for the benefit of the public.”

Section of Waterfront

Foundry & Forge Shops Adjoining Central Railway of New Jersey

“The factory yard, embracing an area of 10 or 12 acres, is kept as neatly as the park, but is traversed in all directions by railroad tracks used to transport material to and from various parts of the works.  There are more than six miles of railway tracks and the rolling stock comprises five locomotives and a large number of cars.

These railway tracks connect with the system of the Central Railroad of New Jersey, which runs directly past the works; a direct steamboat line plies constantly between the Factory and New York City, carrying the supply for the large demand in that city, also to the various railroads and steamers for delivery in all parts of the United States, or directly to the ocean steamers for export. 

To supply the power required for these works, there are six stationary steam engines aggregating about 1100 horse-power, with ample boiler capacity for steam generation.  The average weekly consumption of coal is about 450 tons.  The company has its own gas works, electric plant, telephone system, sewage system, fire protection, etc. 

The lumber yard constantly contains many million feet of various kinds of wood material.  The in the Pig-iron yard is carried an enormous stock of the various kinds of iron best adapted for the production of strong, sharp, clean castings.  The administration of these immense works is through Departments, each having its expert head.  The work of some of these departments is illustrated and described on the following pages.”

View in Factory Yard

Isn’t this fascinating!?  We hope you enjoyed today’s vintage tour… Stay tuned for future tours and historical documentation from the Featherweight Shop archives.