16 Jan 2012

Sad Remains of American Industry

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These photographs by Walter Arnold of the derelict Scranton Lace Company were recently linked on a North East Pennsylvania Genealogy list.

Incorporated in 1897, the Scranton Lace Company in its heyday employed 1400 people, and was the world’s largest producer of Nottingham lace. It possessed the largest looms ever built, each of which stood nearly three stories tall, was 50 feet long, and weighed over 20 tons. During World War II, the company expanded its production line to include mosquito and camouflage netting, bomb parachutes, and tarpaulins. After the war, the company returned to producing cotton yarn, vinyl shower curtains, and textile laminates for umbrellas, patio furniture, and pool liners.

Its factory complex boasted “bowling alleys in the basement, a fully staffed infirmary, a staff barber and a gymnasium, and owned its own cotton field and coal mine. Its clock tower was a city landmark. U.S. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton’s father and grandfather worked there.”

The Scranton Lace Company closed abruptly in 2002 with an announcement from the company’s vice president, in the middle of the daily work shift, that the company was closing “effective immediately.”

The photo essay is a moving testament to the scale of everything that has been lost as the American economy changed in recent decades to a postindustrial era and manufacturing in most cases moved overseas.


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