Monday, March 23, 2015

The selling of "The Marvel City"

Illustration of American Bridge Works
ad promoting "The Marvel City"
Pittsburg Press
May 23, 1904 

Original text for illustration:
Above We Show the Completed and the Uncompleted Buildings of the American Bridge Works of Economy and Ambridge Where 8,000 Workers Will Be Employed
On May 23, 1904, the Real Estate Trust Company, agent for American Bridge, took out a full page ad in The Pittsburg Press*  offering a free train excursion to see "the grand spectacle of a rising smokeless manufacturing city."

By May, 1904, the American Bridge Company office had been built, and the mill was partially finished and operating. Now the company needed people and businesses to invest and build in "The Marvel City", on the land the company now owned, and so they targeted, as the ad said, "everybody bent on making money."

And people came at a furious pace to work, build, invest, and do business there. And not long after, the "picturesque", "marvel scene of nature" touted in the ad would be obliterated by mills, shops, and homes.

Ad for "The Marvel City"
Pittsburg Press
May 23, 1904

Those of us who saw the closing of the mills and what that meant for Ambridge might find the ad rather bitter-sweet, as we remember the "future developments" unimaginable in 1904:
There will be future developments of magnitude which could not be stopped, retarded or diminished by any power on earth, save by a complete annihilating of the American spirit of progress and this country's inexhaustible mineral wealth, a condition as impossible as would be the destruction of the heavens.
And we might think wryly of the smoke and smog that often hung over our "smokeless" town, and the "black-sugar" that showered down on it daily for generations, produced by the industries that sprang up on both sides of the Ohio River, and Ambridge's coal-burning businesses and residents.

If you want to enlarge the article, click on it, but to read it comfortably, click on the link to The Pittsburg Press above.

* Using the spelling "Pittsburg" used by the newspaper at that time.

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