Sunday, April 03, 2011

Spring Break in New Jersey #3: Start Industrial Advertising History at 16 Spruce Street.

While visiting this part of the country, it's easy to see plenty about Broadway and the arts. Even immigrant history is a hot ticket – one insider's tip is the Tenement Museum in Orchard Street, NYC.

Across the river in New Jersey, though, there's B2B adventure if you're open to it.

In 2004, when Rachelle Gabardine wrote about industrial-era Paterson, she managed to sound disapproving, as New York Times writers often do when portraying America's Machine Age. At least she was descriptive:

In Paterson's Great Falls Historic District, the top of No. 16 Spruce Street has white letters, 2 to 3 feet high, march 170 feet across, announcing the Paterson Silk Machinery Exchange. The building, which is now transitional housing, was a 19th-century factory that was home to the exchange from 1928 to 1956, and earlier housed the Rogers Locomotive Works. The exchange reconditioned machines key to the city's textile industry, which at its height comprised 800 silk operations...

In fact, from an industrial perspective, Paterson's got a bad reputation – strikes and factory closures and company failures make for grim reading. Still, for business-to-business marketers and advertising pros, there's formative stuff. Samuel Colt's Paterson experience, where he first invented and produced revolving pistols, rifles and the early advertising that went with it – that's here in Paterson.

Rogers locomotives, among other Paterson-built steam engines, wandered in and out of American history (the Transcontinental railroad, the Panama Canal).

How about the birth of Big Pharma – especially in OTC? Here's Unguentine ointment (remember that one?) and Fungacetin (really) and Phor-A-Sole and – wait for it – Suavinol! It's a brander's heaven or hell.

Wright built aircraft engines here, including the one that powered “The Spirit of St Louis.” Wright's marketing and sales helped build America's reputation as the world's preeminent industrial power.

Paterson has big, dark spaces. Another Times writer described the city in 2002:

...this bleak but battling community, hard by the Passaic River, that was forged by the Industrial Age, ruined by its demise and is still reeling from a century of labor strife, racial tensions, high crime rates and joblessness...

It has plenty of creativity in its bloodstream too. Welcome to Paterson – home of the Silk Machinery Exchange and other links to the history of Industrial Advertising.

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