Friday, June 8, 2012

Rotival 1958 Study of Industrial Decline in Erie, PA

Rotival 1958 Study for Erie, PA Industrial Decline

Maurice H. Rotival & Associates prepared a Reconnaissance Study for Erie, Pennsylvania in 1958. One of the observations dealt with industrial decline in Erie County following World War II. We learned in a recent article on Old Time Erie (posted June 5, 2012) that there were 550 industries in the Erie region in 1929. The Rotival report tells what happened to some of the industries:
"Jarecki Manufacturing Company, an old family firm, was bought by an out-of-town firm. When they closed down, employees had no pension plan, and suffered hardship. This is an example of former industrial policy which brought about distrust of Erie firms in general. After a family dispute the plant was sold to H. K. Porter for a warehouse for Louis Marx Company toys. The foundry was utilized for Cessna-Erie Corporation castings.
Various causes are assigned for the disappearance of certain manufacturers from the Erie scene:
Conductor Manufacturing Co. (Reed Standard) moved to New York to consolidate their operations.
Griswold Manufacturing closed down in 1957. An old family firm, it began by producing iron kitchen utensils and recently tried converting its products to electric utensils. Its foundry has been taken over by another firm. The rest of its quarters were temporarily occupied by small industries. Its employment was 100-200. There has been little if any loss of jobs.
Its 90-year-old building was sold in September 1958 to Cohen Industrial Supply and Cohen Office Equipment Inc. The plant has 50,000 square feet and will be remodeled for display floors. The Cohen firm, 7 years old, has been occupying rented quarters covering 3,000 square feet.
Pelham Electric Company went bankrupt; recently there has been some attempt to revive the firm.
Talon moved to Meadville where the central plant was. Its plant is occupied by another activity.
Wayne Brewing Company has lost the fight for markets. An electrical contractor is using the premises.
At least two other firms are reported to be in danger of stoppage because their products are no longer in demand." 
Jarecki Manufacturing was on West 12th and Weschler
Cohen Industrial Supply Inc. was at 1053 West 12th Street, Erie, PA in 1981.

Tokyo Drift on a Marx Big Wheel. Here's a link to an old Marx commercial:


  1. As I recall, Cohen Office Equipment used to have a desk mounted on the side of the building. The site later became Cost Plus.

  2. Rotival made some very astute observations of the Erie Region, a lot of which went largely ignored.