Views of the Communipaw Abattoir

Before the arrival of the railroads in the mid-19th century, Communipaw, New Jersey, was a small port town in the Hudson River’s west bank. Before 1866, the Pennsylvania Railroad had no dedicated livestock terminal in the New York market. Animals the railroad carried from the west were offloaded in Elizabethport, New Jersey, and were ferried across the Hudson River to Manhattan where they were driven through the streets to the Allerton stockyards at 44th Street and Fifth Avenue. While New York City’s new health laws (which became effective in 1866) contributed greatly to the construction of the Communipaw abattoir and stockyards, the reduction and elimination of the costs of driving livestock across the Hudson River and through city streets also were significant factors along with increased competition for livestock by the three major railroads serving New York City: the Pennsylvania; the Erie; and, the New York Central. Continue reading

Daniel H. Burnham and Washington’s Union Stockyards

Earlier this month PBS aired Make No Little Plans: Daniel Burnham and the American City. As an architectural historian I have long admired Burnham’s work. Union Station and the Mall are incredible amenities for folks like myself living in the Washington area. My interest in Burnham, however,  goes beyond the architectural and city planning spheres. When he married Chicago Union Stockyards president John B. Sherman’s daughter Margaret, Burnham became part of the extended Allerton family, livestock entrepreneurs who profited from the shipment of most of the meat animals shipped into New York City during much of the nineteenth century.

Although Burnham never went into business with his father-in-law beyond his firm’s design of Sherman’s home and the Chicago Union Stockyards landmark gate, he did benefit from Sherman’s Chicago interests and he may have benefited from Sherman’s longtime relationship with the Pennsylvania Railroad. John B. Sherman (1825-1902) and Samuel W. Allerton Jr. (1828-1914) were cousins whose families had been in business together since the first decade of the nineteenth century. Continue reading

Pittsburgh: Steel City, Stockyard City (updated)

My paper on the development of stockyards in the eastern United States (and ultimately, Chicago) was presented at the 2009 Vernacular Architecture Forum conference in Butte, Montana. Last week I learned that a revised and expanded version will be published later this year. Details to come. The paper was published in Western Pennsylvania History: Model for the Nation: Sale, Slaughter and Processing at the East Liberty Stockyards (2010).

In the meantime, here’s an illustrated version of the 2009 VAF paper abstract:

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