“Steel Preferred” Films in McKeesport

“Taylor Allerdice was accustomed to meeting all kinds of situations but here was something entirely different. So far as he knew, it had never been done before, except in the making of an occasional educational film, but this man didn’t look as though he were concerned in making just the short length educational subject.

“ ‘What kind of a picture?’ he asked.

“ ‘What we call a feature presentation, Mr. Allerdice. I have brought a company of players, including the principals and important members of the cast, cameramen and the necessary crew to handle the mechanical end, across the continent to picturize in its actual locale Herschell. S. Hall’s Saturday Evening Post story Steel Preferred. The plant at the National Tube Company seems to be the one best suited to the requirements of the story.’ ”

The entire article, “On Location in a Steel Mill,” appears in The Director for July, 1925.

Abbott Ice and Packing Plant, Carnegie

You can still see the name “Abbott” in dimmer letters, but the chimney now points the way to Standard Ceramic.

Would you like to see the same picture done up as an old postcard? The two-color process creates an interesting effect, and it may be amusing to compare it with the natural-color rendition above.

A Visit to McKeesport in 1888

McKeesport was the second city of Allegheny County, far enough from Pittsburgh to be a small metropolitan center in its own right, but near enough to be within commuting distance of the larger city. The economic engine of the city was the National Tube Works, which gave McKeesport the proud nickname “Tube City.”

Metal tubing, however, was not the city’s only industry. For example, the Wernke Brothers produced carriages, wagons, and other vehicles.

All that money had to be kept somewhere, and this was the First National Bank. Later bank buildings in McKeesport grew much grander.

Duquesne Brewery

In the late 1970s, artists began to take over the vacant Duquesne Brewery. Now (after many battles over ownership) it has been renovated as artists’ lofts and studios.

Hipwell Mfg Co. (the Flashlight Factory)

This building is remarkably well preserved mostly because it belonged to a company that stayed in the same business until 2005 without ever outgrowing its limited premises. The Hipwell Maufacturing Company’s most famous products were metal HIPCO flashlights, the kind that used to be ubiquitous before plastics took over. But the company (according to this page) was an important innovator in the electrical business, inventing the single-cell batteries that power our flashlights and digital cameras and toys and a thousand other things we never think of until we have to buy batteries again. It was also involved in the early stages of telephones and electric toy trains.

Today the building is lovingly preserved as—what else?—loft apartments, as well as a banquet hall called HIP at the Flashlight Factory.