By Allan King Sloan

In the late 1900s the independent bridge companies were under pressure to keep up not only with the evolving technology in the use of steel for structures other than bridges but also to respond to the aggressive moves by the great business tycoon of the era, ( in particular J.P. Morgan, Andrew Carnegie, Charles Schwab and Elbert Gary, the founders of the United States Steel Company, who were in the process of buying up the bridge companies in order to monopolize the bridge-building industry). Apparently part of the response of the King Bridge Company, in addition to its refusal to be bought out by the American Bridge Company, U.S. Steel’s proxy, was to get itself into the business of erecting non-bridge steel structures. The company catalogues of the 1890s featured a number of buildings for which the company did the steel work which are pictured below. These included office buildings, shopping arcades, grandstands, armories, covered markets, factory buildings, train sheds, exhibition halls, and even an observatory dome. These were built mostly in Northern Ohio, the company’s base, and in Chicago, where the company’s reputation was strong.

The catalogue pictures include the following:

In Cleveland

The Cleveland Telephone Company building
The Colonial Arcade and Rust Building
The Driving Club Grandstand
The Central Armory
The Sheriff Street Market House
In Northern Ohio

Ore hoisting and conveying machinery in Ashtabula
Ore hoisting and conveying machinery in Conneaut
Furnace company cast house in Niles
Rolling Mill in Youngstown
In Chicago

Columbian Exposition building for mines and mining
The Lincoln Park Palm House
The Illinois Central Railroad train shed

Most of these structures have disappeared but with one notable exception, the revolving dome of the Yerkes Observatory in LakeLake eneva, Wisconsin. This dome houses the world’s largest refracting telescope and is part of an elegant research and museum complex owned and operated by the University of Chicago.


King Bride Manufacturing Company, News