About Our City
- The “Shoe”
- John I.
Council on Aging
& Tennis Club
It changed the shape of our community. “Coming to Beverly,” read the headlines
on September 25th, 1903. “Will employ over 2,500 men. Cost of plant half
million.” The new colossus rose from a tract of land of both marshy bog
and massive rock ledges near the mouth of the Bass River. Hundreds of Italian
workers rearranged the natural landscape, grading with horse and wagon.
Then came the buildings themselves, designed by engineer Eric Ransome.
The plan was for three buildings: A and B to be 60 feet wide and 520 feet
long, with building C somewhat shorter. There would be over 10 acres of
floor space and 90% of the walls were glass. Built of reinforced concrete,
a radical new technique, the factory was, at its birth, the largest factory
in the world.
View of building group;
power plant to the left, assembly buildings to the right. Library of Congress
This massive complex began, though, as a small idea in the head of Sidney
Winslow, a man who learned shoe making at the knee of his father. Working
long hours undoubtedly made him appreciate the benefits of mechanization
and helped him move up to a directorship of Consolidated Hand Lasting Machine
Company in 1889, a firm which had just entered the market with a lasting
machine invented by a Dutch Guianan named Jan Matzeliger. Nearby lived
the remarkable Gordon McKay, who bought up various patents involved in
stitching leather uppers. During the Civil War, he gained great notoriety
by providing the Army with 150,000 pairs of shoes using McKay machines.
Meanwhile, the Goodyear Company introduced a method for sewing uppers to
the soles which could be mechanized. The new technology revolutionized
the business. In the span of thirty-five years, the labor costs for a pair
of shoes dropped from $5.65 to a mere 74 cents. To join these three elements
of innovation, the partners joined together on February 7th, 1899 to form
the United Shoe Company.
Interior View; Metal
Library of Congress Collection
“The factories at Beverly are spacious, clean, airy, well lighted. These
things prevent accidents and save money. Baths and wash rooms preserve
cleanliness. A hospital is attached to take care of accidents and injuries.
An industrial school is maintained for the benefit of Beverly high school
boys. Rest rooms for women and restaurants for all are a part of the system.
The company maintains a clubhouse and grounds for its employees. Golf,
tennis, baseball, and cricket clubs are organized and a fine shooting range
is on the grounds. these and other forms of service are at the base of
that loyalty and efficiency which are the outstanding characteristics of
the employees at USMC.”
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City of Beverly, 191 Cabot Street
Beverly, Massachusetts 01915
Phone: (978) 921-6000
Fax: (978) 921-6052
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City of Beverly - All rights reserved
No reproduction without written
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