What an adventure! Join Justin Ferate on a visit to The Roebling Museum and the “model workers’ community” of Roebling, New Jersey. The Roebling Museum’s mission is to document, preserve, and exhibit the history of the John A. Roebling’s Sons Company, the Roebling family, and the village of Roebling. Its focus is not only on the industrial and technological achievements of the company but on the unique social history of its workforce and the town it created. The Roebling Museum is located in the former factory’s Main Gate building (ca. 1907) and is adjacent to the village of Roebling, one of this nation's most intact “model workers’ communities.” The museum and village are on the National Register of Historic Places.

John A. Roebling and his family conceived and executed the world-renowned engineering feat of the Brooklyn Bridge. That, and other great suspension bridges, such as the George Washington Bridge and the Golden Gate Bridge, utilized John Roebling’s transformational technological invention: the steel cable. The John A. Roebling's Sons Company’s “wire rope” helped make possible some of the most important achievements of the industrial age: telegraphs and telephones, electrification, deep mines and big ships, elevators, and airplanes. The company forged undersea cables that made transatlantic communication possible and manufactured the wire rope for elevators that allowed skyscrapers to soar to the sky.
In 1904, the Trenton-based John A. Roebling’s Sons Company launched two ambitious projects – a large new steel and wire manufacturing plant and creation of a new town adjacent to the plant. They chose a site along the Delaware River near the small railway village of Kinkora. The lack of available housing and services for the large number of workers needed for the new Kinkora Works in this rural area posed an immediate problem, so the Roeblings decided to build a complete modern town for its employees. The Roeblings had many precedents to draw upon, including George Pullman’s famous town of Pullman, which he built outside Chicago in 1881 for employees of his Pullman Palace Car Company. Like Pullman, the Roeblings laid out their town on a grid plan, built in brick for enduring value, and erected several types of housing plus amenities, such as stores, meeting and entertainment places, a park, and recreation fields.

We will tour the village of Roebling with historian George Lengel, Jr., one of the founding Board Members of the Roebling Museum who, in addition to his other impressive qualifications, grew up in the community. Both George Lengel, Jr. and his father were employees of the Roebling Company, which survived until August 1974. Mr. Lengel, who was a history teacher for 30 years, will share his considerable historical knowledge of the village of Roebling and his touching personal memories of living and working in this well-loved community.

The Roeblings built over 750 houses for families, two workingmen’s hotels for single men, an inn, a general store, a drug store, a bakery, an auditorium with a library, a recreation hall, and a Boy Scout “hut.” The Roeblings also helped pay for the school. The Roebling Auditorium hosted dances, boxing matches, symphony concerts, live performances, and movies. The building housed the town’s first library upstairs and also functioned as a community gathering spot.

Hourly workers and their families lived in row houses near the plant, skilled workers lived in semi-detached houses further in town, and managers lived in big houses facing the river. The Company maintained all the buildings, the front lawns, the streets, and the park, while charging rents below those for similar housing in Trenton.

The Roeblings sold the houses and commercial buildings in 1947 with first preference to their tenants and then to other employees, with extra seniority for veterans. In 1952, the mill was sold to the Colorado Fuel and Iron Company. By the time CF&I shut the Kinkora Works in 1974, Roebling, N.J., had made the transition from company town to suburban community; it survived the closing intact and has prospered with residents exceptionally proud of their heritage.

Tour fee includes Bus, Luncheon, Tour costs, Admissions & Gratuities.
Please download, print and mail in your registration form along with payment.
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Date: Saturday November 7, 2015
Time: 8:00 AM  to approximately 6:30 PM
Cost: $ 130 $ 140 on-site, if space available (By check to Johanna Sterbin.)
Meet: 7:45 AM at Hotel Waldorf=Astoria. Passaic Valley Bus generally parks on East 49th Street, between Lexington and Park Avenues.
Train: IRT 6 Train to 51st Street (at Lexington Avenue)
Tours operate rain or shine. Please dress appropriately. For more information or to confirm meeting locations please call (212) 223-2777. Please note that tours sometimes run late. While tours are rarely cancelled you can call the number above to confirm, or join our mailing list to keep informed of cancellations due to extreme weather conditions.
Justin Ferate's Tours of the City | www.justinsnewyork.com
Justin Ferate's Tours of the City    |    (212) 223-2777    |    
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