July 17 – May 1, 2016
December 13, 2pm –Talk by Clifford Zink about his new book on the Mercer Motors Company co-founded by members of the Roebling family in 1909.
The second floor exhibit at the Museum features art, artifacts and memorabilia from the world-renowned John A. Roebling’s Sons Company, makers of steel and wire rope, most famous for the wire cable used in the suspension bridge over the East River between Manhattan and Brooklyn — the iconic Brooklyn Bridge.
The John A. Roebling’s Sons Company, the largest employer in Trenton and a world leader in the construction of suspension bridges had its beginnings when John Roebling started making wire rope in 1841 in Saxonburg, Pennsylvania, and moved his factory to Trenton in 1848. His sons built the steel and wire mill and town of Roebling, NJ, in 1905. In 1953, the family sold the Trenton and Roebling plants to the Colorado Fuel and Iron Company (CF&I). CF&I closed the Trenton plants in 1973 and the Roebling, NJ, plant in 1974.
As the largest employer in Trenton for many decades, John A. Roebling’s Sons Company had a major impact on the city and its workers and citizens. It had an international reputation for wire and wire rope making and bridge building, and its wire was used in hundreds if not thousands of industrial, commercial and consumer products.
The business was owned by four generations of the Roebling family over 112 years, a remarkable and rare achievement.
John A. Roebling was the world’s foremost builder of suspension bridges in the 19th century and his bridges spanned major rivers when people said it couldn’t be done. His son Washington A. Roebling completed the most famous Roebling bridge, the Brooklyn Bridge, in 1883, and today it is an iconic national landmark.
The Roebling Company built suspension bridge cables for many bridges over the next 80+ years, from Canada to South America, including the George Washington Bridge connecting New York and New Jersey and the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco.
The Roebling Company manufactured wire rope for many other uses – elevators, cable cars, tramways, airplanes, shipping, mining, construction and ski lifts – and it made wire for electrical lines, telegraphs and telephones, wire cloth and screens, and pre-stressed concrete.
The exhibit includes five large paintings from the Roebling Company’s exhibit at the 1939 New York World’s Fair depicting the Brooklyn and George Washington Bridges and interior factory scenes. These paintings are part of the museum’s collection but are rarely exhibited.
The exhibit includes a bronze plaque from the 1933 Chicago World’s Fair that commemorates the Skyride, an innovative and popular ride at the fair that the Roebling Company helped engineer and for which it supplied the wire ropes.
Also on display from the museum’s collection but rarely seen are three boards showing dozens of types of electrical wire made by the Roebling Company.
Artifacts in the display will include sections of wire rope, tools, artwork depicting Roebling bridges, and wooden forms used to make parts for the Company’s machinery, as well as advertisements, photos, books and Company catalogs.
The exhibit was curated by Richard Willinger, Chair of the Museum Society’s Collections Management Committee.
Items are being loaned to the exhibit by the Roebling Museum in Roebling, NJ, and several individuals.