Bark, Liquor, and Skins: Late 19th-Century Tanning on Pittsburgh’s Northside

Beyond steel and iron, leather tanneries were also significant components of Pittsburgh, PA's 19th-century economy. Get a glimpse into the city’s industrial archeology in this article by GAI AVP Ben Resnick, MA, RPA.

Published in IA, The Journal of the Society for Industrial Archeology, this article by GAI Energy AVP Ben Resnick, MA, RPA delves beyond Pittsburgh, PA's past in the steel industry to explore the remnants of the 19th-century A. Wiese & Company leather tannery formerly located in the city's Northside neighborhood. This project was conducted by GAI for the Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh (URA).

 Contact Ben Resnick, MA, RPA for more information about GAI's cultural resources services including industrial archeology, architectural history, and historic preservation.

ABSTRACT | Investigations on Pittsburgh's Northside revealed archaeological resources linked to the city's prominent leather and wool industries. Excavations uncovered well-preserved features related to the organization and operation of the A. Wiese & Company tannery, an important industry in Pittsburgh during the 1880s. The study focused on the site's interior layout and construction details that included examination of lime vats, leach vats, tanning vats, and the associated drainage system. Comparisons with other tanneries of the period demonstrated many similarities in construction despite differences in their size and location as well as the type of leather under production. The Wiese Tannery operated for less than ten years providing a unique opportunity to examine the archaeological signatures of this industry as it appeared in its time.

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