The Boom and Bust of Kreischerville, Staten Island’s Lost Company Town
From bustling enterprise to troubled landmarked vestige, learn the twisty history of Kreischerville
via Curbed – In the New York City of today, the existence of a company town seems an unlikely prospect. However, during the second half of the 19th century, it was a prime location for such a kind of enterprise where all the stores and housing are owned by a sole employer. There were a variety of factors at play, like optimal location, proximity to the harbor, and an ample labor force, to name a few.
Arguably the most famous company town of New York City is Steinway Village in Astoria, Queens, built by Steinway & Sons (who continues to manufacture pianos there to this day.) Yet another such company town once existed on Staten Island. That company itself no longer exists, but some historic treasures from Kreischerville remain to give us a glimpse of what life was like for the Kreischer family and its workers.
emigrated from Germany in 1836 and within ten years, opened a brick factory on the Lower East Side. Given New York City’s propensity for fires at the time, brick manufacturing was very lucrative due to the material’s “fireproof” qualities. In 1854, he relocated his business to the south-western shore of Staten Island, in present-day Charleston.
The site was advantageous due to its rich clay deposits—as evidenced by the nearby Clay Pit Ponds State Park Reserve—an essential ingredient of brick-making. The factory produced “facing and fire-brick, roofing tiles, ornamental moldings and objects
” and its work can be seen in “the terra cotta decoration at Barnard College, the ceramic construction materials and bricks used in the building of St. Luke’s Hospital and the large outdoor gray ceramic urns at Columbia University.”