A Brief History of the Mount Ida Neighborhood - The Bust

[Figure 20] But it was not so.  In November of 1882 the Harrison and Kellogg Foundry—located on Fourteenth Street between Marshall and Christie Streets—provided the first hints of greater trouble to come.  Local iron and steel companies colluded to try to convince workers to accept a thirty percent pay cut, as steel profits were falling rapidly.  The molders—the strongest of all local unions—refused to accept the reduction.  The works were shut down for six weeks, at which time the foundry offered to settle for a fifteen percent reduction. 

The union once again refused, and the works were forced to reopen at regular rates.  When workers returned they were greeted with broadsides stating that they must give two weeks’ notice prior to leaving the job or they would be forced to surrender their pay for that period.  The molders were irate and walked off the job.  The factory shut down, and one week later the doors opened to non-union replacements.  Violence—sometimes serious— ensued, and the police force was divided in its loyalties and reaction.  Several workers and their replacements were shot and killed during the following sixteen months.*  Unable to manage the situation while maintaining both peace and profit, the Harrison and Kellogg families that had at least partially owned the works since their inception in 1850, were forced to sell the company.  It became incorporated as the Troy Malleable Iron Works on May 1, 1884.**  Further labor vicissitudes of the late nineteenth century would convince some industrialists—the owners of Troy Malleable included—to seek newer and more flexible workforces elsewhere.   

Nature began to provide its own challenges.  Between August 25th and 27th of 1891 more than forty-eight hours of torrential rains pounded the Capitol District.***  The summer itself had been much wetter than usual, and there was little dry soil remaining to absorb the deluge. 

* Phelan and Carroll, 62.

** Weise, Troy and Its Vicinity, 303.

*** The wider story of the “Cloudburst,” especially with reference to the Wynants Kill (the Poesten Kill’s southern neighbor) is told in much greater detail by Robert J. Lilly.  See: The Wynants Kill: A Small Stream, but Mighty (West Sand Lake, N.Y.: aGatherin’ Press, 2005), 42-44.


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