|"PPG Place", 2007 photo taken by Derek Jensen (Tysto).|
|PPG Place from "Reflections" series. Color photos courtesy of Michael Padwee.|
The Pittsburgh Plate Glass Company has been headquartered in Pittsburgh since 1895. In 1883 "Captain John B. Ford and John Pitcairn together establish[ed] the Pittsburgh Plate Glass Company (PPG). They set up shop in Creighton, Pa., along the Allegheny River – about 20 miles north of Pittsburgh. PPG [became] the first commercially successful U.S. producer of high-quality, thick flat glass using the plate process. [...In 1898 the] company develop[ed] a process for producing thinner glass with the plate process, thereby broadening uses for the high-quality glass." (http://www.ppg.com/en/ourcompany/Pages/CompanyHistory.aspx)
At the beginning of the plate glass industry, PPG amassed huge profits because of a high tariff on foreign glass products, which allowed PPG to keep wages below those of comparable industry wages. ("Glass and the Tariff", Tariff Reform, Vol. III, No. 21, December 15, 1890, pp. 395-396) PPG was not always a model of community spirit and cooperation as there were many labor disputes and strikes from its beginnings.
Throughout the twentieth, and into the twenty-first century PPG continued to expand by acquiring related companies, through research and development, and by expanding internationally. "Plate glass played a critical role in the architecture of American stores and office buildings in the first decades of the twentieth century. At the same time, however, other rapidly growing industries needed glass. By 1930, the automobile industry had become PPG's largest customer; the company was a pioneer in safety glass. By that time PPG's paint business–it had diversified into paints in 1900–was actually larger than its glass business." (http://explorepahistory.com/hmarker.php?markerId=1-A-337)