A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from September 28, 2018
Oswego: Starch City (nickname)

The city of Oswego , New York, was known as the “Starch City” from 1848 to about the 1920s. The Oswego Starch Factory opened in 1848, and Oswego became the corn starch capital of the world. “Starch City” has been cited in print since at least 1872, and the nickname was frequently used in baseball articles.

Corn facilities located in the corn-growing state of Nebraska, and the nickname “Starch City” became mostly historical by the 1920s.


Wikipedia: Oswego, New York
Oswego /ɒsˈwiːɡoʊ/ is a city in Oswego County, New York, United States. The population was 18,142 at the 2010 census. Oswego is located on Lake Ontario in north-central New York and promotes itself as “The Port City of Central New York”. It is the county seat of Oswego County.

Argo
1846
In 1846, the firm of “T. Kingsford and Son” was established in Bergen, NJ. Fast growing demand quickly forced the company to expand, and in 1848, the company built The Oswego Starch Factory in Oswego, New York “where pure water, excellent shipping facilities and water power existed”. Other corn starch factories sprang up across the U.S. from western New York and throughout the Midwest.

1846 to 1890
Starch becomes hugely successful, producing large, heavy cubes of starch for use by commercial laundries. The commercial starch manufacturing process leaves small lumps of starch that requires re-processing or disposal. A clever employee proposes recovering the small lumps of starch and marketing 1-pound pieces to the home.

The City of Oswego, NY
Kingsford (Oswego) Starch Factory
Famous the world over for its production of starch, Oswego owes its wide reputation for the manufacture of this commodity to the plant at present owned and operated by the National Starch Company.  Kingsford’s Silver Gloss Starch for laundry use and Corn Starch for food have been manufactured at Oswego since 1848, and these two products are now known as household words in every country in the world.
(...)
In this little industry the long-cherished plans of its founder, a chemist of many years experience in the laboratories of William Colgate & Son, were successfully carried out.  The new enterprise thrived from the start and for several years business was successfully conducted at Bergen until, on account of better facilities for the manufacture of this world renowned product, Messrs. Kingsford & Son removed to Oswego in 1848.  New and suitable buildings were erected and the manufacture of starch was begun under the corporate name of The Oswego Starch Factory.

NYS Historic Newspapers
2 December 1852, The Frontier Palladium (Malone, NY), pg. 2, col. 7:
Immense Iron Structure.
The Oswego Starch Company in this city have recently had an immense iron frame put in their building, which is probably the largest structure of the kind to be found in this country. The main posts and beams in the factory, which have decayed have been taken out and replaced, by this huge iron frame which is formed of hollow iron columns upon which are cast iron beams with wrought iron trusses. The frame which has its foundation on the rocks is five stories high and weighs 300,000 pounds. The entire thing was made an put up by Tallcot & Canfield, Proprietors of the Lake Ontario Foundry in this city—The Oswego Starch Factory is now the largest establishment of the kind in the United States. The factor and buildings cover one and one half acres of ground, and are lighted by between 75 and 100 sky-lights. The buildings contain 600,000 pounds of machinery, among which are three cast iron kettles holding 1,000 gallons each; eight filling pumps capable of discharging 80,000 gallons of starch an hour; five rotary and force pumps capable of discharging 5,000 gallons of water a minute; over one mile in length of water pipe, 200 vats used in the manufacture of starch, holding 800,000 gallons, and four pairs of cast iron rollers weighing 10,000 lbs. each. This establishment gives employment to over 100 men, an consumes annually from 175,000 to 300,000 bushels of corn, 800 tons of anthracite coal, and from 6 to 800,000 feet of lumber in the manufacture of boxes and other purposes, and makes 10,000 pounds of starch a day. The machinery is propelled by four water wheels, combining 80 horse power. This immense establishment, of which Oswego may well be proud, is under the direct superintendence of Messrs. Kingsford & Son of this city.—Oswego Times.

14 July 1872, Leavenworth (KS) Daily Commercial, pg. 2, col. 6:
ADONIS DUNCAN.
Blanton’s Pretty Teeth—He Bets With Ben Wood.
(Herald Baltimore Letter)
(...)
Mr. Van Allen, of Oswego, the great starch city, is a kindly and handsome fellow.

NYS Historic Newspapers
5 September 1878, Newark (NY) Courier, pg. 3, col. 1:
Oswego City Starch Works is the name of a new organization soon to commence business in Oswego.

Google Books
24 August 1882, Forest and Stream (New York, NY), “Lake Yachting,” pg. 77, col. 3:
Mr. Mott, who owns the Cricket, and the party who accompanied him, are a fair specimen of the genial gentlemen who favor the sport of yachting at the corn-starch city. (Oswego—ed.)

22 May 1887, Rochester (NY) Democrat and Chronicle, pg. 2, col. 1:
The Starch City Lads Succumb to the Newarks
(Baseball headline.—ed.)

Google Books
19 September 1903, Forest and Stream (New York, NY), “The Cruise of a Catboat” by C. E. Noxon, pg. 224, col. 2:
It was not until Saturday morning that we finally got away from the Starch City, ...
(Oswego.—ed.)

11 October 1908, New-York (NY) Daily Tribune, pt. 4, pg. 6, col. 1 headline:
OSWEGO, THE STARCH CITY, IS MAKING RAPID STRIDES FORWARD

September 1926, The Boiler Maker (New York, NY), “Letters to the Editor,” pg. 226, col. 2:
Oswego, N. Y.—The Boiler City
TO THE EDITOR:
(...)
At one time it was called the “Starch City” because of the fact that the largest manufactory of corn starch was located here. Due to the passing of the manufacture of corn starch in the eastern states and the location of plants nearer the producing center of the raw products, Oswego lost that distinction, but recent developments indicate that instead of starch it will be the center for the manufacture of boilers of many descriptions.

25 June 1941, Ithaca (NY) Journal, “Around New York State,” pg. 7, col. 5:
Oswego—(AP)—When the Common Council ordered demolition of an old factory, it marked the last vestige of the days when Oswego was known as the “Starch City.”

The plant once housed the Kingsford starch factory, established early in the last century by Thomas Kingsford, English chemist who perfected a process for extracting starch from maize.

Posted by Barry Popik
Nicknames of Other PlacesNew York State • Friday, September 28, 2018 • Permalink