A very prominent part of the Long Island City Queens waterfront skyline that is clearly visible as cars exit the Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge heading into Queens and in my case from my bicycle during the 2017 Five Boro Bike Tour is the sign for Silvercup Studios located on the roof of Silvercup Studios Building there near the waterfront formerly the Silvercup Bread Company. The location on the East River waterfront was very strategic as I’ve state before with the Domino Sugar Refinery
[ flic.kr/p/qvwyj2 ] and the Pepsicola Bottling Plant [ flic.kr/p/trHiVk ] as it made it easy for ships to be loaded & unloaded basically directly from each establishment and one point signs like Silvercup literally lined the entire western shores of Queens and Brooklyn, though that was in the past. A building boom continues in both boroughs as primarily residential developments are now becoming the skyline replacing the long abandoned and shut down industries that once were the lifeblood of these boroughs offering unprecedented view of Manhattan only rivaled by the New Jersey eastern view whose waterfront is also undergoing a massive growth of residential building.
The industrial boom that began on the East River in the late nineteenth century reached its peak in the 1920’s when company’s bought up every parcel of land facing the East River and the building boom during the roaring Twenty’s was manufacturing facilities that continued in earnest until the market crashed in 1929 ushering the great depression. Silvercup Bread’s facility was built during this era, a very large impressive building with four flour silos right there on the waterfront. Silvercup was run and owned by Gordon Baking Company specifically by Company President Everett Wilsher and Vice President W.F. Husted who made the bread into a household name for decades. I remember the famous strike in 1974 where a tragic stalemate was reached at Christmas time between the Teamsters union and the Silvercup Bakery management during the New York City recession of the 1970’s. The Teamsters demanded a 10% commission on bread deliveries to non-union stores and supermarkets starting in 1975. Unfortunately Silvercup Bakery was operating with the slimmest of margins at that point. The New York Board of Education has signed an exclusive three year contract with Silvercup Bakery at a negotiated price, like I mentioned before the city itself was in a recession and President Richard Nixon made an arrangement to sell grain to the Soviet Union doubling the price of grain here in the states. Silvercup Bakery countered with an offer 2 %to the Teamsters, a number the bean-counters at the company were not comfortable with. The Teamsters stood firm on the 10% and indicated if Silvercup stood firm on their offer a strike was imminent. Silvercup countered that the company could not withstand a strike and would shut down the factory. The Teamsters boasted that such a threat was laughable because Silvercup had just made a capital investment of a new fleet of trucks. The Teamsters believed they were calling Silvercup’s bluff and proceeded to strike. Sadly, the strapped Silvercup Bakery got the chain & pad locks out closing the factory, began to quickly liquidate the new truck fleet, ovens and anything else that could sell for salvage as Silvercup owed the IRS $500,000 and another $500,000 in pension funds. Just like that the negative negotiations ended with 600 people out of work.
Fortunately for Long Island City a Kew Gardens resident named Harry Suna the owner of a sheet metal factory visited the Silvercup Bakery facility in 1979 and in 1980 purchased the whole building for 2 million. Ironically the Silvercup workers lockers were there intact as if the workers would be coming back. Suna started with one soundstage in 1983 which has grown to 18 by 2008 and expanded to Bronx, Silvercup Studios rose from the ashes of Silvercup Bread thanks to Suna and his sons, returning jobs and life to this area in Long Island City. Silvercup Studios is the largest production studio in the northeast.
Taken with Panasonic DMC Lumix FZ50, processed in Nik Effex Pro 4 Software cleaned up in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom.
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