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Whitlock Cordage/Whitlock Mills
Lafayette Section
Jersey City Historic Site Designation
by The Jersey City Landmarks Conservancy

Whitlock Cordage (above)
Lithograph depicting the Jersey City plant
circa 1910 from the book
Jersey City of To-day
by Walter G. Muirhead



Whitlock Cordage
Photo Copyright 2002 Leon Yost

Whitlock Cordage (above) Example of the kind of cordage manufacted by Whitlock Photograph circa 1910 from the book Jersey City of To-day by Walter G. Muirhead

The Whitlock Cordage Company was among Jersey City's nationally recognized industrial businesses during the early twentieth century. It once manufactured what many considered to be the world’s finest and strongest rope. Today the company's former complex is part of the Morris Canal Redevelopment Area in the historic Lafayette neighborhood surrounded by cobblestone courtyards and the Rev. Dr. Ercel F. Webb Park.

Whitlock Cordage was founded by Benjamin Whitlock in Elizabethport, NJ, in 1815, for the manufacture of manila rope for the maritime industry and cables for drilling oil, gas and water wells. It was initially called the New Jersey Flax and Hemp Spinning Company. A fire in 1891 destroyed the factory forcing the company to search for a new site. After a brief stay in Brooklyn, it moved to Jersey City in 1905 for its "superior transportation facilities and exceptional location" (Muirhead). Whitlock Cordage chose the abandoned New Jersey Zinc Company at Communipaw Avenue and the Morris Canal, convenient for the delivery of zinc and other goods between Pennsylvania and the Jersey City waterfront. According to Walter G. Muirhead in 1910, "The old buildings were removed, and on the ten-acre tract they erected a new and modern plant which is run entirely by electricity, the company owning a complete generating system."

The industrial complex eventually included eight buildings and two brick smokestacks by 1930. The design of the factory buildings featured a pitched roof-and-clerestory and high Romanesque windows. The restoration plans for the site include a combination of readaptive use of certain of the buildings and the construction of a new apartment building in keeping with the design of the original buildings for a total of approximate 330 apartments.

References:

"Big Jersey Zinc Plant Sold." New York Times 9 June 1904.
Martin, Antoinette. "A Significant Industrial Site Is Saved for Housing." New York Times 11 May 2003.
Muirhead, Walter G. Jersey City of To-Day: Hudson County, New Jersey; America, Its History, People, Trades, Commerce, Institutions & Industries. Jersey City, NJ: Jersey City Printing Co., 1910.

For a description with photographs of Whitlock Cordage on The Jersey City Landmarks Conservancy Website click on Whitlock Cordage.

By: Carmela Karnoutsos
Project Administrator: Patrick Shalhoub