Color Fabric Dyeing Information
Regional craft has been an integral part of a city's culture and New York is no different. From iconic food to exquisite jewelry, fashion to finance, New York is a powerhouse of an American city, dominating global markets and setting the standard in style and design. Because of its enormous influence on international fashion, it's not surprising that New York also has a long history of producing a wide spectrum of clothing dyes.
Colors often taken for granted in the 21st century were considered wonders a hundred years ago. In fact, for most of civilization, clothing colors were limited to plant-based colors such as drab browns and watery grays. Only aristocrats were able to afford bold colors such as carmine red and royal purple, colors so expensive to import from faraway lands that they immediately marked the wearer as being of high station (hence the reason royal purple really indicated the wearer as being royalty). Dye was such a coveted commodity that one of the principle assets Marco Polo planned on exporting from his travels in India was indigo, a deep blue color. Scientists, eager to capitalize on peoples' desire for vivid wardrobe colors, started developing synthetic equivalents for animal and plant-based dyes, allowing the beauty of color to be accessed by everyone.
In 1857, a German chemist named Dr. August F. W. Partz applied for two US patents for machines used in his attempt to create magenta dye at his Brooklyn plant. His efforts were unsuccessful, but paved the way for the Holliday Chemical and Color Company which produced magenta in three shades: Empire Red, Keystone, and Bay State. The Holliday business was located in Brooklyn, NY, and was considered to set the standard for the other major dye houses in the area. Some of the largest dye houses located in New York City included: The 12th Street Plant in South Brooklyn had its own dock and rail system and produced a bluish-green water-soluble indigo; The Beckers Aniline and Chemical Works was the largest dye manufacturing company in the United States and was located in Flatbush, Brooklyn. Its owner was one of the wealthiest industrialists in the era; Zobel Color Works produced a wide range of colors from methyl violet to sulfur black and was located at 2nd Avenue and 9th Street in Brooklyn; H. Kohnstamm and Company was located near the lower tip of Manhattan and speciliazed in high-class colors for automobiles; Williamsburg Chemical Company located at 250 Morgan Ave, Brooklyn, specialized in rich, sulfur black; Commonwealth Color and Chemical Company specialized in direct dyes for other fibers beside cotton and was located on Nevins Street in Brooklyn.
New York has a rich history of textile trade and fabric dyeing which continues to this day. Among the skyscrapers and throngs of pedestrians are dye houses and fabric centers that provide designers, manufacturers and hobbyists with a constant supply of high-quality, vibrantly colored textiles.