Festival brings new faces to Disston Saw Works in Tacony

By Christopher Wink

It was one of the largest and most impressive facilities of its kind the world over.

Now, Hidden City Philadelphia, a new arts festival, is giving visitors an opportunity to tour the famed Disston Saw Works in Tacony through June 28.

In 1850, Henry Disston began the company that would develop into the global leader of Northeast Philly fame. An evolved form of the industrial powerhouse called Disston Precision is still in operation.

Hidden City includes access to places like Girard College’s Founder’s Hall, Mother Bethel AME Church, Shiloh Baptist Church, the German Society of Pennsylvania and others, many of which include performances or discussions.

But Disston has to be one of the highlights. Details of the company from WorkshopoftheWorld.com: At its zenith, Henry Disston and Sons employed an average of 2,500 workers, covered sixty-four acres, and comprised sixty-four buildings. Until its sale to H.K. Porter in 1955, it was a family-run firm. It had sales branches in nine cities, including Tokyo, and a plant in Canada. The largest saw manufacturer in the world, Disston and Sons also produced files, tools of all types, springs, and steel plate, as well as special steel jobs. The company’s Keystone trademark on a product indicated high-quality to all who knew the reputation of the firm. [Source] The stop at Disston includes a sound, film and sculpture installation called “Running True”  by local artists John Phillips and Carolyn Healy. It’s located at 6795 State Road, and tours run from 11 to 7 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays and in the afternoon on Sundays, according to the Inquirer.

Disston also had a large scale facility in Northern Liberties.

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