Procter & Gamble photograph   Save
Works Progress Administration, Ohio Guide Photographs
Description: This image shows towers at the Procter & Gamble plant in St. Bernard, Ohio, a suburb of Cincinnati. The towers are emitting smoke or steam. The photo's original description reads: "Oxydol towers at the St. Bernard Factory - Hot liquid soap, sprayed into towers, is puffed into round particles. The tiny beads of soap cool as they fall to the base. Ivory Snow, Dreft, and Chipso granules are also made by a similar process." The Procter & Gamble Company plant, located on Spring Grove Avenue between Mill Creek and Township Avenue in the Cincinnati suburb of St. Bernard, originally covered 11 acres in a section called Ivorydale. It was and still is one of the largest soap manufacturing plants in the world. The original plant dates from about 1885, when P&G expanded operations from its downtown location. The giant complex would eventually cover 243 acres with 120 buildings, including the 43-acre food plant built in 1911. During the 1930s, the buildings were described as being a maze of utilitarian gray stone buildings, interspersed with outdoor retorts and tanks, smokestacks and railroad tracks. The campus includes its own fire station, dining rooms and recreational facilities. William Procter, a candlemaker, and James Gamble, a soapmaker, formed the company known as Procter & Gamble in 1837. The two men, immigrants from England and Ireland respectively, had settled earlier in Cincinnati and had married sisters. The two men decided to pool their resources to form their own company, formalizing the relationship on October 31, 1837. The company prospered during the nineteenth century. In 1859 sales reached one million dollars. By this point approximately eighty employees worked for Procter & Gamble. During the Civil War the company won contracts to supply the Union army with soap and candles. In addition to the increased profits experienced during the war, the military contracts introduced soldiers from all over the country to Procter & Gamble’s products. After the war was over and the men returned home, they continued to purchase the company’s products. In the 1880s, Procter & Gamble began to market a new product, an inexpensive yet high-quality soap called "Ivory." In the decades that followed, Procter & Gamble continued to grow and evolve. The company became known for its progressive work environment in the late nineteenth century. William Cooper Procter, William Procter's grandson, established a profit-sharing program for the company’s workforce in 1887. Over time the company began to focus most of its attention on soap, producing more than thirty different types by the 1890s. Procter & Gamble stopped manufacturing candles in 1920. The company began to build factories in other U.S. locations because the demand for products had outgrown the capacity of the Cincinnati facilities. In the early 1900s, Procter & Gamble also became known for its research laboratories, where scientists worked to create new products. Company leadership also pioneered in the area of market research, investigating consumer needs and product appeal. Procter & Gamble prospered throughout the twentieth century. The company diversified its products, adding Crisco, a shortening made of vegetable oils rather than animal fats (1911); "Tide" laundry detergent (1946); "Prell" shampoo (1950); “Crest,” the first toothpaste to contain fluoride (1955); Charmin toilet paper and other paper products (1957); "Downy" fabric softener and "Bounce" fabric softener sheets (1960); "Pampers,” disposable diapers, first test-marketed in 1961. During the last half of the twentieth century, Procter & Gamble acquired a number of other companies that diversified its product line and increased profits significantly: Folgers Coffee, Norwich Eaton Pharmaceuticals, Richardson-Vicks, Noxell, Shulton’s Old Spice, Max Factor, and the Iams Company, among others. Now an international corporation, Procter & Gamble retains its headquarters in Cincinnati. View on Ohio Memory.
Image ID: AL06401
Subjects: Industries--Ohio--Cincinnati; Cincinnati (Ohio)--Buildings, structures, etc.; Manufacturing industries--Ohio; Assembly lines; Soap factories; Procter & Gamble Company; United States. Work Progress Administration
Places: Cincinnati (Ohio); Hamilton County (Ohio)