In 1873, the Singer Sewing Machine Manufacturing Co. purchased 32 acres of land in Elizabeth, NJ and established its first factory in the US. The company isn’t credited with inventing the sewing machine, but founder Isaac Singer made crucial improvements to machine designs, patenting 12 ideas in 1857 alone. By the time the Elizabeth factory opened, Singer was selling more sewing machines than all of its competitors combined.
During WWI, the Singer Company converted from manufacturing sewing machines to making 75-mm cannons & the famous .45 automatic pistol.
The factory operated in Elizabeth for 109 years. In 1982, the last 560 workers at the 1,400,000 square foot factory were laid off, and the facility closed. The building still stands & is home to an industrial park.
Narrative adapted from "Made in Jersey: Singer sewing machines had the market sewn up;" Greg Hatala; The Star-Ledger, November 18, 2013.
Photo courtesy of: New Jersey State Archives