“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Union City in Erie County, Pennsylvania — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)

"Union City Seats the World"

"Union City Seats the World" Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Cosmos Mariner, June 13, 2021
1. "Union City Seats the World" Marker
Union City's railroad connectivity and existing lumber businesses positioned the small community, after the discovery of oil near Titusville in 1859, to establish an oil-barrel industry. The Woods & Johnson barrel factory by 1870 employed 70 workers and billed itself as the largest producer of oil barrels in the United States.

As the oil boom declined in the 1870s, Union City and its approximately 1,500 inhabitants continued to capitalize on its wood-products industries, including lumber, barrels, wooden pumps, shovel handles, caskets, and at least one chair manufacturer. Still, Union City's economy at the time was predominantly agricultural.

That began to change in 1881 with the construction of Union City Chair Co. on Crooked (now Market) Street. Destroyed by fire three times in its first 26 years, the factory was ultimately rebuilt with brick in 1908 and helped establish Union City's reputation as a furniture center. Millions of hardwood chairs were produced by Union City Chair's workers over 119 years, until the plant closed in 2000. The company's ownership and management for most of its first 90 years were affiliated with the

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By 1913, Union City Chair Co., Shreve Chair Co., Standard Chair Co. and others were producing thousands of chairs daily. Most of the furniture manufacturers burned down at least once, including the Shreve Chair Co. in 1913. It was reported at the time that "as the fire swept thru the lumber yards of the concern, dynamite was used to blow up four piles of timber to prevent the fire from reaching two other industrial plants. The noise of the explosion was heard in Corry and the shock was felt in Lincolnville, eight miles from Union." Three hundred employees were out of work for only five months before a rebuilt plant on Fourth Avenue made its first furniture shipment. The company was sold in 1939 and ultimately went out of business.

Standard Chair Co. on South Main Street operated from 1898 until becoming part of Ethan Allen's Cherry Hill Division in 1966. Ethan Allen's nearly 250 employees churned out some 2,700 dining room chairs, 400 dining room tables and 300 to 500 other tables on a weekly basis.

At least a dozen chair/furniture manufacturers called Union City home between the first documented company in 1867, and the closure of the Ethan Allen plant 136 years later in 2003.

Thousands of Union City-area residents over multiple generations produced millions of chairs, tables and other furniture. It's no wonder one of the community's earliest mottos

Marker detail: The "Welcome Chair" image. Click for full size.
2. Marker detail: The "Welcome Chair"
The "Welcome Chair" at the Main-High Street intersection touted Union City's furniture-making heritage until it was removed in the 1960s.
was "Union City Seats the World!"

[photo captions]
• Union City’s furniture-making experienced many technological improvements over its long history, allowing for the production of parts in large numbers.

• Touted as the “Largest chair in the world,” this chair was made at the Shreve Chair Co. Holding 25 men, the chair exceeds 12 feet high and 6 feet wide.

• Women worked alongside men to keep Union City’s furniture factories humming, including these three women putting finishing touches on new chairs.

• It took a lot of wood, man (and woman) power, and equipment to produce the millions of pieces of furniture that came from Union City’s factories.
Erected by Union City Pride; Union City Historical Society; Erie Community Foundation; and Union City Community Foundation.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Industry & CommerceWomen. A significant historical year for this entry is 1881.
Location. 41° 53.857′ N, 79° 50.767′ W. Marker is in Union City, Pennsylvania, in Erie County. Marker is on South Main Street (U.S. 6) just north of South Street, on the right when traveling north. Marker is located on the sidewalk directly in front of the Union City Museum & Historical Society. Touch for map. Marker is

Marker detail: Union City Chair Factory image. Click for full size.
3. Marker detail: Union City Chair Factory
The Union City Chair factory on Crooked (now Market) Street was originally constructed in 1881, and burned down three times before being reconstructed of brick in 1908. The plant operated for 119 years, closing in 2000.
at or near this postal address: 11 South Main Street, Union City PA 16438, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 8 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. French Creek — Power, Destruction and Beauty (within shouting distance of this marker); Furniture Manufacturing (about 400 feet away, measured in a direct line); Union City's Early Historic Architecture (about 500 feet away); Union City Historic District (about 500 feet away); Drake Well Park (approx. 0.6 miles away); Old State Line (approx. 7.3 miles away); Fort Le Boeuf (approx. 7.6 miles away); George Washington (approx. 7.6 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Union City.
Marker detail: Standard Chair Company image. Click for full size.
4. Marker detail: Standard Chair Company
Standard Chair Co. operated from 1898 to 1966 on South Main Street, when it became part of the Cherry Hill Division of Ethan Allen Inc. The plant closed in 2003, and the structure was destroyed by fire in 2010.
Marker detail: Shreve Chair Company image. Click for full size.
5. Marker detail: Shreve Chair Company
The Shreve Chair Co. was established in 1903. The factory at Fourth Avenue and South Street employed 300 people when it was destroyed by fire in 1913. The plant was rebuilt and started shipping in just five months.
"Union City Seats the World" Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Cosmos Mariner, June 13, 2021
6. "Union City Seats the World" Marker
(looking north along South Main Street)
Credits. This page was last revised on June 19, 2021. It was originally submitted on June 18, 2021, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida. This page has been viewed 1,002 times since then and 415 times this year. Photos:   1. submitted on June 18, 2021, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.   2, 3, 4, 5. submitted on June 19, 2021, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.   6. submitted on June 18, 2021, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.

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Sep. 29, 2023