Updated 16-III-2020

Newark Lamp Plant

The Newark Lamp Works was one of the original factories of the Edison Lamp Division of General Electric, having been established in 1907. It operated for many decades as one of GE's principal factories for the production of general service tungsten lamps. Its history is closely linked with that of the Seaboard Lamp Plant, which was in fact located within the same building. The reason for establishing two factories on the same site and the differences in their roles are not understood - but the same practice was established elsewhere as in the case of Cleveland Lamp and Euclid Lamp. Seaboard was ultimately closed down in 1962 - possibly having been absorbed into Newark. During the early 1980s GE was facing considerable overcapacity in its north American lamp production facilities, as well as stiff price competition from foreign companies. The resulting restructuring led to the closure of nearly a quarter of the GE sites, with Newark's history coming to an end in 1984.

Aerial View of the Newark and Seaboard Lamp Factories, 1994 6

Address GE Newark Lamp Plant #3445, 40 17th Avenue & 133 Boyd St, Newark, NJ, U.S.A.
Location 40.7302°N, -74.1927°E
Opened 1907
Closed 1984
Floorspace 482,000 sq.ft.
Products Incandescent Lamps

The Newark Service District
Aside from its role in lamp manufacturing, Newark also led the way in GE's commercial distribution model for electric lamps. In the early years of the industry this followed typical business models, with salesmen throughout the country being grouped into respective sales districts. Each of these would handle customer orders, billing and collecing paymets, and place their orders on the factories. Meanwhile it was the duty of the factory managers to not only produce their lamps, but also manage the warehousing and delivery to customers. As the volume of lamps began to skyrocket vs any other comparable industrial products, this placed a tremendous burden on the factories which detracted their attention away from the key role of producing good quality lamps. Meanwhile, the salesmen were similarly bogged down with clerical activities of bookkeeping which hindered their capacity to sell.

These problems were eventually addressed by Fred J. Borch, who developed the 'Service District Concept' which was to take GE from strength to strength in the following decades. The first of these was the Newark Service District, established at the 133 Boyd Street address of the Newark Lamp Works. This new organisation had sole responsibility to manage the warehousing, distribution, billing and all other financial and clerical matters associated with providing lamps made by the Newark and Seaboard factories throughout the Atlantic Sales District. It proved to be a highly successful business model, which was later duplicated across other Service Districts to manage the rest of the USA lamps business. It remained in operation for many more decades, until computerisation gradually rendered the individual sales districts obsolete, and enabled the entire lighting business to be managed from the single headquarters at NELA Park in Cleveland, OH.

References & Bibliography
  1. A Century of Light, James A. Cox, published by The Benjamin Company / Rutgers, 1979, ISBN 0-87502-062-3, p.114.
  2. GE Incandescent Lamp Manufacture in Fort Wayne, Indiana, Early Incandescent Lamps website, E.J. Covington (archived).
  3. GE / EPA Study on Mercury Encapsulation Projects at the former Cuyahoga, Hoboken, Jackson and Newark Plants, 6th February 1997.
  4. GE / EPA Study on Mercury Encapsulation Projects at the former Cuyahoga, Hoboken, Jackson and Newark Plants, 13th February 1997.
  5. Bruen v. Local 492 concerning dismissal of employee from Seaboard Lamp and re-hiring at Newark Lamp, 28th April 1970.
  6. Google Earth aerial view of site, 1994.