Westinghouse Electric Corporation Photographs

What’s online?

The Westinghouse Electric Corporation online photograph collection contains images dating between the 1880s and 1950s. The collection includes images of Westinghouse’s products, electric railroads, employees, factories, and exhibitions.

What’s in the entire collection?

The Westinghouse Electric Corporation Photographs comprise 56.5 linear feet of images that date between the start of the company in 1886 until the mid-1990s. The images document research, employees, facilities, products, and exhibitions. The photographs were part of a larger donation of records donated by Westinghouse in 1998, which also included administrative records, corporate publications and newsletters, and moving images.

About the Westinghouse Electric Company

The Westinghouse Electric Company was started in 1886 with a workforce of 200 men in a small plant in Garrison Alley, Pittsburgh, PA. The name was changed to Westinghouse Electric and Manufacturing Company in 1889 and to Westinghouse Electric Corporation in 1946.

The Company was founded to build electrical equipment for a new type of distribution system that George Westinghouse modeled after the distribution system for natural gas. With inventors such as William Stanley and Nikola Tesla as employees, the Westinghouse Electric Company produced many new types of commercial and industrial equipment for the generation, transmission, and application of electricity. Their early equipment included the first transformer in the U.S., generating stations, meters, motors, and transmission lines.

Although his company produced both direct and alternating current machines, George Westinghouse became an early proponent of alternating current and was eager to prove its advantages over the direct current system. In 1891 the company built the first high voltage transmission line in California. In 1893 Westinghouse won the contract to provide incandescent lights for the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago. The display that the company produced was considered to be the greatest display of incandescent lighting at the time in the world. The Fair not only helped publicize the Westinghouse name, it also proved the safety of the new Alternating Current method to the public.

The Company grew and in 1895 moved to East Pittsburgh to expand its facilities. The new plant comprised over two million square feet on forty acres of land. In 1900 they produced the first steam generator for the Hartford Electric and Light Company. By 1915 the Westinghouse Electric International company was established to distribute its products world-wide.

During the first half of the 20th century, Westinghouse Electric and Manufacturing Company had a period of rapid growth and diversity of products. Among the new additions were household appliances, broadcasting, nuclear power, defense contracts, and transportation equipment. Fueling these developments was an active Research and Development Laboratory, which started in 1895 as three rooms called the “electrical laboratory.” In 1955, the Research and Development Center moved to Churchill, Pennsylvania, and would grow to include eight major buildings, including a cafeteria, auditorium, and library.

During the 1960s and early 1970s, the Westinghouse Electric Corporation continued to expand their business into a more diversified conglomerate by adding financial and real estate services to the company name. troubles led the company to sell some of these divisions over the next ten years and in 1987 the company was restructured into 23 business units. In the early 1990s there were more financial problems with real estate investments and the Westinghouse Credit Corporation. Despite these problems Westinghouse Electric bought CBS in 1995. Two years later, on December 1, 1997, the company changed its name to CBS and relocated to New York. In 1999, the company was purchased by Viacom.

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