Man. Gas Processes
Contamination Threat Modes
Residuals - Components
Sources of MGP Liquid Effluent
FMG Plants in the US
Parallel MG Technologies
Think you've found a gas works?
Locating and Confirming a Site
Locations of US Gas Plants
FMGP In The News
FMGP In The Arts
Coal-tar Site Litigation
Related sites on the Internet
Literature of Manufactured Gas
Publications by Dr. Hatheway
Slide Shows by Dr. Hatheway
Slide Shows by others
Art Treats Gas Manufacturing
There is a small but profound "corner" of the graphic arts world that
has been fascinated by the overwhelming characteristics and qualities of
industrial plants. Most of the treatments do not venture beyond somber
statements of muted tones and what most of us would recognize as drab and dreary
confines of repetitive labors of "other people" with whom we no longer readily
Setting aside the compulsion of many artists to make their art in a dimension of
social comment, there also is a broad artist approach toward portraying the
contrasts of nature represented by some pre-existing ("greenfield" or
pre-industry) colorful or otherwise visually striking aspect of the
juxtaposition of industrial subjects such as gas works, and the
remaining presence of the natural world in which they sat. Water tends to be the subject
medium that lured many of the artists toward paintings in which gas works are
seen in a colorful array of tones setting the gas works as a mammoth intruder
perched on the edge of moving waters.
We hope to expand this treatment as our research and the efforts of our website
identify other examples, both major and minor; after all, our interests are in
the subject primarily, then we will share what it is we know of the artist."
In presenting these images for your enjoyment, Dr. Hatheway has followed
the usual art world courtesy of offering the images solely for your
personal enjoyment and edification and notes that this website
"....takes in no advertisements and has no sponsors, does not charge a
fee for services, and does not offer any product or service for sale."
The images presented herein remain unaltered, save for a uniform
thumbnail size, and he has included all of the accompanying caption
information that we have been able to secure with regard to each work of
art so presented for your personal use."
Should you come across any suitable examples of "Gas Manufacturing Art" that you
do not see on these pages, we encourage you to submit your findings for
inclusion in our growing collection. With "Contributed by:" credit, of
Fax: (573) 341-2071
Paul Signac (Parisian; 1863-1935;
as an artist after 1880)
"Gas Holders at Clichy".
Paul Signac has a following of art lovers who enjoy his displays of
light and color, by which the subject becomes only the means to support
the display. We are fortunate that Signac had access to a canal house
on the banks of the Seine, just opposite the great walled gas works at
Clichy, the north-side suburb of Paris, where he blocked in the towering gas
holders (of which there were nine in 1887) the year he gave us "Gas
Holders at Clichy".
This scene is basically similar to perhaps at
least half the former manufactured gas plants of the world, in that
water was an integral part of gas manufacturing, increasing in volume as
the general progression occurred from coal gas and early oil gas
processes, into carburetted water gas. Gas plant operators were
uniformly faced with the need to manage their "ammoniacal liquors" (at
coal-gas works and coke-oven plants) and with "gas liquors" at
carburetted water gas plants. It was common knowledge that these liquors
had damaging properties and characteristics in terms of discharge "to
the ground" or as discharged to surface waters, but many plant operators
took those calculated risks, especially where the gas works bordered a
stream, river, lake or swamp.
S. Schwartz (Russian/American, 1896-1977),
circa 1948; oil on canvas, signed;
30" x 36", titled and dated verso.
Chicago modern painter and printmaker. Schwartz studied at the Art Institute of
Chicago, and exhibited extensively throughout the 1920s-40s. His work is
included in the collections of the Art Institute of Chicago, Detroit Institute
of Art, Library of Congress, Dallas Museum of Fine Art, Biro-Bidjan Museum
(Russia), and the Department of Labor . "Gas Factory" sold for $33,600 at
Treadway-Toomey Galleries 20th Century Art & Design Auction on March 5, 2006, in
Oak Park, Ill. Full text
- Tamera Harrod (Treadway-Toomey Galleries)
The Schwartz painting could well be one of the some 200 manufactured gas plants
that dotted the map of Illinois, in recognition of the plentiful bituminous
goals available in the State for use in conversion to artificial gas used for
residential and business lighting, heating of homes, water and cooking, and as
an industrial fuel, all before the general arrival of natural gas in the State,
beginning in 1931. Most of the large number of town gas plants were privately
owned and continued in operation until about 1955. The view shown here is
evocative of one of these plants in the 1940s, and its tall buildings tell us
that the plant had converted to the process known as carburetted water gas and
that its location on a stream or river bank was also very common, as water was
used to cleanse the unwanted and objectionable tars from the gas and also, in
far too many cases, as a discharge point for the toxic gas manufacturing liquid
effluents. Gas works were central to the well-being of most towns but each today
require diligent attention toward environmental remediation.
Gas Works Linoleum Cut
in the style of Thomas Hart Benton.
Allen Hatheway found and purchased this 1930s example of
prairie-art impressionism at Portland, Oregon, in 1993, and is still searching
for a clue to its origin and creator, not withstanding the fact that his
personal research has, to date, turned up 37 historic gas works and other coal
tar sites in the City of Roses. We view this gas works from its "back side"
peering around and through the two large gas holders, both being multi-lift
(telescoping), above-ground, water-seal varieties common to the era of
We can conjecture that the puff of smoke reveals a carburetted water gas plant
on its blow cycle and making use of bituminous coal for the generator bed, in
lieu of the inventor's recommended coke.
The puff of smoke (provokes us to look for today's likely
evidence of tar-water emulsions (from the use of coal instead of coke, and also
possibly heavy oil instead of the recommended light oil for carburetion). These
departures were made as deliberate choices by the gas works operators, who then
were faced with the valueless and unwanted tar-water emulsions. Many operators
made the decision not to spend time and effort to treat the tar-water emulsions
and therefore elected to discharge them "to the ground." This choice resulted in
countless instances of lasting environmental pollution, when the could-have-been
by-products of the tar-water emulsion residuals became, in fact, wastes.
(1886 - 1973, New Hope, Pennsylvania)
Watercolor on paper
20 x 26 inches
Signed at lower right
Private collection, Bucks County, Pennsylvania
Harry Leith-Ross was born
on Mauritius, of Scottish parentage and favored life images in virtually all
media. Leith-Ross was educated in the best English schools, had access to the
family castle in Scotland, and trained for a technical career in the coal
production. The artist emerged in 1913 and from that point onward he made his
life solely in art, teaching at his every location and, as well, at the
University of Buffalo and the University of Utah. His travels were worldwide,
but it is known that he spent the majority of his life in eastern Pennsylvania,
emigrating there with his wife in 1935 and associating with what has become
known as the Pennsylvanian Impressionists, mostly in Bucks Country, around New
Hope (about 55 km NNE of Philadelphia). Because of this location and the
artist’s known affinity to waterscapes, this view may represent a portion of the
former Point Breeze Gas Works (est. 1851), operated on the east
shore of the Schuylkill River, just north of W. Passyunk Avenue and west of the
former 32nd St., in northern Philadelphia, by the United Gas Improvement
Company (U.G.I.) of that city.
, Brittany, France)
"Gas Holders at Salford"
Contributed by the artist.
The two gas holders are at the corner of Liverpool road
and Cross Lane, Salford, Manchester.
Painting Size: 43 x 58cm. Mixed media on paper. (£600)
Currently part of the artists personal collection.
Caroline Johnson was raised among
mills, car plants and rubber works, Ms. Johnson studied fine Art at Preston,
Falmouth and Central College of Art, London. She was a member of the Ladywell
Studios in Preston, worked as a Life Model and Drawing tutor, then took off to
live in Brittany. She has two grown-up children and a partner who is an artist
The Artists Statement:
"Lowry’s downcast crowds on the
white pavements had little energy left for the elegance of the urban or the
grace and symmetry of the functional. It was up to him, the artist to say, look,
here is beauty among the mediocre and the commonplace. My crayon, my paint seek
out the dusty forgotten corners of the city and its fresh shimmering heights and
I give them life and restore them to you
the passer by- the man returning home from work , the busy shopper and
the clubber out for fun."
Ladies and gentlemen, I present
the city’s passing parade! The charm of a humble nettle growing out of
the pavement, creeping shadows,
forgotten doorways and broken fences. The watchful solidity of a gasworks and
the resplendence of red brick , the mystery of parked cars… the enigmatic shapes
of the renewed and the newfangled- and the glittering giants
against the steadfast skies."
(2009 Johannesburg, South Africa)
"The Old Gasworks"
"This rather tatty looking building is one
of the landmarks of Johannesburg. Before 1964, gas to supply the city
was manufactured here from coal..."
- Cathy Gatland
Visit the artist's
site for her full description.
(full name of artist unknown, c.1841 London)
East Norway Street
Greenwich Gasworks; resultant of the early "gas rush"
the neighborhoods of London.
c. 1841 watercolor by one "Chunnell" shows the
as an advertised rental property.
"This small gasworks probably stood on the
east side of Norway Street in Greenwich between c.1823 and c.1828. The
first public supply gas works were developed in London from 1811. Within
ten years speculators had appeared who offered to build gas works in
towns and communities to be subsidized by finance raised locally through
various deals. In Greenwich two such speculators approached the
Greenwich Vestry (the local authority) and the resulting row escalated
into Government action (a ‘writ of mandamus’) and the downfall of the
ruling group in the vestry. The Norway Street works was taken over by a
larger company within a year of construction and used while the rival
works was rebuilt – the other new works was slipping into Deptford Creek
as quickly as it was built. By 1828 the Norway Street works was no
longer in use as a gas works and was advertised to rent - described as
“a valuable property at Greenwich near the river Ravensbourne with brick
buildings and a lofty chimney suitable for an iron foundry or any trade
requiring large premises”. It was eventually sold. The rival gas
works built by the Phoenix Company in Thames Street was to flourish and
did not close until the First World War. By that time gas supply
had been taken over by other and larger concerns – in this part of south
London it was eventually superseded by George Livesey’s magnificent
works on the Greenwich Peninsula."
- Text by Dr Mary Mills with thanks to Brian Sturt
and Julian Watson
Theo L. Soontup
(1938 Brooklyn, New York)
"Gowanus Canal East
The following description comes from an eBay auction
description before the painting was sold to an unknown buyer in February
of 2009 for $350:
"An original watercolor painting from 1938 of the
Gowanus Canal East in Brooklyn, New York, and signed by the artist Theo
L. Soontup. Masterfully done, this painting is a bit of history as this
part of Brooklyn has had many ups and downs over the years. Google the
Gowanus canal to read some of the interesting tidbits. This painting
measures 16.5" by 22.5" inside the matting, glass, and frame."
Gas Works" - approx. 14" x 18"
"Heavy Industry Gasworks; likely associated with a Pennsylvania steel
mill. The image is watercolor on art board, executed and signed in
1938, as the work of New York City landscape and portrait artist
Raphael Ellender (1906-1972). Foremost in the view appear to be a
purifier box (left, frontal) and a tar residuals tank (center,
front), with the diagnostic multi-lift, telescopic gas holder
(likely an above-ground, water-seal variety, to the right
background. Mr. Ellender was a regular Instructor and Lecturer at
The Art Students League of New York (City), a participant in the
Federal WPA Art Project, published two books (1964 and 1972) on
drawing techniques, and his papers are held at the Smithsonian
Institute, Archives of American Art. The present owner approached us
in January of 2009 with her kind offer to share this view."
Note: Click each small painting to download a larger version.
visitors since 03/15/09