• Belgian Immigrants at the Pittsburgh Plate Glass Plant

    At the heart of the Pittsburgh Plate Glass Company (PPG) was a thriving community of Belgian immigrants. During World War I, masses of Belgian refugees came to the United States, as their home country was torn apart by warfare. Belgium was a historical hub for glassmaking, a trade many immigrants brought with them to America. Belgian glassmakers typically settled in rural areas rich with the necessary natural resources for glassmaking, setting up family-run production studios. These small-time glassmakers would move from town to town as limited materials for glassmaking began to dwindle. Mount Vernon, however, offered Belgian glassmakers a more settled lifestyle, as PPG provided steady work throughout the year. Immigrants quickly rose up through the ranks, their specialized knowledge of glassmaking techniques leading to the creation of several of PPG’s glassmaking patents.

  • Glassmaking Innovations

    Glassmaking has a rich history that dates back to roughly 3500 BCE in Mesopotamia. Glassmaking is seen in many different cultures across the globe throughout time, and as you can imagine, we do not use the same process the ancient Mesopotamians used over 5,000 years ago. Innovations in the glassmaking process have been made all over the globe, from Egypt to Mount Vernon, Ohio. The process that changed glassmaking drastically was invented in 1925 here and was thus named the Pennvernon process.