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Twentieth-Century Business Archives

Philadelphia Company - Lehman Brothers Collection

Philadelphia Company

List of Deals

The Philadelphia Company was a public utility that provided natural gas to Pittsburgh and its surrounding areas in Pennsylvania and West Virginia. The company was originated in 1884 by George Westinghouse, the Gilded Age inventor and electric company founder. He founded the company the year after he began drilling for natural gas beneath his own neighborhood in Pittsburgh, an experiment that caused an explosion of gas that burned for weeks. Apparently Westinghouse was undaunted by the mayhem; he lived for another thirty years, received 361 lifetime patents, and founded sixty companies.

Westinghouse continually acquired companies and added them to the Philadelphia Company during the 1880s and 1890s. The company’s main business was producing power for light, heat, and electricity in homes and businesses. It produced oil from fields in West Virginia; it produced artificial gas; it ran railways in Pittsburgh; and it had a large electric power and light business.

By 1940 the Philadelphia Company operated a diverse set of subsidiaries. Their names indicate the breadth of the company’s operations: Philadelphia Company ran the Duquesne Light Company, the Allegheny County Steam Heating Company, the Pittsburgh and West Virginia Gas Company, Equitable Gas Company, Philadelphia Oil Company, Finleyville Oil and Gas Company, Kentucky West Virginia Gas Company, Cheswick and Harmar Railroad Company, Equitable Auto Company, Equitable Real Estate Company, Equitable Sales Company, Pittsburgh Railways Company, and Pittsburgh Motor Coach Company. The deal book provides individualized financial details for these subsidiaries in 1940. The Philadelphia Company’s total assets were $160 million in 1940, $362 million including subsidiaries.

Note: For more information about Westinghouse-founded companies, see the company histories and deal books for Westinghouse Electric Corporation and Westinghouse Credit Corporation.

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