California brick
CALIFORNIA BRICKS


Atlas Paving Brick Company

History


In 1912, L. A. Steiger, manager of the Steiger Terra Cotta and Pottery Works, took over the abandoned brick plant of the Bay View Brick Company, located at G and 32nd streets (now the foot of Hollister Avenue where the Gilman Playground is located), San Francisco, California. In 1913, Steiger organized the Atlas Paving Brick Company to manufacture red street paving bricks for the San Francisco market. The company office was located at 102 Sansome St., San Francisco. The old Bay View plant was converted from a common brick manufacturing plant to a paving brick plant. requiring the addition of a brick press. Two new kilns were also built. Plant capacity was 150,000 brick per month.

This company produced red paving bricks on and off for about nine years. Paving bricks were used to pave the streets and gutters in San Francisco and other nearby towns. In 1915, Atlas pavers were laid between the street railroad tracks of the United Railroads of San Francisco. As paving bricks were rapidly being replaced by the increased useage of asphalt and concrete for street paving, the brick paving business suffered. Although this business sustained the Steiger family for five years following the burning of their main pottery works in South San Francisco in 1917. The Atlas paving plant closed in 1921, and the plant was later razed. The plant site today is the Gilman Playground in the Bay View District.

Atlas paving bricks
View of Atlas paving bricks in a wall.

Atlas Paving Brick

Paving brick is red to dark red, mostly uniform in color. The clay body is finely ground with fragments of red chert and black iron up to 1/8 inch across. The sides are smooth and may display stack indents, cracks, and minor warping. Repressed lines are visible near the edges. Edges and corners are dull, although may have been originally nearly sharp. The faces show short transverse grooves. One face is stamped with the brand name ATLAS centered and recessed in block letters that span 3 3/4 inches in length and 5/8 inch in height. On each corner are raised rectangular lugs measuring 5/8 inch by 3/8 inch. This brick is heavy weighing 7.5 pounds. Extruded, stiff-mud process, probably blade cut and repressed. Narrow size and rectangular lugs are distinctive for this paver. Length 9, width 3 1/4, height 3 inches.

Atlas paving brick marked face
Face view displaying the brand name of the Atlas paving brick.

Atlas paving brick side
Side view of the Atlas paving brick.

Atlas paving brick end
End view of the Atlas paving brick.


References

Brick and Clay Record, 1912, v. 41, no 9, p. 364.

Brick and Clay Record, 1913, v. 43, no 8, p. 823.

Brick and Clay Record, 1915, v. 45, no 2, p. 180.

Brick and Clay Record, 1916, v. 48, no 3, p. 258.

San Francisco City Directories, 1913-1921.

Copyright 2007 Dan Mosier

Contact Dan Mosier at danmosier@earthlink.net.