California brick
CALIFORNIA BRICKS


City Brick Company

History


The City Brick Company probably began operations around 1922, based on one of their bricks that was stamped with the year 1922, which was found recently by David Garcia in a building being demolished in San Pedro. The earliest listing of this company in the Los Angeles city directories was 1924, which shows that the company office was at 4354 West Third St. Joseph Simons was the proprietor of the brickyard. The plant stood at 1900 West Manchester Avenue (86th St.) and Western St., Los Angeles. Another company by the name of the City Brick Company was started earlier in 1886 in Chavez Ravine by Hubbard, Simons, and Goss, but it is doubtful that the two companies are related because the former company was purchased by a brick trust in 1900 and closed, and their plant locations are different.

The clay is a surface deposit of loose sandy loam. It was mined in a shallow pit by horse scrapers, which delivered the material to an incline tram. The clay was dumped into a hopper, which fed a disintegrator and pug mill. A six-brick press was used to mold the bricks using the soft-mud process. One out of six bricks was stamped with the company name CITY B. Co. inside a rectangular frog. Similarly, one out of six bricks was stamped with "1922" inside a rectangular frog in the year the first bricks were made by this company. They also made a similar "1923" brick in the following year. The brick was then carried to the drying sheds by rope conveyors. After drying, the brick was fired in gas-fired open kilns. Because of the low strength of the brick, handling loss at this plant was high.

Apparently this company had its problems and had several periods inactivity after 1928. The plant was permanently closed and dismantled in 1940.

City Brick

Common brick is dark red, uniform color, sanded with flashy mica on surfaces. Edges are sharp, but slightly undulating, corners are slightly rounded. Sides display a prominent 1/4 inch thick lip along the top edge, stack indentions and transverse cracks. No visible clasts on sides or ends, but interior on broken surfaces and top face shows the presence of rounded to subrounded iron-stained white quartz, up to 1/4 inch across. Top face displays a longitudinal strike and is highly pitted. Bottom face is flat and centered with a 1/8 inch deep rectangular frog with beveled sides, 6 3/4 inches long and 2 3/4 inches high. The name "CITY B. Co." is centered in the bottom of the frog as raised block letters except the "o". The name spans 6 1/8 inches and the letters are 1 1/8 inches high, except for the "o", which is 7/8 inch high. Some examples display a period after CITY. This brick was made using the sand-struck, soft-mud process. Length 8 5/8, width 3 3/4, height 2 3/8 inches.

City brick marked face
View of the brand name raised in a frog on the bottom face of the brick. Donated by David Garcia.

California brick top face
View of the top face of the City brick, showing a longitudinal strike and pitted surface.


California brick side
View of one of the sides of the City brick with its prominent lip around the top edge.
Note also the abundant white quartz in the broken interior on the upper right corner.

References

Crawford, J.J., Los Angeles County, California State Mining Bureau 12th Annual Report of the State Mineralogist, 1894, p. 381.

Dietrich, Waldemar F., Los Angeles County, California State Mining Bureau Bulletin 99, 1928, p. 100.

Garcia, David, written communications, 2006.

Kennedy, George L., written communications, 2015.

Los Angeles City Directories, 1884-1928.

Stoll, G.C. ledgers, Western Claymachinery Sales, Inc., copied by Josh Higgins, 2012.

Symons, Henry H., California Mineral Production for 1928, California State Division of Mines Bulletin 102, 1929, p. 169.

Copyright 2006 Dan Mosier

Contact Dan Mosier at danmosier@earthlink.net.