Interior of the Shoe and Leather Building, Philadelphia Centennial Exposition, Philadelphia, PA, 1876.
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Interior full of shoes and leather, from East End,  1876.

Credit: Library of Congress

Until consolidation of the industry in the late 1800s, the ancient process of "tanning" animal hides into leather was generally done in small scale operations. When the United States celebrated its centennial at Philadelphia in 1876, Pennsylvania had close to 900 tanneries. In the decades that followed, northern and western Pennsylvania supported the largest concentration of leather tanneries in the world.

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