Asa Whitney Car Wheel Works
Painting by Samuel Sartain circa 1860 of the Asa Whitney and Sons' Car Wheel Works on the north side of the 1600 block of Callowhill Street.
This is now the site of a Community College of Philadelphia parking garage.
This is the story of a Baldwin Locomotive Works spinoff. Asa Whitney (1791-1874) was a machinist in New York prior to moving to Philadelphia in 1842, where he became a partner in the young Baldwin Locomotive Works. He left Baldwin in 1846 to start his own business, in 1848 moving to the north side of the 1600 block of Callowhill Street, covering the entire block between Callowhill Street and the rail line on Pennsylvania Avenue. He had perfected a method (described here) of manufacturing cast-iron railroad wheels and became the largest manufacturer of car wheels in the country. Asa Whitney would leave the firm to his sons in 1860 to become president of the Philadelphia and Reading Railroad.
Asa died in 1874 at his home at 249 North 18th Street, leaving an estate valued at $1 million ($23 million adjusted to today's dollars). This house, just south of Vine Street and next to the future Gynacean Hospital, was demolished in 1950 for the Vine Street widening project. His sons George, John, and James managed the business until bankruptcy in 1891, as reported in the New York Times here. George had died in 1885, leaving an estate of $300,000 ($6 million today). All the properties were sold off at a sheriff's sale in 1896 and 1897, with the Philadelphia & Reading Railroad acquiring the Car Wheel Works site.
Caveat: if you research Asa Whitney it can get confusing. An unrelated and contemporaneous Asa Whitney (1797-1872) was a New York merchant who in 1844 had proposed a transcontinental railroad across the United States. The information on and pictures of the two men are often interpolated.