SWINGLINE STAPLERS, Long Island City

Now home to the Prop N Spoon Company, which provides props for retail shows and conventions, and the City View Racquet Club, this building which fills an entire block and contains over a thousand windows is the former home of Swingline Staples, founded by Jack Linsky in 1925 as the Parrot Speed Fastener Company, changing the name to Speed Products in 1939 and then Swingline in 1956. The company moved to this new headquarters on Skillman Avenue in 1950. In 1998 Swingline eliminated its Queens factory, moving it to Nogales, Mexico.

In 2002 the Museum of Modern Art was renovating its East 53rd street building and moved for a year into another Swingline building on 33rd Street north of Queens Boulevard. In a way, that was fitting because Jack Linsky and his wife Belle were collectors of fine art, including works by including paintings by Peter Paul Rubens, Gerard David, and Fran├žois Boucher. The works were donated to the Metropolitan Museum of Art and can be found there in the Belle Linsky Galleries. The Linskys were also famed philanthropists, donating millions to charity. But the Swingline jobs have disappeared from the USA.

33-02 Skillman Avenue is home to three large studios for dance and theater artists and a rehearsal studio for musicians.

Swingline was famed for its giant neon Swingline staples sign on the roof, featuring a working stapler. In 1998, when Swingline decamped to Mexico (and from thence to China later), the neon lettering was removed.┬áThe 60 by 50-foot sign’s lettering required six men working three ten hour days to pull down.

Above we see additional signage on the Queens Boulevard entrance of the building and, while that signage was also removed, it left a ghost in its place, the only remnant of Swingline remaining in Queens.

3/4/16


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10 Responses to SWINGLINE STAPLERS, Long Island City

  1. ron s says:

    My understanding is that there are no good pictures or videos of the sign—or I’ve never found one. Just curious if the vast knowledgeable and quirky audience of this site has any links to one.

  2. NY2AZ says:

    Swingline departed LIC for Mexico in 1998; Ford is moving production of 2 models (Focus, & Fusion, joining Fiesta which was never built in USA) to Mexico also. I-Phones are assembled in China, etc., etc. The USA became the first & only nation where the middle class was the majority. How times have changed. Hipster artisans & racquet ball courts are no substitute for a manufacturing economy. Meanwhile, the ruling class has panic attacks over the rise of Queens born Donald Trump, who breaks all of their rules (which don’t work for the rest of us). Are you ready for the American Restoration? Make America great again!

  3. Mitch45 says:

    I used to work in the area in the 1980’s and remember the factory very well.

  4. chris says:

    I still got my USA made Swingline.
    No,Condos and apartments provide a bigger tax base than manufacturing,why else would the City
    have a long and great tradition of hostility to it.

  5. ron s says:

    Can we ban dumb political arguments from this website? The internet is so full of brainless back and forth, and this site is a wonderful respite from that crap. It’s a pleasure to see people talking about history, architecture and NYC culture. Not sure of the mechanism, but once a poster gets into political attack, the discussion belongs somewhere else.

  6. Dave in Milwaukee says:

    I have great childhood memories of riding the LIRR into Penn Station. As the train went through LIC, just before entering the tunnel, it would pass all those factories where popular products were made, such as Swingline, Dannon Yogurt, Adams Gum, Sunshine Biscuits. And greeting you as you traveled by car or bus across the Queensboro Bridge, were the Silvercup Bread bakery (with its wonderful aroma!), and Eagle Electric. Sadly, all relics of the past.

    Like Chris, I still have my treasured LIC-made Swingline desk and Cub staplers from the 1970s. I use them on a regular basis. They still work perfectly and never jam: something that definitely can’t be said about the modern-day ones. I doubt any of the ones made overseas will still be going strong 30-40 years from now.

    Yes, I sound like an old geezer, but so what? Born in ’58, turning 58!

  7. Lsie says:

    After reading this, I had to check my stapler sitting here at my work desk. Yup…Swingline, Long Island City, NY stamped on bottom.

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