Industries have flourished here in the lower Gwynns Falls Valley since the early 1700s, when the Baltimore Iron Works Co. turned iron into nails and anchors and Dr. Charles Carroll's gristmills ground wheat into flour. The Wilkens Curled Hair Factory, which had as many as 1,000 employees, processed animal hair for use in mattresses and upholstery - and, like many other industries, dumped its waste into the waterways. Wilkens built housing for some of his workers and provided land for the avenue that bears his name today.
... in every direction a once noble landscape is in the process of being engulfed by the relentless city...
William Marye, 1921.
The Wilkens Curled Hair Factory, today the site of the Westside Shopping Center, remained in business from 1845 until the 1920s.
The Union Stockyards (left), located south of Wilkens Avenue near the railroads from 1891 to 1967, brought "every hoof under one roof" in was was claimed to be the largest stockyard east of Chicago.