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Event Details

Nylon Riots

Time: August 22, 2020 all day
Location: Wilmington DE
Street: Rte 141
Website or Map:…
Event Type: historical, marker, nylon
Latest Activity: Nov 11, 2020

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Event Description

The Nylon Riots of August 22, 1945 ( eight days after V.J. Day )

The riots occurred between August 1945 and March 1946, when wartime manufacturing switched to nylon stockings at the same time a promotional campaign was launched.

In one of the worst disturbances, in Pittsburgh, 40,000 women queued up for 13,000 pairs of stockings, leading to fights breaking out. It took several months before Du Pont ramped up production to meet demand

Throughout the war, Nylon stockings were on the black market and sold for $20 a pair. Women unable to get them resorted to lotions, creams, and painting seam lines down their legs to give the illusion of nylons.

George Marion, Jr. and Fats Waller's song "When the Nylons Bloom Again" captured the wistful sentiments of American women.


The Patent for Nylon

( The DuPont Experimental Station is on Rte 141 off of Rte 202 near the Hagley Powder Works where the DuPont Company was founded. )

The first nylon was produced February 28, 1935 by Wallace Hume Carothers, who obtained a patent in September 1938 and died 16 months before the announcement of nylon and never saw his success

Its Uses

Nylon was first used in nylon-bristled toothbrushes in 1938, followed by women's stockings or "nylons" - first shown at the 1939 New York World's Fair and sold commercially in 1940. During World War II, almost all nylon production was diverted to the military for use in parachutes and parachute cord.

DuPont emphasizing that nylon was made from "coal, air and water". Nylon was marketed as the durable and indestructible material, and sold at twice the price of silk stockings.

Actual nylon stockings were shipped until May 15, 1940. A limited number released in Delaware at the first public sale of 4,000 nylon stockings occurred on October 24, 1939, in Wilmington which were sold within three hours.

In the mid-1940s, classical guitarist Andrés Segovia mentioned the shortage of guitar strings to a number of foreign diplomats at a party. A General Lindeman of the British Embassy presented some nylon strings which he had obtained. Nylon strings were first tried on stage in January, 1944.

Twisted in the News

Early excitement over nylon fueled expectations that nylon was better than silk and a miracle fabric as strong as steel. DuPont executives marketing nylon did not at first realize that consumers experienced a sense of distrust towards synthetic fabrics.

A particularly damaging news story, drawing on DuPont's 1938 patent for the new polymer, suggested that one method of producing nylon might be to use cadaverine (pentamethylenediamine), a chemical extracted from corpses. Although scientists asserted that cadaverine was also extracted by heating coal, the public often refused to listen.

Under some conditions stockings could decompose turning back into nylon's original components of air, coal, and water. Scientists explained this as a result of air pollution, attributing it to London smog in 1952, as well as poor air quality in New York and Los Angeles.

Nylons are hygroscopic and will absorb moisture as a function of the ambient humidity. Variations in moisture content have several effects - the dimensions will change and moisture acts as a plasticizer, lowering the glass transition temperature and elasticity.


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