The factory that produced the painkiller Algon

The largest factories on Pireos Street were set up between 1883 and 1926 at its southern end. The Chropei dye-work plant, founded by chemists Spilios and Leontios Economidis, was the first to start operating in 1883. Next to follow was the Kerameikos Pottery Works in 1911, founded by the chemist N. Kanellopoulos, who also co-founded the Drapetsona Fertilizers and the Titan cement works together with Leontios Economidis, civil engineer Alexandros Zachariou and others. It was this legendary group of graduates of the Zurich Polytechnic, nicknamed the Zurich group, which launched Greek industry at the beginning of the 20th century and ensured it remained competitive until the breakout of the Second World War. In 1920, the Elais olive oil factory was opened by Makris and Associates, followed by the Ion chocolate factory, founded by the Maroulis brothers in 1926. After the discovery of aniline, a by-product of carbon, Chropei became a chemical industry, using the new chemical for the production of synthetic dyes which replaced natural ones in textile manufacturing. In 1883 the dye-work plant was initially a small enterprise bearing the name of Spilios A. Economidis and Co. In 1899, the foundation stone was laid in Neo Faliron. Its founder, Economidis, had studied chemistry at Graz and had worked with the German chemist Adolf Bayer, who discovered aspirin. The business, like most other businesses back then, was a family affair where all of the four Economidis brothers (Leontios, Kleomenis, Harilaos and Giorgos) and relatives Sotirios Sofianopoulos and Achilleas Karamesinis worked. Leontios was the closest to Spilios and he expanded the business and turned it into an SA company. Leontios Economidis had also studied chemistry in Munich and continued his studies in Zurich, graduating from the famous Polytechnic where he became acquainted with other Greek contemporaries who were later to become the pioneers of Greek industry, namely Kanellopoulos, Arapidis, Hadzikyriakos and Roussopoulos. They became close friends and later collaborated with one another. A few years after its inception, Chropei became a leader in the Greek dye industry at a time when the production of synthetic dyes was a central activity on both the Greek and European markets. With the outbreak of the Second World War, the factory was called upon to contribute to the war effort. The business continued after the war and was run by the next generation of the Economidis family until 1948, when it passed into the hands of Sofianopoulos. By then the decline in the dye industry had already begun. After 1950, radical changes in production and strategy took place; new products, such as animal foodstuffs, were manufactured while medicines and chemical products continued to be produced, in particular the painkiller Algon. In the 1970s, attempts to manufacture whitewash were made with little success. The plant eventually closed in 1989.

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