In 1873, the young engineer Giovanni Battista Pirelli opened the first factory in Italy for processing elastic rubber. It was located in Via Ponte Seveso, now Via Fabio Filzi, in Milan. The area, which was then known as Corpi Santi Fuori Porta Nuova, was in the open countryside, outside the city.
The factory, which initially consisted of a single building 1000-square-metre building along the Sevesetto river, employed 40 workers and 5 office staff, and manufactured belts, valves, and rubber hoses. As new applications were found for this material, production rapidly expanded to include sanitary and haberdashery items (1877), electrical conductors (1879), and tyres (1890). The factory quickly used up all the available space, so in order to start production of “pneumatic tyres for velocipedes”, another plot of land was purchased in 1890. It was located beyond the Sevesetto, and was known as the “Brusada”, from the ruins of a “burnt” farmhouse. This was to be the last plot available for the factory to expand, for by this time the city had swallowed up the entire neighbourhood and new spaces could be found only by moving away. Pirelli’s second factory in Milan was therefore built out in the countryside at Bicocca in 1908. Work continued in the factory in the centre of Milan until the Second World War, when the building was destroyed by bombing raids in July 1943. The area was sold to the city municipality, with the exception of the “Brusada” lot, where the first stone of the Pirelli Tower was laid in 1956.