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The Iron Horse, Early Industrialization and the Transformation of Urban Space

Otis Opened Elevator Factory September 20, 1853
By 1896, Ford had constructed his first horseless carriage
New York Stock Market Opened on Wall Street January 4, 1865
The transcontinental railroad was completed in 1869.
The telegraph (invented by Samuel F. B. Morse in 1844), and the railroad, knit together the regions

From 1850 to 1890 the total population in the United States increases from 23 million to 63 million
The urban population increases 18% (from 14% to 32%) or 16.6 million people


Many of the new industrial technologies had specific locational requirements we get:

1. Power sites:
-Falling water (before the widespread use of coal-fired steam technology and electricity) was important
-Towns along the Fall Line (especially in New England and the eastern margins of the Appalachians)
Examples: Allentown, Harrisburg, Lowell

2. Mining towns:
- coal and ore towns to supply the industrial economy
- particularly Appalachian coalfield towns like Norton, Virginia

3. Transportation centers:
-Strategic locations accessible by rail and canal

4. Heavy manufacturing towns:
-Dependence on large volumes of raw materials
-Steel making and heavy engineering
-Pittsburgh takes on a new role – from being a important river port and wholesaling center to being the steeltown


What was Grand Rapids, Michigan nicknamed and what was it?

"The Furniture City."

It was the first center of mass-produced furniture in North America


What contributed to the makings of a continental urban system?

1. Steam powered riverboats
2. Canals
3. Growth of the rail network


Why was the growth of the rail network important?

1. The railroad “allowed a loose-knit collection of regional economies to develop into a national economy within which American enterprise could fully exploit the commercial advantages and economies of scale of a huge market and an apparently unlimited resource base.”
2. The railroad also realigned the spatial organization of the urban system
--You could ship directly east
--Inland cities such as Detroit, St. Louis, Cleveland, Chicago become critical juncture points


What were some effects of the continental urban system?

1. Smaller port towns on the Mississippi (or nearby) could quickly lose their prominence
some places experience slow rates of growth
An increasing reliance on regional trade and service functions

2. Creation of the Manufacturing Belt
New York-Buffalo-Detroit-Chicago-Milwaukee

3. Urban elites competed in a rivalry over the status of their cities


Where did most early industrial growth (and consequently urban growth) occur during the early phases of industrialization occur?

The largest existing towns and cities.


By 1875 the urban system had 15 cities that had more than 100,000 people. Why?

1. Initial advantage:
-The owners of craft/wholesaling/transportation activities reinvested in factories and machinery
-Skills in entrepreneurship, investment and lending histories, etc.
-Largest pools of labor
-Largest and most affluent markets

2. External economies: benefits that translate into cost savings that accrue to producers from associating with similar producers in places that offer the services they need, such as specialist suppliers (location based clustering, agglomeration economies, urbanization economies)
-Skilled labor
-Good specialized business services
-Quality of the infrastructure (roads, harbors, utilities)

3. Locational economies: where external economies are limited to companies involved in a particular industry
-Pittsburgh’s attractiveness to the iron and steel industry
-Akron’s attractiveness to manufacturers of rubber products
-Dayton’s attractiveness to manufacturers of fabricated metal and machinery


Explain on the urban hierarchy the forces of diversification vs forces of unification.

As population/complexity increases, the probability of finding all the stuff available in one location decreases


What is the Rank-Size Rule?

Pi = P1÷ Ri

Pi = population of city i
Ri = rank of city i
P1 = population of the largest city in the urban system

For example:
-If the largest city in a particular system has a population of 1 million then
-Then the fifth largest city should have a population of 200,000
-Then the 100th ranked city should have a population of 10,000 and so on.


How did rank sizes change and grow prior to industrialization, during the industrial era, and then after?

Prior to industrialization we saw that it was possible to have a number of urban gateways of similar size

During the industrial era we find that the rank size distribution is more likely to converge on a straight line
-Result of the hierarchical organization of capital flows
-Result of the agglomerative effect of the concentration of financial, manufacturing, and business activities in a few major national and regional centers

By 1870 the spatial pattern of urban places becomes more predictable in the United States


Why did Continental Urbanism succeed and what were some of its effects?

1. Increasing integration of North America due to the standardization of rail gauge and increased continental lines
2. The constant supply of immigrants (provided low cost labor)
3. Introduction of assembly line factory system
4. The surpluses of mechanized agriculture
5. The entrepreneurial activity of family owned corporations (i.e. Carnegie Iron and Steel)


How does the urban system develop (what are the 5 phases)?

A "Stage Model"

Phase 1: Exploration
Phase 2: Harvesting of Natural Resources
Phase 3: Farm-based Staple Production
Phase 4: Establishment of Interior Depot Centers
Phase 5: Economic maturity, central place infill.


Describe phase 1 of the stage model

-Search for economic information by a prospective colonizing power
-Reconnaissance missions
-What’s out there? Fish, fur, gold, etc.


Describe phase 2 of the stage model

-Periodic harvesting
-Little permanent settlement
-Exploitation of natural resources


Describe phase 3 of the stage model

-Increased permanency of settlement
-Exchange between colonial agricultural commodities and mother country manufactured goods
-Seaports/Gateway cities act as “points of attachment”


Describe phase 4 of the stage model

-Penetration of the interior (usually along routes that facilitate movement of staple products)
-Development of long distance routes and the emergence of towns serving as depots of staple collection at strategic locations
-Towns are established at strategic locations to function as “depots of staple collection” (spearheads of the frontier)
Urban industrial growth in the mother country – supplies both home and colonial markets


Describe phase 5 of the stage model

-Economic maturity in the colonies
-Depots begin to take on service functions and develop as regional centers
-Development of a domestic market large enough and affluent enough to sustain the growth of a domestic manufacturing industry
-Development of a colonial urban network


Vance’s staple trade interpretation is useful for long-run urban development in colonial American, but it is not entirely satisfactory in explaining the initial colonization of English towns. What came first in most English colonial settlements in the new world?

1. In most English colonial settlements in the new world, the town came first (Boston, Philly, New York, Charles Town, Newport)
2. the staple crop was not necessarily the the most important reason or purpose for the town's existence


For English colonial settlements, if the staple trade didn’t solely determine urban locations – what did? Why build a town first?

1. Obvious answers
- Englishmen regarded towns as nodes of commerce, administration, and defense
2. A more perceptive answer:
-The role of the colonial town was rooted in pessimism of Elizabethan and Stuart world views
-Elizabethan culture must be preserved and the New World was filled with “licentious natives” and “beguiling wilderness.”
-Wayward colonists (rural wanderers) might pose a threat to the colonial enterprise and the fabric of English culture (i.e. rumors that lost Roanoke colonists were living like “White Indians’, examples of barbarism, the English experience in Ireland)
-The town was a preventative measure, it was deemed the most basic and necessary of frontier institutions


We also cannot ignore the influence of mercantilism on the development of the urban system. How do you define mercantilism?

Basis principles of Mercantilism:
1. a nation's strength depends on its wealth as measured in gold and silver
2. only a fixed amount of wealth exists in the world, and nations have to compete for their share of that wealth
3. a favorable balance of trade is an important step in gaining wealth
4. countries should seek to limit imports and maximize exports
5. A country should have its own source for raw materials and precious metals to avoid dependence on others
6. colonies exist only as a way for the mother country to make profit
7. a county's colonies should not trade with other countries


What did mercantlism have a hand in?

1. british/french rivalry
2. african slave trade
3. american war for independence
4. mid-eighteenth century wars
5. spanish colonial system


What did the influence of colonial companies (monopolist authority) do to towns and their location?

1. Limited the number of towns
2. Administrative centrality (not a free-trade system like the Dutch or French)
3. One chief port, centrally located that takes into account:
-Pre-settlement boundaries
-Measurement of coastal boundaries and the location of expected port sites
-Avoidance/Prohibition of ports on opposing shorelines (except in certain circumstances)
-Identification of harbor and navigational features conducive to port location


Why did Boston, Charles Town, Philadelphia succeed beyond expectations and Jameston, St. Mary’s and Burlington flounder?

Vance’s model would have us look at the economic base of a staple export commodity

But we might also consider immigration issues
1630s Puritans to Boston
1680s English Quakers to Pennsylvania
1680s Barbadian planters, French Huguenots, English nonconformists
These periods and places are characterized by family migration (middling socioeconomic status)
Population spikes often corresponded to mother country economic depression and religious persecution

-Ironically, the best colonial lands attracted few family migrants
-In the south, the individual, not the group or even the family became the primary unit of settlement
-These middle lands were reserved for Anglicans and Catholics and the marginal lands to the north were left for the Puritans, Quakers, Separatists, etc.
-Persecution of Anglican families in England wasn’t sufficient to push them to leave
-Those towns in the marginal lands had to find sustenance in stable crops/carrying trade
-Consequently, towns flourished in the colonies where they were least expected to by the Crown.


Give a brief profile of urban expansion in the New Nation (1776-1860)

-1 in 20 were town or cities dwellers in the infant nation
-By the American Revolution (1775-1783) the colonial population was approx. 2.5 million
-Even by 1830, only 9% of the population lived in places of 5,000 or more
-Coastal cities were the largest but they were all competing for new hinterlands west of the Appalachians
-By 1840 the American urban system had become independent
-By 1860 there were 100 cities with an urban population of 6 million, making the percent of urban people 19.8%


Between 1776-1860, it is intriguing to note that although a very small proportion of the population of the colonies lived in cities, the Constitution was predominately written by whom?

City dwellers and supported city growth

While only 5% of all Americans lived in cities:
20 of the 55 delegates to the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia were city dwellers
And 20 more had extensive urban contacts (i.e. they were lawyers or merchants)
When it came to supporting the Constitution at state ratifying conventions – city interests lined up on the side of adoption while areas dominated by small farms chose delegates who opposed it


What followed American Independence?

-It was both practical and necessary for economic links to be forged between towns/cities
-A greater proportion of investment was financed by American capital – less money leaked back to the European system
-A proliferation of government functions (county courthouses to town halls to state capitals to a new seat for the federal government [Washington, D.C. ])
-Westward expansion also stimulated Eastern cities to attempt to consolidate their control (creation of corridors of trade)
-Westward/Southward expansion required frontier towns


“At the time of the first census in 1790, the top-twenty cities in the United States all had ____________. These cities served as ___________________.

"Forty years later, in 1830, the locus of growth had shifted ___________________, including Albany, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, and Louisville.  These cities joined several coastal cities as the leading centers of their time. 

1. coastal locations, primarily in the northeast

2. ports and entrepot cities that nurtured important trade functions such as wholesaling and finance. ”

3. inland to a series of river cities


What did the Canal do for New York? Why is Schenectady's rank clock surprising?

Nearly every major city in New York can be found along the trade route established by the Erie Canal: it links Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, Utica, and Albany with New York City.

Schenectady had prospered as a principal port of the lower Mohawk River but the completion of the Erie Canal meant that boats could go all the way.


What are some important facts about the Erie Canal?

Of the American canals preceding it only three were more than two miles long and the longest of these, the Middlesex, was hardly 28 miles in length

Question: How long is the Erie Canal
Answer: 363 miles

Construction began in 1817 and was completed in 1825

Built largely through unsettled territory
Its justification lay not in current traffic but in the expected development [an act of faith, “if you build it they will come”]