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Manufacturing in the Great Cities as a Share of the National Economy



The next tier of industrial centers, Ohio’s Youngstown, Dayton, Akron and Toledo, and Minneapolis/St Paul, Indianapolis, Washington DC and Newark, produced another 5% of U.S. value-added, from 2.7% of population.

Buffalo Expo on electrification

Buffalo Expo on electrification

Sheeler shot of Ford Rouge complex

Sheeler shot of Ford Rouge complex

Brooklyn Bridge

Brooklyn Bridge

Philadelphia independence symbols

Philadelphia independence symbols

Great Cities' shaped America

Great Cities' shaped America

Canal building, in Montreal

Canal building, in Montreal

Baltimore's Carrolton Viaduct

Baltimore's Carrolton Viaduct

Much infrastructure was pioneered in Great Cities: bridges, rail lines, electricity, water and sewerage systems, health and education service delivery systems, consumer goods, skyscrapers.

These centers boomed, then declined, and now innovate new forms of communal living, because they use infrastructure efficiently. 

Mt Adams in Cincinnati

incline built to access slopes in Mt Adams Cincinnati (Detroit Publishing Company)

Cleveland lift bridge, 1903

Heavy infrastructure made possible the manufacturing activities (Detroit Publishing Company)

Cleveland lift bridge 1903

allowing ships to enter the Cuyahoga River at mouth of Lake Erie (Detroit Publishing Company)

Cleveland industry, circa 1910

view of Lorain Avenue Bridge over the industrial valley (Detroit Publishing Company)

Baltimore waterfront, circa 1910

Baltimore oyster boat (Detroit Publishing Company)

Baltimore harbor, circa 1910

View of inner harbor from Federal Hill looking north (Detroit Publishing Company)

Baltimore harbor, 1910

view of inner harbor looking west from Federal Hill (Detroit Publishing Company)

Ohio River in Cincinnati

Cincinnati was "Queen City," the wealthiest in the midwest before industrialization, and due to surrounding hills like 5 points of a crown (Detroit Publishing Company)

Pittsburgh, circa 1910

Jones and Laughlin Steel Mill along Monangehela River (Detroit Publishing Company)

Cuyahoga River, Cleveland

1901 view of Cleveland Flats, from the east (Detroit Publishing Company)

Detroit eastside industry, 1925

view of eastside riverfront to Lake St Clair (Detroit News)

Detroit riverfront industry, 1920

view of eastside riverfront looking west from Belle Isle shows manufacturing concentration and pollution (Detroit News)

Detroit's dense eastside, 1930

view of eastside shows concentration of heavy industry of all sizes (Detroit Recreation Department glass negatives)

Some economic innovations pioneered in Great Cities:

1. Baltimore: B & O Railroad for logistics; tin can packaging of food products; business district self-taxing for extra services

2. Boston: public market, public schools; individual political freedoms; historic district preservation; light bulb filament and threaded socket

3. Buffalo: Erie Canal terminus for portage between waterways; electricity as consumer product; mass production techniques for grain

4. Chicago: reversed river's course to protect water supply; elevators to allow higher office buildings; creation of cultural center public space 

5. Cincinnati: slaughterhouse logistics; rail consolidation; regulation of development on slopes

6. Cleveland: steel making and petroleum refining processes; 19th century advertising and graphic design

7. Detroit: Ford Motor Company assembly line mass production; first paved road and freeway miles; eminent domain use

8. Milwaukee: machines such as typewriter and motorcycle

9. New York City: mass media and popular entertainment; public investment in mass transit; fire safety codes in factories

10. Philadelphia: Ben Franklin mail delivery standardization and consumer product inventions; water pumping technology; 

large-scale ship building; workshops of the world cluster


11. Pittsburgh: alternating current; air brakes; robot; Roebling Bridge design and construction; iron casting; commercial radio broadcast

12. St Louis: steam-power in goods distribution; regional "gateway" to the West; levee engineering 

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