Chapter 19 Notes
Packingtown, Chicago, Illinois (I aimed for their hearts and hit their stomachs.)
Packingtown: adjoining the Union Stockyards, center of Chicago meatpacking, and full of the odor of the industry.
The various ethnic groups here—Irish, Germans, Bohemians, Poles, Lithuanians, and Slovaks—rarely intermixed (despite being nearly all Roman Catholic), except in the saloon; saloons hosted weddings and dances, providing meeting places for trade unions and fraternities, and cashed paychecks. In unemployment, workers spent plenty of time here, making friends across ethnic barriers.
Most “knife men” in the “killing gangs” who did the actual butchering were from Germany and Ireland, who learned their skills in the old country—skilled workers. Recent immigrants from Eastern Europe were the unskilled laborers who had no experience in meatpacking and many had not previously earned wages. The wages ($2 or less a day) were often not enough to pay for basic needs, and many died of tuberculosis.
Packingtown, though insular to its residents, was part of a network of industries that was transforming American industry and life, making Chicago a gateway city.
Meatpacking—led by the “big five” of Armour, Cudahy, Morris, Schwarzchild, and Sulzberger—expanded by 900 percent between 1870-90 and established a standard for monopoly capitalism. They built specialized factories that could operate year round with ice and reliable refrigeration, with local packinghouses losing out to competition from Chicago.
Midwestern farmers no longer raised calves on pastures, but bought steers from the West and fed them on feedlots. Industry and agriculture merged in the meatpacking industry for nationwide distribution.
Chicago became home to several of the most technologically advanced industries in the world which had created a population of wealthy individuals. This also gave rise to a militant labor movement, which led to a major campaign in 1886 to shorten the working day, leading to the Haymarket Massacre in early May.
The Rise of Industry, The Triumph of Business
The typical American business was a small enterprise that was owned and managed by a single family producing goods for a local or regional market. By the turn of the century, large-scale investment created corporations that grew to mammoth sizes that produced for national and international market. This created wealthy men such as Andrew Carnegie, Philip Danforth Armour, Jay Gould, and John. D. Rockefeller.
Revolutions in Technology And Transportation
The Centennial Exposition of 1876 held in Philadelphia celebrated the promise of the century to come, such as the new telephone invented by Alexander Graham Bell.
1876 marked the opening of Thomas Alva Edison’s new Menlo Park, New Jersey laboratory devoted to industrial research, which created the incandescent light bulb three years later. Electricity soon replaced steam as the main source of power.
Henry Ford experimented with a gasoline-burning internal combustion engine for c automobile, American makers producing more than 4,000 by 1900. Orville and Wilbur Wright staged the first airplane flight in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina in 1903.
The transcontinental railroad, finished in 1869, and three more railroads (Southern Pacific; Northern Pacific; and the Atchinson, Topeka, and Santa Fe) in the 1880s created an extensive transportation network.
The advances in communication and transportation helped the westward movement of industry. The center of industry (determined by gross value of products) was in the middle of Pennsylvania in 1850, Western Pennsylvania by 1880, and near Mansfield, Ohio in 1900.
In 1865, annual production was valued at $2 billion; in 1900, at $13 billion, changing the US from fourth to first in terms of production. The US produced one third of goods by the early 20th century.
Mechanization Takes Command
Mechanization greatly increased productivity, alongside the reorganization of labor…