I N D U S T R Y
The experience of some of the world’s oldest and largest industrial economies demonstrates several stages of industrialization. In the pre-industrial economies of Great Britain and the countries of Northern Europe, most activity was directed towards commerce and the production of food. Technology was comparatively primitive, and any crafting of wood and metal goods was generally done to support farming, trade, or to provide hardware for everyday use.
By the middle of the 18th century, the Industrial Revolution was under way in Great Britain and other countries of Northern Europe and, from the 1790s, in the United States. It was largely concentrated in new textile machinery, improved methods of coal production and iron manufacture, agricultural techniques and steam power. Although a significant amount of manufacturing took place in rural areas, many industries located on the emerging cities. People were attracted to these centres by work, and the processes of urbanization and industrialization became intimately linked. In 1800, only 25 per cent of Britain’s population lived in cities or towns; by 1881 it was 80 per cent. The production of cotton goods destined for markets in India and South America led the way in Great Britain. This was followed on a large scale by coal and iron and steel at the end of the century. One industry supported another. Coal was needed to make iron and steel to build ships and railways, which in turn required coal as fuel.
Large-scale industrialization in the USA was based largely on the European model. By the end of the 19th century, the United States had surpassed Great Britain in the production of iron and steel. The abundance of raw materials, a rapidly growing population, and the adoption of innovations such as the telegraph, the telephone, the electric light, and the
refrigerator, along with petroleum products, provided the basis for a boom in manufacturing....