Urbanisation, industrialisation and the rise of corporations 1865-1890



  • Industrialisation, mass imigration and improvements in transportation accelerated the process of urbanisation. 
  • Most of the larger towns and cities were located in the Northeast. Whilst existing cities grew bigger, new big cities experienced huge population growth. In 1860 Chicago had a population of 109,000. In 1890 this grew to 1,099,000. New York had a population growth of about 1.4 million from 1860 to 1890. 

Industrialisation and the rise of corporations

  • There was a boom in extractive industries such as coal, iron, copper and oil.
  • By 1874 smaller oil companies were merging into larger ones such as Standard Oil owned by John D. Rockefeller.
  • New techniques in the manufacturing of steel were developed by The Steel company from 1860 such as rolling mills. Production was greatly increased due to the expansion of the railroads. 
  • Expansion was also pushed forward by technological innovations by inventors such as Thomas Edison who created the process of separating iron ore in 1889. Technologies in refrigeration from 1867 assisted commercial expansion for ice-making and meat-packing. 
  • By the late 1870's Standard Oil, Carnegie's US Steel and Heinz's canned food empire were taking shape.
  • The Panic of 1873 slowed down the economy and many firms went bankrupt. In the long-term this weeded out weak businesses and led


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