Even after the conquest of independence, the activity of North Americans continued to turn to cattle breeding and agriculture; only after the middle of the century. The exploitation of mines began in the entire eastern region, followed by the rise of the metallurgical and manufacturing industries which, favored by customs policy, the remoteness of European production centers and the gigantic expansion of the internal market, quickly succeeded in affirming themselves.
American industry, not tied to traditions and already consolidated interests, driven by that practical spirit that is typical of the American character, was able to continue, with an energy unusual in the Old World, the implementation of all the technical improvements suggested by experience. European Union and from the results of the scientific research laboratories, promoted by it on a very large scale: progress was so rapid that it came not only to satisfy internal needs, but also to export its production all over the world.
The main development took place first in the extraction of coal and in the production of cast iron which, from about 800 thousand tons. in 1870, it rose to 14 million tons in 1900, providing 35% of world production; Then followed the various manufactures, the production of machines of all kinds, and the manufacture of various articles, aimed above all at satisfying the internal market, which, due to the increase in population and the colonization of the western regions, was able to absorb the industrial production despite the enormous development of plants.
The wealth of raw materials, the development of communication routes, the lack of artificial barriers in the immense territory explain the dizzying progress: from 1879 to 1929 the number of workers quadrupled and the value of production became 13 times greater.
The lack of tradition and specialized categories of workers and producers, the inventiveness pushed to the maximum degree, the need to save labor, which due to high wages weighs on the cost of industrial production, has pushed Americans to to replace man’s work with machines and to introduce Taylorist methods into industry, which make it possible to eliminate or almost eliminate skilled labor.
Consequently, the characteristics of the American industry were clarified, which consist in the mass production (standard) of a small number of types and in the concentration in grandiose plants, all similarly rationalized, dependent on a more or less limited number of large companies or of consortium companies (trust), with enormous capital. In fact, if small factories with fewer than 50 workers still constituted 85% of the total in 1931, they employed less than a fifth of the working population; on the other hand, those with more than 500 workers formed, it is true, just 1.4% of the total number, but employed 38% of the workers. And the large plants, with an annual production of over a million dollars, occupied 58% of the workforce providing 69.2% of the total production.
The geographic distribution of American industries is closely linked with the distribution of raw materials and with the communications network.
The region of NE., Between the Appalachians and the sea, rich in coal, iron and oil, is the most active industrial area and includes: the section of New England, where cotton and wool factories prevail, the shoe factory, jewelery and the dairy industry; the section of the states of New York and New Jersey, with very varied industries that respond to the demands of that great center of economic life; the Pennsylvania section, specializing in steel and machinery manufacturing.
In the inner eastern region, which stretches between the Appalachians, the Ohio Valley and the Great Lakes, and in which the great industrial centers of Buffalo, Detroit, Cleveland and Chicago are located, the metallurgical and automotive industries, the machinery factories, prevail. agricultural, canned food, etc. The downtown region, from Chicago to Kansas, has the major agricultural-food industries, especially milling and preserved meat industries, as well as metallurgical industries, furniture factories, etc.
A minor metallurgical region is found on the southern inner side of the Appalachians, in Alabama and finally in the western mountainous belt and in the extreme W, in California, Washington and Oregon, various industries, especially forestry and canning, have recently developed. food.
Characteristic of nearly all American industries is the large concentration of similar firms in a few centers: automobile manufacturing in Detroit and Cleveland, canned meat in Cincinnati and Chicago, steel manufacturing in Pittsburg; the film industries in Hollywood, the sewing machines in Elisabethville in New Jersey, the agricultural machinery again in Chicago, the railway locomotives in Philadelphia, etc.
The importance of industries in the life of the United States is clearly demonstrated by the fact that in 1930 as many as 984,000 workers were employed in the mines and 14,110,000 in industries; that is, on the whole, 30.9% of all workers in the Union. The number of American industries is very large, but let us mention only those which come first in terms of the value of production and the number of workers.
The metallurgical industries, due to the abundance of raw materials, iron and coal, had a gigantic development also favored by the concentration in the trust of steel and the spread of machines in all human activities. The most important district is that of Pittsburg in Pennsylvania, also extended in Ohio and in the state of New York and located there due to the presence of the best coking coal. The Pittsburg district processes iron ore from Lake Superior, which arrives by water via the Great Lakes and canals. The second center extends around Chicago, where coal from Illinois and Ohio and iron ore from Lake Superior can easily converge. The steel industry is also gaining ground in Duluth, the great iron ore port, which can easily be supplied with Appalachian coal by boats that go there to load iron ore. The third center developed in Alabama around Birmingham. The steel industry, however, is almost entirely in Pennsylvania, followed by Ohio and Illinois.
The mechanical industry is typical, both for the method of mass production, which allows the most economical construction and allows easy repairs with the replacement of deteriorated parts, and for the construction of machines that are widely used in agriculture and all industrial activities. Cars, locomotives, agricultural machinery, sewing machines, bicycles, industrial machines, are manufactured in huge numbers by the NE states. and the Northern Center.
The chemical industries, grouped around the coal deposits, supply all the preparations most necessary for direct consumption and industries, from sulfuric acid to chemical fertilizers, from perfumes to colors and paints, from soaps to industrial and vegetable oils and fats. Oil refineries have sprung up in Pittsburg and on the shores of Lake Erie in the SO Center. and California and produce gasoline, fuel oil, mineral oils, paraffin and asphalts.
Of the food industries, in addition to the milling and slaughtering and the preparation and preservation of meats, already mentioned, the fruit and legume preserving industries exercised in Baltimore, in the South and in California, and the production of butter and cheese are flourishing., already concentrated in the NE region. and around the great lakes and now also widespread in the O.
The textile industries they have reached a very high degree thanks to the abundance of raw materials (cotton and wool), coal and hydroelectric energy. The oldest district is that of NE., Which held the first place until 1920, concentrating the vast majority of spindles and looms in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Maine and Connecticut; but it is now overtaken by the South Atlantic states of the two Carolines, Georgia and Alabama. For cotton products, the United States comes in second place after England, but it does not produce the finest kinds and is surpassed in this respect by the old European industries. Less important, but very flourishing, are the spinning and weaving of wool (Philadelphia, Lawrence and Providence) and silk (Paterson), which consume mostly imported raw materials.
Also in the other industrial fields the United States holds an enviable position: in the shoe factory and in the leather industry they come first and provide for a notable export; the clothing industry is well developed in all the great cities of the East; that of timber has its major centers in the state of Washington and that of pulp and paper in the Lakes region, while rubber processing is located in Akron, Ohio. Lastly, let us recall the film, electrical and radio industries, in which the United States has unquestionable supremacy.