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The Economic History of Pittsburgh

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The Economic History of Pittsburgh

At the beginning of the nineteenth century, Pittsburgh became a leader in America’s industrial production. This industrial production dominated Pittsburgh’s economy for over a century. This attracted many foreigners to Pittsburgh which had a demand for unskilled workers. However, Pittsburgh eventually lost its position as one of the world’s largest industrial producers and became a rising city for businesses in the field of information technology. As a result, Pittsburgh shifted from a city of mostly blue-collar workers to a city of mostly white-collar workers.

As a result of its location west of the Allegheny Mountains, excellent river transportation and high quality coal deposits Pittsburgh became one of America’s most industrialized cities in the nineteenth century. It produced many raw materials such as aluminum, glass and coke and coal chemicals as well as other industrial products such as electrical generators, appliances, railroad cars and locomotives. However, one industry in particular dominated Pittsburgh’s economic scene and that was the steel industry.

In the mid-nineteenth century, Andrew Carnegie created the Carnegie Steel Company, the largest steel monopoly during the Industrial Revolution, which dominated Pittsburgh’s industrial production and economy. Because of this, Pittsburgh was dubbed The Forge of America. Because the Carnegie Steel Company was so dominant in Pittsburgh’s economy at the time, the history of the company serves to explain the history of industry at the time.

By the 1970’s, because of several factors, Pittsburgh lost the steel industry as its primary economic source. As a result, there was a dramatic shift in Pittsburgh’s economy from one based ...

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