Industrial development of Worcester, Massachusetts
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In order to understand the reasons for the industrial growth of Worcester, it is essential to be familiar with the topography of the area. Located in a valley without any natural resources to stimulate industry, Worcester is at a disadvantage. However, there were small streams in the area which were used for water power in the early stages of development. This source of water power supplied the area with ground grain and lumber. The first phase of manufacturing in Worcester dates back to 1713, with the third and permanent settlement of Worcester. Industry kept on slowly developing until the enactment of the Embargo Act of 1807. This stimulated the growth of home industry and improvements in transportation. The Blackstone Canal, completed in 1828, provided seasonal transportation to the sea. Manufacturing was further aided by the development of three railroads, between 1835 and 1847. This gave industry a year-round transportation service. It was not until 1840 that steam was used to any great extent in Worcester. Steam power supplemented the inadequate water power and the rapid growth of industry began which was not yet abated. Although the railroads and introduction of steam for power supplied a market outlet, the main factor in the development is the people of Worcester or the human element. The creative and inventive ability of the people has led to a great demand for the products and skills of the area. By a comparison of various maps such as topographic, population, land use, soils , and industrial locations, it is apparent that manufacturing is restricted to the valley. Space is a vital factor in future development and is at a premium in the valley. Through personal interviews with representatives of the six leading companies in the city, a survey of the growth of industry was made. This was made from a geographical point of view. The site location, source of materials, transportation, markets and other factors in the development were discussed. It was found that the present phase of diversified development is due primarly to the people. The locational factors were found to be home industries, labor availability, and production relationships. The conclusion was reached that the human factor is more important as a basic locational and developmental factor for manufacturing companies than is generally realized. In addition to this, the space problem is a continuous one. The only solution to this problem would be to follow the north-south trend of the valley for future expansion. With the present day means of transportation, there is no problem in relation to the resources or markets for suburban expansion.
Thesis (M.A.)--Boston University
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