|Tag(s):||Pittsburg, Chicago, Steel and Iron Industry, Economy|
|Course:||“U.S. History: 1812 - 1914,” Foothill College|
Internal competition in a country can be a strong force for development and improvements in some industries. This “American versus American” phenomenon appeared in many industries in the US. In the early twentieth century, the United States was still developing. At that time, many industries were still in their early stage -- the car industry and aviation industry, for example. Because these new technologies required a large amount of raw material, the development and competition of the steel industry was the greatest at that time. Since states like Pennsylvania, Ohio, New York, and New Jersey had a rich availability of coal and iron ore, the steel industry in these states had become a critical industry because of the high profit. One of the most vigorous competitions in the steel industry was the competition between Pittsburgh and Chicago. Chicago itself did not have much iron or coal resources, but it could still introduce the steel industry into the city because of its geographical location, which is located next to Lake Michigan. Because of easy transportation, Chicago developed its steel industry so successfully that many cities like Pittsburgh aimed at it as a competitor. A conversation between the two magnates in Chicago and Pittsburgh can effectively represent the tit for tat industry competition that was occuring between the two cities. "‘That doesn't matter to us,’ reply the Pittsburgh steel magnates. ‘Chicago has to send for its coal, which we have practically on the spot. The result is the same.’ ‘Not at all,’ say the Chicago men; ‘it costs us less to bring our coal than you have to pay for the freight of your ore, and you have to pay freight for coal too, the only difference being that ours travels farther than yours--a very small matter, as the loading and unloading cost more than the haulage, over a short distance. We have therefore a very considerable advantage over you in not being obliged to convey our ore by rail, and this advantage is bound to give us the upper hand in the long run.’" This conversation indicates how intense the competition was and how every city would not like to see other sharing their profitable steel exporting market.
This competition actually forced the cities to invest more into the industry and improve the quality of products. The production of steel was a benefit to all as it greatly increased and gave the foundation for the leadership of the US in the industry. “From 1870 to 1900, annual U.S. steel production rose from around one million to ten million tons.” Furthermore, the production rose to twenty four million tons annually by 1910. This data shows that vigorous competition can actually encourage improvements and strengthen the whole industry. This also made the US dominate the export steel market for years until the development of the industry in Asian countries in recent years. However, the United States is still one of the major steel exporters around the world. Furthermore, the mature fundamental technologies also make steel products made in the US competitive with others, which contributes to both the US and the global economy.