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The North American Manufacturing Belt in 1880: A Cluster of Regional Industrial Systems or One Large Industrial District?

Gordon M. Winder
Economic Geography
Vol. 75, No. 1 (Jan., 1999), pp. 71-92
Published by: Clark University
DOI: 10.2307/144463
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/144463
Page Count: 22
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The North American Manufacturing Belt in 1880: A Cluster of Regional Industrial Systems or One Large Industrial District?
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Abstract

As a supply region for manufacturers, the nineteenth-century North American Manufacturing Belt can be conceived as a series of regional industrial systems, as one large industrial district, or as a chaotic conception, since industries built their own industrial networks without reference to the belt. Analysis of the supply linkages of two 1870s manufacturers reveals extensive disintegrated supply networks within the belt. The manufacturers functioned within the belt as a whole, and long-distance linkages were central to their activities, even when they located their operation within an "industrial district." By 1880, manufacturers' supply networks spilled over regional industrial system boundaries. Metropolitan centers did not dominate linkage behavior. These findings indicate that perhaps the belt as a whole functioned as an innovative milieu for manufacturers.

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