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Blood, Iron, and Gold: How the Railways Transformed the World by Christian Wolmar
banking crisis, Beeching cuts, British Empire, Cape to Cairo, invention of the wheel, James Watt: steam engine, joint-stock company, Khartoum Gordon, Mahatma Gandhi, railway mania, refrigerator car, side project, South China Sea, transcontinental railway, tulip mania, urban sprawl
CROSSING AMERICA… As already mentioned, the idea of a transcontinental railway for the USA was mooted very soon after the pioneers of the iron road had laid the first lines. And so it was on other continents. Crossing continents seemed a natural aspiration for railways, with plans to traverse Central America, the United States, South America, Russia, Africa and even Australia all emerging in the second half of the nineteenth century. And all would be achieved, apart from the Cape to Cairo, a project whose colonial intent was simply too ambitious in the face of natural and political barriers. These massive projects, the most ambitious in the history of humankind, faced seemingly insuperable difficulties and invariably ended up costing far more than the original estimates. Transcontinental railways were the ultimate grand projets, which inevitably made them the creature of government as they were not remotely feasible without state involvement.
Routes were established through the barriers of the Alps and other mountain ranges, which in turn stimulated the development of industry and tourism. The debate over whether the railways should be privately or publicly owned spread around Europe and the role of the state is examined. The function of railways in several European wars is also considered. Chapters 6 and 7 tell the amazing stories of how and why the transcontinental railways were built. Chapter 6 covers the disastrous Panama Railway whose construction cost the lives of thousands of men and took far longer than expected, but provided a vital link between the east and west coasts of America and the creation of the first American transcontinental, probably the most significant of all the early railways. Chapter 7 deals with crossing other continents, notably Russia where the Trans-Siberian was arguably the most ambitious infrastructure project ever built, and the failed, but heroic, Cape to Cairo.
Often inspired by little more than imperial swagger, they were grandiose undertakings which sought to connect distant corners of the globe with the main population centres in the quest for wealth, power and national unity. They attracted adventurers and visionaries, and, while their purpose varied from country to country, it was more often rooted in the ambitions of politicians and railway promoters than in practical transport economics, though, ultimately, several proved profitable. The story does, of course, start with America which built the first transcontinental railway but, surprisingly, that was not in the United States but in Central America through Panama. In a way the development of that railway had the same driving force as the one that would be completed in Utah fourteen years later – the opening up of the West – since it was the incorporation of Oregon and California into the United States that stimulated the promotion of the Panama Railway. In the 1840s there were three ways to travel between the east and west coasts of the United States, none of them easy: the direct way overland by wagon, running the risk of attacks by Indians; a ship via the dangerous waters of Cape Horn; or trips up and down the coasts linked by a fifty-mile hike through the jungle of the isthmus of Panama.
British Empire, clean water, colonial rule, discovery of the americas, distributed generation, Donner party, estate planning, Etonian, full employment, Hernando de Soto, hive mind, invention of radio, invention of the telegraph, James Watt: steam engine, Khyber Pass, Menlo Park, Plutocrats, plutocrats, transcontinental railway, Works Progress Administration
Abrams, 1981. Ambrose, Stephen E. Nothing Like It in the World: The Men Who Built the Transcontinental Railroad, 1863–1869. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2000. Anderson, Sherwood. Winesburg, Ohio. New York: Huebsch, 1919; Signet Classics, 1993. Anfinson, John O. The River We Have Wrought: A History of the Upper Mississippi. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2003. Arsenault, Raymond. Freedom Riders: 1961 and the Struggle for Racial Justice. New York: Oxford University Press, 2006. Atwood, Kay. Chaining Oregon: Surveying the Public Lands of the Pacific Northwest, 1851–1855. Blacksburg, VA: McDonald & Woodward, 2008. Bain, David Haward. Empire Express: Building the First Transcontinental Railroad. New York: Viking, 1999. Bakeless, John. The Eyes of Discovery: America as Seen by the First Explorers.
Fantasists aplenty were feeding an insatiable public’s lust for lurid tales about the nation’s vast unknown. William Gilpin was one such: a papermaker’s son from Delaware who resigned a commission in the army to join settlers on the Oregon Trail, he became notorious for his Messianic, eye-gleaming boosterism, quite detached from reality. The need to sketch out the possible routes for a transcontinental railway led the Civil War hero Gouverneur Warren to draw one of the finest and most accurate early maps of the American West. Two billion people could be accommodated with ease in the western territories, he would claim in his many public speeches. Scores of millions of cattle could be farmed in the prairies. “The destiny of the American people is to subdue the continent,” he declared—and anyone and anything who stood in the way, be they Sioux or be they buffalo, could be swept aside.
It was a liking that would play a part in his later years in a profound and fascinating way. King returned to the East in 1866 after enduring three seasons of rigorous apprenticeship in California. Now that he was fully schooled in the art of fieldwork, despite his youth, he came up with an ambitious plan for surveying a cross section of the country along the route then being created for the transcontinental railway. In 1867, the year when the government in Washington so suddenly began to make a serious inventory of the country and created its Four Great Surveys to do so, lawmakers agreed with Clarence King that such a survey would be an excellent thing to undertake. Five days after President Andrew Johnson signed the legislation, King was named geologist-in-charge of what would be the most ambitious of all the surveys, the Geological Exploration of the Fortieth Parallel.
The Last Spike: The Great Railway, 1881-1885 by Pierre Berton
He learned the railway business well. Thanks to his GPR experience he came out of World War I a major-general and went on to become the largest contractor in the West, helping to build another ill-fated transcontinental railroad, the Grand Trunk Pacific, and founding, for the Liberal Party of British Columbia, a lively newspaper, the Vancouver Sun. After the turn of the century these men spearheaded the great wave of Canadian “utility imperialism” (as one historian has called it) – building power plants, railways, and streetcar lines all over Latin America and two more transcontinental railways in Canada. William Mackenzie helped to launch in São Paulo the gigantic Brazilian Traction corporation, a firm that was to grow almost as big as the CPR itself. Herbert Holt built a railway in Peru, financed a pipeline across Colombia, and controlled banks in the West Indies.
If the railway had followed the valley of the North Saskatchewan, it is probable that much more land would have been taken up because of the attractive combination of good soil and easy access by rail. The pattern of settlement would have been changed, larger cities would have sprung up in the north, and the far western plains might have filled up at an earlier date. Sooner or later, of course, branch lines or new transcontinental railways would also have brought settlers to the southern plains, but by then the pattern of the North West would have been set and that pattern would almost certainly have been a different one. The CPR rejected tens of thousands of acres in the dry country west of Moose Jaw; and, in spite of the heavy immigration to the plains in the early 1880’s, very few settlers were prepared to occupy land in that portion of Palliser’s Triangle.
Its main purpose seemed to be to link the American midwest with the U.S. Atlantic coast, using the St. Lawrence lowlands of Canada as a convenient route between Chicago and Portland. Its directors clearly did not grasp the significance of the Canadian North West. Tyler had never thought of the CPR as a competitor. Indeed, until the contract was signed in 1880, he considered the entire transcontinental railway scheme an elaborate political pipe dream, designed to get votes. Even if it was built it would never threaten the Grand Trunk. It would start at Lake Nipissing in the wilds of Ontario and terminate at Port Moody in the wilds of British Columbia. It did not, apparently, occur to Sir Henry that a railway of that length, built at enormous cost, would have to continue on into the settled East.
He was born in Moscow in the year the first major section of the Trans-Siberian was completed, fought against the Austrians in the Carpathian Mountains in the First World War and considered joining the White forces in 1918, a story I relate in the book; but, fortunately (not least for me), he fled to France instead, and later the United States and Britain. I also dedicate this book to little Alfie, born 114 years later, who already seems to love trains. ONE A SLOW EMBRACE There were many reasons for Russia not to have built the Trans-Siberian Railway – and very few to build it. While by 1869 America boasted a transcontinental railway and Canada, more relevantly, followed suit sixteen years later, Russia was different. Unlike most of Europe, which had embraced liberalism to accommodate the needs of industrial growth, Russia remained an absolute monarchy ruled by a conservative tsar through a political system that made no concessions to democracy. Travel was circumscribed by the state to such an extent that rail passengers needed internal passports to travel around the country.
Compared with the United States and Canada, Russia was a primitive country, based on inefficient agriculture and boasting little industry. The territory of Siberia – the vast area east of the Urals through which the railway would pass – was sparsely populated and its climate was far harsher than the western regions of Canada and the United States, which had begun to be settled thanks to their transcontinental railways. It seemed to offer little to attract potential immigrants who would be needed to justify the massive cost of constructing the line. Given the likely poor demand for travel the need for the line could, therefore, be questioned. Then there was the sheer scale of the enterprise. The railway would have to stretch across the whole of Siberia to the port of Vladivostok, a distance of some 5,7501 miles – 9,255 kilometres – from Moscow, since it made no sense to stop halfway, given its military rationale was to serve the ports on the Sea of Japan and reinforce the ties between the centre and the most disparate parts of the Russian Empire.
The railway may not have traversed territory that was mountainous like the Alps or the Indian Ghats, nor as barren as the Sudanese desert, through which the British built a railway at almost the same time, but its sheer length and the extreme temperatures endured by the work gangs made its construction an unparalleled feat. To give a measure of the scale, at 5,750 miles it was longer by 2,000 miles than the Canadian transcontinental railway between St John’s, Newfoundland, on the Atlantic and Vancouver in British Columbia on the Pacific, and that had been built in stages. The First Transcontinental in the United States, completed in 1869, was much shorter and required a mere 1,750 miles of new railway when work started in 1863, less than a third of the Trans-Siberian’s length, because the section in the east had already been built.
Albert Einstein, British Empire, business intelligence, centralized clearinghouse, City Beautiful movement, estate planning, glass ceiling, In Cold Blood by Truman Capote, indoor plumbing, Livingstone, I presume, new economy, Plutocrats, plutocrats, refrigerator car, transcontinental railway, traveling salesman, women in the workforce, Works Progress Administration, young professional
As the railroads consolidated and grew in the go-go postwar economy, their stocks were increasingly controlled by a small group of powerful eastern financiers who all sat on one another’s boards, slapped one another’s backs, and smoked the best cigars. But the railroad industry’s unprecedented power carried equally unprecedented risks. In the early fall of 1872, Fred started noticing that in every city he visited, the local papers carried bigger and bigger stories about a financial scandal involving the builders of the transcontinental railroad. Union Pacific executives were accused of looting profits from the transcontinental railroad through a questionable company they created and gave a foreign-sounding name: Crédit Mobilier. Not only did this company receive no-bid contracts to build much of the railroad, but several members of Congress who voted on train funding were allowed to buy Crédit Mobilier stock at bargain rates. No criminal charges were ever filed, and only two of the congressmen were even censured, but the Crédit Mobilier scandal spooked European investors—who were the ones who owned most of America’s railroad stock.
So the opportunity to be a “George” was highly coveted, and the Pullman service on the trains was uniformly excellent. As his business grew, Pullman went into partnership with the industrialist Andrew Carnegie, which assured him greater access to capital and the two biggest contracts in the world of trains: He was hired to build all the sleepers not only for the Pennsylvania Railroad, one of the dominant lines in the East, but also for the Union Pacific’s new transcontinental railway. By the 1870s, the Pullman name had become synonymous with traveling in comfort. YET THERE WAS ONE area of the passenger service business that eluded Pullman, and that was food. Pullman built fine dining cars—the first one was called The Delmonico, with menus created by chefs from that renowned restaurant—but they weren’t nearly as successful as his sleepers. It wasn’t his fault. At that time there were still no vestibules allowing passengers to walk between cars, so one couldn’t go to the dining car while the train was moving or leave it after eating until the train stopped at a station.
They were off the next morning—Montezuma porters complaining about their meager tips—and headed south to Deming, where the Santa Fe met the Southern Pacific, whose tracks hugged the Mexican border across Arizona into southern California. From there, the Pullmans carrying the Raymond excursionists continued north to visit Yosemite and later stay at the only western resort in the same league as the Montezuma: the Del Monte, which the Southern Pacific had built in Monterey. Finally they connected with the transcontinental railway heading east through Nevada, Utah, Wyoming, and Nebraska, crossing the Missouri River, and returning to civilization. As they headed home, other groups of Raymond excursionists were already departing from Boston and Philadelphia to become American grand tourists. The Montezuma attracted all kinds—the well, the “worried well,” and the truly ill—from America, Europe, South America, even Asia.
Albert Einstein, butterfly effect, California gold rush, Golden Gate Park, index card, indoor plumbing, Loma Prieta earthquake, Menlo Park, place-making, risk tolerance, Silicon Valley, South of Market, San Francisco, supervolcano, The Chicago School, transcontinental railway, wage slave, Works Progress Administration
This immense and open territory, with its fair weather and its huge skies and fields in which, it seemed, anything that might grow in the South would in fact grow twice as well, was so much more agreeable than the wrecked landscape of Dixie. There was a huge demand for labour in the West at this time too – and so began a flood of new people from Alabama and Mississippi, Arkansas and Louisiana, and soon kept up amply with demand: the state’s population rose from 380,000 in 1860 to 560,000 in 1870. The transcontinental railway was completed in 1869. The cheap and willing labour needed to build it was provided in large measure from China, which led to the creation of a scattering of big-city Chinatowns (the OED’s first citation for this term is 1857, quoting a newspaper in the California where the phenomenon was born). Trans-Pacific immigration – with the concomitant pressure to ban it, which was on occasion a sorry feature of California’s history during the nineteenth century – thus became a prominent feature of the state’s story, and led in large measure to the extraordinary demographic diversity that had already begun to characterize its great cities at the turn of the century.
It took little more than a decade for the situation to become so changed. In 1848, the year of Sutter’s Mill, agriculture still reigned supreme, industry was primitive, mining in the doldrums. But by 1859 – the same year that a new gold strike was made in Colorado, the year that the great silver deposit known as the Comstock Lode was found in Nevada, the year that the first oil well was drilled in Pennsylvania, and just when work on the four great transcontinental railway routes was starting – government figures showed that at last the value of products made in American factories had overtaken the value of produce from the farms and fields. And with America’s transmutation into a fast-growing industrial power, there came a sudden and anxious need for minerals. Such natural resources as the country possessed were all being swallowed up by the furnaces and the foundries, and in 1866 a frankly worried government in Washington decreed that the proper development of the nation’s geological and mineral wealth had to be of ‘the highest concern of the American people’.
These were the trails – from Memphis to California across Texas, from St Louis to California across Utah, from Hannibal along the valley of the Platte River towards Oregon, and from Chicago up across the peaks of Montana and via the empty rain-shadowed waste lands to the tiny army encampment at Fort Walla Walla – from which the roadbeds for all of America’s future surface links would be formed. The routes of the telegraph cables, the tracks of the Pony Express, the Wells Fargo stagecoach lines, the transcontinental railroads, the two-lane and then four-lane highways – Route 66 most legendary among them – and then the roads of the Interstate System of today – all of them first followed the routes that those Gold Rush migrants had taken, once John Marshall’s find had cried its havoc, and the newcomers had slipped their traces and begun. They came in absurd numbers, and in many cases with either an abysmal lack of preparation, or entirely the wrong kind of preparation.
3D printing, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, airline deregulation, airport security, Apple II, barriers to entry, big-box store, blue-collar work, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, clean water, collective bargaining, computer age, deindustrialization, Detroit bankruptcy, discovery of penicillin, Donner party, Downton Abbey, Edward Glaeser, en.wikipedia.org, Erik Brynjolfsson, everywhere but in the productivity statistics, feminist movement, financial innovation, full employment, George Akerlof, germ theory of disease, glass ceiling, high net worth, housing crisis, immigration reform, impulse control, income inequality, income per capita, indoor plumbing, industrial robot, inflight wifi, interchangeable parts, invention of agriculture, invention of air conditioning, invention of the telegraph, invention of the telephone, inventory management, James Watt: steam engine, Jeff Bezos, jitney, job automation, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, labor-force participation, Loma Prieta earthquake, Louis Daguerre, Louis Pasteur, low skilled workers, manufacturing employment, Mark Zuckerberg, market fragmentation, Mason jar, McMansion, Menlo Park, minimum wage unemployment, mortgage debt, mortgage tax deduction, new economy, Norbert Wiener, obamacare, occupational segregation, oil shale / tar sands, oil shock, payday loans, Peter Thiel, pink-collar, Productivity paradox, Ralph Nader, Ralph Waldo Emerson, refrigerator car, rent control, Robert X Cringely, Ronald Coase, school choice, Second Machine Age, secular stagnation, Skype, stem cell, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Pinker, The Market for Lemons, Thomas Malthus, total factor productivity, transaction costs, transcontinental railway, traveling salesman, Triangle Shirtwaist Factory, Unsafe at Any Speed, Upton Sinclair, upwardly mobile, urban decay, urban planning, urban sprawl, washing machines reduced drudgery, Washington Consensus, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, We wanted flying cars, instead we got 140 characters, working poor, working-age population, Works Progress Administration, yield management
Just as the country-to-town migration in Britain reduced the standard of living of the average worker during 1800–1830, so the urbanization of America after 1870 also reduced the average standard of living of working-class Americans.6 THE GOLDEN SPIKE AS A SYMBOL OF AMERICA IN 1870 A quintessential symbol of the American advance and future promise is captured by the 1869 hammering of the golden spike that united the transcontinental railway. This story combines the British invention of the railroad, rapidly adapted to the much larger land mass of the United States, with the American invention of the telegraph.7 The event happened at noon on May 10, 1869, at Promontory Summit, Utah. That moment was a pivotal episode in world history as Leland Stanford pounded a golden spike with a silver hammer and in an instant ended the isolation of California and the Great West from the eastern half of the United States.
The importance of the horse became apparent when in the fall of 1872 horses in cities throughout the northeast caught a virulent strain of horse flu and could not be used for work: City life came to a standstill … Streetcar companies suspended service, undelivered freight accumulated at wharves and railroad depots, consumers lacked milk, ice, and groceries, saloons lacked beer, work halted at construction sites, brickyards, and factories, and city governments curtailed fire protection and garbage collection.53 A full century after James Watt’s steam engine, why were cities so dependent on horses rather than steam-powered devices? Disadvantages of steam engines within the narrow confines of cities included the ever-present danger of fires started by sparks, their acrid black smoke, their deafening noise, and their heavy weight, which cracked street pavements. LEISURE, FROM NEWSPAPERS TO SALOONS By 1870, the American invention of the telegraph had announced the joining together of the transcontinental railway, had in 1861 made the Pony Express obsolete, and had allowed local print newspapers to report the events of national and world affairs on the day that they happened, including daily chronicles of carnage in the Civil War. The great surge of popular journalism in the late nineteenth century had not yet arrived, and in 1870 relatively few people read newspapers. In 1870, there were 574 newspapers having a combined circulation of 2.6 million, numbers that would grow by factors of four and ten, respectively, between 1870 and 1909.
From the 1820s, steam power ended this tyranny of slowness, as the rapid development of railroads and steamship travel made the world smaller and, by reducing transport costs, created an upsurge in long-stagnant economic growth as well as new forms of commerce and communication. By our starting date of 1870, the United States had built a 60,000-mile network of rail transport and was connected by steamships to every continent. The completion of the transcontinental railway with the “golden spike” ceremony at Promontory Summit, Utah, on May 10, 1869, was heralded in chapter 2 as creating a dividing line in the history of American living standards. The treatment of transportation in this chapter further develops the main themes of the book. The Great Inventions of the late nineteenth century created an utter transformation in both the rural and urban standard of living that could happen only once, though the transition after each of the Great Inventions was not instantaneous but rather spread out over many years.
The Great Railroad Revolution by Christian Wolmar
1919 Motor Transport Corps convoy, accounting loophole / creative accounting, banking crisis, Bay Area Rapid Transit, big-box store, collective bargaining, cross-subsidies, intermodal, James Watt: steam engine, Ponzi scheme, quantitative easing, railway mania, Ralph Waldo Emerson, refrigerator car, Silicon Valley, strikebreaker, too big to fail, trade route, transcontinental railway, traveling salesman, union organizing, urban sprawl
The building of a line from the Atlantic to the Pacific had been mooted at the very dawn of the railroad age, and despite the physical obstacles and huge distances involved, the dream of uniting the two oceans had become part of the American psyche. The idea of a transcontinental railroad was integral to the very notion of creating a unified nation across North America. The land was there, but, for the settlers to come, transportation was needed. In the early days, they traveled in wagon—rather than steam—trains, but it was obvious that the creation of substantial communities in the West was dependent on finding a better transportation solution than the horse and cart. Without the railroad, it would be impossible to open up the huge swath of land between the Mississippi and the West Coast. Several fanciful and impractical ideas for a transcontinental railroad had been put forward as early as the 1810s and 1820s, but the first detailed proposal emerged just as the first locomotives were chugging along the Charleston & Hamburg and Baltimore & Ohio lines.
He also suggested—quixotically perhaps, because his knowledge of weather patterns was limited—that one reason to build the line would be to facilitate the export of furs to India. But then, to be fair, the notion of a three-thousand-mile transcontinental railroad at a time when there were barely a few dozen miles of line in the whole country could be conceived only by those with a fervent imagination. Various enthusiasts began to pick up on the idea. There was, for example, John Plumbe, a Welsh engineer who had moved to the United States in the 1820s and in 1836 began to examine possible routes for the line from his home in Wisconsin, then still a territory rather than a state. Rather presciently, Plumbe, best remembered as a pioneer of photographic techniques, argued that a transcontinental railroad “would hasten the formation of dense settlements throughout the whole extent of the road, advance the sales of the public lands, afford increased facilities to the agricultural, commercial and mining interests of the country . . . and enable the government to transport troops and munitions of war.”
A key factor was that it eventually had control of its own metals all the way between Chicago and the West Coast, whereas other companies had to use tracks belonging to other railroads, which would invariably prioritize their own services. Meanwhile, two other transcontinental railroads had been built to the north. These were epic affairs, on a scale with the original transcontinental. The Northern Pacific was a completely separate enterprise from its southern namesake and one that suffered, like its predecessor, from constant cash shortages that delayed progress. On the same day in July 1864 that Durant’s bribery had obtained from Congress those generous arrangements for the financing of the Union Pacific, the lawmakers also granted a charter and land to a second transcontinental railroad, with a route from the shores of Lake Superior in Minnesota to the northern Pacific coast. Whereas the first transcontinental had been completed within five years, it would take nearly two decades to build the Northern Pacific, not least because its construction was even more demanding than that of its predecessor.
banking crisis, British Empire, collective bargaining, corporate governance, corporate social responsibility, financial deregulation, Fractional reserve banking, Hernando de Soto, income inequality, invisible hand, Joseph Schumpeter, laissez-faire capitalism, means of production, medical malpractice, Menlo Park, minimum wage unemployment, Plutocrats, plutocrats, price stability, profit maximization, profit motive, Ralph Nader, rent control, rent-seeking, Ronald Coase, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, statistical model, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, transcontinental railway, union organizing, Upton Sinclair, working poor, Works Progress Administration
HOW TO BUILD A RAILROAD Most business historians have assumed that the transcontinental railroads would never have been built without government subsidies. The free market would have failed to provide the adequate capital, or so the theory asserts. The evidence for this theory is that the Union Pacific and Central Pacific railroads, which were completed in the years after the War Between the States, received per-mile subsidies from the federal government in the form of low-interest loans as well as massive land grants. But there need not be cause and effect here: the subsidies were not needed to cause the transcontinental railroads to be built. We know this because, just as many roads and canals were privately financed in the early nineteenth century, a market entrepreneur built his own transcontinental railroad. James J. Hill built the Great Northern Railroad “without any government aid, even the right of way, through hundreds of miles of public lands, being paid for in cash,” as Hill himself stated.2 Quite naturally, Hill strongly opposed government favors to his competitors: “The government should not furnish capital to these companies, in addition to their enormous land subsidies, to enable them to conduct their business in competition with enterprises that have received no aid from the public treasury,” he wrote.3 This may sound quaint by today’s standards, but it was still a hotly debated issue in the late nineteenth century.
Sure enough, in the second half of the nineteenth century, when the federal government began subsidizing internal improvements, noneconomic factors became paramount. During the congressional debates over federal subsidies for transcontinental railroads in 1862, a New Mexico politician complained that “the wrangle of local interests” was such that many congressmen would not support the subsidy bill unless the railroad “starts in the corner of every man’s farm and runs through all his neighbors’ plantations” in every part of the state.15 The concerns of the man from New Mexico were not unfounded. Indeed, Congressman Thaddeus Stevens of Pennsylvania “had received a block of . . . stock in exchange for his vote,” writes Dee Brown in his popular history of the transcontinental railroads. Stevens also “demanded insertion of a clause [in the railroad bill] requiring that all iron used in the construction and equipment of said road to be American manufacture.
There was no government-imposed “right of eminent domain” in New Hampshire, but the private railroad company was not hindered: it simply purchased rights of way. Similarly, the Mormons built four railroads in Utah without any government subsidies. And as will be seen in Chapter 7, in the late nineteenth century entrepreneur James J. Hill built a transcontinental railroad that was not subsidized. Hill’s privately financed railroad was built better, had a more direct route, and was more profitable than the government-subsidized transcontinental railroads with which he competed, most of which went bankrupt at some point because they were so mired in government regulation and crippled by the inherent inefficiencies of all government-financed or -sponsored “public works” programs. Despite such successes, however—and despite the failures of government-financed infrastructure development—Abraham Lincoln and the Republican Party remained fierce proponents of internal improvement subsidies, especially for railroads.
California gold rush, interchangeable parts, Maui Hawaii, new economy, New Journalism, Plutocrats, plutocrats, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Ronald Reagan, South of Market, San Francisco, South Sea Bubble, transcontinental railway, traveling salesman
Walker, “Economic Opportunity on the Urban Frontier: Wealth and Nativity in Early San Francisco,” Explorations in Economic History 37.3 (2000), pp. 258–277; Kevin Starr, Inventing the Dream: California Through the Progressive Era (Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 1986 ), p. 131; and David J. St. Clair, “The Gold Rush and the Beginnings of California Industry,” California History 77.4 (Winter, 1998/1999), pp. 185–208. The Civil War would Origins of transcontinental railroad: Richard White, Railroaded: The Transcontinentals and the Making of Modern America (New York: W. W. Norton, 2011), pp. 17–22, and David Haward Bain, Empire Express: Building the First Transcontinental Railroad (New York: Penguin, 2000 ), pp. 3–118. Messianic rhetoric and anticipation: William Deverell, “Redemptive California? Re-thinking the Post–Civil War,” Rethinking History 11.1 (March 2007), pp. 65–66. Any citizen July 4 festivities: San Francisco Evening Bulletin, July 6, 1863.
New mines in Nevada and elsewhere kept bullion flowing into San Francisco’s banks—$185 million of which would be sent to Northern coffers to help finance the Union war effort. Aside from this hefty contribution, however, California’s role in the conflict was limited. No serious fighting reached the coast, and Lincoln never applied the draft west of Iowa and Kansas, partly in a bid to keep the Far West loyal. The Civil War would be a boon to California: not only by increasing its wealth but by bringing the dream of a transcontinental railroad closer to reality. Although a railway to the Pacific had been debated for decades, Congress didn’t lay the legislative foundations until the war made it possible to sell the idea as a matter of military necessity. The Pacific Railway Act of 1862 took the first step, chartering two private companies to build the tracks, and subsidizing the venture with land grants and federal bonds. The construction would go slowly at first.
“[S]o loudly is the poor paper made to blow its own trumpet,” Webb wrote, “that the popular impression will be that it is a BRAZEN ERA.” Ina Coolbrith around 1871, when she was about thirty. This kind of puffery felt crass in light of the city’s new sophistication. The past year had boosted San Francisco’s prosperity and prestige. An influx of easterners had invigorated its culture. The Civil War had made it rich, and set in motion the construction of the transcontinental railroad, whose western span workers began building that year. The Era had dominated the first phase; now a new periodical was needed, as San Francisco’s Bohemians came into their own. Building a better paper would bring Twain, Harte, and Stoddard closer together. They went from being acquaintances to friends, from colleagues in the Era’s crowded firmament to co-conspirators in a literary crusade of their own.
He was already using small electric motors he’d invented to power a sewing machine and a water pump at his home, and he was beginning to wonder if that same idea could be applied to transportation. In his trip to the Great Plains, Edison saw farmers making long and costly trips just to get their produce and grains to the steam railroads. It occurred to him that if the farmers had a lighter, cheaper, narrower railroad, powered not by steam but by electricity, it could serve as a much more efficient link to the transcontinental railroad. Farmers could then spend more time harvesting their land and would be more productive. Edison returned to New Jersey and set to work, excited about the idea of applying electricity to transportation. He hired a crew to build a track one-third of a mile long and a mechanical engineer to work with him on an electric locomotive. In 1879, before he had invested much time in electric transit, Edison was, at thirty-one years old, already one of America’s most famous and prolific inventors.
On January 9, 1863, the night London opened its Underground, a banquet at the Farringdon Street station was held to toast the feat. Seven years later, in New York City, when Alfred Beach unveiled his one-block pneumatic subway tunnel, he did not let the moment pass quietly. Ever the showman, he invited dignitaries down and crowed to the world that he had solved the urban transportation nightmare. On May 10, 1869, when the last hammer swung to finish the transcontinental railroad, thousands gathered in the flatlands of Promontory, Utah, and stood in a circle or sat on the idling trains to watch as a gold spike was hammered into the ground. Within minutes, President Ulysses S. Grant received a telegram telling him the railroad was complete. In May 1883, when the Brooklyn Bridge opened, President Chester A. Arthur attended the festivities, as did hundreds of thousands of citizens on land and in the boats in the harbor.
If the mission of the subway was for cities to feel a little bit smaller by quickening the way people could move from one neighborhood to the next, then Orville and Wilbur Wright had a similar goal. They were determined to make the whole world feel a little bit smaller. Their rickety 605-pound double-winged plane with a wingspan of forty feet and a twelve-horsepower engine was going to make the transcontinental railroad feel like a horse-drawn buggy and the steamship feel like a rowboat. The following year was shaping up to herald the future of travel. And the New York City subway was not even the most exciting transportation innovation. As the Wright brothers perfected their airplane to make it fly farther and faster, a hundred thousand people crowded into Madison Square Garden in January 1904 to see how much the automobile had advanced since the turn of the century.
Higher: A Historic Race to the Sky and the Making of a City by Neal Bascomb
Contents Title Page Dedication PROLOGUE The Soaring Twenties Part One CHAPTER 1 A Hunch, Then a Demand CHAPTER 2 The Architect-Artist CHAPTER 3 A Proud and Soaring Thing CHAPTER 4 The Organization Man CHAPTER 5 Make the Land Pay CHAPTER 6 An American Invention CHAPTER 7 The Poet in Overalls CHAPTER 8 To Scrape the Sky CHAPTER 9 Equivalent to War CHAPTER 10 A Three-way Race INTERLUDE Oxygen to the Fire Part Two CHAPTER 11 Call It a “Vertex” CHAPTER 12 A Monument to the Future CHAPTER 13 The Prize of the Race CHAPTER 14 The Butterfly and Its Cocoon CHAPTER 15 Crash CHAPTER 16 Pharaoh Against Pharaoh CHAPTER 17 Aladdin’s Genii and Paper Fights CHAPTER 18 The Chase into the Sky CHAPTER 19 Excelsior EPILOGUE Spirit—Not Steel and Stone Notes Bibliography Acknowledgments Copyright Page Photo Insert For My Parents P R O L O G U E The Soaring Twenties “What floor, please?” said the elevator man. “Any floor,” said Mr. In. “Top floor,” said Mr. Out. “This is the top floor,” said the elevator man. “Have another floor put on,” said Mr. Out. “Higher,” said Mr. In. “Heaven,” said Mr. Out. —F. Scott Fitzgerald, “May Day” Like other races—to build the transcontinental railroad, discover the North Pole, scale Everest, or land on the moon—the race to build the tallest skyscraper in the world demanded sheer determination, deep pockets, terrific speed, unbridled ambition, grand publicity campaigns, and a dose of hubris. It began in 1924 with architects William Van Alen and Craig Severance, who had just passed into their partnership’s tenth year. In the course of a few short months, a bitter rivalry would begin to take shape—one that would ultimately bring their celebrated union to an end and cause a much greater battle ahead.
During his time with Carrère & Hastings, Severance learned how to manage men and came to understand that more went into a building than some designs and a nice rendering for the papers. It was a business to be mastered. An architect who understood finance and industry, one who recognized the importance of maximizing profit, would go far. Every year since the end of the Civil War, the pump was being primed to enable this kind of architect—one Severance was training to become—to succeed. The transcontinental railroad brought the economic might of America into one fold, thereby giving rise to great fortunes and corporate giants. Increasingly industrial juggernauts ruled business, and cities like New York and Chicago held sway over the countryside. In 1907 when Severance went out on his own, he had an intuitive understanding of this modern world and its potential. He was a disciple of Daniel Burnham, even if he was not privy to his words.
Bibliography SELECTED BOOKS Abramson, Daniel, Skyscraper Rivals: The AIG Building and the Architecture of Wall Street (Princeton Architectural Press, 2001) Adams, James Truslow, The Epic of America (Little, Brown, & Company, 1931) Allen, Frederick Lewis, Only Yesterday: An Informal History of the Nineteen-Twenties (Harper & Row, 1931) Allen, Frederick Lewis, Since Yesterday: The Nineteen-Thirties in America (Harper & Brothers Publishers, 1940) Ambrose, Stephen, Nothing Like It in the World: The Men Who Built the Transcontinental Railroad, 1863–69 (Simon & Schuster, 2000) Andersen, Stanley Peter, American Ikon: Response to the Skyscraper, 1875–1934 (University of Michigan, Ph.D. dissertation, 1960) Bacon, Mardges, Ernest Flagg: Beaux-Arts Architect and Urban Reformer (MIT Press, 1968) Baker, Paul R., Richard Morris Hunt (MIT Press, 1980) ———, Stanny: The Gilded Life of Stanford White (Free Press, 1989) Bank of the Manhattan Company, Manna-hatin: The Story of New York (Ira J.
Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, back-to-the-land, barriers to entry, Bernie Sanders, big-box store, blue-collar work, Branko Milanovic, British Empire, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, clean water, cognitive dissonance, collateralized debt obligation, collective bargaining, Community Supported Agriculture, corporate personhood, crony capitalism, deindustrialization, desegregation, Donald Trump, ending welfare as we know it, Frederick Winslow Taylor, full employment, Gini coefficient, income inequality, interchangeable parts, invisible hand, job automation, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, labor-force participation, land reform, land tenure, low skilled workers, low-wage service sector, minimum wage unemployment, moral hazard, mortgage debt, New Urbanism, non-tariff barriers, obamacare, occupational segregation, Occupy movement, oil shock, Plutocrats, plutocrats, price discrimination, race to the bottom, rent control, road to serfdom, Ronald Reagan, Scientific racism, Simon Kuznets, single-payer health, strikebreaker, too big to fail, trade route, transcontinental railway, Triangle Shirtwaist Factory, trickle-down economics, universal basic income, Upton Sinclair, upwardly mobile, urban renewal, wage slave, War on Poverty, women in the workforce, working poor, Works Progress Administration
CHAPTER 3 Free Labor and Social Darwinism: 1865–1900 While the Civil War ended slavery, inequality changed shape rather than disappearing. Waves of immigration to the North, urbanization, and a complete revision of the labor system among freed people in the South precipitated a wide-ranging discussion of inequality and distribution. Large-scale industrialization, the formation of vertical and horizontal trusts, and the creation of transcontinental railroads facilitated the growth of large, untaxed, individual fortunes. But financial panics in 1873 and 1893, and the Great Strike of 1877, revealed the limitations of American upward mobility and the shortcomings of a philosophy predicated on individual bootstrapping. Some Americans, like sociologist William Graham Sumner, proposed that evolutionary theory meant that intervention in the economy to help the poorest would have tragic effects for the future of the race.
Even socialism in the United States focused more on antiglobalization and anti-immigration rhetoric than on building a united working class.36 THE CORPORATE FORM AND POPULIST PROTEST A final vector of inequality in the late nineteenth century was the triumph of the corporate form, facilitated by federal assistance and plenty of corruption. The United States subsidized the growth of the railroads through vast land grants, totaling 131,230,358 acres. Selling the land parcels between the checkerboard parcels granted to the railroads for double the going price raised even more money that could be funneled back into the railroads. Historian Richard White argues that the transcontinental railroads in the United States suffered from duplication of effort and poor planning, because the root purpose of their funders and builders was not actually to transport goods but rather to enrich themselves through railroad funding. They were able to do this largely through a friendly network of newspaper reporters, politicians, and businessmen. As happened with subprime mortgages during the Great Recession of 2006, railroad financiers raised funds by issuing and packaging new investment instruments, with the assets of their nonexistent companies as collateral.
He anticipated that being stakeholders in a larger enterprise would help workers to make cultural progress.61 And, centrally, he pointed out that there was more than one way to build complex industrialism in the late nineteenth century, and other countries were able to do it in ways that did not necessarily and permanently sacrifice the public to the corporations.62 By the end of the nineteenth century, some regulation was in place, transcontinental railroads capitulating because they thought they could control the regulation to their benefit.63 The Interstate Commerce Commission (1887) was intended to prevent railroads from engaging in the monopolistic practices from which they had benefited over the previous 15 years. The Sherman Anti-Trust Act (1890) targeted combinations in restraint of trade, although it was used more often to suppress unions than to dismantle corporate trusts (individuals involved in unions were seen as conspiring together, whereas the individuals who made up the fictive personhood of the corporation were viewed by the courts as comprising a single person).64 The changes of the late nineteenth century gave rise to economic protest literature that called into question American exceptionalism.65 In 1896, Charles Barzilai Spahr, who held a Ph.D. from Columbia University and edited a magazine called The Outlook, wrote An Essay on the Present Distribution of Wealth in the United States, systematically evaluating economic inequality in the United States.
Top 10 San Diego by Pamela Barrus, Dk Publishing
With a payment of $15 million and the treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, California became part of the US and then later its 31st state. Alonzo Horton Establishes a New City (1867) Horton realized an investment opportunity to develop a city closer to the water than Old Town. He bought 960 acres for $265, then sold and gave lots to anyone who could build a brick house. Property values soared, especially after a fire in 1872 in Old Town. “New Town” became today’s San Diego. Transcontinental Railroad Arrives (1885) Interest was renewed in San Diego when the Transcontinental Railroad finally reached town. Real estate speculators poured in, infrastructure was built, and Previous pages: La Jolla coastline Panama-California Exposition (1915–16) To celebrate the opening of the Panama Canal and draw economic attention to the first US port of call on the West Coast, Balboa Park (see pp14–15) was transformed into a brilliant attraction.
American Society of Civil Engineers: Report Card, Bernie Madoff, Bernie Sanders, call centre, carried interest, citizen journalism, clean water, collateralized debt obligation, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, crony capitalism, David Brooks, extreme commuting, Exxon Valdez, full employment, greed is good, housing crisis, immigration reform, invisible hand, knowledge economy, laissez-faire capitalism, late fees, market bubble, market fundamentalism, Martin Wolf, medical bankruptcy, microcredit, new economy, New Journalism, offshore financial centre, Ponzi scheme, Report Card for America’s Infrastructure, Richard Florida, Ronald Reagan, Rosa Parks, single-payer health, smart grid, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, too big to fail, transcontinental railway, trickle-down economics, winner-take-all economy, working poor, Works Progress Administration
We’ve seen this over and over again throughout American history. For example, in the 1880s, as the post–Civil War Gilded Age came to an end, a severe economic crisis began that culminated in the depression of 1893.142 But the search for scapegoats among the American people began early. The Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 suspended immigration from China, after Chinese immigrants had just helped build the transcontinental railroad.143 Attacks on the Chinese by white mobs took place all over the country. One newspaperman captured the mood of the times: “Why permit an army of leprous, prosperity-sucking, progress-blasting Asiatics befoul our thoroughfares, degrade the city, repel immigration, drive out our people, break up our homes, take employment from our countrymen, corrupt the morals of our youth, establish opium joints, buy or steal the babe of poverty or slave, and taint with their brothels the lives of our young men?”
George Washington knew that without a national system of transportation, especially canals that would connect the East Coast to the Ohio and Mississippi river systems, we could never truly come together as a “more perfect union.”1 Thomas Jefferson put Washington’s vision into effect, creating a concrete national plan for roads and canals—a far-sighted plan that served as the touchstone for the next hundred years of development and led to America’s transcontinental railroad, championed by Abraham Lincoln. Franklin Delano Roosevelt spent massive federal dollars, even in the midst of the Great Depression, to bring electricity to rural America. Dwight Eisenhower pushed through the interstate highway system. Building things—amazing things, grand things, forward-looking things, useful things—has always been an integral part of who we are as a country. We created highways, waterways, railroads, and bridges to link us together and forge a strong nation.
Many more signed on with American railroads. 5 The Decade of Time, 1875–85 BY THE MIDDLE of the 1870s, the assertion of human reason over the processes of nature was yielding discoveries and inventions in all the arts and sciences that lent that famous Victorian confidence to the notion that man was no longer the passive inheritor of an ordained “natural” universe. All of nature was his to discover and mold. The ability to communicate instantaneously by voice, to light the dark, the luxurious trans-Atlantic steamers, the transcontinental railroads, a new personal printing press called the typewriter, bound the world in exciting and, for some, alarming new ways. But the outworn shell of time, those heavy boots inherited from tradition, from nature, were impeding progress. Societies were moving faster than their ability to measure. Before railroads began serving every “civilized” part of the globe (as the Victorians were fond of calling it), the sun had set the temporal rhythm.
Rivers were crossed, ships’ designs turned from wood and sail to steel and iron, hold capacities and passenger cabins expanded a hundredfold, with a need to fill their holds with thousands of tons of coal for ocean passage. Meticulous planning and astronomical start-up costs entered the calculation for any new enterprise, and London and Continental banks oversaw bond issues for projects that might have seemed fanciful only a generation earlier: undersea cables, new shipyards, new steel mills, new mining equipment; transcontinental railroads spanning Canada, South Africa, America, India; telegraphs down the African coast. The new technology ran on coal, on more coal than traditional methods could ever extract. Workers had to be at least semiskilled just to handle the demands of the new technology, and, in the end, many grew sufficiently confident to challenge ancient wisdom, or to suggest shortcuts to greater efficiency. Quite a few, like the men who created time, learned enough on the job to become engineers themselves.
Inflated: How Money and Debt Built the American Dream by R. Christopher Whalen
Albert Einstein, bank run, banking crisis, Black Swan, Bretton Woods, British Empire, California gold rush, Carmen Reinhart, central bank independence, conceptual framework, corporate governance, cuban missile crisis, currency peg, debt deflation, falling living standards, fiat currency, financial deregulation, financial innovation, financial intermediation, floating exchange rates, Fractional reserve banking, full employment, global reserve currency, housing crisis, interchangeable parts, invention of radio, Kenneth Rogoff, laissez-faire capitalism, liquidity trap, means of production, money: store of value / unit of account / medium of exchange, moral hazard, mutually assured destruction, non-tariff barriers, oil shock, payday loans, Plutocrats, plutocrats, price stability, pushing on a string, quantitative easing, rent-seeking, reserve currency, Ronald Reagan, special drawing rights, The Chicago School, The Great Moderation, too big to fail, trade liberalization, transcontinental railway, Upton Sinclair, women in the workforce
The discovery [of gold] at Coloma commenced a revolution that rumbled across the oceans and continents to the ends of the earth, and echoed down the decades to the dawn of the third millennium. The revolution manifested itself demographically, in drawing hundreds of thousands of people to California; politically, in propelling America along the path to the Civil War; economically, in spurring the construction of the transcontinental railroad. But beyond everything else, the Gold Rush established a new template for the American dream. America had always been the land of promise, but never had the promise been so decidedly—so gloriously—material. The new dream held out the hope that anyone could have what everyone wants: respite from toil, security in old age, a better life for one’s children.33 The Rise of Bank Clearinghouses Another significant development in the history of the American monetary system prior to the Civil War that deserves attention is the creation of private clearinghouses around the country to help banks manage their payments and liquidity.
With the passage of the National Bank Act in 1865, the connection between specie and paper money had in theory been stabilized. Yet as the gold market operation of Fisk and Gould four years later illustrates, speculating on changes in the paper value of gold had become a means to wager on the basic unit of account and therefore on the value of the U.S. economy. The year 1869 also marked the completion of the transcontinental railroad, a project championed by the railroad lawyer Lincoln, and with it a long period of capital expenditure. Some observers believe that the crisis in the gold markets was the precursor to the financial and economic crisis four years later known as the Panic of 1873, which put the United States and much of the world into years of political and economic turmoil. An important component of the crisis of 1869 and subsequent crises was debt made available by banks to finance purchases of gold and securities.
Steel acquisition Tenth National Bank funds, Fisk collection attempt Terror, balance (exploitation) Texas, annexation (Cooke speculation) Third Bank of the United States, authorization/Tyler veto Third World loan portfolio Thomas, Elmer Thomas, J.J. Thomas Amendment Thrifts, government-subsidized term liquidity (provision) Thrift stamps, purchase Timberlake, Richard Todd, Walker debt analysis “Federal Reserve Board and the Rise of the Corporate State” “History of International Lending” Total debt (1929-1996) Trade balance, impact Trade restraint cases Transcontinental railroad, completion (1869) Treaty of Ghent Treaty of Versailles Triffin, Robert (Gold and the Dollar Crisis) Triffin’s dilemma, U.S. dollar (relationship) Truman, Harry S. administration, housing focus succession Trusts growth investment vehicles Tugwell, Rexford G. Twain, Mark Tweed, “Boss” William Fisk/Gould connections Tyler, John cabinet, defection/appointment Unconscious revolution Underwood Tariff Unemployment increase (1970s) insurance, increase Nixon observation Unemployment (1837) Unemployment level (1950s) Union Pacific Railroad, Gould control Unitary government, Hamilton support United Kingdom adjustment loan receipt deflation, initiation Fed policy, Hoover dissuasion food prices, WWI control war finances, Keynes assistance United States banking system crisis flaw pressure, intensification Confederation, problems confidence, FDR (impact) consumption/opportunity, maintenance currency system, flaw debt growth debtor position (WWI) deflation economic growth, drag economic output (WWI), decline economic resurgence, European goods flow dependence economy performance post-WWI correction recession WWI, impact exports increase (WWI) Fed accommodation post-WWI decrease external account, surplus account factories, productivity (increase) farm acreage, WWI growth farm sector, WWI profits federal debt annual average maturity reduction (WWI) financial system, shortcomings fiscal discipline fiscal/monetary regimes, change fiscal stringency, acceptance foreign nation subsidy, provision government bonds, sale inflationary tendencies spending habits, change industrialization industrial power, rise interest rate, increase interventionist tendency markets, speculative character military outlays, decrease military spending (1945-1996) money supply, growth money supply, growth (1867-1960) nominal GDP, comparison output, inflation-adjusted decline political challenges public sector debt, equivalence real economy, deterioration recession (1927) reputation, damage reserve currency, burden (easing) slaves, importation (illegality) stock valuations, arguments tactical/strategic situation tariff protection, WWI increase trade balance (1960-1972) trade protectionism, post-WWI return transformation unemployment (1873) wealth, appearance World War I, impact United States Bank of Pennsylvania, charter Urban America, transformation U.S.
The 100 Best Vacations to Enrich Your Life by Pam Grout
Albert Einstein, Buckminster Fuller, clean water, complexity theory, David Brooks, East Village, global village, Golden Gate Park, if you build it, they will come, Maui Hawaii, Mikhail Gorbachev, Ralph Nader, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Ronald Reagan, supervolcano, transcontinental railway, urban sprawl, Yogi Berra
* * * QUICK OREGON TRAIL FACTS Although the first Oregon Trail emigrants were Marcus and Narcissa Whitman, who made the trip in 1836, the big wave didn’t begin until 1843. Over the next 25 years, more than half a million people went west in search of new land and new lives. The average trip took six months from Independence, Missouri, to the Oregon Territory. The completion of the transcontinental railroad in 1869 brought the Oregon Trail’s glory days to an abrupt halt. A common misperception is that Native Americans posed the biggest problem. Quite the contrary, most local tribes were quite friendly, even helping emigrants pull wagons out of ditches and trading with them for supplies. The real enemies were cholera, poor sanitation, drownings (in 1850 alone, 37 drowned crossing the Green River), and—somewhat surprisingly—accidental gunshots.
Rates for a summer week at C Lazy U range from $2,300 to $2,975, including all meals and activities; winter rates start at $245 per night, again including meals. C Lazy U, 3640 State Highway 125, P.O. Box 379, Granby, CO, 80446, 970-887-3344, www.clazyu.com. Devil’s Thumb Ranch. Located in a beautiful meadow with stunning views of the mountains at the Continental Divide, this ranch, too, was on the stagecoach route before the transcontinental railroad opened in 1869. The current owners of this “4,000 acres of raw Colorado,” as they call it, are winning lots of eco-awards, including one from the Environmental Protection Agency, for their commitment to keeping this amazing ranch in Fraser Valley as natural and pristine as possible. Not only did Suzanne and Bob Fanch import the Broad Axe Barn (which serves as the spa and the activities center) from a farm in Indiana, thereby eliminating the need to cut down additional trees, but the new lodge and the 16 luxury log cabins are geothermally heated, using the Earth’s own natural heat.
Albert Einstein, Arthur Eddington, California gold rush, Colonization of Mars, cosmological principle, cuban missile crisis, dark matter, Dava Sobel, double helix, Edmond Halley, full employment, hydraulic fracturing, index card, Isaac Newton, Kuiper Belt, Magellanic Cloud, music of the spheres, out of africa, Peter H. Diamandis: Planetary Resources, planetary scale, profit motive, quantitative trading / quantitative ﬁnance, Ralph Waldo Emerson, RAND corporation, random walk, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, Searching for Interstellar Communications, Silicon Valley, Solar eclipse in 1919, technological singularity, the scientific method, transcontinental railway
Soon, some 300,000 people from around the world had swarmed the region to seek their fortunes, exponentially increasing its population and propelling the unorganized territory into official U.S. statehood. Boomtowns bubbled and burst throughout northern California. San Francisco became a bustling city. The redwood forests fell to feed furnaces that reduced quarry-hewn limestone into lime, which went into the cement for marble-faced buildings. By 1863, a transcontinental railroad was under construction, and the great opening of the American West had properly begun. All because of gold, by chance delivered in a Jurassic upwelling of magma beneath the sea. After the gold rush, the transcontinental railroad ensured that the surge of new settlers never truly abated. They rolled across the land in waves, chasing boom after boom, and at the end of each day, as the Sun fell into the Pacific, it set upon what appeared to be the truest expression of the American Dream. Almost everyone, it seemed, could make a fortune in the wide-open spaces of California.
The Bridge: The Building of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge by Gay Talese, Bruce Davidson
Later a fifteen-mile parade marched across it, President Grant applauded from the reviewing stand, General Sherman drove in the last spike on the Illinois side, and Andrew Carnegie, who had been selling bonds for the project, made his first fortune. The bridge was suddenly instrumental in the development of St. Louis as the most important city on the Mississippi River, and it helped develop the transcontinental railroad systems. It was credited with "the winning of the West" and was pictured on a United States stamp in 1898; and in 1920 James Buchanan Eads became the first engineer elected to the American Hall of Fame. He died an unhappy man. A project he envisioned across the Isthmus of Tehuantepec did not work out. John Augustus Roebling was a studious German youth born in 1806, in a small town called Muhlhausen, to a tobacco merchant who smoked more than he sold and to a mother who prayed he would someday amount to more than his father.
Who Stole the American Dream? by Hedrick Smith
Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, airline deregulation, anti-communist, asset allocation, banking crisis, Bonfire of the Vanities, British Empire, business process, clean water, cloud computing, collateralized debt obligation, collective bargaining, corporate governance, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, currency manipulation / currency intervention, David Brooks, Deng Xiaoping, desegregation, Double Irish / Dutch Sandwich, family office, full employment, global supply chain, Gordon Gekko, guest worker program, hiring and firing, housing crisis, Howard Zinn, income inequality, index fund, informal economy, invisible hand, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Rogoff, knowledge economy, knowledge worker, laissez-faire capitalism, late fees, Long Term Capital Management, low cost carrier, manufacturing employment, market fundamentalism, Maui Hawaii, mortgage debt, new economy, Occupy movement, Own Your Own Home, Peter Thiel, Plutonomy: Buying Luxury, Explaining Global Imbalances, Ponzi scheme, Ralph Nader, RAND corporation, Renaissance Technologies, reshoring, rising living standards, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, rolodex, Ronald Reagan, shareholder value, Shenzhen was a fishing village, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Steve Jobs, The Chicago School, The Spirit Level, too big to fail, transaction costs, transcontinental railway, union organizing, Unsafe at Any Speed, Vanguard fund, We are the 99%, women in the workforce, working poor, Y2K
From their thinking and that of others, here are ten steps for reclaiming the American Dream. Step #1: Infrastructure Jobs to Compete Better Step #1 is to form a new public-private partnership to modernize America’s outdated transportation networks and create five million jobs—and maybe many more—with major investments over the next decade. Follow the model of President Lincoln, who used government aid to promote and subsidize the transcontinental railway, or President Theodore Roosevelt, who built the inland waterways, or President Dwight Eisenhower, who fathered America’s modern interstate highway network. Wall Street is reported to be eager to invest in infrastructure projects if the government puts up seed money. That plan wins backing from such traditional political adversaries as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the AFL-CIO. It wins bipartisan endorsement from politicians like New York mayor Michael Bloomberg, Texas senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, and former California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, all Republicans, and Democrats such as Senators John Kerry of Massachusetts and Mark Warner of Virginia and former Pennsylvania governor Ed Rendell.
He argued that American industry needed support, contending that “He, therefore, who is now against domestic manufacture, must be for reducing us either to dependence on that foreign nation, or to be clothed in skins, and to live like wild beasts in dens and caverns.” Presidents James Madison, James Monroe, John Adams, and John Quincy Adams, holding similar views, supported subsidies and tariffs to promote domestic industry. In fact, American history is replete with examples, from the Erie Canal to the transcontinental railroad to the Apollo moon project to the Internet and the GPS, where the government has backed economic and industrial projects to build the nation’s transportation backbone or to create new technologies to enhance America’s competitiveness and then has handed them off to the private sector. In 1842, Congress awarded Samuel F. B. Morse a $30,000 appropriation to test the feasibility of an experimental telegraph line, and another $10,000 in 1843 to lay a telegraph line from Washington to New York via Baltimore and Trenton, New Jersey.
The Relentless Revolution: A History of Capitalism by Joyce Appleby
1919 Motor Transport Corps convoy, agricultural Revolution, anti-communist, Asian financial crisis, asset-backed security, Bartolomé de las Casas, Bernie Madoff, Bretton Woods, BRICs, British Empire, call centre, collateralized debt obligation, collective bargaining, Columbian Exchange, corporate governance, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, deindustrialization, Deng Xiaoping, deskilling, Doha Development Round, double entry bookkeeping, epigenetics, equal pay for equal work, European colonialism, facts on the ground, failed state, Firefox, Ford paid five dollars a day, Francisco Pizarro, Frederick Winslow Taylor, full employment, Gordon Gekko, Henry Ford's grandson gave labor union leader Walter Reuther a tour of the company’s new, automated factory…, Hernando de Soto, hiring and firing, illegal immigration, informal economy, interchangeable parts, interest rate swap, invention of movable type, invention of the printing press, invention of the steam engine, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, James Hargreaves, James Watt: steam engine, Jeff Bezos, joint-stock company, Joseph Schumpeter, knowledge economy, land reform, Livingstone, I presume, Long Term Capital Management, Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Wolf, moral hazard, Ponzi scheme, profit maximization, profit motive, race to the bottom, Ralph Nader, refrigerator car, Ronald Reagan, Scramble for Africa, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, South China Sea, South Sea Bubble, special economic zone, spice trade, spinning jenny, strikebreaker, the built environment, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas L Friedman, Thorstein Veblen, total factor productivity, trade route, transatlantic slave trade, transatlantic slave trade, transcontinental railway, union organizing, Unsafe at Any Speed, Upton Sinclair, urban renewal, War on Poverty, working poor, Works Progress Administration, Yogi Berra, Yom Kippur War
Originally, the most efficient American lines were those private companies built because politicians guided publicly financed railroads to their home districts, however remote.27 Unlike European countries, the United States had hundreds of miles of sparsely populated areas to cover in order to join the Pacific and Atlantic coasts. The American government became a major sponsor of railroad construction, providing incentives in land grants to railroad companies. Real estate speculations abounded as building the transcontinental railroad became awash in graft. Despite this, laying railroads became an important adjunct to nation building for both Germany and the United States. By the last three decades of the nineteenth century the United States and Germany had nurtured the innovations that picked up the beat of economic development. Constant innovations didn’t come without cost, because every improved device rendered obsolete its predecessor.
Turning toward the West, in 1871 Congress passed the Indian Appropriation Act, which made Native Americans national wards and nullified all previous Indian treaties. The Civil War had interrupted the efforts to integrate California into the nation; four years after Appomattox, the Central Pacific tracks joined those of the Union Pacific from the east. A gold spike attached the two at Promontory Point, Utah. The transcontinental railroad connected the two coasts of the United States, pulling in all the sparsely settled places in between. The victorious North was ready to impose its national vision upon both the South and the West. With the Civil War behind it, the United States could turn toward developing the vast tracks of unoccupied land acquired in 1803 in the Louisiana Purchase and through the treaty that ended the Mexican-American War in 1848.
Denied the protection of monopoly control, the most efficient operators forced the less efficient to imitate them or retreat from the active management of their resources. Capitalist activity was not dependent upon any particular person, region, or family. If one passed up a moneymaking opportunity, another would see the potential gain in it. This is an optimal assessment that has to be balanced against the fact that capitalist wealth also created rich opportunities for graft such as the bribing of politicians by the builders of the American transcontinental railroads. At the beginning of the century the United States had fewer than four million people, almost all of whom lived on the Atlantic shelf on the North American continent. They had shared a common history for a very brief period. Germany, like the United States, was composed of disparate parts in 1776, but those disparate parts shared a history going back to the time of Charlemagne in the ninth century.
The Great Bridge: The Epic Story of the Building of the Brooklyn Bridge by David McCullough
“The same means of communication will unite the western coast of this continent to the eastern coast of Asia. New York will remain the center where these lines meet.” This, in other words, was to be something much more than a large bridge over an important river. It was to be one of history’s great connecting works, symbolic of the new age, like the Atlantic cable, the Suez Canal, and the transcontinental railroad. “Lo, Soul, seest thou not God’s purpose from the first?” wrote Walt Whitman at about this time. “The earth be spann’d, connected by network…The lands welded together.” “The shapes arise!” wrote the Brooklyn poet. Singing my days, Singing the great achievements of the present Singing the strong, light works of engineers… But it was Roebling himself, never one to be overly modest, who had set forth the most emphatic claim for the bridge itself and the one that would be quoted most often in time to come: The completed work, when constructed in accordance with my designs, will not only be the greatest bridge in existence, but it will be the greatest engineering work of the continent, and of the age.
What really counted was that things were being accomplished at last on a scale in keeping with the commonly held vision of the future. Man the killer, man the destroyer, would be man the builder for now—now and here, on the infinite, seemingly inexhaustible landscape of America. It was the time and place to be intensely, boldly constructive. In less than a month, when a much publicized golden spike would be driven with humorous difficulty at Promontory, Utah, the completion of the transcontinental railroad would be hailed as “one of the victories of peace.” In his way Slocum was saying the same thing. The real glory of American achievement lay ahead, as always. But the true heroes now would be those who made possible such victories of peace—the builders. One of the greatest of them, the architect Louis Sullivan, would later write of his own feelings as a boy at about this same time: “The chief engineers became his heroes; they loomed above other men…he dreamed to be a great engineer.
Abram Hewitt came as King Lear, “while yet in his right mind,” the paper noted, a remark that doubtless cheered Washington Roebling. In the time he had spent on the bridge, the telephone and the electric light had been introduced. (What a difference they would have made during the work inside the caissons.) Now at night he could see hundreds of electric lights burning over in New York, directly across the river, in the blocks Edison had first lit the summer before, when Roebling was at Newport. Instead of one transcontinental railroad, there were now four and a fifth was under construction. There were ten million more people in the country than there had been in 1869. (Brooklyn had grown by 180,000; New York by more than 200,000.) The buffalo had been all but exterminated on the Great Plains and Chester A. Arthur had installed modern plumbing in the White House. Robert E. Lee was dead. Horace Greeley, Jesse James, Brigham Young, Emerson, Crazy Horse, Peter Cooper, they were all dead now.
Alistair Cooke's America by Alistair Cooke
Albert Einstein, Alistair Cooke, British Empire, double entry bookkeeping, full employment, Hernando de Soto, imperial preference, interchangeable parts, joint-stock company, Maui Hawaii, Ralph Nader, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Spread Networks laid a new fibre optics cable between New York and Chicago, strikebreaker, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, transcontinental railway, Triangle Shirtwaist Factory, urban sprawl, wage slave, Works Progress Administration
They started with the familiar East, but then the curtain went up on the blue Appalachians and, beyond, an ocean of prairie and scudding convoys of buffalo pursued by flotillas of redskins; then the land soared up to the famous Rockies and dipped again to another crumpled plain and semidesert, and then true desert, till the fabulous Sierras unloosed their cascading waterfalls; and over their watershed the continent tumbled in glory to golden valleys and the Lewis and Clark wonder of the sailless Pacific. Until the war was over the transcontinental railroad was a giant enterprise stalled by much bickering between a reluctant Congress and the Army, which had clamored for it. If it had been left to the government it would have taken another twenty years to complete. But it was a commercial venture, and it was fortunately fed by the adrenaline of competition. There were two railroad companies, the Union Pacific in the East and the Central Pacific in the West, panting to best each other in slamming down a record mileage of track.
John 51, 52–3 Smith, Sir Thomas 49 Smithsonian Institution 288 Spanish explorations 20–37. see also New Spain Spice Islands 21 Staël, Mme de 205 Stamp Act 78, 92 Standard Oil Company of Ohio 195 Stanford, Leland 174 steamboats 151, 152 steel industry 196–7 Stevenson, Adlai E. 225 stock market crash (1929) 245–6 stockyards 176 Strategic Air Command 272–6 suburbs 283–5, 286 Supreme Court 113–16, 155, 156, 164, 222, 223, 249, 289, 290 Sutherland, Justice George 115 Sutter, Johann August 135–6 Szilard, Leo 263 Taft, William Howard 224, 225 Talleyrand, Charles 129 Tammany organization 217, 230 taxation of the colonies 77–9, 81–2 Tecumseh (Shawnee chief) 132 telegraph, invention of 190 Teller, Edward 263 Thoroughgood, Adam 55 Tippecanoe, battle of 132 tobacco 52–3, 55, 56 Tocqueville, Alexis de 13, 15, 153 Tojo, Gen. Hideki 259 Torrio, Johnny 245 Toussaint L’Ouverture, Pierre 128 Townsend, Charles 79 Tracy, Marquis de 40–41 transcontinental railroad 171–5 Triangle Shirtwaist Factory 225 Truman, Harry 164, 235, 247, 266, 290 Tudor, Frederic 282–3 Turkey Red wheat 11, 178 Turner, Nat 291 Twain, Mark 1, 4, 7 Tweed, William Marcy “Boss” 217 United Nations 102, 266–8, 271, 293 United States Steel Corp. 197, 223 Ustinov, Peter 71 Valley Forge, Pa. 89, 293 Vanderbilt, Cornelius 200 Vanderbilt, William K. 201 Verrazano, Giovanni 37 Versailles, Treaty of 231, 231–2, 234 Vespucci, Amerigo 19 Victoria (queen) 119, 178, 181, 206 Vietnam War 269–70 Vinci, Leonardo da 22 Voltaire 46 wagon trains 137–43, 145 Walker, Thomas 123 War of 181–2, 132 Warren, Chief Justice Earl 116, 290 Warren Joseph 80 Washington, George 74, 78, 87–90, 91, 99, 102, 103, 105, 107, 108, no, 132, 162, 209, 253, 254, 258, 293 Washington, Martha 88, 89 Wells, H.
The Dawn of Innovation: The First American Industrial Revolution by Charles R. Morris
air freight, British Empire, business process, California gold rush, clean water, colonial exploitation, computer age, Dava Sobel, en.wikipedia.org, glass ceiling, hiring and firing, if you build it, they will come, interchangeable parts, Isaac Newton, Jacquard loom, Jacquard loom, James Hargreaves, James Watt: steam engine, John Harrison: Longitude, joint-stock company, lone genius, manufacturing employment, new economy, New Urbanism, On the Economy of Machinery and Manufactures, purchasing power parity, QWERTY keyboard, refrigerator car, Robert Gordon, spinning jenny, Stephen Hawking, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, trade route, transcontinental railway, traveling salesman
., in large factories, with machinery applied to every process, the extreme subdivision of labour and all reduced to an almost perfect system of manufacture.” Destructive though it was, the Civil War broke the slaveocracy’s power to obstruct an American development agenda. In one of the darkest years of the war, the Republican congress passed the Homestead Act, the Land Grant College Act—no other country had conceived the possibility of educating its farmers and craftsmen—and the Transcontinental Railroad Act. The rise of a new world economic hyperpower was virtually assured. The book closes with both epilogue and prologue. Chapter 8 is a compressed account of how America caught up to and finally surpassed Great Britain in the decades after the Civil War. That story highlights the great advantages possessed by a fast-growing, emerging power moving to supplant an older incumbent. To round out the story, therefore, the book closes with an assessment of the new contest between an aging economic incumbent, now the United States, and China, the fast-surging potential usurper, and looks particularly at what is likely to be similar to and quite different from the story that began to unfold some two centuries ago.
Most impressive, perhaps, was the Starrucca Viaduct, consisting of Roman-style stone arches, 1,090 feet long, 25 feet wide, and between 90 and 100 feet high. When asked if he could build it, an engineer affirmed that he could, and could finish on time, “provided you don’t care what it costs.”54 But the true miracle was navigating the shoals of politics and finance in a notoriously corrupt age, while fending off Wall Street’s banditti. For comparison, the transcontinental railroad authorized by Congress the next decade was completed in about one-third the time, even though it crossed the Rockies. There were multiple close calls. Several times the planned route turned out to be impassable, and by pure luck, another acceptable path was found.55 And the road was often on the verge of bankruptcy. At one of the darkest moments, in 1846, the company was running out of money, the British were ratcheting up the price of the line’s iron rails, and late British deliveries were making the completion deadline unattainable under almost any circumstances.
Bureaucracy by David Graeber
3D printing, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, airport security, Albert Einstein, banking crisis, barriers to entry, borderless world, Bretton Woods, British Empire, collateralized debt obligation, Columbine, conceptual framework, Corn Laws, David Graeber, George Gilder, High speed trading, hiring and firing, late capitalism, means of production, music of the spheres, new economy, obamacare, Occupy movement, Parkinson's law, Peter Thiel, planetary scale, price mechanism, Ronald Reagan, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, South Sea Bubble, transcontinental railway, union organizing, urban planning
Even much later, after actual cogs had been invented, the design of complex machinery was always to some degree an elaboration of principles originally developed to organize people.113 Yet still, again and again, we see those machines—whether their moving parts are arms and torsos or pistons, wheels, and springs—being put to work to realize otherwise impossible fantasies: cathedrals, moon shots, transcontinental railways, and on and on. Certainly, poetic technologies almost invariably have something terrible about them; the poetry is likely to evoke dark satanic mills as much as it does grace or liberation. But the rational, bureaucratic techniques are always in service to some fantastic end. From this perspective, all those mad Soviet plans—even if never realized—marked the high-water mark of such poetic technologies.
Meltdown: How Greed and Corruption Shattered Our Financial System and How We Can Recover by Katrina Vanden Heuvel, William Greider
Asian financial crisis, banking crisis, Bretton Woods, capital controls, carried interest, central bank independence, centre right, collateralized debt obligation, conceptual framework, corporate governance, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, declining real wages, deindustrialization, Exxon Valdez, falling living standards, financial deregulation, financial innovation, Financial Instability Hypothesis, fixed income, floating exchange rates, full employment, housing crisis, Howard Zinn, Hyman Minsky, income inequality, kremlinology, Long Term Capital Management, margin call, market bubble, market fundamentalism, McMansion, mortgage debt, Naomi Klein, new economy, offshore financial centre, payday loans, pets.com, Plutocrats, plutocrats, Ponzi scheme, price stability, pushing on a string, race to the bottom, Ralph Nader, rent control, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Reagan, savings glut, sovereign wealth fund, structural adjustment programs, The Great Moderation, too big to fail, trade liberalization, transcontinental railway, trickle-down economics, union organizing, wage slave, Washington Consensus, women in the workforce, working poor, Y2K
This role of big government supporting the interests of the business classes has continued all through the nation’s history. Thus, in the nineteenth century the government subsidized canals and the mer-chant marine. In the decades before and during the Civil War, the government gave away some 100 million acres of land to the railroads, along with considerable loans to keep the railroad interests in business. The 10,000 Chinese and 3,000 Irish who worked on the transcontinental railroad got no free land and no loans, only long hours, little pay, accidents and sickness. The principle of government helping big business and refusing government largesse to the poor was bipartisan, upheld by Republicans and Democrats. President Grover Cleveland, a Democrat, vetoed a bill to give $10,000 to Texas farmers to help them buy seed grain during a drought, saying, “Federal aid in such cases encourages the expectation of paternal care on the part of the government and weakens the sturdiness of our national character.”
The Big Shift: Navigating the New Stage Beyond Midlife by Marc Freedman
airport security, Berlin Wall, David Brooks, follow your passion, illegal immigration, Isaac Newton, McMansion, RAND corporation, Silicon Valley, Steve Jobs, transcontinental railway, working poor, working-age population
In Nora Ephron’s words, “There’s a moment when people know—whatever their skills are at denial—that they have passed from what they can delude themselves into thinking is middle age to something that you could call the third act.” Ephron, now sixty-nine, declares, “I’m definitely in the third act.” As the “third act” notion suggests, the reality is that the end of middle age is no longer, for most people, attached to the beginning of either retirement or old age. (It’s like the transcontinental railroad, started at both ends, designed to eventually meet. However, the two ends of this project—life—don’t meet anymore.) Individuals left in that lurch, in this unstable space that has no name, no clear beginning or end, no rites or routes of passage, face a contradictory culture, incoherent policies, institutions tailored for a different population, and a society that seems in denial that this period even exists.
23andMe, Andy Kessler, bank run, barriers to entry, Berlin Wall, British Empire, business process, California gold rush, carbon footprint, Cass Sunstein, cloud computing, collateralized debt obligation, collective bargaining, computer age, disintermediation, Eugene Fama: efficient market hypothesis, fiat currency, Firefox, Fractional reserve banking, George Gilder, Gordon Gekko, greed is good, income inequality, invisible hand, James Watt: steam engine, Jeff Bezos, job automation, Joseph Schumpeter, knowledge economy, knowledge worker, libertarian paternalism, low skilled workers, Mark Zuckerberg, McMansion, Netflix Prize, packet switching, personalized medicine, pets.com, prediction markets, pre–internet, profit motive, race to the bottom, Richard Thaler, risk tolerance, risk-adjusted returns, Silicon Valley, six sigma, Skype, social graph, Steve Jobs, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, transcontinental railway, transfer pricing, Yogi Berra
At some point Rockefeller stopped being a Free Radical and instead became a ruthless businessman, or more likely criminal, blowing up his competitors’ oil pipelines so he could control distribution. But you can’t take away the benefit of ever-cheaper light and heat that he and others brought to millions. HERE’S ANOTHER ONE. After the Civil War, demand for railroads boomed. The Golden Spike creating the first transcontinental railroad was hammered at Promontory Summit, Utah, in 1869 by Leland Stanford. But the pricing and economic part of this story are rarely discussed, which is why history teachers usually don’t teach math. The rails, obviously, are the key component of any railroad. Originally, metallurgists melted iron ore by mixing it with burning wood (charcoal), and then poured it into a mold to get cast iron.
The Techno-Human Condition by Braden R. Allenby, Daniel R. Sarewitz
airport security, augmented reality, carbon footprint, clean water, cognitive dissonance, conceptual framework, Credit Default Swap, decarbonisation, facts on the ground, friendly fire, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, Jane Jacobs, land tenure, life extension, Long Term Capital Management, market fundamentalism, mutually assured destruction, nuclear winter, Peter Singer: altruism, planetary scale, prediction markets, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Ray Kurzweil, Silicon Valley, smart grid, stem cell, Stewart Brand, technoutopianism, the built environment, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, transcontinental railway, Whole Earth Catalog
Certainly neither World War I nor the Iraq conflict was "caused" by technology in any direct Level III Technology 77 sense, but confusion about technological complexity may have made them more probable. It was not only in the military sense that railroads changed the course of empire. They also fundamentally altered economic and power structures, and, more subtly, cultural authority. In the United States, for example, railroads-especially the completion of the transcontinental railroad-helped validate the continental scale of the American state, and restructured the economy from local or at best regional business concentrations to trusts and monopolies by creating the potential for national-scale markets. On the global scale, railroads enabled the connection of hinterlands with ports that were themselves changing with the growth of steamship capability. This new connectivity played an important role in unifying the world economy in a way that had never before been possible, leading to the wave of globalization that characterized the late nineteenth century, and enabling economic development of continental interiors not directly served by rivers and canals. is With the railroad, economic power passed to industrial firms from agriculture; more subtly, so did cultural authority.
9 dash line, Admiral Zheng, anti-communist, Berlin Wall, British Empire, California gold rush, colonial rule, cuban missile crisis, Deng Xiaoping, European colonialism, facts on the ground, failed state, Fall of the Berlin Wall, Hans Island, LNG terminal, market fragmentation, megacity, Mercator projection distort size, especially Greenland and Africa, Mikhail Gorbachev, Monroe Doctrine, oil shale / tar sands, Scramble for Africa, South China Sea, trade route, transcontinental railway, Transnistria, UNCLOS, UNCLOS
In 1867, Alaska was bought from Russia. At the time it was known as “Seward’s Folly,” named for the secretary of state, William Seward, who agreed to the deal. He paid $7.2 million, or two cents, an acre. The press accused him of purchasing snow, but minds were changed with the discovery of gold in 1896. Decades later, huge reserves of oil were also found. Two years on, in 1869, came the opening of the transcontinental railroad. Now you could cross the country in a week, whereas it had previously taken several hazardous months. As the country grew, and grew wealthy, it began to develop a blue-water navy. For most of the nineteenth century, foreign policy was dominated by expanding trade and avoiding entanglements outside the neighborhood, but it was time to push out and protect the approaches to the coastlines.
Six Degrees: The Science of a Connected Age by Duncan J. Watts
Berlin Wall, Bretton Woods, business process, corporate governance, Drosophila, Erdős number, experimental subject, Frank Gehry, Geoffrey West, Santa Fe Institute, invisible hand, Long Term Capital Management, market bubble, Milgram experiment, Murray Gell-Mann, Network effects, new economy, Norbert Wiener, Paul Erdős, rolodex, Ronald Coase, Silicon Valley, supply-chain management, The Nature of the Firm, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Toyota Production System, transaction costs, transcontinental railway, Y2K
You might, however, have suspected that such widespread hallucinations of illusionary value—not just the late 1990s infatuation with technology, but the Texas savings and loan crisis of the 1980s, the crash of October 1987, the Mexican peso crises, and the bubble economies of Japan and then later Korea, Thailand, and Indonesia—are a relatively recent feature of an increasingly rugged and treacherous financial landscape. Surely in the days before automatic trading systems, round-the-clock markets, and frictionless international capital flows—before even telephones, telegraphs, or transcontinental railways—the rapid proliferation of unfounded belief, and the ready capital to back it, would have been impossible, at least on a large scale. Not so—Extraordinary Popular Delusions was published in 1841, and by that year Mackay’s subject was already two centuries old. TULIP ECONOMICS FINANCIAL CRISES, AS I SOON LEARNED FROM ANDY, ARE AT LEAST as old as the Roman Empire. But the first example of modern times, and one of the titillating stories that Mackay relates, is known as the Dutch Tulip Bubble.
Frommer's San Diego 2011 by Mark Hiss
airport security, California gold rush, car-free, desegregation, Donald Trump, East Village, El Camino Real, glass ceiling, New Journalism, Skype, South of Market, San Francisco, sustainable-tourism, transcontinental railway, urban renewal, Works Progress Administration
Today, many natives have come to dislike the City of Angels and all that it stands for. Where career-minded Angelenos have a reputation for wheeling and dealing and superficiality, San Diegans are a laid-back lot who seldom ask, “So, what do you do?” San Diego’s redheaded stepchild identity can trace its roots at least as far back as the 1880s, when the city’s sudden and dramatic boom hinged on its hope of becoming the West Coast terminus of the Santa Fe Railway’s transcontinental railroad. The city’s subsequent cataclysmic bust coincided with the Santa Fe’s decision to reroute its line through L.A., making San Diego the end of a spur line and squashing dreams of transforming the city’s promising port into the seat of commerce and industry in the Southland. Just as San Diego is defined, in part, by its northern neighbor, so, too, is it shaped by its sibling to the south.
The decision to move county records from Old Town to New Town in 1871 signaled the direction the city was moving. Old Town’s fate was sealed when it was swept by a devastating fire in 1872, followed 2 years later by a massive flood. San Diego’s population had already quadrupled (to about 2,300) by 1870, but that was nothing compared to the boom that was coming. Gold was discovered in the nearby Julian (p. 260) hills in 1870, and in 1873 construction began on an eastward transcontinental railroad line from San Diego. A stock market panic put the kibosh on that project, but by 1885 the first train from the east finally reached the city. 9 05_626214-ch02.indd 905_626214-ch02.indd 9 7/23/10 11:16 PM7/23/10 11:16 PM SAN DIEGO IN DEPTH Looking Back at San Diego 2 This touched off “the great boom,” as speculators realized the commercial potential of combining San Diego’s unparalleled port with the railroad’s ability to transport goods eastward.
Ayn Rand and the World She Made by Anne C. Heller
affirmative action, Albert Einstein, anti-communist, Bolshevik threat, conceptual framework, greed is good, laissez-faire capitalism, Milgram experiment, Mont Pelerin Society, New Journalism, open borders, price stability, profit motive, rent control, rolodex, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, the scientific method, theory of mind, Thorstein Veblen, transcontinental railway, upwardly mobile, wage slave, War on Poverty, Works Progress Administration, young professional
People seem eerily resigned to the economic collapse all this forebodes. As an expression of hopelessness, people ask one another, with a shrug, “Who is John Galt?” Where the question came from and what it means are a matter of indifference to those who ask it. Amid the impending crisis, the novel’s high-spirited heroine, Dagny Taggart, strives to save her family’s great ancestral railroad, the New York—based Taggart Transcontinental Railroad. She is the vice-president of operations; her peevish, whining older brother James Taggart is nominally the president. While Dagny tries to keep thousands of miles of railroad track repaired with pieces of scrap metal and stretches the capacity of years-old diesel engines, James ingratiates himself with a clique of high-powered Washington officials, who bestow favors in return. He is a kind of inverse rendering of Peter Keating: having been born to money and position, he attempts to acquire self-esteem by giving them away.
It suggests a limited understanding of American jurisprudence, notwithstanding the teaching of Paterson, and, perhaps, a trail of ideological crumbs from her insurrectionary homeland. Before leaving Washington, she tried to see J. Edgar Hoover, who turned her down. What she wanted from him is not known. En route to California, she and O’Connor stopped for a few days in New York, where she focused on collecting background material for the railroad scenes in Atlas Shrugged. She toured Grand Central Terminal (the inspiration for the Taggart Transcontinental Railroad Terminal) and interviewed half a dozen executives of the New York Central Railroad, including the male vice-president in charge of operations, the real-life equivalent of Dagny Taggart. She showed Archibald Ogden the first six chapters of the novel and met with editors of Cosmopolitan, Reader’s Digest, and Life, presumably about assignments. She finally met Rose Wilder Lane, and she and O’Connor treated Marna Papurt, then twenty years old and back in Rand’s good graces, to an expensive dinner at the Essex House, where the O’Connors were staying.
Globish: How the English Language Became the World's Language by Robert McCrum
Alistair Cooke, anti-communist, Berlin Wall, British Empire, call centre, colonial rule, credit crunch, cuban missile crisis, Deng Xiaoping, Etonian, failed state, Fall of the Berlin Wall, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, invention of movable type, invention of writing, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, jimmy wales, knowledge economy, Livingstone, I presume, Martin Wolf, Naomi Klein, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Republic of Letters, Ronald Reagan, Scramble for Africa, Silicon Valley, Steven Pinker, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas L Friedman, trade route, transatlantic slave trade, transcontinental railway, upwardly mobile
In world affairs, the United States was a remote, apparently unimportant, spectator; and in British consciousness, America was also distant. Not until 1912 did Whitaker’s Almanack place its data on the United States ahead of information about ‘Foreign Countries’. Economically speaking, however, America was becoming the dominant partner. Between 1860 and 1914, thanks to the completion of the great transcontinental railroads, America’s imports had increased fivefold, and its exports sevenfold, and the New York Stock Exchange was booming. Moreover, there was a reckoning on the horizon. In the making of the world’s English, it is impossible to overestimate the consequences of the four years that were about to unfold in the fields of France, a truly international conflict, the First World War. 3 When war broke out in the summer of 1914 the common language and culture of Europe was either German, or French.
In Cheyenne, Wyoming, an aptly named nineteen-year-old called Benjamin Marks hit upon the innovation that would turn the short cons of the nineteenth century, all those green goods and goldbricks, into the underworld corporations, what might be called the con conglomerates, of the twentieth century. Marks, who was born in Waukegan, Illinois, showed an early aptitude for deception by getting himself enrolled in the Union army at the age of thirteen, serving as a dispatch bearer. When the war ended, he went west, landing in Cheyenne in 1867 at the same time that the railroad arrived. The Union Pacific, in its slow dash to complete the transcontinental railroad, had reached the summit of the Black Hills that winter and was forced to wait, gathering men and materials, until construction could resume in April. More than ten thousand people massed in the brand-new town. General Grenville Dodge, the chief engineer of the Union Pacific and the man who platted the city, seemed chagrined at what he’d wrought, calling Cheyenne “the greatest gambling place ever established on the plains” and “full of desperate characters.”
Skyfaring: A Journey With a Pilot by Mark Vanhoenacker
British Empire, Cape to Cairo, computer age, dark matter, Edmond Halley, John Harrison: Longitude, Louis Blériot, Maui Hawaii, out of africa, phenotype, place-making, planetary scale, Ralph Waldo Emerson, random walk, the built environment, transcontinental railway
A senior colleague who had come to airline flying from a career in the Royal Navy taught me how to make use of the constellation to determine our course, how not to be deceived by the False Cross nearby, which is part of the constellation Vela, meaning sails, a pleasing name for an assemblage of light that we see from our latter-day ship. I like to check the plane’s digital compass against the Southern Cross and to consider which I trust more, the near-perfect reliability of the airplane systems or my own imperfect readings of an older, astronomical arbiter. Once I read some letters written by Mark Hopkins, who was partly responsible for the completion of the first transcontinental railroad in the United States. He wrote these letters on a ship sailing from New York to San Francisco, all around South America, via Cape Horn, on the sort of sea journey his railroad would relegate to history. Transfixed by the ocean, he wrote to his brother that if he had had such an experience of the sea when he was younger, he might have devoted himself to nautical adventures rather than the “pursuits on land” that would bring him his fame and fortune.
The Battery: How Portable Power Sparked a Technological Revolution by Henry Schlesinger
Albert Einstein, Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, British Empire, Copley Medal, Fellow of the Royal Society, index card, invention of the telegraph, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, James Watt: steam engine, Livingstone, I presume, Menlo Park, popular electronics, Ralph Waldo Emerson, RFID, Stephen Hawking, the scientific method, transcontinental railway, Upton Sinclair, Vannevar Bush, Yogi Berra
Thirteen passengers were killed and scores more injured. The near instant communication of telegraphs only made the problem more confusing. Bankers in New York consulted schedules for banks in Pittsburgh while corporate headquarters for large railroads grew awash in time schedules as their lines expanded westward. One of the most dramatic illustrations on record occurred when the two ends of the transcontinental railroad were joined at Promontory Point, Utah, in 1869. Leland Stanford, cofounder of the Central Pacific Railroad, was supposed to pound in the last spike, which was wired to send a telegraph signal to both coasts. At the very least, it was a neat publicity trick. However, Stanford missed the spike, and a nearby telegraph operator keyed in a single word “Done.” Though the announcement was less dramatic, it got the point across from coast to coast.
Utopias: A Brief History From Ancient Writings to Virtual Communities by Howard P. Segal
1960s counterculture, British Empire, Buckminster Fuller, complexity theory, David Brooks, death of newspapers, dematerialisation, deskilling, energy security, European colonialism, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, full employment, future of journalism, garden city movement, germ theory of disease, Golden Gate Park, invention of the printing press, Isaac Newton, Jeff Bezos, John von Neumann, knowledge economy, Louis Pasteur, Mark Zuckerberg, means of production, Nicholas Carr, Nikolai Kondratiev, out of africa, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Ray Kurzweil, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, Skype, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Stewart Brand, technoutopianism, Thomas Malthus, Thorstein Veblen, transcontinental railway, traveling salesman, union organizing, urban planning, War on Poverty, Whole Earth Catalog
Growing Expectations of Realizing Utopia Chapter 6 Utopia Reconsidered The Growing Retreat from Space Exploration and Other Megaprojects Nothing is more indicative of the fading of scientiﬁc and technological utopian fantasies from the sensibilities of ordinary Americans (and most other people) than the relatively muted response on the twenty-ﬁfth anniversary of the ﬁrst moon landing of 1969. In 1994 there was hardly the euphoria that had characterized similar major anniversary celebrations involving New York City’s Brooklyn Bridge, the completion of the ﬁrst transcontinental railroad at Promontory, Utah, the ﬁrst coast-to-coast telephone hookup, or the ﬁrst Ford Motor Model T automobile (though the 2007 Model T centennial was severely reduced from original plans because of the threat of bankruptcy facing Ford Motor Company and, for that matter, the possible collapse of the entire American auto industry). By 1994 it had become painfully clear to most people that, contrary to centuries of utopian dreams, the moon landing had not changed the world.
Albert Einstein, barriers to entry, Berlin Wall, business intelligence, carbon-based life, Claude Shannon: information theory, complexity theory, declining real wages, deliberate practice, discrete time, double helix, Douglas Engelbart, Downton Abbey, Drosophila, Firefox, Frank Gehry, Google X / Alphabet X, informal economy, invention of the printing press, inventory management, Khan Academy, Kickstarter, low skilled workers, Lyft, Mark Zuckerberg, meta analysis, meta-analysis, natural language processing, Network effects, open borders, pattern recognition, Peter Thiel, pez dispenser, ride hailing / ride sharing, Ronald Reagan, Sand Hill Road, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, social web, South of Market, San Francisco, speech recognition, Steve Jobs, technoutopianism, transcontinental railway, Vannevar Bush
In the three decades after the Civil War, America would use its abundant natural resources to become the biggest manufacturer in the world. It needed skilled people, and colleges seemed like natural places to train them. The universities created in the Morrill spirit would eventually become some of the nation’s largest and most productive institutions of higher learning. Some of their leaders were openly disdainful of the older colleges. In California, the robber baron Leland Stanford used a fortune made building the transcontinental railroad with exploited Chinese workers to found a university in the memory of his dead son. David Starr Jordan, the first president of Stanford, declared that colleges should not prepare students “for a holiness class which is rendered unclean by material concerns.” At the University of Nebraska, the chancellor had little use for “institutions that seem to love scholarship and erudition for their own sakes; who make these ends and not means; who hug themselves with joy because they are not as other men, and especially are not as this practical fellow.”
bank run, banking crisis, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, Bolshevik threat, Boycotts of Israel, Bretton Woods, British Empire, California gold rush, capital controls, collective bargaining, Etonian, financial deregulation, German hyperinflation, index arbitrage, interest rate swap, margin call, Monroe Doctrine, North Sea oil, oil shale / tar sands, paper trading, Plutocrats, plutocrats, Robert Gordon, Ronald Reagan, short selling, strikebreaker, the market place, the payments system, too big to fail, transcontinental railway, Yom Kippur War, young professional
Towns sprang up along the tracks, settled by European immigrants imported by the railroads.1 As speculation in rail shares grew frenzied, European investors were stumbling about in the dark. Between Kansas and the Rocky Mountains, schoolboy maps showed a blank space dubbed the great American desert.2 Europeans relied on their American agents to guide them through this financial wilderness, and American bankers had to keep posted on developments. Soon after completion of the first transcontinental railroad, in May 1869, Pierpont and Fanny Morgan made an extended rail journey across the country, stopping to see Mormon leader Brigham Young in Utah. A competition was already underway on Wall Street between Jewish bankers, such as Joseph Seligman, who wooed German investors with railroad shares, and Yankee bankers, such as Pierpont Morgan, who drew on London money. From the outset, railways were in a chaotic state as they covered the country in a crazy-quilt expansion that frequently produced more roads than traffic.
“And it will be much easier for them to obtain the second half than it was the first,” said one newspaper editor, foreseeing a subsequent eastern rail monopoly. “One railroad after another will slide gently into their grasp until any passenger anywhere who objects to traveling on their lines can take a trolley car or walk.”69 The dreams of the architects of Northern Securities went beyond the most vivid Populist fear. After tying up transcontinental railroads, they planned to link them with steamship lines to Asia—a vision that later would culminate in Edward Harriman’s plans for an around-the-world transportation network. Pierpont, meanwhile, meditated on a rail-ship monopoly of the North Atlantic, extending his domain beyond the borders of the United States. Wall Street increasingly gazed abroad. Besides bankrupting thousands of investors, the Northern Pacific corner claimed a last casualty—Morgan partner Robert Bacon.
Lamont’s estate was so enormous that the charitable and educational bequests came to $9.5 million, including $5 million to Harvard and $2 million to Phillips Exeter Academy. Through a syndicate managed by Morgan Stanley, his estate sold off his twenty-five-thousand-share block of J. P. Morgan stock. It was the largest block in existence, with an estimated market value of nearly $6 million. Lamont was a man of prodigious gifts, the real J. P. Morgan behind J. P. Morgan and Company. Had he lived in Pierpont’s day, he might have summoned steel mills or transcontinental railroads into being. Instead, as a man of the Diplomatic Age, he was the architect of huge state loans in the 1920s. As they defaulted in the 1930s, he had to devote his time to fruitless salvage operations, and his gifts were squandered in the general wreckage. For all his power, he seems in retrospect a tiny figure bobbing atop a gigantic tidal wave. His story is a sobering tale of human limitations.
A People's History of the United States by Howard Zinn
affirmative action, agricultural Revolution, Albert Einstein, anti-communist, Bartolomé de las Casas, Bernie Sanders, British Empire, clean water, colonial rule, death of newspapers, desegregation, equal pay for equal work, feminist movement, friendly fire, full employment, Howard Zinn, illegal immigration, land reform, Mercator projection, Mikhail Gorbachev, minimum wage unemployment, Monroe Doctrine, new economy, New Urbanism, offshore financial centre, Plutocrats, plutocrats, profit motive, Ralph Nader, Ralph Waldo Emerson, RAND corporation, Ronald Reagan, Rosa Parks, Silicon Valley, strikebreaker, Telecommunications Act of 1996, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, transcontinental railway, union organizing, Upton Sinclair, very high income, War on Poverty, Works Progress Administration
They now looked to the national government for help: credit, subsidies, flood control projects. The United States in 1865 had spent $103,294,501 on public works, but the South received only $9,469,363. For instance, while Ohio got over a million dollars, Kentucky, her neighbor south of the river, got $25,000. While Maine got $3 million, Mississippi got $136,000. While $83 million had been given to subsidize the Union Pacific and Central Pacific railroads, thus creating a transcontinental railroad through the North, there was no such subsidy for the South. So one of the things the South looked for was federal aid to the Texas and Pacific Railroad. Woodward says: “By means of appropriations, subsidies, grants, and bonds such as Congress had so lavishly showered upon capitalist enterprise in the North, the South might yet mend its fortunes—or at any rate the fortunes of a privileged elite.”
Most of the fortune building was done legally, with the collaboration of the government and the courts. Sometimes the collaboration had to be paid for. Thomas Edison promised New Jersey politicians $1,000 each in return for favorable legislation. Daniel Drew and Jay Gould spent $1 million to bribe the New York legislature to legalize their issue of $8 million in “watered stock” (stock not representing real value) on the Erie Railroad. The first transcontinental railroad was built with blood, sweat, politics and thievery, out of the meeting of the Union Pacific and Central Pacific railroads. The Central Pacific started on the West Coast going east; it spent $200,000 in Washington on bribes to get 9 million acres of free land and $24 million in bonds, and paid $79 million, an overpayment of $36 million, to a construction company which really was its own.
The Old Patagonian Express by Paul Theroux
'Old travellers know how soon the individuality of a country is lost when once the tide of foreign travel is turned through its towns or its by-ways,' writes William T. Brigham in hisGuatemala. (I think he is the same William Brigham who nearly electrocuted himself in Hawaii when he touched a wooden stick which a native magician had loaded with some high voltage mumbo-jumbo.) Brigham soon makes his fears particular: 'When the Northern Railroad extends through Guatemala, when the Transcontinental Railway traverses the plains of Honduras, and the Nicaraguan Canal unites the Atlantic and the Pacific, the charm will be broken, the mulepath and the mozo de cargo (carrier of bundles) will be supplanted, and a journey across Central America become almost as dull as a journey from Chicago to Cheyenne.' How wrong he was. Chiapas had been arid - a stony exposed landscape that looked as if it had yet to be possessed by man.
War Without Mercy: PACIFIC WAR by John Dower
anti-communist, Bartolomé de las Casas, British Empire, colonial rule, European colonialism, ghettoisation, labour mobility, land reform, Monroe Doctrine, Plutocrats, plutocrats, Scientific racism, South China Sea, Torches of Freedom, transcontinental railway
Women, criminals, the poor and dispossessed, and despised nationalities in general could be and were all relegated to subordinate status under this theorizing–and it was exactly this sort of pseudoscientific dogma that Franz Boas and his disciples sought to repudiate with their great emphasis on culture, enculturation, and socialization.7 In the United States, attitudes nurtured in the harshness of slavery and Indian fighting, reinforced by the new scientific racism, also shaped perceptions of another group of Asians in the latter half of the nineteenth century: the Chinese, whom many Americans first encountered as immigrants brought over to help build the transcontinental railway. The writer Robert Louis Stevenson, traveling that same railway in the 1890s, offered a moving picture of how white people now grouped the Chinese with the unfortunate remnants of the Indian tribes. His fellow Caucasian passengers, Stevenson recorded, treated the Native Americans and Chinese almost identically as “despised races.” They never really looked at the Chinese, listened to them, or thought about them, “but hated them a priori.… They declared them to be hideous vermin, and affected a kind of choking in the throat when they beheld them.”8 Could there not be a rational explanation for this apart from plain racism–a class explanation, for example?
Dangerous Waters: Modern Piracy and Terror on the High Seas by John S. Burnett
British Empire, cable laying ship, Dava Sobel, defense in depth, Exxon Valdez, Filipino sailors, illegal immigration, Khyber Pass, Malacca Straits, North Sea oil, South China Sea, transcontinental railway, UNCLOS, UNCLOS
This is as close to the old Wild West as it gets. Brian and the other hired guns are the guys who protect the wagon train, the ones who ride shotgun on a stagecoach through ambush country. This is no fantasy. Perhaps armed guards never really did ride up on the buck-board of stagecoaches—I only saw it in the movies—but this team of commandos is their modern-day counterpart. As the tracks of the transcontinental railroad extended slowly, mile after mile, through the untamed hostile territory of the American West, so, too, is the communications cable being laid—just as slowly, mile after mile—along the wild coastline of West Africa. Moreover, like the wagon train, stagecoach, or railroad, the cable ship and its support vessels can expect to be attacked. And they are. Regularly. By the villagers on the coast who see the slow-moving cable ships as rich pickings.
Frommer's Seattle 2010 by Karl Samson
Summer Thurs–Mon noon–8:30pm; call for hours other months. 2 Port Townsend: A Restored Victorian Seaport Named by English explorer Capt. George Vancouver in 1792, Port Townsend did not attract its first settlers until 1851. By the 1880s, however, the town had become a major shipping port and was expected to grow into one of the most important cities on the West Coast. Port Townsend residents felt that their city was the logical end of the line for the transcontinental railroad that was pushing westward in the 1880s, and based on the certainty of a railroad connection, real-estate speculation and development boomed. Merchants and investors erected mercantile palaces along Water Street and elaborate Victorian homes on the bluff above the wharf district. Unfortunately, the railroad never arrived. Tacoma got the rails, and Port Townsend got the shaft. With its importance as a shipping port usurped by Seattle and Tacoma, Port Townsend slipped into quiet obscurity.
Wall Street: How It Works And for Whom by Doug Henwood
accounting loophole / creative accounting, affirmative action, Andrei Shleifer, asset allocation, asset-backed security, bank run, banking crisis, barriers to entry, borderless world, Bretton Woods, British Empire, capital asset pricing model, capital controls, central bank independence, corporate governance, correlation coefficient, correlation does not imply causation, credit crunch, currency manipulation / currency intervention, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, debt deflation, declining real wages, deindustrialization, dematerialisation, diversification, diversified portfolio, Donald Trump, equity premium, Eugene Fama: efficient market hypothesis, experimental subject, facts on the ground, financial deregulation, financial innovation, Financial Instability Hypothesis, floating exchange rates, full employment, George Akerlof, George Gilder, hiring and firing, Hyman Minsky, implied volatility, index arbitrage, index fund, interest rate swap, Internet Archive, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, joint-stock company, Joseph Schumpeter, kremlinology, labor-force participation, late capitalism, law of one price, liquidationism / Banker’s doctrine / the Treasury view, London Interbank Offered Rate, Louis Bachelier, market bubble, Mexican peso crisis / tequila crisis, microcredit, minimum wage unemployment, moral hazard, mortgage debt, mortgage tax deduction, oil shock, payday loans, pension reform, Plutocrats, plutocrats, price mechanism, price stability, prisoner's dilemma, profit maximization, Ralph Nader, random walk, reserve currency, Richard Thaler, risk tolerance, Robert Gordon, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, shareholder value, short selling, Slavoj Žižek, South Sea Bubble, The Market for Lemons, The Nature of the Firm, The Predators' Ball, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, transaction costs, transcontinental railway, women in the workforce, yield curve, zero-coupon bond
But it has come to dominate the capitalist world-picture. Money, "the god among commodities," becomes the principal object of greed — greed in its most general form, for wealth itself, rather than more specific obsessions, "for clothes, weapons, jewels, women, wine, etc."^° Certainly 19th century magnates loved their money, but they also took pride in the physical capital they owned — steel mills and transcontinental railroads. Such obsessions now seem quaint; modern tycoons love their portfolios most of all. Interest-bearing capital, Marx (1971, pp. 454-539) wrote, is the most fetishistic form of all, capital par excellence, with profit (interest) appearing with no more than the mere passage of time, with no apparent engagement with production: money-bearing becomes characteristic of capital "just as growth is characteristic of trees."
Albert Einstein, All science is either physics or stamp collecting, barriers to entry, collective bargaining, computer age, Copley Medal, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, decarbonisation, delayed gratification, Fellow of the Royal Society, Flynn Effect, fudge factor, full employment, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, Islamic Golden Age, iterative process, Jacquard loom, James Hargreaves, James Watt: steam engine, John Harrison: Longitude, Joseph Schumpeter, Joseph-Marie Jacquard, knowledge economy, moral hazard, Network effects, Peace of Westphalia, Peter Singer: altruism, QWERTY keyboard, Ralph Waldo Emerson, rent-seeking, Ronald Coase, Simon Kuznets, spinning jenny, the scientific method, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, transaction costs, transcontinental railway, éminence grise
He made his living for many years as a railroad lawyer and appears to have absorbed something of the fascination with machines, and with steam, of the engineers with whom he worked. In his first public speech, in 1832, he spent an inordinate amount of time talking about the need for navigable rivers and canals to accommodate steamboats. In the middle of the Civil War, he signed, on July 1, 1862, the Pacific Railway Act, the authorizing legislation for what would become America’s transcontinental railroad. Even more revealing, in 1859, after his loss in the Illinois senatorial race against Stephen Douglas, he was much in demand for a speech entitled “Discoveries, Inventions, and Improvements” that he gave at agricultural fairs, schools, and self-improvement societies. The speech—decidedly not one of Lincoln’s best—nonetheless revealed an enthusiasm for mechanical innovation that resonates powerfully even today.
Capitalism: the unknown ideal by Ayn Rand
Albert Einstein, anti-communist, Berlin Wall, British Empire, East Village, Ford paid five dollars a day, full employment, Isaac Newton, laissez-faire capitalism, means of production, minimum wage unemployment, profit motive, the market place, trade route, transcontinental railway, urban renewal, War on Poverty
One of the statists’ arguments in favor of government controls is the notion that American railroads were built mainly through the financial help of the government and would have been impossible without it. Actually, government help to the railroads amounted to ten percent of the cost of all the railroads in the country—and the consequences of this help have been disastrous to the railroads. I quote from The Story of American Railroads by Stewart H. Holbrook: In a little more than two decades, three transcontinental railroads were built with government help. All three wound up in bankruptcy courts. And thus, when James Jerome Hill said he was going to build a line from the Great Lakes to Puget Sound, without government cash or land grant, even his close friends thought him mad. But his Great Northern arrived at Puget Sound without a penny of federal help, nor did it fail. It was an achievement to shame the much-touted construction of the Erie Canal.36 The degree of government help received by any one railroad stood in direct proportion to that railroad’s troubles and failures.
Uncommon Grounds: The History of Coffee and How It Transformed Our World by Mark Pendergrast
business climate, Edward Lloyd's coffeehouse, Honoré de Balzac, land reform, microcredit, Mikhail Gorbachev, new economy, open economy, out of africa, profit motive, Ray Oldenburg, Ronald Reagan, The Great Good Place, trade route, transcontinental railway, traveling salesman, women in the workforce
Yet within a few years, under the co-direction of clerk and subsequent partner George Huntington Hartford, it was christened the Great American Tea Company, specializing in tea, with over a dozen stores in Manhattan. Soon they added coffee. Gilman and Hartford eliminated middlemen, buying coffee and tea on the docks straight off the clipper ships. In 1869 the Great American Tea Company became the Great Atlantic and Pacific Tea Company, ostensibly in honor of the completion of the transcontinental railroad that year. It also signaled the company’s plans for expansion beyond the East Coast of the United States. In 1871, in the aftermath of the Chicago Fire, the company sent staff and food, staying to open stores in the Midwest. In 1878 Hartford officially took over the operation, while Gilman retired. Hartford expanded, supervising over two hundred stores by 1901, in addition to sending over 5,000 peddlers in standardized red-and-black A & P wagons to deliver directly to the home.
conceptual framework, crony capitalism, currency manipulation / currency intervention, David Brooks, Deng Xiaoping, East Village, financial independence, Gini coefficient, income inequality, indoor plumbing, land reform, Lao Tzu, low skilled workers, market fundamentalism, Mohammed Bouazizi, Plutocrats, plutocrats, rolodex, Silicon Valley, South China Sea, sovereign wealth fund, special economic zone, Steve Jobs, transcontinental railway, Washington Consensus, Xiaogang Anhui farmers, young professional
In most countries, the long-term effects of kleptocracy are easy to predict: economists calculate that for every point that a nation’s corruption rises on a scale of one to ten, its economic growth drops by 1 percent. (Think Haiti under François Duvalier or Zaire under Mobutu.) But the exceptions are important. In Japan and Korea, corruption accompanied each nation’s rise, not its collapse. There is no more conspicuous case than the United States. When promoters of the first transcontinental railroad were found to have secretly paid themselves to build it—the 1872 scandal known as Crédit Mobilier—the scale of plunder was described by the press as “the most damaging exhibition of official and private villainy and corruption ever laid bare to the gaze of the world.” Between 1866 and 1873 the country put down thirty-five thousand miles of track, minting enormous fortunes but also, as Mark Twain put it, displaying “shameful corruption.”
Naked Economics: Undressing the Dismal Science (Fully Revised and Updated) by Charles Wheelan
affirmative action, Albert Einstein, Andrei Shleifer, barriers to entry, Berlin Wall, Bernie Madoff, Bretton Woods, capital controls, Cass Sunstein, central bank independence, clean water, collapse of Lehman Brothers, congestion charging, Credit Default Swap, crony capitalism, currency manipulation / currency intervention, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, David Brooks, demographic transition, diversified portfolio, Doha Development Round, Exxon Valdez, financial innovation, floating exchange rates, George Akerlof, Gini coefficient, Gordon Gekko, greed is good, happiness index / gross national happiness, Hernando de Soto, income inequality, index fund, interest rate swap, invisible hand, job automation, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Rogoff, libertarian paternalism, low skilled workers, lump of labour, Malacca Straits, market bubble, microcredit, money: store of value / unit of account / medium of exchange, Network effects, new economy, open economy, presumed consent, price discrimination, price stability, principal–agent problem, profit maximization, profit motive, purchasing power parity, race to the bottom, RAND corporation, random walk, rent control, Richard Thaler, rising living standards, Robert Gordon, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Coase, Ronald Reagan, school vouchers, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, South China Sea, Steve Jobs, The Market for Lemons, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas L Friedman, Thomas Malthus, transaction costs, transcontinental railway, trickle-down economics, urban sprawl, Washington Consensus, Yogi Berra, young professional
Yet the basic ideas underlying the costs and benefits of globalization are simple and straightforward. Indeed, no modern issue has elicited so much sloppy thinking. The case for international trade is built on the most basic ideas in economics. Trade makes us richer. Trade has the distinction of being one of the most important ideas in economics and also one of the least intuitive. Abraham Lincoln was once advised to buy cheap iron rails from Britain to finish the transcontinental railroad. He replied, “It seems to me that if we buy the rails from England, then we’ve got the rails and they’ve got the money. But if we build the rails here, we’ve got our rails and we’ve got our money.”4 To understand the benefits of trade, we must find the fallacy in Mr. Lincoln’s economics. Let me paraphrase his point and see if the logical flaw becomes clear: If I buy meat from the butcher, then I get the meat and he gets my money.
Crisis and Leviathan: Critical Episodes in the Growth of American Government by Robert Higgs, Arthur A. Ekirch, Jr.
Alistair Cooke, clean water, collective bargaining, credit crunch, declining real wages, endowment effect, fiat currency, full employment, hiring and firing, income per capita, Joseph Schumpeter, laissez-faire capitalism, manufacturing employment, means of production, minimum wage unemployment, Plutocrats, plutocrats, post-industrial society, price discrimination, profit motive, rent control, rent-seeking, Richard Thaler, road to serfdom, Ronald Reagan, Simon Kuznets, strikebreaker, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, total factor productivity, transaction costs, transcontinental railway, union organizing, Upton Sinclair, War on Poverty, Works Progress Administration
Under these dynamic conditions, to adopt new ways of life and new kinds of production was the road to wealth-or, for the less fortunate, at least an avenue of survival. The era also witnessed the rise of many giant corporations and the emergence of the "trust question" as a major political issue. The interregional railroads, appearing on the American scene at mid-century, were the first giant enterprises. After the Civil War several transcontinental railroads, all but the Great Northern the beneficiaries of federal land grants, were completed. Chastened by scandals connected with the government's subsidization of these enterprises, Congress made no new railroad land grants after 1871, but in the nostrils of many people the odor of something rotten-corruption and special, unwarranted privilege at the expense of the general publiclingered about the land-grant railroads for decades.
A Splendid Exchange: How Trade Shaped the World by William J. Bernstein
Admiral Zheng, asset allocation, bank run, Benoit Mandelbrot, British Empire, call centre, clean water, Columbian Exchange, Corn Laws, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, deindustrialization, Doha Development Round, domestication of the camel, double entry bookkeeping, Eratosthenes, financial innovation, Gini coefficient, ice-free Arctic, imperial preference, income inequality, intermodal, James Hargreaves, John Harrison: Longitude, Khyber Pass, low skilled workers, non-tariff barriers, placebo effect, Port of Oakland, refrigerator car, Silicon Valley, South China Sea, South Sea Bubble, spice trade, spinning jenny, Steven Pinker, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas L Friedman, Thomas Malthus, trade liberalization, trade route, transatlantic slave trade, transatlantic slave trade, transcontinental railway, upwardly mobile, working poor
With favoring winds it is wafted past the site of the fabulous islands of Atlantis and the Hesperides, makes the periplus of Hanno, and, floating by Ternate and Tidore and the mouth of the Persian Gulf, melts in the tropic gales of the Indian Seas, and is landed in ports of which Alexander only heard the names.36 Refrigerated vehicles began to appear in the 1830s. Photographs taken at Promontory, Utah in 1869, just after the opening of the transcontinental railroad, reveal a long string of the distinctive Union Pacific fruit cars used to carry out-of-season grapes, pears, and peaches to astonished easterners. Other chilled cargoes ranged from cut flowers to sides of beef, and these bounteous luxuries fed consumers' demand for more. By the mid-nineteenth century, a higher tonnage of ice, bound for India, Europe, and around the Horn to the West Coast, was shipped out of Boston harbor than any other product.
The Voice of Reason: Essays in Objectivist Thought by Ayn Rand, Leonard Peikoff, Peter Schwartz
affirmative action, Berlin Wall, British Empire, business process, cuban missile crisis, haute cuisine, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, laissez-faire capitalism, means of production, medical malpractice, profit motive, Ralph Nader, Ronald Reagan, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, trade route, transcontinental railway, urban renewal, War on Poverty
(This is one of the reasons why science perishes under dictatorships, though technology may survive for a short while.) It is said that without the “unlimited” resources of the government, such an enormous project would not have been undertaken. No, it would not have been—at this time. But it would have been, when the economy was ready for it. There is a precedent for this situation. The first transcontinental railroad of the United States was built by order of the government, on government subsidies. It was hailed as a great achievement (which, in some respects, it was). But it caused economic dislocations and political evils, for the consequences of which we are paying to this day in many forms. If the government deserves any credit for the space program, it is only to the extent that it did not act as a government, i.e., did not use coercion in regard to its participants (which it used in regard to its backers, i.e., the taxpayers).
The Future of Technology by Tom Standage
air freight, barriers to entry, business process, business process outsourcing, call centre, Clayton Christensen, computer vision, connected car, corporate governance, disintermediation, distributed generation, double helix, experimental economics, full employment, hydrogen economy, industrial robot, informal economy, interchangeable parts, job satisfaction, labour market flexibility, market design, Menlo Park, millennium bug, moral hazard, natural language processing, Network effects, new economy, Nicholas Carr, optical character recognition, railway mania, rent-seeking, RFID, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley ideology, Silicon Valley startup, six sigma, Skype, smart grid, software as a service, spectrum auction, speech recognition, stem cell, Steve Ballmer, technology bubble, telemarketer, transcontinental railway, Y2K
Nobody knows; but if it does, says Google’s Eric Schmidt, high-tech will lose its innovative spark and, just like other sectors, turn to rent-seeking. 35 THE FUTURE OF TECHNOLOGY Déjà vu all over again If history is any guide, the IT industry’s future will be about services and customer power ou would expect eric schmidt, one of Silicon Valley’s leading lights, to have an oversized inner geek. But these days, he sounds more like a closet historian. He enjoys talking, for instance, about how America’s transcontinental railroad in the 1860s was built on debt, a bubble and scandals. Another favourite topic is the laying of the first transatlantic cable in that period, a seemingly impossible mission. To Mr Schmidt, reading and thinking about history is a kind of redemption, for himself as well as for the high-tech industry: “We believed that the bubble would never end. We were wound up in a state of hubris.” But of course, he says, it was déjà vu all over again: “People in high-tech didn’t take any history classes.”
The Making of Global Capitalism by Leo Panitch, Sam Gindin
accounting loophole / creative accounting, airline deregulation, anti-communist, Asian financial crisis, asset-backed security, bank run, banking crisis, barriers to entry, Basel III, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, bilateral investment treaty, Branko Milanovic, Bretton Woods, BRICs, British Empire, call centre, capital controls, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, Carmen Reinhart, central bank independence, collective bargaining, continuous integration, corporate governance, Credit Default Swap, crony capitalism, currency manipulation / currency intervention, currency peg, dark matter, Deng Xiaoping, disintermediation, ending welfare as we know it, eurozone crisis, facts on the ground, financial deregulation, financial innovation, Financial Instability Hypothesis, financial intermediation, floating exchange rates, full employment, Gini coefficient, global value chain, guest worker program, Hyman Minsky, imperial preference, income inequality, inflation targeting, interchangeable parts, interest rate swap, Kenneth Rogoff, land reform, late capitalism, liquidity trap, London Interbank Offered Rate, Long Term Capital Management, manufacturing employment, market bubble, market fundamentalism, Martin Wolf, means of production, money: store of value / unit of account / medium of exchange, Monroe Doctrine, moral hazard, mortgage debt, mortgage tax deduction, new economy, non-tariff barriers, Northern Rock, oil shock, precariat, price stability, quantitative easing, Ralph Nader, RAND corporation, regulatory arbitrage, reserve currency, risk tolerance, Ronald Reagan, seigniorage, shareholder value, short selling, Silicon Valley, sovereign wealth fund, special drawing rights, special economic zone, structural adjustment programs, The Chicago School, The Great Moderation, the payments system, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, too big to fail, trade liberalization, transcontinental railway, trickle-down economics, union organizing, very high income, Washington Consensus, Works Progress Administration, zero-coupon bond
The financial futures revolution could not have been implemented, as the head of the CME who initiated the process in 1971 (with the help of Milton Friedman) put it, “without the cadre of traders who left the known risks of the cattle, hog and pork belly pits for the unknown dangers of foreign exchange.” Leo Melamed, Leo Melamed on the Markets: Twenty Years of Financial History as Seen by the Man Who Revolutionized the Markets, New York: John Wiley, 1993, p. 43. 17 As Bruce Cumings has put it, “The transcontinental railway symbolized the completion of the national territory—by the 1860s America was a linked continental empire. But distant connections to isolated Western towns and farms, Pony Express mail service, and peripheral mudflats like Los Angeles, do not a national market make. Instead for fifty years (roughly from 1890 to 1940) Americans peopled and filled in the national territory. At the same time that the US became the leading industrial power in the world . . . the dominant tendency was expansion to the coast and exploitation of a vast and relatively new market.”
The Information: A History, a Theory, a Flood by James Gleick
Ada Lovelace, Alan Turing: On Computable Numbers, with an Application to the Entscheidungsproblem, Albert Einstein, AltaVista, bank run, bioinformatics, Brownian motion, butterfly effect, citation needed, Claude Shannon: information theory, clockwork universe, computer age, conceptual framework, crowdsourcing, death of newspapers, discovery of DNA, double helix, Douglas Hofstadter, en.wikipedia.org, Eratosthenes, Fellow of the Royal Society, Gödel, Escher, Bach, Henri Poincaré, Honoré de Balzac, index card, informal economy, information retrieval, invention of the printing press, invention of writing, Isaac Newton, Jacquard loom, Jacquard loom, Jaron Lanier, jimmy wales, John von Neumann, Joseph-Marie Jacquard, Louis Daguerre, Marshall McLuhan, Menlo Park, microbiome, Milgram experiment, Network effects, New Journalism, Norbert Wiener, On the Economy of Machinery and Manufactures, PageRank, pattern recognition, phenotype, pre–internet, Ralph Waldo Emerson, RAND corporation, reversible computing, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Simon Singh, Socratic dialogue, Stephen Hawking, Steven Pinker, stochastic process, talking drums, the High Line, The Wisdom of Crowds, transcontinental railway, Turing machine, Turing test, women in the workforce
.… My regret is that [it] did not become widely known in 1940. It would have changed the history of the subject substantially, I think.” ♦ In standard English, as Russell noted, it is one hundred and eleven thousand seven hundred and seventy-seven. 7 | INFORMATION THEORY (All I’m After Is Just a Mundane Brain) Perhaps coming up with a theory of information and its processing is a bit like building a transcontinental railway. You can start in the east, trying to understand how agents can process anything, and head west. Or you can start in the west, with trying to understand what information is, and then head east. One hopes that these tracks will meet. —Jon Barwise (1986)♦ AT THE HEIGHT OF THE WAR, in early 1943, two like-minded thinkers, Claude Shannon and Alan Turing, met daily at teatime in the Bell Labs cafeteria and said nothing to each other about their work, because it was secret.♦ Both men had become cryptanalysts.
Frommer's Oregon by Karl Samson
airport security, Burning Man, carbon footprint, Frank Gehry, glass ceiling, haute cuisine, indoor plumbing, sustainable-tourism, transcontinental railway, upwardly mobile, urban renewal, urban sprawl, Works Progress Administration
Nurtured on steady rains, such trees as Douglas fir, Sitka spruce, Western red cedar, Port Orford cedar, and hemlock grew tall and straight, sometimes as tall as 300 feet. The first sawmill in the Northwest began operation near presentday Vancouver, Washington, in 1828, and between the 1850s and the 1870s, Northwest sawmills supplied the growing California market as well as a limited foreign market. When the transcontinental railroads arrived in the 1880s, a whole new market opened up, and mills began shipping to the eastern states. Lumber companies developed a cutand-run policy that leveled the forests. By the turn of the century, the government had gained more control over public forests in an attempt to slow the decimation 17 2 LO O K I N G B AC K AT O R E G O N 05_537718-ch02.indd 17 1805, when Lewis and Clark had first passed this way, the Nez Perce tribe (the name means “pierced nose” in French) had been friendly to the white settlers.
Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed by Jared Diamond
clean water, colonial rule, correlation does not imply causation, cuban missile crisis, Donner party, European colonialism, Exxon Valdez, illegal immigration, job satisfaction, means of production, new economy, North Sea oil, Piper Alpha, polynesian navigation, profit motive, South Sea Bubble, statistical model, Stewart Brand, Thomas Malthus, trade route, transcontinental railway, unemployed young men
All of the Bitterroot Valley’s former timber mills have now closed, because so little timber is available from Montana publicly owned timberland, and because the valley’s privately owned timberland has already been logged twice. The mills’ closing has meant the loss of many high-paying unionized jobs, as well as of traditional Montanan self-image. Elsewhere in Montana, outside the Bitterroot Valley, much private timberland remains, most of it originating from government land grants made in the 1860s to the Northern Pacific Railroad as an inducement for building a transcontinental railroad. In 1989 that land was spun off from the railroads to a Seattle-based entity called Plum Creek Timber Company, organized for tax purposes as a real estate investment trust (so that its earnings will be taxed at lower rates as capital gains), and now the largest owner of private timberland in Montana and the second-largest one in the U.S. I’ve read Plum Creek’s publications and talked with their director of corporate affairs, Bob Jirsa, who defends Plum Creek’s environmental policies and sustainable forestry practices.
Collapse by Jared Diamond
clean water, colonial rule, correlation does not imply causation, cuban missile crisis, Donner party, European colonialism, Exxon Valdez, illegal immigration, job satisfaction, means of production, new economy, North Sea oil, Piper Alpha, polynesian navigation, prisoner's dilemma, South Sea Bubble, statistical model, Stewart Brand, Thomas Malthus, trade route, transcontinental railway, unemployed young men
All of the Bitterroot Valley's former timber mills have now closed, because so little timber is available from Montana publicly owned timberland, and because the valley's privately owned timberland has already been logged twice. The mills' closing has meant the loss of many high-paying unionized jobs, as well as of traditional Montanan self-image. Elsewhere in Montana, outside the Bitterroot Valley, much private timberland remains, most of it originating from government land grants made in the 1860s to the Great Northern Railroad as an inducement for building a transcontinental railroad. In 1989 that land was spun off from the railroads to a Seattle-based entity called Plum Creek Timber Company, organized for tax purposes as a real estate investment trust (so that its earnings will be taxed at lower rates as capital gains), and now the largest owner of private timberland in Montana and the second-largest one in the U.S. I've read Plum Creek's publications and talked with their director of corporate affairs, Bob Jirsa, who defends Plum Creek's environmental policies and sustainable forestry practices.
Unreal Estate: Money, Ambition, and the Lust for Land in Los Angeles by Michael Gross
Albert Einstein, Ayatollah Khomeini, bank run, Bernie Madoff, California gold rush, clean water, Donald Trump, estate planning, family office, financial independence, Maui Hawaii, McMansion, mortgage debt, offshore financial centre, oil rush, passive investing, pension reform, Ponzi scheme, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, stem cell, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, The Predators' Ball, transcontinental railway
Like his subdivision, Preuss has been mostly forgotten; Preuss Road, which honored the doctor, is today the chic shopping street Robertson Boulevard. Los Angeles The railroad changed everything. After May 1869, when a golden spike linking the Central Pacific to the Union Pacific was driven at Promontory Point in Utah, it became possible to travel from New York to Alameda, the terminus of the transcontinental railroad just outside San Francisco. In addition, the Southern Pacific Railroad had been formed to lay rails through California’s interior, and in 1876, the first train from San Francisco reached Los Angeles. It was only a few years more before Pullman cars with service equal to that of the best hotels and restaurants linked the coasts. And a decade later, when the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe finished its rail line to the West Coast and began competing with the Southern Pacific, starting fare wars that brought ticket prices from Kansas City as low as $1, Los Angeles experienced a spasm of growth, turning from a poor, isolated pueblo into a new city.
Aerotropolis by John D. Kasarda, Greg Lindsay
3D printing, air freight, airline deregulation, airport security, Akira Okazaki, Asian financial crisis, back-to-the-land, barriers to entry, Berlin Wall, big-box store, blood diamonds, borderless world, British Empire, call centre, carbon footprint, Clayton Christensen, cleantech, cognitive dissonance, conceptual framework, credit crunch, David Brooks, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, Deng Xiaoping, deskilling, edge city, Edward Glaeser, failed state, food miles, Ford paid five dollars a day, Frank Gehry, fudge factor, full employment, future of work, Geoffrey West, Santa Fe Institute, George Gilder, global supply chain, global village, gravity well, Haber-Bosch Process, Hernando de Soto, hive mind, if you build it, they will come, illegal immigration, inflight wifi, interchangeable parts, intermodal, invention of the telephone, inventory management, invisible hand, Jane Jacobs, Jeff Bezos, Kangaroo Route, knowledge worker, kremlinology, labour mobility, Marshall McLuhan, Masdar, McMansion, megacity, Menlo Park, microcredit, Network effects, New Economic Geography, new economy, New Urbanism, oil shale / tar sands, oil shock, peak oil, Peter Thiel, pets.com, pink-collar, pre–internet, RFID, Richard Florida, Ronald Coase, Ronald Reagan, savings glut, Seaside, Florida, Shenzhen was a fishing village, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Skype, smart cities, smart grid, South China Sea, South Sea Bubble, sovereign wealth fund, special economic zone, spice trade, spinning jenny, stem cell, Steve Jobs, supply-chain management, sustainable-tourism, telepresence, the built environment, The Chicago School, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, The Nature of the Firm, thinkpad, Thomas L Friedman, Thomas Malthus, Tony Hsieh, trade route, transcontinental railway, transit-oriented development, traveling salesman, trickle-down economics, upwardly mobile, urban planning, urban renewal, urban sprawl, walkable city, white flight, Yogi Berra
Improbably, Stapleton’s new incarnation as the largest “New Urbanist” community in America hints at a solution. Denver isn’t a mountain town so much as a railroad one, resting at the foot of the Rockies where the pioneers ran out of plains. It was a mining town too, a terminus where gold and silver riches collected before heading east by train. It wasn’t an obvious hub. When the Golden Spike linked the Transcontinental Railroad’s tracks in 1869, they bypassed the city completely. The Union Pacific’s president pronounced Denver “too dead to bury,” but desperate boosters sprinted to build a new line connecting them, ensuring its place as capital of the Rockies. This time around, the taxpayers were more skeptical. They greeted the new airport’s aloofness with exasperation instead of relief. Once too close for comfort, it was now too far away.
The Cold War by Robert Cowley
anti-communist, Berlin Wall, British Empire, cuban missile crisis, defense in depth, Dissolution of the Soviet Union, Doomsday Clock, friendly fire, Henry Ford's grandson gave labor union leader Walter Reuther a tour of the company’s new, automated factory…, means of production, Mikhail Gorbachev, mutually assured destruction, RAND corporation, refrigerator car, Ronald Reagan, South China Sea, Stanislav Petrov, transcontinental railway
If history is enjoying a resurgence of popularity, one of those chiefly responsible is the late STEPHEN E. AMBROSE. By the time of his death in 2002, Professor Ambrose had written more than thirty books, including multivolume biographies of Dwight D. Eisenhower and Richard M. Nixon (from which this article was excerpted), as well as such bestsellers as Undaunted Courage, the story of the Lewis and Clark expedition; Nothing Like It in the World: The Men Who Built the Transcontinental Railroad, 1863–1869; and his accounts of the end of World War II in Europe, D-Day, Citizen Soldiers, The Victors, Wild Blue, and Band of Brothers (which was made into a hit television miniseries). Ambrose was founder of the National D-Day Museum in New Orleans. OF THE MANY CONTROVERSIES that swirl around the American role in the Vietnam War, one of the most contentious centers on the Christmas bombing of Hanoi in December 1972.
Cadillac Desert by Marc Reisner
affirmative action, Albert Einstein, California gold rush, clean water, Golden Gate Park, hacker house, jitney, Maui Hawaii, oil shale / tar sands, RAND corporation, Ronald Reagan, Rosa Parks, Silicon Valley, trade route, transcontinental railway, uranium enrichment, Works Progress Administration
With oranges going for $2 apiece at the mines, and a plate of fresh oysters for $20 or more, it was a bonanza for all concerned. In 1848, the population of San Francisco was eight hundred; three years later, thirty-five thousand people lived there. In 1853 the population went past fifty thousand and San Francisco became one of the twenty largest cities in the United States. By 1869, San Francisco possessed one of the busiest ports in the world, a huge fishing fleet, and the western terminus of the transcontinental railroad. It teemed with mansions, restaurants, hotels, theaters, and whorehouses. In finance it was the rival of New York, in culture the rival of Boston; in spirit it had no competitor. Los Angeles, meanwhile, remained a torpid, suppurating, stunted little slum. It was too far from the gold fields to receive many fortune seekers on their way in or to detach them from their fortunes on the way out.
Atlas Obscura: An Explorer's Guide to the World's Hidden Wonders by Joshua Foer, Dylan Thuras, Ella Morton
anti-communist, Berlin Wall, British Empire, Buckminster Fuller, centre right, colonial rule, Colonization of Mars, cosmic microwave background, cuban missile crisis, dark matter, double helix, East Village, Exxon Valdez, Fall of the Berlin Wall, Frank Gehry, germ theory of disease, Golden Gate Park, Google Earth, Haight Ashbury, horn antenna, Ignaz Semmelweis: hand washing, index card, Jacques de Vaucanson, Kowloon Walled City, Louis Pasteur, Mahatma Gandhi, mutually assured destruction, phenotype, Pluto: dwarf planet, Ronald Reagan, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, trade route, transatlantic slave trade, transcontinental railway, Tunguska event, urban sprawl, Vesna Vulović, wikimedia commons, working poor
(For comparison, the presidential heads at Mount Rushmore are 60 feet (18 m) tall.) WYOMING PhinDeli Town BUFORD Until 2013, PhinDeli was known as Buford. The town sign provided a unique photo opportunity: Planted beside the dusty main road, it read Buford; Pop: 1; Elev: 8000. That one crucial person tallied was Don Sammons, a Vietnam vet who moved to Buford in 1980. Founded in 1866 during the construction of the First Transcontinental Railroad, Buford reached a peak population of around 2,000 people. As the rail line moved west, however, so did the workers. When Sammons, his wife, Terry, and son arrived in Buford in 1980 hoping for a quiet life, they got it: The trio comprised the entire population of Buford. In 1992, the family bought the town—consisting of a gas station, convenience store, modular home, garage, and surrounding land—for $155,000.
The Age of Turbulence: Adventures in a New World (Hardback) - Common by Alan Greenspan
air freight, airline deregulation, Albert Einstein, asset-backed security, bank run, Berlin Wall, Bretton Woods, business process, call centre, capital controls, central bank independence, collateralized debt obligation, collective bargaining, conceptual framework, Corn Laws, corporate governance, correlation coefficient, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, crony capitalism, cuban missile crisis, currency peg, Deng Xiaoping, Dissolution of the Soviet Union, Doha Development Round, double entry bookkeeping, equity premium, everywhere but in the productivity statistics, Fall of the Berlin Wall, fiat currency, financial innovation, financial intermediation, full employment, Gini coefficient, Hernando de Soto, income inequality, income per capita, invisible hand, Joseph Schumpeter, labor-force participation, labour market flexibility, laissez-faire capitalism, land reform, Long Term Capital Management, Mahatma Gandhi, manufacturing employment, market bubble, means of production, Mikhail Gorbachev, moral hazard, mortgage debt, new economy, North Sea oil, oil shock, open economy, pets.com, Potemkin village, price mechanism, price stability, Productivity paradox, profit maximization, purchasing power parity, random walk, reserve currency, risk tolerance, Ronald Reagan, shareholder value, short selling, Silicon Valley, special economic zone, the payments system, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thorstein Veblen, too big to fail, total factor productivity, trade liberalization, trade route, transaction costs, transcontinental railway, urban renewal, working-age population, Y2K
This was largely the case in the United States before World War I. It is difficult for a twenty-first-century American to comprehend the extent to which government was separated from business in those early years. The little corruption that existed drew large newspaper headlines. There were questionable transactions relating to the construction of canals in the early 1800s. Similarly, the building of the transcontinental railroad, with its huge land-grant subsidies, engendered much duplicitous activity, leading to the Union Pacific-Credit Mobilier scandal of 1872. As infrequent as they were, such scandals are what people remember of that period. Despite the heavy involvement of government in business since the 1930s, a number of countries have achieved high ratings for staying free of corruption, even though their civil servants have potentially sellable discretion in fulfilling their regulatory roles.
White Trash: The 400-Year Untold History of Class in America by Nancy Isenberg
back-to-the-land, British Empire, California gold rush, colonial rule, Copley Medal, desegregation, Donald Trump, feminist movement, full employment, indoor plumbing, invisible hand, joint-stock company, land reform, land tenure, New Urbanism, Plutocrats, plutocrats, Republic of Letters, Ronald Reagan, Scientific racism, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, theory of mind, trade route, transcontinental railway, trickle-down economics, upwardly mobile, urban renewal, War on Poverty, working poor, Works Progress Administration
When the ink dried on the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo in 1848, Polk had acquired what would become the states of California, Nevada, Utah, Arizona, and New Mexico, plus portions of Colorado and Wyoming. Democratic president Franklin Pierce added to Polk’s booty in 1854, when he secured the so-called Gadsden Purchase, a strip of land tacked on to the southern edge of the New Mexico Territory. This latest investment had been vigorously urged on by the alluring gamble of building a transcontinental railroad to advance southern cotton interests.6 Intellectual currents were affected by transcontinentalism, as a new idiom captured the public’s imagination. Advancing beyond Jefferson’s concept of a nation with no inherited aristocracy, Americans embraced an imperial destiny grounded in biological determinism. The new imperative held that as much as the Anglo-Saxon American’s racial stock was of superior characteristics, all that was left to do was outbreed all other races.
The Power Makers by Maury Klein
Albert Einstein, Albert Michelson, Augustin-Louis Cauchy, British Empire, business climate, invention of radio, invention of the telegraph, Isaac Newton, James Watt: steam engine, Louis Pasteur, luminiferous ether, margin call, Menlo Park, price stability, railway mania, the scientific method, trade route, transcontinental railway, working poor
Trains that once took days to travel a given route covered the same distance in a single day with the help of telegraphic dispatching. Once the railroads realized the advantages offered by the new technology, telegraph wires were strung alongside railroad tracks and moved west with or sometimes ahead of the lines under construction. A federal subsidy underwrote completion of the first telegraph line to California in October 1861, nearly eight years ahead of the first transcontinental railroad. In 1866 most of the disparate telegraph companies combined into one giant firm, Western Union, through a process that foreshadowed the pattern of local and regional railroads merging into large systems. The telegraph changed the way Americans did business. Transactions that once took weeks or even months by letter could be completed in days or even hours by parties located in distant cities.
The Snowball: Warren Buffett and the Business of Life by Alice Schroeder
affirmative action, Albert Einstein, anti-communist, Ayatollah Khomeini, barriers to entry, Bonfire of the Vanities, Brownian motion, capital asset pricing model, card file, centralized clearinghouse, collateralized debt obligation, corporate governance, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, desegregation, Donald Trump, Eugene Fama: efficient market hypothesis, global village, Golden Gate Park, Haight Ashbury, haute cuisine, Honoré de Balzac, If something cannot go on forever, it will stop, In Cold Blood by Truman Capote, index fund, indoor plumbing, interest rate swap, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, Jeff Bezos, joint-stock company, joint-stock limited liability company, Long Term Capital Management, Louis Bachelier, margin call, market bubble, Marshall McLuhan, medical malpractice, merger arbitrage, Mikhail Gorbachev, moral hazard, NetJets, new economy, New Journalism, North Sea oil, paper trading, passive investing, pets.com, Plutocrats, plutocrats, Ponzi scheme, Ralph Nader, random walk, Ronald Reagan, Scientific racism, shareholder value, short selling, side project, Silicon Valley, Steve Ballmer, Steve Jobs, supply-chain management, telemarketer, The Predators' Ball, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, too big to fail, transcontinental railway, Upton Sinclair, War on Poverty, Works Progress Administration, Y2K, zero-coupon bond
A gangly teenager, Sidney went west to Omaha, Nebraska, to join his maternal grandfather George Homan in his livery-stable business.3 The year was 1867; Omaha a settlement consisting mainly of a collection of wooden shacks. Since its days as a trail-outfitting center for westbound prospectors during the Gold Rush, Omaha supplied the staples to pioneers—gambling, women, and booze.4 But with the end of the Civil War, it was about to be transformed. A grand transcontinental railroad would link the coasts of the newly reunited states for the first time, and Abraham Lincoln himself decreed that Omaha would be the railroad’s headquarters. The coming of the Union Pacific filled the town with a bustling commercial spirit, as well as a sense of destiny. Nonetheless, the place retained its reputation as the Sodom of a pious state,5 and a well-known “rogue’s rookery.” After working at the livery stable, Sidney left to open the first grocery store in a town with no paved streets.