Technology as symbol & technology as system;


machine aesthetic

Gothic steam engine 1850s;


4 major characteristics of technological system -

1) large-scale construction;

2) brings together different components;

3) standardization & goal of efficiency;

4) large-scale effects;


railroads - 1890, 164,000 miles track.

standard gauge - uniform system.

different components – machines (rolling stock), track, & structures. 


early 1800s, each city, town & farm kept local time.

Nov. 18, 1883, railroad set of standard time zones;

Iowa Supreme Court 1899, "We are not quite ready to concede that for the mere convenience of these companies, nature's timepiece may be arbitrarily superseded.  Local time cannot be lightly set aside on the mere pretext that certain lines of business so demand."


1850s, fruit from California & Florida to northeast cities; refrigeration cars;

Erie railroad 1840s, milk consumed in NY increased four times;


Symbol - "annihilate" both space & time;

Currier & Ives print. 


1851 Crystal Palace - Great Exhibition of London;

"the distinctive character of the English".

Crystal Palace - modular construction - first large, freestanding iron-frame building.

Cyrus Mccormick reaper. 

Samuel Colt's revolvers.

Prizes - 1 of 4 American entries. 

1854 British engineers, industrialists visit to U.S.


1876 U.S. Centennial – Philly exposition;

Bell telephone,

Singer sewing machine,

Remington typewriter;

Agricultural Hall. 

Machinery  Hall - Corliss steam engine - 40 feet tall, 700 tons, 1,400 horsepower.

President Ulysses Grant.

display of technological optimism;

8 million attended;


Brooklyn Bridge.

1867, chief engineer John Roebling,

longest suspension bridge in world, 1600 feet long, unprecedented load - 19,000 tons.

Washington Roebling,

1869 sinking caissons

"caisson disease" ("the bends").

finished 1883. first day 150,000 people. 


1865-1915, American production increased 12 times in value.

1880-1890, investment in machinery doubled, then again 1900-1910.


Chicago grain market; trading center;

new factories - McCormick reaper works.

1850s, new rail routes. 

Grain elevators;

Chicago Board of Trade.  

lumber trade from Wisc & Mich;  

stockyards - "disassembly line"

refrigerator cars - Armour & Swift.  

1871 Great Chicago Fire - destroyed area 4 miles long by 1 mile wide, 100,000 homeless.


1893 World's Columbian Expo, Chicago,

"White City"

12 million visitors.


Mass markets - national communities of consumption.


department stores - Macy's, Wanamaker's, Marshall Field's

"palaces of consumption"

chain stores - Woolworth's – “five & ten cent” stores;

integration of production, distribution and retail.

clothing - standardized sizes, ready-made clothes.


Farmers more of businessman;

1870s Granger movement, 1890s Populist movement.


Aaron Montgomery Ward 1872, catalog,

"I suppose you wonder why we haven't ordered anything from you since fall.  Well, cow kicked my arm & broke it & my wife ill so had doctor bills.  But now all well, have new baby boy & please send up hat on p. 20."

"Please send me a good wife.  She must be a good housekeeper, 5 feet 6 inches in height; weight 150 pounds, black hair & brown eyes.  I am 45 years old, six feet tall, am considered good-looking man.  I own quite a lot of stock & land & am tired of living bachelor life."

Richard Warren Sears –

1893, catalog 200 pages long,

Rural free delivery.


Alexander Graham Bell

patent 1876.


Thomas Alva Edison "wizard of Menlo Park".