When people moved to the cities during industrialization, did they generally move to the cities closest to them or did they often move farther?


Ad Honoris
May 2014
I'm talking about heavy industry. The Great Lakes provided the transport to move ore from the iron ranges of Minnesota to the factories on the lower lakes as well as the coal from PA and West Virginia. The eastern cities were not geographically situated nor disposed to want heavy industry. They were business, finance and trade centers. New York became the largest US city in the 1820s and remains so. The main "smoke stack" industries in that area are in New Jersey (where they should be).
That makes sense.

BTW, what are smoke stack industries?


Ad Honorem
Apr 2017
Las Vegas, NV USA

I tried to get a smoking one, but they wouldn't copy. They don't want us to know.
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Apr 2014
Liverpool, England
Based on my own family research, people could move a long way in getting from country to town, often passing up seemingly obvious destinations (like London or Birmingham) to get to Liverpool. One possible appeal of Liverpool was the (reputed) demand for unskilled labour on the docks - so you did not have to worry about lack of qualifications other than experience as an agricultural labourer. Another possible explanation for people ending up in Liverpool is that their intention was to emigrate, but for one reason or another they did not make it onto a ship. This may account for a significant proportion of Liverpool's Irish population.
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Ad Honorem
Mar 2019
What about in other countries? The same rule applies? So, for instance, a sizable number of rural east Germans moved to cities further west (such as in the Rhineland) because that is where the jobs and industries were?
Unless there are other factors, such as war, or local instabilities, what other reason would people leave the land and seek their fortunes in the cities. Unfortunately the perception of jobs did not always meet the reality of situations. Hence the levels of crushing poverty seen in London through that era.
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Mar 2015
The other thing that influenced them was the skill that they could bring to the newly industrialised industries.

Hand loom weaving had been developed in East Anglia by the Flemish in Medieval times and although this cottage industry had spread, a very significant part was still based in and around Norwich. When the textile revolution, 1730 to 1760 destroyed this industry, there was a flow of such workers into the Manchester region, where damp conditions and fast flowing rivers were a pre-requisite for the technology of the time. Like Sir Jasper I can trace some of my forebears taking this route - often re-appearing as Overlooker (low level Manager) in power-loom factory.

Same happened in the silk weaving industry which was destroyed overnight in 1860 when Britain agreed to tariff free trade with France whose silk workers were paid half of the British wage. Again one sees an exodus of these highly skilled workers to the mills of Lancashire (again more of my relatives).

Surface Coal from Newcastle had long been established in early Medieval period and shipped by sea to the London market. When demand vastly outstripped this supply and deep mined coal mines were developed, Cornish tin miners found ready demand for their skills.

I am sure there are more examples.
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