Tuesday, September 01, 2015

The Second Machine Age Is Dying

Get ready for an unprecedented economic boom in the United States.

Theme: Geography of economic convergence

Subject Article: "How New Orleans Built a Bustling Tech Hub in Katrina's Wake."

Postscript: In both the first and second machine age, the economy is geographically divergent and then geographically convergent. The iconic place of divergent first machine age was Pittsburgh with its dominance of steel production:

The 40-year period from 1870 until 1910 marked Pittsburgh’s Golden Age. Favorable geography, unique natural resources and a super-abundance of entrepreneurial talent lifted Pittsburgh to a position of national and international prominence never seen before or since.  Pittsburgh’s growth is a story of heavy industry, specifically steel. Population statistics speak to Pittsburgh’s dynamism during this period. The city’s population grew sixfold in those 40 years, from 86,076 to 533,905. Allegheny County nearly quadrupled, to 1,018,463 residents. The local population growth rate doubled that of the nation. In 1900 the value of manufactured products in Pittsburgh was more than Cleveland and Detroit combined.

1910 was peak Pittsburgh. 1910 was peak divergent first machine age in the United States. After that, the region experienced a long slide that lasted about a century. In terms of manufacturing (the dominant industry of the first machine age), that slide continues in terms of labor market share.

The iconic place of convergent first machine age was Detroit:

For almost a half century last century, Detroit was a boom town. Between 1910 and 1950, few cities grew faster, were wealthier, were more attractive to those seeking success than what became known as the Motor City.

1950 was peak Detroit. 1950 was peak convergent first machine age in the United States. After that, the region experienced a long slide that well could last a century. The automobile isn't coming back, at least in terms of employment.

For almost a half century last century, Silicon Valley was a boom town. The 40-year period from 1950 until 1990 marked Silicon Valley's Golden Age. It was the iconic place of divergent second machine age.

That means we are about 25 years into convergent second machine age. Seattle? Boston? Someplace else? I'm trying to locate the iconic place of the convergent cycle of the second machine age.

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