Historic Happenings: Industrialization & the Garden State

Historic Happenings: Industrialization & the Garden State

In your history classes, you may remember hearing about the Industrial Revolution. Our capacity to produce and manufacture goods was forever fundamentally changed during this period. With humanity developing technological advancements at a break-neck pace, the Industrial Revolution is oft regarded as one of humanity’s most prolific periods of achievement. While industrialization has been carried out throughout the globe, did you know that a whole host of innovations began in New Jersey? Today, let’s take a glimpse back at the Garden State’s industrious past and explore how NJ played a part in bringing about the future.

Before diving in, it’s essential to define the parameters of the Industrial Revolution, its later impacts, and its role in American history. While the initial advancements of industrialization began as early as the 1700s, development in earnest began in the 1830s and 40s when industrial advances started in earnest in the UK. It didn’t take long for this spirit of innovation to cross the pond, and industrialization began in the United States shortly after that. Over the 19th and 20th centuries, several industries emerged that would cause the US economy to skyrocket, most notably manufacturers of steel, automobiles, and electricity. These industries would go on to play a massive role in the modernization of America, bringing about many of the quality of life improvements that we still enjoy today.

New Jersey’s role in industrialization began in the 1800s when many of NJ’s cities would come to the forefront of manufacturing and modernization. Some of the most notable contributing towns during this era of American history include Jersey City, Newark, Paterson, Camden, Newark, and Trenton. New Jersey worked in several critical industries, including textiles, steel, clay products, iron, and more. With a growing population and a blossoming economy, manufacturing quickly became a significant asset to Garden State, ultimately becoming a more than $4 billion industry by the early 20th century. With many regarding New Jersey as the birthplace of American industry, the significance of our community’s contributions to modernization cannot be overstated.

Trenton was a hot spot for development and manufacturing during the Industrial Revolution. At the same time, our community has been home to several industries, some of the most notable of this era, including steel, textiles, pottery, rubber, and various other goods. Perhaps most famously, Trenton was home to the John A. Roebling’s Sons Company, a steel and wire rope producer whose exports were utilized in creating iconic landmarks such as the Brooklyn Bridge and the Golden Gate Bridge. Other Trenton exports, like rubber and pottery, were also highly sought-after goods, many of which still hold tremendous value today. No doubt a highlight in Trenton’s storied past, this era continues to be a defining moment in our community’s history.

Although the face of industrialization and manufacturing has changed over the years, New Jersey is still home to several booming industries that continue to change lives today. Although the faces may have changed, New Jersey’s role as an industry pioneer has remained a fixed pillar of our great state. As we enjoy the fruits of the labors of our predecessors, may we continue to keep the legacy of innovation alive and thriving in the Garden State.

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