User Tools

Site Tools


Monied Metropolis

The coming of industrial capitalism brought myriad profound changes to the upper-class of society. Where before the upper echelons of New York were populated mostly by merchants, now industrialists began to attain the lofty heights of bourgeoise wealth due to the dynamics of national level industries which could command a pipeline from manufacture to distribution. Not only was a new class of bourgeois entering the stage, but the boundaries between the men of status began to become blurred. The rise of large financial banks facilitated the easy flow of capital from one industry to another. Not only did the bankers themselves use their massive capital to “organize chaotic industries, such as railroads,” but people who made their name in a specific industry heavily diversified their investments so that they were not tied solely to their original industry. -Jason Elms

Beckert introduces a few specific structural changes within the bourgeois class that made them more distinct and influential. Firstly, there was an increase in the number of wealthy New Yorkers supported by the booming economy and the persistence of old money. A national upper class emerged with this growth in population and the economy, with some industrialists and bankers controlling enterprises in different areas of the country, not just in NYC. To further this nationalization process, elites from other cities moved into NYC, bringing wealth from meat packing, railroad, oil, and steel industries. These migrants were drawn by networks of business and specialists, which in turn attracted more specialists (lawyers, journalists). Migrants were also attracted by the growing social life available for the wealthy in NYC. Elite social institutions, especially educational institutions, were becoming more nationalized by drawing participants from different areas of the country, not just from the nearby city (New Yorkers attending Harvard). Other institutions were also breaking regional boundaries, such as Employers associations. The growing national scope of the bourgeois allowed them to set the tone for the social and political ideologies of the upper class in the late 1800s.

With the Gilded age coming into full effect, these urban cities set up shop for the economic opportunity industrialization had to offer. New York became the capitalist central for the whole U.S, and was also the banking central as well.

With antebellum conflicts being a thing of the past, there was widespread agreement on the fundamentals of the political economy of a free-labor America. By 1892, twenty-seven percent of all millionaires lived in New York. The 1880's later saw the emergence of a group of managers, experts and professions who increasingly took control of day-to-day operations of enterprises. This group of group of people (including doctors, lawyers and bankers) formed the “new business class”. They were able to join the world of the bourgeoisie, despite lacking capital.

beckert_monied_metropolis.txt · Last modified: 2019/02/21 23:50 by bsiegel