How Did Geography Spur Industrialization in the Northeast?

The geography of the Northeastern United States contributed to increasing industrialization in the early 19th century due to the availability of land and natural resources. The need for running water and efficient routes of transportation also had a major effect.

The potential for geographic expansion in the Northeastern United States, and throughout the country, was a primary factor in the success of the young nation. Factory, mine and mill owners had no trouble locating land for construction and expansion. Samuel Slater was the first to build English-style textiles mills in America in 1790. Slater's mill in Pawtuckett, Rhode Island, like many other factories, relied on running water to power the large machines housed within.

While the spread of steam-powered technology later decreased the reliance on running water for power, waterways continued to play an important role in industrialization. The invention of the steamboat and the construction of canals, such as the Erie Canal, increased the efficiency of transporting goods across long distances. Canals, along with evolving rail and roadway systems, helped widen the market for industrial goods. The Northeast also had a large supply of natural resources, such as coal, steel and iron, which provided the necessary materials for creating everything from machines in mills to the railways on which finished good and raw materials were transported.