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Transcript of Meatpacking Industry
How does it emerge?
In 1864, Chicago replaced Cincinnati as Porkopolis, the capital of meatpacking in the west. In 1861, the expansion of railroad networks and the Union army's war contacts for pork made it more profitable for many western farmers to feed corn to their hogs and send them to Chicago, which are then sent to European markets.
What economic factors spur its growth?
Vertical and horizontal integration were a big part of growing the meatpacking industry. Gustavus Swift used vertical integration to buy railroad cars for transportation and ice to line the cars in order to transport freshly cut meat, revolutionizing the industry. Eventually, Gustavus Swift and Philip Armour consolidated into one company, which is a form of horizontal integration. This was a major deal for the meatpacking industry because even today, these companies are still around and dominate the industry.
What innovations/inventions help it?
Cooling rooms that were lined with natural ice that let them pack pork year-round. This was one of the principal innovations in the industry.
After the Great Fire, the development of the refrigerator car created a new era for the meatpacking industry, allowing packers to transport freshly cut meat all over the country where railroads could reach.
How does your industry or movement consolidate over time?
Over time, more and more vertical integration had to be done in order for the industry to consolidate over time. More companies had to buy into different businesses like the railroad and ice industry in order to make their business grow.
Meatpacking's Impact on Chicago and the World
Without meatpacking evolving in Chicago, it would've taken a lot longer for meatpacking to become as efficient as it is today. Who knows, maybe we wouldn't have the luxury of having meat to eat everyday? Though not having meat all the time could have been a possibility, we have Philip Armour, Gustavus Swift, and all the other meat packers who came to Chicago to thank.
Why does it emerge?
At the time, meatpacking was exclusive to pork because people preferred their beef fresh. Packing at the time was a seasonal thing, only done in the winter months when it was cold enough to safely handle fresh meat. Because of new innovations in technology that allows meat to be transported to farther places, meatpacking started to boom as an industry.
Who are the leaders of the industry?
What challenges/obstacles does your industry face?
Employers payed workers little to no money, because of this workers started rebelling and protesting for worker rights. Workers were sometimes paid as little as 12 cents
Labor conditions were really bad, the jobs were dangerous because of all the use of knives and sharp objects and machinery to kill and cut the animals. Workers were forced to work long hours, with no health benefits and very little pay.
The actual condition of the plants were disgusting. Contamination was a very big problem because the safety procedures (if there were any) weren't enforced in the workplace. Water mixed with blood and rats in the meat carts were the least of their problems. Bubbly creek was were all the animal waste was dumped, creating dirty and unsafe water for the people of Chicago.
Before the refrigerated car, meatpacking was confined to the surrounding area of where the plants were. With new cars with ice lining the walls, meat was able to be transported to farther parts of the country.
Meatpacking took a while to get used to for people because they were used to having their meat fresh. Eventually though, the business boomed.
The reason this had to happen was because since more and more packers were coming to Chicago, new ideas and innovations had to happen in order to keep business up. This also had to happen because as the population grew, demand had to be met in order to make a profit and keep the people happy.
Benjamin P. Hutchinson became one of the most feared commodity traders 10 years after opening a meat plant in Bridgeport.
Philip Armour came to Chicago in 1875. He was ruthless and didn't treat his workers well. He used the assembly line to speed up production. Armour and Swift were big competitors however eventually came together to make one of the biggest industry monopolies in the U.S.
Gustavus Swift created the first refrigerated railroad car, making transporting meat a lot easier and cheaper. He slaughtered more than 2 million cattle, 4 million pigs and 2 million sheep a year.
Together, Hutchinson, Armour and Swift dominated the industry.
Thanks for watching!
This is a picture of one of the railroad cars that helped the meatpacking industry become what it is today.
This is a picture of Bubbly Creek, where all the animal byproducts were thrown out. It caused pollution and contamination in the water, making it unsafe for people in the surrounding area to drink, but since they didn't have any other option, they had to drink dirty water.
This image depicts the meatpacking process of slaughtering the cattle.