New York’s Last Industrial Era

New York’s Last Industrial EraBy Phin Upham

The period leading up to and shortly after World War II was considered to be the last industrial era in New York City. During its peak, defense production as high and jobs were plentiful. Upon the return of soldiers from overseas, defense spending lowered and jobs largely went back to the pre-war norm.

That pushed many women and minorities out of the workforce, which had a ripple effect. Families found themselves moving to different parts of the country in search of lower taxes. Corporations took factories to other parts too; seeking cheaper work forces that were not unionizes. New York had piloted unionizing, and the state suffered as a result. The automobile also made it possible to commute longer distances, which made it more attractive to move out of the big city toward cheaper accommodations.

New York attempted to adapt by entering an era of mass transit. It built the New York State Thruway during this time, which was modeled after the German Autobahn. Although the project proved unpopular for its day, it was unlike anything the US had built up until that point.

During the 1970s, when Nelson Rockefeller was governor of New York, the state was facing unrest at Attica over prisoner’s rights. Drugs were wreaking havoc, and the harsh laws in response were jailing users and dealers at an intense rate. The state also faced bankruptcy at one point, after it constructed the World Trade Center. The state had to take emergency measures to avoid fiscal collapse.


About the Author: Phin Upham is an investor at a family office/ hedgefund, where he focuses on special situation illiquid investing. Before this position, Phin Upham was working at Morgan Stanley in the Media and Telecom group. You may contact Phin on his Phin Upham website or LinkedIn page.