By the 1880s, the swampy Calumet region looked to industrialists like the last “undeveloped” space around the southern Great Lakes. It provided land for their vastly expanded operations in close proximity to water, Chicago’s labor supply, and a dense rail network. Guided by this new view and seizing this opportunity, the Calumet region became “the nation’s premier industrial zone” by 1920–a distinction it held through the 1960s.
These new, colossal industries produced vast amounts of iron, steel, and petroleum products. Smaller factories made a diverse array of products, including agricultural implements, car parts, musical instruments, and other consumer goods to sell to the growing Chicago and Midwestern markets.
Pictured above: Construction of an Open hearth building at Indiana Harbor Works.
Calumet Regional Archives, Indiana University Northwest
Explore the opportunities created by industry, and its limitations.
A Region Abuzz
Near the end of the 19th century, the Calumet region was abuzz with…
Diversity in Industry
Workers from inside and outside the US were drawn to new employment…
Pushing Back on Limits in Industry Working and living in an industrial region can be dirty, dangerous…
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