period of international leadership was challenged, this book interprets steel from the viewpoints of historical and economic geography. It considers both physical factors, such as resources, and human factors such as market, organization, and governmental policy.
In major discussions of the east coast, Pittsburgh, the Ohio Valley, the Great Lakes, the South and the West, Warren analyzes the location and relocation of steel plants over 120 years. He explains the influence on location of a variety of factors: The accessibility of resources, the cost of transportation, the existence of specialized markets, and the availability of entrepreneurial skills, capital, and labor. He also evaluates the role of management in the development of the industry, through an analysis of individual companies, including Bethlehem, Carnegie, United States Steel, Kaiser, Inland, Jones and Laughlin, and Youngstown Sheet and Tube.
Warren examines the influence exerted on the industry by complex technological changes and weighs their significance against market forces and the supply of natural resources. In the production process alone, the industry changed from pig iron to steel; from charcoal to anthracite; to bituminous coking coal; and from the widespread use of low-grade ore from the eastern United States, to the high quality but localized deposits of the Upper Great Lakes, to imported ores.
Unlike other industrialized nations, the United States has undergone major geographical shifts in steel consumption since the 1850s. As the American population moved south and west into new territory, steel followed. Warren concludes that these radical alterations in the distribution and demand were the decisive force in the location of steel production.