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The Transition from Sail to Steam in Immigration to the United States




The transition from sailing ship to steamship is analyzed for European immigrants arriving at New York City. Based on information taken from the U.S. Passenger Lists, new estimates of the timing and length of the transition are provided. Though the accepted model suggests the changeover from sail to steam could occur in only a few years, it actually took about 15 years in the Europe to New York immigrant trade. The slow transition is found to be due to slow construction of new steamships given uncertainty concerning immigrant volume and new steamship technology.The most important change in nineteenth century emigrant transportation was that from sail to steam.Gunter MoltmannMoltmann, “Steamship Transport,†p. 311.…the transition from sail to steam in the transatlantic immigrant trade was an event of enormous significance for the history of immigration.Maldwyn Allen JonesJones, American Immigration, p. 157.

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  • Cohn, Raymond L., 2005. "The Transition from Sail to Steam in Immigration to the United States," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 65(2), pages 469-495, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:cup:jechis:v:65:y:2005:i:02:p:469-495_00

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    Cited by:

    1. Ran Abramitzky & Leah Boustan & Katherine Eriksson, 2019. "To the New World and Back Again: Return Migrants in the Age of Mass Migration," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 72(2), pages 300-322, March.
    2. Timothy J. Hatton, 2019. "Emigration from the UK 1870-1913: Quantity and Quality," CEH Discussion Papers 07, Centre for Economic History, Research School of Economics, Australian National University.
    3. Torsten Feys, 2017. "Between the Public and the State: The Shipping Lobby's Strategies against US Immigration Restrictions 1882–1917," International Migration Review, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 51(2), pages 344-374, June.
    4. Ran Abramitzky & Leah Boustan, 2017. "Immigration in American Economic History," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 55(4), pages 1311-1345, December.
    5. Sukkoo Kim, 2007. "Immigration, Industrial Revolution and Urban Growth in the United States, 1820-1920: Factor Endowments, Technology and Geography," NBER Working Papers 12900, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Timothy J Hatton & Zachary Ward, 2018. "International Migration in the Atlantic Economy 1850 - 1940," CEH Discussion Papers 02, Centre for Economic History, Research School of Economics, Australian National University.

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