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  • Author: Oenone Kubie, Rebecca Orr, Mara Keire, Christopher McKenna
  • Publication Date: 12-2019
  • Content Type: Case Study
  • Institution: Oxford Centre for Global History
  • Abstract: On the evening of 31 January 1905, six hundred of the richest and most powerful members of New York society descended on Sherry’s Hotel dressed in extravagant costumes designed to resemble the court of the French King, Louis XV. The wealth on display was astounding. Pearls, emeralds, turquoise, and diamonds abounded. Mrs Potter Palmer, the queen of Chicago society, appeared dressed in a diamond tiara, diamond choker, and diamond breastplates. Mrs Clarence Mackay, wife of the chairman of the Postal Telegraph Company and a suffragist, wore a gold and turquoise crown and the train of her dress was so long, that despite the help of her two pages, she was forced to sit out the dancing.
  • Topic: International Trade and Finance, History, Capitalism, Multinational Corporations
  • Political Geography: United States, New York, France, Global Focus
  • Author: Jason Saldanha, James Haworth, Christopher McKenna
  • Publication Date: 03-2019
  • Content Type: Case Study
  • Institution: Oxford Centre for Global History
  • Abstract: French fur traders Médard Chouart des Groseilliers and Pierre-Esprit Radisson sensed an opportunity in the mid-1650s. During their travels within a North American trade network stretching from Montreal to the Great Lakes, the pair had heard rumours from indigenous Cree communities of a “frozen sea”: a region rich in beaver furs further to the north. The resourceful traders, aware of the European demand for luxury felt hats made from these furs, set out to explore. The two traders were not disappointed upon their arrival at the vast inland sea of Hudson Bay, discovering an abundance of high-quality furs. They quickly identified numerous rivers running from the basin that offered valuable access to the continent’s interior: if a shipping route could be forged from these locations, across the Atlantic and finally to European markets, the Hudson Bay region could re-centre the entire North American fur trade. After failing to obtain French support to establish a trading post in the area – and getting arrested upon their return to Montreal for trading without a licence – Des Groseilliers and Radisson found themselves courting English favour for their venture.
  • Topic: International Trade and Finance, History, Capitalism, Commodities, Trade Liberalization
  • Political Geography: United States, New York, Canada, Quebec City, Global Focus
  • Author: Kevin M. Higgins, Oenone Kubie, Courtney Bruno, Christopher McKenna
  • Publication Date: 09-2018
  • Content Type: Case Study
  • Institution: Oxford Centre for Global History
  • Abstract: Spanning 4.2 million square feet, two city blocks, and rising twenty-five stories high, the Merchandise Mart – the largest commercial building in the world – stands on the northern bank of the Chicago River. From the merchandising Hall of Fame in front of the Mart, one can watch passing architectural tours admiring the impressive Art Deco exterior of the building. These days, the Mart is home to high-end designers, advertising firms, and, increasingly, tech companies and start-up incubators. Within its vast interior, the industries of the Third Industrial Revolution have taken hold. Yet, when the Mart opened on 5 May 1930, no economic revolution was already established. By the early 1900s, the Second Industrial Revolution had brought assembly lines to factories, and the disassembly line to Chicago’s slaughterhouses, and it had seen electrification, telegraphs, and the railroads span the North American continent. But the revolution was already slowing by the third decade of the twentieth century. What had revolutionised industry in the nineteenth century now served as commonplace and not until well after the Second World War would Americans feel the first stirrings of another revolution as computation, telecommunications, and genetics again transformed the economy.
  • Topic: International Trade and Finance, Capitalism, Commodities, Manufacturing, Economic Development
  • Political Geography: United States, Chicago