The development of the railway stimulated the economy in two important ways. First, the advent of cheap and efficient transport lowered the carriage cost of goods. This meant that goods were cheaper in the shops and this increased the demand. The increase in demand led to the expansion of factories which required more energy. The prime energy source at the time was coal. As the Industrial Revolution began to speed up, the need for coal grew because it provided power for the factory engines, steam powered ships and steam locomotives. Second, the demand for iron increased. Iron was needed to make the railway tracks, steam locomotives and the giant Watt steam engines that pumped the mines and provided energy to run factory machinery. At a later stage, iron was needed to construct the steamships.
The development of machine tools made precision iron working possible. Other changes included improved roadways, waterways and railways. Raw materials and finished products could be moved more quickly and cheaper than ever. Improved transportation also meant as people moved to new places, ideas and information spread. This was the beginning of globalization.
One of the defining impacts of the Industrial Revolution was the rise of cities. By 1850, for the first time in world history, more people Great Britain lived in cities than in rural areas. By 1920, the majority of Americans lived in cities.The new industrialized cities grew the economies of their nations.
The Industrial Revolution changed materials production, standards of living, labor conditions and population distribution. Job opportunities in growing factories resulted in a population shift from rural areas to the cities, creating the world’s first urban populations.
For the first time in history, there was a simultaneous increase in population and in per capita income. Life expectancy of children increased dramatically. A dramatic decline in the death rate cab be attributed to a decline in famines, warfare and illnesses.
Steel production was the major driving factor of the Industrial Revolution, which is one of the periods of greatest change in history. Steel helped drive industry, globalization and urbanization.