Cover

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Title Page, Frontispiece, Copyright, Dedication

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Contents

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pp. vii-viii

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Acknowledgments

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pp. ix-xii

The research and writing leading to Electric City stretched over more years than I care to count, and along the way my indebtedness to others steadily rose. In my efforts to conceptualize the project, David E. Nye’s Image Worlds and Roland Marchand’s Creating the Corporate Soul provided important guides. Kurt Vonnegut’s...

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Introduction

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pp. 1-16

On the morning of August 20, 1886, Thomas Alva Edison boarded a New York Central and Hudson River Railroad train for a half-day journey north from New York. Some three hours later Edison sat impatiently in Albany...

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1. Founding Fathers and the GE Brand

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pp. 17-35

In 1894 the General Electric Company consolidated its administrative and production activities in Schenectady. The Schenectady works quickly emerged as the muscle and the soul of the company, the place where the infant corporation built an overarching culture that it sought to communicate to its commercial...

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2. Chief Engineer Rice

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pp. 36-55

Chief engineer and second General Electric president Edwin Wilbur Rice Jr. stands as the principal architect of the distinctive technical culture that the company developed and sustained in a deliberate fashion for more than a century. At the moment of his being named chief engineer of the newly created GE, Rice...

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3. The Wizard and the Wizard’s Assistant

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pp. 56-85

The histories of two Schenectady technical men demonstrate how, beyond the example of E. W. Rice, the culture of General Electric’s engineers evolved through the company’s early decades. Charles Steinmetz emerged as an icon of GE’s brilliance in engineering and the values of civic service and family stability...

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4. Technical Men and GE Culture

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pp. 86-116

Under the steady hand of E. W. Rice, Schenectady General Electric grew rapidly into one of the world’s leading centers of research, development, and manufacturing in the electrical industry. Under the equally capable hand of Martin Rice, General Electric built GE’s logo, the “Monogram,” into a widely recognized...

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5. Blue Collar: Craftsmen and Operatives

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pp. 117-137

The manufacture of a comprehensive array of electrical equipment demanded a diverse industrial workforce. From uniquely skilled men like ceramicist William Cermak to the lowly laborer, General Electric’s blue-collar labor force vastly outnumbered the engineers and scientists who anchored the corporate culture...

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6. “The G-E Girl”

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pp. 138-167

When the Edison works opened its doors in Schenectady in 1886, women as well as men entered the plant gates. As Schenectady General Electric grew, its female workforce increased and diversified. Numbering 2,500 (or three for every twenty workers) in the 1920s, women accounted for one third of all Schenectady employees...

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7. Life inside the Great Plant

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pp. 168-184

From the 1890s through World War II, General Electric developed an increasingly complex and comprehensive electric city behind the gates of the Schenectady works. Before the end of 1894 chief engineer E. W. Rice had relocated to the town on the Mohawk, and Pres. Charles Coffin had moved his office from...

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8. Schenectady

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pp. 185-210

In a 1926 pamphlet for the recruitment of technical men, General Electric praised Schenectady fulsomely but not wholly without justification:
Schenectady, with a scenic setting of unusual beauty, is among the oldest communities in the country and rich in historical lore. Today it is one of the world’s great industrial centers...

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Epilogue

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pp. 211-218

Over a period of seven decades General Electric shaped the rise and the decline of Schenectady and its environs and defined the daily rhythm of life for many of its citizens...

Notes

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pp. 219-244

Index

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pp. 245-259

Back Cover

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