One thing that differentiated New York’s economy markedly from that of other large nineteenth-century U.S. cities was its role as the hub of the nation’s financial system. This chapter aims to answer the following question. Was the extraordinarily high concentration of local employment in “banking and brokerage of money and stocks” the inevitable consequence of New York’s position at the apex of the national urban hierarchy or was there a plausible alternative chain of causality that would have resulted in a more even distribution of these businesses across North America’s cities?
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