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there, and roughly forty thousand people were employed there in a square-mile meat district anchored by the Union Stockyards. Refrigerated
sides of beef were shipped from Chicago not only throughout the United States, but also throughout Europe. At the dawn of the twentieth
century, Upton Sinclair considered Chicago’s Packingtown to be “the greatest aggregation of labor and capital ever gathered in one place.” It
was in his view the supreme achievement of American capitalism, as well as its greatest disgrace.
The old Chicago slaughterhouses were usually brick buildings, four or five stories high. Cattle were herded up wooden ramps to the top
floor, where they were struck on the head with a sledgehammer, slaughtered, then disassembled by skilled workers. The animals eventually
left the building on the ground floor, coming out as sides of beef, cans of beef, or boxes of sausage ready to be loaded into railcars.
The working conditions in these meatpacking plants were brutal. In The Jungle (1906) Upton Sinclair described a litany of horrors: severe
back and sho...
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This note was uploaded on 02/25/2014 for the course MGMT 120 taught by Professor Litt during the Spring '08 term at UCLA.
- Spring '08