Economy of the Middle Colonies
The economy of the middle colonies was developed primarily around agriculture. The region's fertile soil allowed farmers to produce a surplus of grain, flour, and bread and export their excess to the other colonies, Europe, and the Caribbean. These colonies are sometimes referred to as the "breadbasket" colonies. The middle colonies also exported raw materials such as lumber, iron, and coal.
New York, Philadelphia, and other port settlements were crucial to the economy of the middle colonies. Access to the Atlantic Ocean was necessary for the transport of goods and raw materials. About 90 percent of early colonists lived in rural areas. However, the development of Philadelphia as a center of trade encouraged growth. By 1699 Philadelphia had a population of about 10,000 people. The city's location at the meeting place of the Delaware and Schuylkill Rivers provided farmers and traders access to the farms and land where goods and raw materials originated. They also had access to the Atlantic Ocean, where the products could be shipped to other colonies and abroad. The money colonists earned through export of lumber and other raw materials was often used to purchase manufactured goods, which were shipped to the colonies through Philadelphia.Located on the island of Manhattan where the Hudson River meets the Atlantic Ocean, New York City was another important commercial center in the middle colonies. First settled by the Dutch West India Company as a trading post, by 1700 New York City had a population of about 5,000 people.