In today's economy, most products are mass produced in massive warehouses, packaged, and shipped to our stores without us ever thinking of how it got there. A lot of products today have computers and robots producing the products we use every day. Before the Industrial Revolution, there was no such thing as mass production using powered machines. They used human labor working them extremely long hours at minimal wages. The Industrial Revolution ignited a change in people's way of life alongside the ways products were produced. With the rapid expansion of industry and trade, the American urban populations increased as well. In 1820, a total of 58 towns with a population of more than 2,500 made up America. Nearly 20 years later, the expansion resulted in 126 towns with a major influx of people. Over those two decades, the total population in all those towns went from 443,000 to 1,844,000, a increase of more than four times than in 1820! The quickest growth occurred at locations near where the rivers of the Appalachian Mountains began their initial descent down the mountain. Their plan was to take advantage of the running water to power their machines. This expanded population in these areas because the businesses hired workers from the local area. Many Midwestern businesses remained in key locations to serve as key junctions for railroad lines and steamboats. Businessmen created warehouses, flour mills, packing plants, and machine shops along side these main locations. This created hundreds of jobs for artisans and laborers. Some businesses ended up moving closer to locations where their product would be better suited to its customers. .
A great invention that was commercially used during the Industrial Revolution was the steam engine. In 1785, James Watt improved an earlier version of the steam engine developed by Thomas Newcomen by harnessing the heat to use it more efficiently while burning less fuel.