Invention #1 The Railroad (06:09)
As transportation got faster, people settled further away from the East Coast. Randy and Jason Sklar are in Chicago with Jim Roots of the Indiana Harbor Belt Railroad to learn about railway operations. Railroads carry a billion tons of coal, chemicals, and lumber. Trains made Chicago the world's fastest growing city.
Early America Stats (01:52)
In 1776, most people lived near the Atlantic Ocean. By 1800, most people were still in the Eastern U.S. In 1840, railroads brought people across the country to the West and mid-west.
Invention #2 The Elevator (05:40)
Randy and Jason meet with Mark Ahern from America's oldest elevator company. Elisha Otis invented a safety device that stopped elevators; it debuted at the 1854 World's Fair. His invention made people feel safe enough to live in buildings with elevators, which increased city populations.
Invention #3 The Steel Frame (05:06)
The Sklars are at the Willis Tower, formerly the Sears Tower. They meet with James Wolfinger to learn how modern skyscrapers can be built so high. Steel is so light and strong that columns can be built much higher than with brick or wood.
Invention #4 The Automobile (04:33)
There are more registered cars in America than drivers. Randy and Jason visit the Volvo Auto Museum. The Ford Model T traveled at 21 mph; the '57 Chevy could travel much faster.
Invention #5 The Highway (03:38)
In 1956, President Dwight Eisenhower signed the Highway Act, adding 47,000 miles of new road. Highways helped expand cities even further than the automobile had.
Invention #6 Air Conditioning (06:14)
Most American homes have A/C; nearly half of the population lives in the sun belt. Jason Obazut at HVAC Tech reaches Randy and Jason how A/C works. An experiment explains how air conditioning changed where people lived in the United States.
Invention #7 The Airplane (07:11)
The Sklars ask passengers at Chicago's O'Hare Airport where they are going and how often they fly. Randy gets a behind the scenes look at luggage operations. Jason works behind the check in counter at Air Choice One, a regional airline.
What Will Invention #8 Be? (01:27)
Technology has made it possible for people to travel across the country in six hours. The Sklars speculate about future inventions. (Credits)
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