us that sometime during the last several decades the economies
of North America and Western Europe crossed a critical
rubicon. The social and economic landscapes of these countries,
fashioned in the crucible of the Industrial Revolution,
have now, we are told, entered a 'post-industrial' era1.
Basic fabrication and extractive industries, once dominant
forces driving the economy, are rapidly taking on a secondary
role. Residents of the smokestack communities associated
with this now sputtering economic engine are struggling
with the wrenching disruption and dislocation of this
economic watershed. In vast areas of Europe and North
America detritus of the waning industrial era litters
the landscape. Crumbling factories, rusting machinery,
abandoned mines and aging factory towns dot the country
side; standing as increasingly anachronistic reminders
of a declining way of life.
the contours of this emerging post-industrial economy
become more evident, there is a concomitant awakening
of interest in, and celebration of, the industrial past.
In Europe and America, diverse groups of individuals and
institutions, motivated by a multiplicity of interests,
are grappling with the problems of preserving, interpreting,
and, above all, understanding the industrial past and
its physical manifestations.