National Geographic : 1948 Aug
Family Rivalry Inspired "The Breakers," Queen of Newport's Palatial Summer "Cottages" Early in the gay nineties Mrs. W . K . Vanderbilt erected her magnificent "Marble Palace." With this mansion Mrs. Cornelius Vanderbilt, her sister-in-law, soon eclipsed it. From 1890 to World War I, Newport was the fabulous summer social capital of New York's glittering 400. Empire builders spent kings' ransoms on Newport show places. What will become of the largest mansions now is the local $64 question (page 160). Rhode Island packs its people in 674 to the square mile, compared with the national aver age of 44. About 92 percent of the people are classed as urban dwellers. Yet only in the Providence area and the Blackstone and Pawtuxet Valleys is there a sense of crowding. Two-thirds of the State's land is classed as forest area, and in rural townships population may average as little as 10 to the square mile. A Highly Industrialized State Today Rhode Island is this Nation's most highly industrialized State. Manufacturing engages nearly half its workers and accounts for almost three-quarters of the total pay roll. Its 1,700 factories carry on more than 100 types of manufacturing, and Rhode Is land products by the score have won national or international prestige. Big Four of Rhode Island industry are tex tiles, machine tools and metal goods, jewelry and silverware, and rubber products. Giant of these is textiles, for more than half the State's industrial workers punch the clock in its 350 textile and related mills. Many employees "have the lint on their shoulders"-are third- and fourth-generation textile workers. With skill they handle prac tically every known fiber, natural and syn thetic, though by far the most important are men's worsteds and other woolens (Plate XI). Most of our domestic lace is made in Rhode Island, where 60 percent of all the Levers lace machines in America are located. I watched a score of these mechanical monsters, weighing up to 33,000 pounds and guided by pattern cards punched like player-piano rolls, produce incredible wisps of lovely lace. Each machine takes two men from ten days to two weeks to thread. Ready to go, each contains more than 11,000 threads, which, if tied together, would span the country twice. I saw Yankee mechanical skill aplenty in Rhode Island's foundries and machine shops.