In 1913, Henry Schnakenberg visited the Armory Show in New York where he had his first exposure to modernist art, a life-changing experience for him. The town of Edgewater, NJ, also underwent a transformation around the turn of the century. Located across from Manhattan on the Hudson River and with easy access to railways, it soon became a thriving hub of 20th-century industry.

Schnakenberg skillfully advances two opposing mind sets in this painting: the utopian ideal of technology bringing order to the modern world by enhancing the speed, efficiency, and products of everyday life—and the contrasting view that stressed the dehumanizing effects of technology, warning that it would replace workers, create pollution, and dominate the landscape in a destructive manner.