Can a temporary economic shock to an important local industry influence long-run city population? To answer this question I study the large temporary shock to British cities caused by the U.S. CivilWar (1861–1865), which reduced cotton supplies to Britain’s important cotton textile industry. I show that this event temporarily reduced the growth rate of cities specializing in cotton textile production, relative to other English cities, and led to a persistent change in the level of city population.

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