In March 1844, seven of the Fourierist phalanxes (Utopian intentional communities) in west-central New York formed a short-lived federation, the American Industrial Union.
The Union offered information to the public on the Sodus Bay Phalanx, the Skaneateles Community, and five other Fourierist communities across the region. It also provided a means by which interested persons could join one of the intentional communities or purchase stock to support them. Finally, the Union was meant to facilitate information sharing and cooperative actions, such as purchasing, among the intentional communities.
To fulfill these purposes, in May 1844 the Union opened an office in rented space in the Reynolds Arcade (pictured at right), then Rochester’s most prestigious business address. Local activist Theron C. Leland was the sole person to staff the office.
Yet it was all for naught; even by the time the Reynolds Arcade office opened, the Union’s under-capitalized, ill-managed sponsoring phalanxes had begun the process of falling apart. By September 1846, every Fourierist community in west-central New York had failed.