Its cultivation was not introduced into Europe until the middle-ages, when it was brought to Spain by Arabs. Columbus took the plant, dearly held, to the West Indies, where it began to thrive in a most favorable climate.
It was not until the eighteenth century that sugarcane cultivation was began in the United States, where it was planted in the southern climate of New Orleans. The very first refinery was built in New York City around 1690; the industry was established by the 1830s. Earlier attempts to create a successful industry in the U.S. did not fare well; from the late 1830s, when the first factory was built. Until 1872, sugar factories closed down almost as quickly as they had opened. It was 1872 before a factory, built in California, was finally able to successfully produce sugar in a profitable manner. At the end of that century, more than thirty factories were in operation in the U.S.