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19th Century Cities - Industrialization

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Austin Storhaug

AP American History


19th Century Cities

In 1880, a national census determined that the United States had grown to a population of 50,100,000. 6,600,000 of those who helped account for the population growth of cities were immigrants arriving from around the world. Also, many rural Americans became attracted to the lure of the big city. This incredible condensation into the big cities led to many problems including crime. Overall, the lure of the city, the abundance of workers, and the corruption created developed a new city experience in the late 19th century.

An American city seemed extremely attractive from afar. Big city pleasures such as electricity, indoor plumbing, and telephones created jealousy from the rural farmers, who did not possess such things. Also, cities lured many people with architectural marvels such as the skyscrapers with their fancy elevators. Rural farmers started to think their lives as dull when compared to the late night glitter of the cities. Jobs were also another lure of the big city. Industrial jobs presented jobs for both men and women. Not only did these jobs provide an income in which the employee could spend at city department stores (such as New York's Macy's) but also the income provided greater equality for many minorities as well as women. Theodore Dreiser's further encouraged the glamorous city life belief when he wrote Sister Carrie (1990).

The lure of the city had one drawback, it attracted so many people that soon the cities became vastly overcrowded. Southern and eastern Europeans

poured into the country looking for jobs. They came with a history of little self government, and many were illiterate and impoverished. Soon, this diversity began to show as "little Italy's" and "little Poland's" became apparent in the big cities. Immigrants gave employers an opportunity to pay such low wages that organizations such as the Knights of Labor and the AF of L were created to create a better environment for workers. Also, as cities became overcrowded and slum neighborhoods were created. These veil slum neighborhoods consisting of cheaply made buildings such as dumbbell tenements and flophouses led to the sped of many diseases. Often slum neighbor hoods were occupied by poor immigrants who created cheap labor and often did not portray WASP values. As a result.many natives hated immigrants. In 1882, immigration restrictions



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