A.P. U.S. History Notes
Chapter 26: “America Moves to the City”
~ 1865 – 1900 ~
The Urban Frontier
From 1870 to 1900, the American population doubled, and the population in the cities
Cities grew up and out, with such famed architects as
working on and
perfecting skyscrapers (first appearing in Chicago in 1885).
The city grew from a small compact one that people could walk through to get
around to a huge metropolis that required commuting in
Electricity, indoor plumbing, and telephones made city life more alluring.
Department stores like
(in New York) and
provided urban working-class jobs and also attracted urban middle-class shoppers.
told of a woman’s escapades in the big city and
made cities dazzling and attractive.
However, the move to city produced lots of trash, because while farmers always
reused everything or fed “trash” to animals, city dwellers, with their mail-order
, which made things cheap and easy to
buy, could simply throw away the things that they didn’t like anymore.
In cities, criminals flourished, and impure water, uncollected garbage, unwashed bodies,
and droppings made cities smelly and unsanitary.
Worst of all were the
, which were crammed with people.
The so-called “
” were the worst since they were dark,
cramped, had little sanitation or ventilation, and were terrible.
To escape, the wealthy of the city-dwellers fled to suburbs.
The New Immigration
Until the 1880s, most of the immigrants had come from the British Isles and western
Europe (Germany and Scandinavia) and were quite literate and accustomed to
of representative government, but afterwards, this shifted to the Baltic and Slavic people
of southeastern Europe, who were basically the opposite.
While the southeastern Europeans accounted for only 19% of immigrants to the
U.S. in 1880, by the early 1900s, they were over 60%!
Southern Europe Uprooted
Many Europeans came to America because there was no room in Europe, nor was there
much employment, since industrialization had eliminated many jobs.
America was also often praised to Europeans, as people boasted of eating
everyday and having freedom and much opportunity.
Profit-seeking Americans also perhaps exaggerated the benefits of America to
Europeans, so that they could get cheap labor and more money.
However, it should be noted that many immigrants to America stayed for a short period of
time and then returned to America, and even those that remained (including persecuted
Jews, who propagated in New York) tried very hard to retain their own culture and