This Rise of the City
A. The Urban Expansion
1. Urbanization: US grew up in the country and then moved to the city. Between 1870 and
1900, eleven million people moved into cities. Industrial jobs in the city.
2. Immigration: Geographic mobility was a large reason for massive immigration. More
than 25 million immigrants came to the US between 1850 and 1920.
- Two distinct waves: Before 1880, the majority of immigrants came from northern
and western Europe; English, Germans , Irish and Scandinavians (Old
Immigrants); After 1880, the majority came from southern and eastern Europe:
Italians, Hungarians, Eastern European Jews, Turks, Armenians, Poles,
Russians and other Slavic peoples (New Immigrants)
B. Racism and the Cry for Immigration Restriction
1. Divisions of Labor and Racial Distinctions: Ethnic diversity and racism played a role in
dividing workers into two groups: skilled workers (Old Immigrants) and unskilled workers
(New Immigrants). Each wave of newcomer was deemed inferior to established
residents. Social Darwinism decreed that whites stood at the top of the social ladder;
meant that new immigrants had to Americanize and assimilate in order to become
2. Backlash against “new” Immigrants: many americans saw new immigrants as
uneducated, backward, and uncouth. Pushed for immigration restriction
3. African American Migrants: Racism relegated Blacks to poor jobs and substandard living
conditions. Segregation by law in the South, Segregation by custom in the North.
4. Chinese Immigrants: mainly on the West Cost. Shunned and viewed as scapegoats of
the changing economy and economic downturn of the 1870s by disgruntled workers.
Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882: first time a U.S. law excluded an immigrant group on
the basis of race
-racism was not just a southern problem; racist beliefs throughout the country
C. The Social Geography of the City
1. The New Look of the City: mass transit transformed the walking city. The further from
the central business district, the better the neighborhood. “Cool Green Rim” (single
family homes, lawns, gardens, trees, had to pay fare to get to work) - Social Segregation: the separation of the rich and poor, of white and non-white,
of new immigrant and old immigrant by neighborhood. Caused formation of
distinct ethnic neighborhoods (china town, little Italy, etc).
2. How the Other Half Lives: Jacob Riis documented the poverty, crowding, dirt and
disease that constituted the daily reality of New York City’s immigrant poor in his 1890
book How the Other Half Lives. Opened eyes of his readers to the conditions in the city’s
slums and the growing chasm between the rich and poor.
3. In the Ghetto: middle-class and Elites lived in the “cool green rim.” The immigrant poor
lived in unhealthy, unsafe, overcrowded tenements. Middle-class and upper-class homes
were centers of consumption, working-class home was the center of production.
- Named for the shape of their floor plans (the buildings were as wide as their lots
at the front and back, but narrower in the middle).
- Replaced older tenement buildings after 1867 New York Tenement law
- While the dumbbell tenements were supposed to be more healthy than their
predecessors (which often filled their entire lots)
How one experienced the city depended on ethnicity, race and class.
At Work in Industrial America
A. Skilled and Unskilled workers
1. Common Laborers: unskilled. Human machines who used their brawn, not
expected to use their brains. Stood at the bottom of the country’s economic
ladder. Came from most recent immigrant groups.
2. Skilled Craftsmen: had a particular skill; used brain and brawn; wielded a
certain amount of power. Not particularly steady work.
3. Mechanization: employers attempted to limit workers’ control by replacing
people with machines, breaking down skilled work into smaller, unskilled tasks
which could be performed by unskilled laborers who wielded less power and
could be paid less.
B. The Family Economy: Women and Children 1. Family Economy: most working-class families, whether native-born or
immigrant, lived or near poverty. A families’ economic survival depended on the
contributions of all family members, regardless of age or sex.
2. Child Labor: in 1900 children ages 10 to 15 constituted more than 18% of the
industrial labor force. Some worked to help support their family, others were
homeless orphans who supported themselves.
3. Working Wives: in the 19 Century, the number of women workers rose sharply,
1.5 million women working for wages in 1870 and 3.7 million by 1890. Commonly
shifted slowly from domestic service factory work and then to office work. Few
married white women worked outside the home (3% white, 25% African
At Home and Play in Industrial America
Domesticity and Cheap Amusements
1. Cult of Domesticity: identified the home as women’s “proper sphere.” Prevailing
value system among the upper and middle class.
2. Working-Class Leisure: working class wanted to get out of the overcrowded
tenements they called home when and if they had leisure time. Gave rise to new
forms of entertainment.
- Rise of Baseball: United cities across class lines. Not just a game but a day
at the park.
- Coney Island: became unofficial capital of new mass culture. Easily
accessible to day-trippers from NYC. Escape from summer heat. Amusement
parks beach. (between 1880 and WW2 it was largest amusement park).
Shoot the Chutes:
• sea lion park on Coney Island
• opened in 1895
San Francisco, California
Opened on March 14, 1896
City Growth 1. Public Works Projects: municipal gov’t undertook public works on a scale never before
seen (paved streets, built sewers and water mains, ran trolley tracks and dug
underground subway lines)
2. Improving the Landscape: Cities became more beautiful with the creation of urban public
parks to complement the new buildings that quickly filled city lots. Frederick Law
Olmstead (landscape architect – central park)
3. Comprehensive Education: U.S. cities created comprehensive free public school
systems and free public libraries
4. Who Benefited?: Poor did not share equally in the advantages of city life. Laborers had
little time for a library, many kids had to work and couldn’t go to school, Central Park was
not central to the ghetto.
-central paradox… working together but not really benefiting working class
Tale of two cities: luxury vs working
-working class built city but didn’t enjoy benefits of it
Farmers and Industrial Workers Rise Up
Competition within the world of industry led industrialist to lower prices and cute costs.
Industrial workers who made little now had to get by on less. Rural farmers suffered
because of unfair shipping practices and market manipulation.