Urbanization refers to the transfer of people from rural to urban locations. The United States’ urbanization expanded gradually in the early 1800s, then surged in the years after the Civil War. By 1890, twenty-eight percent of Americans lived in cities, and by 1920, towns and cities outnumbered rural regions.
Certain factors caused certain towns to transform into huge metropolitan centers as the nation progressed, while others did not. Electric lighting, improved communication, intracity transit, and the growth of skyscrapers were four breakthroughs that altered urbanization around the turn of the century.
People that traveled for new occupations sometimes encountered a lack of fundamental urban amenities such as improved transportation, suitable housing, communication, and efficient sources of light and electricity. Even basic essentials like fresh water and appropriate sanitation, which are frequently taken for granted in the rural, posed a larger struggle in city living.
In 1879, Thomas Edison invented the incandescent light bulb. This innovation swiftly spread to homes and industries, altering the lives of even lower- and middle-class Americans. Although it took some time to reach rural regions, electric electricity became widely accessible in cities when the first commercial power plants opened in 1882.
When Nikola Tesla later created the alternating current (AC) system for the Westinghouse Electric & Manufacturing Company, power supply for lighting and other manufacturing equipment could be extended for miles from the power source.
AC power revolutionized the utilization of electricity, enabling cities to physically cover larger regions. Electric lighting in the factory allowed operations to operate twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. This growth in output necessitated the hiring of more employees, which drove more people to cities.
Cities gradually started to illuminate the streets with electric lights, allowing the city to stay illuminated throughout the night. The speed of life and commercial activity no longer slowed significantly after sunset, as it had in smaller towns. Following the industries that lured people there, the city remained open at all times.
The telephone, which was invented in 1876, revolutionized regional and national communication. By 1900, over 1.5 million telephones were in use throughout the country, whether as private lines in the houses of certain middle- and upper-class Americans, or as jointly used “party lines” in many rural regions. Growing telephone networks enabled urban spread by facilitating quick communication across greater distances at any one moment.
In the same manner that electric lighting boosted manufacturing output and economic development, the telephone increased business by increasing demand at a faster rate. Orders may now be placed over the phone rather than via mail. More orders meant more manufacturing, which necessitated even more people. This desire for extra labor was critical to urban expansion, as growing businesses sought employees to meet rising consumer demand for their goods.
As cities expanded and spread outside, one key difficulty was efficient city travel—from house to industries or shops, and then back again. The majority of transportation infrastructure was employed to link cities, often by rail or canal. Prior to the 1880s, the omnibus was the most frequent mode of urban transit.
This was a big horse-drawn carriage that was often mounted on iron or steel rails for a smoother ride. While omnibuses performed well in smaller, less crowded cities, they were not designed to manage the greater crowds that grew towards the end of the century. Horse excrement became a continual issue as the horses had to stop and rest.
Frank Sprague designed the electric trolley in 1887, which functioned similarly to the omnibus, with a huge wagon on rails, but was powered by electricity rather than horses. The electric tram, like the industries and the people that fuelled it, could operate at all hours of the day and night.
However, it also modernized less major industrial areas, such as Richmond, Virginia, in the south. San Francisco engineers used mining industry pulley technology to create cable cars and transform the city’s steep hills into exquisite middle-class neighborhoods as early as 1873. However, when populations grew in major cities like Chicago and New York, trolleys were unable to maneuver effectively past the hordes of people.
To address this issue, city planners raised the trolley lines above the streets, resulting in elevated trains, or L-trains, as early as 1868 in New York City and soon expanding to Boston in 1887 and Chicago in 1892. Finally, when skyscrapers started to dominate the skyline, transit moved underground as subways. Boston’s subway system opened in 1897, and New York and other cities swiftly followed suit.
Although trolleys were significantly more efficient than horse-drawn carriages, accidents were common in big places such as New York, as seen in this 1895 image from Leslie’s Weekly . To escape congested streets, trolleys moved underground, as shown at the Public Gardens Portal in Boston , where three distinct lines converged to enter the Tremont Street Subway, the country’s oldest subway tube, which opened on September 1, 1897.
The final barrier that enormous cities had to overcome was the growing demand for space. Eastern cities, unlike their midwestern counterparts, could not expand farther since the territory around them had already been occupied. Geographic constraints such as rivers and coastlines also restricted expansion. Citizens in all cities required to be near enough to urban centers to easily reach jobs, shopping, and other fundamental urban institutions.
The rising expense of real estate, as well as the prestige that tall buildings held for the companies that housed them, made upward expansion appealing. In 1885, workers constructed Chicago’s first skyscraper, the ten-story Home Insurance Building. Although engineers had the potential to go higher owing to new steel construction processes, bigger structures needed another critical invention: the elevator.
The first electric elevator was erected in 1889 by the Otis Elevator Company, founded by inventor James Otis. This sparked the skyscraper boom, enabling eastern city developers to construct and sell prominent real estate in the center of dense eastern metropoles.
While the technology existed to create large structures, skyscrapers did not begin to dominate the urban scene until the introduction of the electric elevator in 1889. The Home Insurance Building in Chicago, considered the first modern skyscraper, is seen here.
Congestion, pollution, crime, and sickness were common challenges in all metropolitan areas; city planners and residents alike sought creative solutions to the difficulties brought on by fast urban expansion. The majority of working-class city people had deplorable living circumstances. They were housed in overcrowded tenement buildings and tight flats with poor ventilation and subpar plumbing and sanitation.
As a consequence, illness spread like wildfire, with typhoid and cholera becoming frequent. Memphis, Tennessee, was hit by waves of cholera (1873), followed by yellow fever (1878 and 1879), which claimed over ten thousand lives. By the late 1880s, sewage pumping systems had been installed in New York City, Baltimore, Chicago, and New Orleans to enable effective waste control. Many cities were also dangerously close to wildfires.
A typical working-class family of six, consisting of two parents and four children, could only afford a two-bedroom tenement. According to one 1900 estimate, there were almost 50,000 tenement homes in the New York City borough of Manhattan alone.
Photographs of these tenement dwellings may be seen in Jacob Riis’s book, How the Other Half Lives, which was explored in the previous segment. According to a survey conducted at the time by the New York State Assembly, New York is the most densely inhabited city in the world, with as many as 800 persons per square acre in the Lower East Side working-class slums of the Eleventh and Thirteenth Wards.
Churches and civic groups helped to alleviate the stresses of working-class city life. Because of their faith in the notion of the social gospel, churches felt motivated to intervene. The Reverend Washington Gladden was a key proponent of this theory, which believed that all Christians, whether church leaders or social reformers, should be as concerned about the circumstances of life in the secular world as they were about the hereafter.
Rather of presenting sermons on heaven and hell, Gladden spoke on current social issues, asking other preachers to follow in his footsteps. He campaigned for everyday changes and urged Americans of all socioeconomic backgrounds to work together for the good of society. His lectures emphasized the importance of “loving thy neighbor” and the need for all Americans to work together to serve the masses.
Churches grew to contain gymnasiums and libraries, as well as evening lectures on cleanliness and health care, as a consequence of his influence. At the same period, religious groups such as the Salvation Army and the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) established their presence in American cities. These groups started offering community services and other advantages to the urban poor in the 1870s.
In the secular realm, the 1890s settlement house movement gave further respite. Pioneering women like Jane Addams in Chicago and Lillian Wald in New York spearheaded this early progressive reform movement in the United States, expanding on ideas developed by social reformers in England.
They aimed to establish settlement homes in metropolitan areas where they could assist the working class, particularly working-class women, in finding assistance. Their assistance included child care, evening programs, libraries, gyms, and free health care.
In 1889, Addams launched her now-famous Hull House in Chicago, and six years later, Wald’s Henry Street Settlement debuted in New York. The movement swiftly expanded to other cities, where it not only gave relief to working-class women but also provided job prospects for women graduating from college in the expanding area of social work.
Living in settlement homes with the women they assisted provided the equivalent of living social classrooms for these college graduates to exercise their talents, which sometimes generated conflict with immigrant women who had their own ideals of reform and self-improvement.
In 1889, Jane Addams founded Hull House in Chicago, providing services and assistance to the city’s working poor. The success of the settlement house movement subsequently provided the foundation of a political agenda that included, among other things, pressure for housing regulations, child labor laws, and worker’s compensation legislation.
Florence Kelley, who had previously worked with Addams in Chicago, eventually joined Wald’s efforts in New York; together, they founded the National Child Labor Committee and lobbied for the establishment of the Children’s Bureau in the United States Department of Labor in 1912.
Julia Lathrop, a former Hull House resident, became the first woman to lead a federal government department when President William Howard Taft selected her to lead the Bureau of Labor Statistics. During World War I, settlement house employees were significant leaders in both the women’s suffrage and antiwar movements.
From 1880 to 1920, industrial employment increased fourfold, from 2.5 to 10 million employees. The decades before 1900 were not just a period of industrialization in the United States, but also of urbanization and immigration.
The late-nineteenth-century industrialisation resulted in increasing urbanization. People started to migrate from rural, agricultural regions to major metropolitan areas as manufacturing firms expanded, creating numerous work possibilities.
People from all over the globe opted to leave their homes and come to the United States in the late 1800s. Many migrated to the United States in search of economic opportunity, fleeing agricultural failure, land and employment shortages, soaring taxation, and starvation.
Electric lighting, improved communication, intracity transit, and the growth of skyscrapers were four breakthroughs that altered urbanization around the turn of the century.
https://bowie1983book.com/ will answer from 1880 to 1920, cities in the united states grew rapidly. what factors caused that growth, and in what ways did americans respond to the challenges posed by urbanization?