Life in New York During the Gilded Age

Chapter 15
Gilded Age Politics
Chapter 15, Section 1
• The Gilded Age suggests that there was a glittering layer of
prosperity that covered the poverty and corruption that existed
in much of society. This term was coined by Mark Twain.
• In the late 1800’s businesses operated without much
government regulation. This is known as laissez-faire
economics. Laissez-faire means ‘allow to be’ in French.
Urban Growth
• When cities increased in size after the Industrial
Revolution, it was called urban growth.
• In the West, new town grew out of nothing as
railroads expanded.
• In the East, established cities grew due to
industrialization and the job opportunities it
• As industrialization continued, many people left
their farms and migrated to the cities for work.
• The 2nd half of the 19th century (late 1800s) also saw a
dramatic increase in immigration.
• In the East, most immigrants came from Europe, while
on the west coast, many immigrated from China to work
on US railway lines.
• What were the push-pull factors?
• By the end of the 1800s, nearly 80% of New Yorkers
were foreign born.
• Industrialization was largely responsible for the
immigration boom.
• The US became a land of promise much like it had been
for the 1st colonists 300 years before.
Ellis Island
• To handle the influx of immigrants into the country, the
federal govt opened Ellis Island in 1892
• A tiny island near the Statue of Liberty in NYC, it became
the reception center for immigrants arriving to the US.
“The golden door.”
• The diversity immigrants brought to American inpsired
the phrase, “melting pot.”
• Most immigrants did not want to fully assimilate
(become like the US mainstream). They wanted to
maintain many of their cultural traditions.
• In large cities, the nation began to experience a great
deal of cultural pluralism (presence of many different
cultures within one society).
Inscription on the Statue of Liberty
"Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"
Emma Lazarus, 1883
Who are the immigrants today?
How are they regarded?
What are the stereotypes?
Why do they come here?
What do they do?
How are they treated by natives?
Problems Caused by Immigration
• Many US citizens felt that immigrants took jobs away from natives,
and they often mistrusted foreigners with unfamiliar cultural ways.
• In 1892, the federal government required all new immigrants to
undergo a physical exam.
• Immigrants with contagious diseases, such as tuberculosis, faced
quarantine, a time of isolation to prevent the spread of disease.
• Urban neighborhoods dominated by one ethnic or racial group of
immigrants were called ghettos.
• Most ghettos formed because immigrants felt more comfortable
living near people with the same language and traditions.
• Some ghettos formed when ethnic groups isolated themselves
because of threats of violence, mostly from whites.
What are the similarities?
• How is 21st century immigration alike or different
from 19th century immigration?
• Did anyone in your family immigrate?
Religious Differences
• Most US citizens were Protestants, while many of the arriving
immigrants were Catholics and Jews.
• The religious practices of immigrants often conflicted with those of
• Natives also treated immigrants differently depending on where
they came from. Before the Civil War, most immigrants were from
western Europe, and as such were Protestant whites.
• In the late 19th and early 20th, centuries, however, many immigrants
were from eastern and southern Europe (Poland, Russia, Italy), and
were Catholic or Jewish.
• Racism towards this new crop of immigrants was intense and many
faced discrimination b/c of their religious and ethnic differences.
• There was also conflict among various immigrant groups- people
from one nation or ethnic group developed rivalries with others.
• Gangs of New York
”Bandits’ Roost”
Mullen’s Alley ”Gang”
1890s ”Morgue” – Basement Saloon
Immigrants from Europe
Chapter 15, Section 2
• As feelings of nativism grew (racism toward
immigrants), anti-immigrant groups formed.
• Immigrants were often the victims of violence
and discrimination.
• The govt reacted to nativist concerns by
attempting to pass laws restricting immigration.
Some measures were vetoed by US presidents,
but once passed restricting immigration from
• The Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 prohibited
Chinese immigrants from coming to the US and
was not repealed until 1943.
It’s a Hard-Knock Life
• Though industrialization brought innovation and job
opportunities, it also created problems for the urban
• Child labor was common in mills and factories, b/c poor
families needed everyone working to get by.
• Children as young as 5 had to leave school to workmissing out on education continued the cycle of poverty.
• Workers feared losing their jobs, b/c unemployment and
disability didn’t exist. Does child labor still exist?
• Factory work was monotonous and left employees
feeling very little sense of pride.
• Hours were long, wages were low, and factory
conditions were often dangerous and unsanitary.
• Sweatshops were also hazardous- makeshift factories set
up by private contractors in small apartments in or
unused buildings.
• Sweatshops were poorly lit and ventilated and unsafethey relied on poor unskilled laborers (usually
immigrants) who worked long hours for little pay.
The Ghetto
• Immigrants and poor urban workers usually
lived in urban slums (poor, inner-city
neighborhoods) in tenements (overcrowded
apartments that housed several families).
• The slums often had open sewers that attracted
rats and other disease-spreading pests.
• The air was dark and polluted with soot from
coal-fired steam engines.
• The tenements were poorly ventilated and full of
fire hazards. Often, they were occupied by more
than 1 family crammed together into a small
Urban Living Conditions
Chapter 15, Section 3
“Dumbell “ Tenement,
Dumbbell Tenement Plan
Tenement House Act of 1879, NYC
Mulberry Street Bend, 1889
Immigrant Family Lodgings
Italian Rag-Picker
Lower East Side Immigrant Family
A Struggling Immigrant Family
Another Struggling Immigrant Family
How Cities Grew
Chapter 15, Section 3
• Before the Civil War cities were small. Most
people walked wherever they needed to go.
• The introduction of the horse-drawn carriage
allowed people to move out of the cites to the
suburbs, or residential communities surrounding
the cities.
• Later in the 1800s, motorized transportation
made commuting even easier.
• The first electric trolleys opened in 1868 in New
York and the first subway trains appeared in
Boston in 1897.
• Buildings became taller too. The first skyscraper
in Chicago was ten stories tall.
Louis Sullivan: Carson, Pirie, Scott
Dept. Store, Chicago, 1899
NYC 1875
NYC 1902
NYC 1911
D. H.
How the Other
Half Lived
Tenement Slum Living
Lodgers Huddled
Tenement Slum Living
Struggling Immigrant
Mulberry Street – “Little
St. Patrick’s
Hester Street – Jewish
Pell St. - Chinatown, NYC
Davis, Hadley. “Reform and the Triangle
Shirtwaist Factory Fire.” Concord Review
“Famous Trials: The Triangle Shirtwaist
Factory Trial - 1911.”
“The Triangle Fire.”