Chapter 18

The Growth of Cities and
American Culture (1865-1900)
(Chapter 18)
A Nation of Immigrants
Population increase from 2.3 million in 185076.2 million in 1900; 16.2
million of this = immigrants
Push Factors= A) poverty of displaced farmers driven from jobs by the
mechanization of farm work B) overcrowding/unemployment b/c European
population boom C) religious persecution (i.e. Jews in Russia)
Pull Factors= economic opportunities, US reputation for political and
religious freedom, abundance of industrial jobs in cities & large
steamships inexpensive one way passage in ships’ “steerage” allowed
millions of poor Europeans to emigrate
“Old” Immigrants & “New” Immigrants
Throughout 1800s; mainly northern
and western Europe: The British
Isles, Germany, Scandinavia
Mainly Protestants, w/minority Irish
and German Catholics
High level of literacy
Blended easily into rural Amer.
1890s- post WWI; mainly southern
and eastern Europeans (Italians,
Greeks, Slovaks, Croats, Poles,
illiterate; poor peasants who fled
autocratic countries
Unaccustomed to democratic
Largely Roman catholic, Greek
Orthodox &Jewish
Crowded cities and poor ethnic
neighborhoods in NY, Chicago &
other major US cities
Around 25%= “birds of passage”
Restricting Immigration
By 1886, Congress passes new laws
restricting immigration.
Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882; ban
on all immigrants from China.
Restrictions on “undesirable” persons
(criminals, mentally ill)
1885- law prohibited contract labor in
order to protect American workers
immigration center in 1892 in Ellis
Island= new arrivals had to pass more
rigorous medical & documental
examination, pay entry before
Supporters of Restriction
Restriction supported by
(A) labor unions
(B) nativist society called the American Protective Association- openly
prejudice against Catholics
(C) Social Darwinists-believed immigrants inferior to English and German
* H/w despite restrictions, nearly 15% of US pop. was immigrants at turn of the
century, until the 1920’s Quota Acts which almost closed Statue of Liberty.
Cities provided central supply of labor for factories, principal market for
shift of population from rural to urban. By 1900, 40% of Amer. lived in
towns or cities, by 1920 more Amer. lived in urban communities than
rural areas
In late 19th century millions decided to seek new economic
opportunities in the city, both immigrants and native born; people left
farms seeking industrial and commercial jobs
Between 1897-1930, nearly 1 million southern blacks settle in northern
and western cities
Changes in the Nature of Cities
Horse drawn cars and cable cars
replaced by electric trolleys,
elevated railroads, subways
transporting people farther from the
city’s commercial center. Building of
Brooklyn Bridge, allows longer
commutes btwn residential
neighborhoods and the center city
Mass transportation allowed for
segregation based on income.
Upper and middle classes move to
suburbs to escape poverty and
crime of the city
skyscrapers emerge becoming a
dominant feature in American urban
Ethnic neighborhoods vs. Residential Suburbia
Affluent citizens left residences
near business districts, while
poor moved in them
Landlords create tenement
apartments which could cram
about 4,000 in one city block;
overcrowding led to filth,
In crowded tenements different
immigrants could maintain their
own language, culture, church
or temple and social club.
Upper and middle class Amer.
decided to move out the city.
Factors prompting movement=
(1)abundant land w/low cost (2)
inexpensive transportation by rail
(3)low cost construction methods
(4) ethnic and racial prejudice
(5)desire for grass, privacy,
individual houses
Late 1850s Frederick Law Olmsted
designed a suburban community
By 1900, suburbia became
American ideal living
Boss and Machine Politics
political parties which came under control of tightly organized groups
of politicians, (known as political machines)
Each machine had its top politician who gave orders and gave out
gov’t jobs for loyal supporters
Tammany Hall (NYC) started as social club, later power centers to
coordinate needs of business, immigrants & underprivileged; in
exchange for votes
Party bosses knew how to manage social, ethnic and economic
groups in the city. Political machines brought modern services to the
city, like a rugged form of welfare.
Political Machine sometimes helpful, sometimes corrupt like Boss
Tweed in the 1860s pocketed almost 65 percent of public funds from
Awakening of Reform
New social consciousness in 1880s and 1890s
Literature of Social criticism=
Henry George, Progress and Poverty- criticized laissez-faire economics, proposed placing a single
tax on land to solve poverty and shed light on the inequalities in wealth caused by industrialization.
Edward Bellamy, Looking Backward- book which envisioned a future era in which cooperative
society had eliminated poverty, greed and crime; helped shift the public opinion to support greater
gov’t regulation.
Settlement houses emerge, most famous being Hull House in
Chicago (1889) Jane Addams; by 1910, over 400 settlement houses in
America’s largest cities. Settlement workers set precedent for future
social workers, they were also activists for child-labor laws, housing
reform and women’s rights.
Frances Perkins and Harry Hopkins will have leadership roles in FDR’s
reform program, the New Deal in the 1930s
Religion and Society
Social Gospel movement- In 1880s and 1890s Protestant
clergymen apply Christian principles to social problems, led by
Walter Rauschenbusch who worked in NYC’s Hell’s Kitchen&
urged organized religions to take up the cause of social justice.
Dwight Moody and his Moody Bible Institute help urban
evangelists adapt traditional Christianity to city life
Salvation Army-(1879) imported from England in 1879,
provided the basic necessities of life for the homeless and the
poor, while preaching the Christian gospel.
Mary Baker Eddy- taught good health was the result of correct
thinking about “Father Mother God”, founder of the Church of
Christ Scientist- popularly known as Christian Science
Families and Women in Urban Society
Urban life meant isolation from extended family for
the most part, divorce rates increase to one in 12
marriages by 1900.
Reduction in family size w/shift from rural to urban
living; children now seen more as an economic
liability than a need for labor like on farms
National average for birthrate and family size
continued to drop
Women’s cause for suffrage launched at Seneca
falls in 1848 carried by Elizabeth Cady Stanton
and Susan B. Anthony. They helped found the
National American Women’s Suffrage Association.
Wyoming was the 1st state to grant full suffrage to
women in 1869. By 1900, some states allowed
women to vote in local elections, & most women
allowed to control and own property after marriage
Temperance and Morality
Concern from urban reformers, especially
Women’s Christian temperance union
(WCTU) formed in 1874, under leadership
of Frances E. Willard of Illinois had
500,000 members by 1898,
Antisaloon League founded in 1893
became powerful political force and by
1916 persuaded 21 states to close down all
saloons and bars.
Carry A. Nation raids saloons and creates a
Moralists, thought cities to be breeding
grounds for vice, obscenity, prostitution.
Anthony Comstock of NY formed Society of
Vice and persuaded Congress in 1873 to
pass “Comstock Law”, which prohibited the
mailing of obscene and lewd
Intellectual and Cultural Movements
Changes in education, arts, sports
Public Schools= children now sent to kindergarten, elementary schools
after 1865 began to teach the 3 R’s (reading, writing, arithmetic) with
the increase in enrolled children in public schools, the literacy rate rose
to 90% of the population in 1900
Very significant was the tax-supported public high schools.
Higher Education= increase in US colleges in late 1800s, largely result
of (1)land grant colleges established under Morrill Acts of 1862 and
1890 (2) universities founded by wealthy philanthropists (3) founding of
new colleges for women (i.e.Smith, Bryn Mawr, Mount Holyoke)
By 1900, 71% of colleges admitted women who were 1/3 of attending
Changes in curriculm, introduction of electives allowing the US to
produce its first generation of scholars who could compete
Social Sciences and the professions
New social sciences emerge including behavioral psychology,
sociology, anthropology and political science.
Study of human behavior
Oliver Wendell teaches law should evolve with legal precedents
Clarence Darrow argued that criminal behavior could be linked
with environmental factors
W.E.B. Du Bois was first African American to receive a
doctorate from Harvard, advocated his “talented tenth” plan
New trends in education and professions of 1900 would have
significant impact on progressive legislation and liberal reforms
of next century
Realism and naturalism
thrive; showing human
nature and reflecting human
Bret Harte
Mark Twain
William Dean Howells
Stephen Crane
Jack London
Theodore Dreiser
Winslow Homer
Thomas Eakins
James McNeil Whistle
Mary Cassatt
As the 19th century drew to a close, a group of social realists
known as the “Ashcan School” painted scenes of everyday
life in poor urban neighborhoods. Upsetting to artists were
nonrepresentational paintings exhibted in the Armory Show
in NYC in 1913. Art of this kind would be rejected until the
Louis Sullivan
Frank Lloyd Wright
Daniel H. Burnham
Frederick Law Olmsted
With growth of cities came
increases in demand for musical
performances and
entertainment. By 1900 most
large cities had either a
symphony orchestra, an opera
house, or both.
Great innovators of the era=
Jelly Roll Morton, Buddy Bolden,
Scott Joplin
Jazz introduced to American
Jazz, ragtime, blues gained
popularity in the early 20th
century as New Orleans
performers headed north into
urban areas like Memphis, St.
Louis, Kansas City, Chicago
Popular Culture
Mass Circulation of newspapers exposing scandals and
sensationalism to new heights
Amusements increase and leisure time increase
Spectator Sports and Amateur sports gain acceptance