A nation of immigrants

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Week of October 16, 2017

AP Lesson 30
READINGS-Urbanization and Immigration

READINGS- Urbanization and Immigration

AMSCO- ch 18 The Rise of Industrial America, Growth of Cities, and American Culture, 1865-1900

In the last half of the 19th century, the US population increased more than threefold, from about 23.2 million in 1850 to 76.2 million in 1900. A significant portion of the growth was fueled by the arrival in these years of some 16.2 million immigrants. An additional 8.8 million more arrived during the peak years of immigration, 1901-1910.
Growth of Immigration:

In every era, the motives for emigrating from one country to another are a combination of “pushes” (negative factors from which people are fleeing) and “pulls” (positive attractions of the adopted country). The negative forces driving Europeans to emigrate in the late 19th century included:

  • The poverty of displaced farmworkers driven from the land by the mechanization of farm-work

  • Overcrowding and joblessness in European cities as a result of a population boom

  • Religious persecution of Jews in Russia

Positive reasons for choosing to emigrate to the US included this country’s reputation for political and religious freedom and the economic opportunities afforded by the settling of the Great Plains and the abundance of industrial jobs in US cities. Furthermore, the introduction of large steamships and the relatively inexpensive one way passage in the ships “steerage” made it possible for millions of poor Europeans to emigrate.

“Old” Immigrants and “New” Immigrants:

Through the 1880s, the overwhelming majority of immigrants came from northern and western Europe: the British Isles, Germany, and Scandinavia. Most of these “old” immigrants were Protestants, although a sizable minority were Irish and German Catholics. Their language (mostly English-speaking) and high level of literacy and occupational skills made it relatively easy for these immigrants to blend into a mostly rural American society in the early decades of the 19th century.

NEW IMMIGRANTS: Beginning in the 1890s and continuing to the outbreak of WWI in 1914, there was a notable change in the national origins of most immigrants. The “new” immigrants came from southern and eastern Europe. They were Italians, Greeks, Croats, Slovaks, Poles, and Russians. Many were poor and illiterate peasants, who had left autocratic countries and therefore were unaccustomed to democratic traditions. Unlike the earlier groups of Protestant immigrants, the newcomers were largely Roman Catholic, Greek Orthodox, Russian Orthodox, and Jewish. On arrival, most new immigrants crowded into poor ethnic neighborhoods in NY, Chicago, and other major US cities. An estimated 25% of them were “birds of passage,” young men contracted for unskilled factory, mining, and construction jobs, who would return to their native lands once they had saved a fair sum of money to bring back to their families.
Restricting Immigration:

In the 1870s, when the French sculptor Frederic- Auguste Bartholdi began work on the Statue of Liberty, there were few legal restrictions on immigration to the US. By 1886, however- the year that the great welcoming statue was placed on its pedestal in NY harbor- Congress had passed a number of new laws restricting immigration. First came the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, placing a ban on all new immigrants from China. Then came restrictions on the immigration of “undesirable” persons (those convicted of criminal acts or diagnosed as mentally incompetent). Another law in 1885 prohibited contract labor in order to protect American workers. Soon after the opening of Ellis Island as an immigration center in 1892, the new arrivals had to pass more rigorous medical and document examinations and pay an entry tax before being allowed into the US.

These efforts to restrict immigration were supported by diverse groups such as:

  • Labor unions, which feared that employers would use immigrants to depress wages and break strikes

  • A nativist society called the American Protective Association, which was openly prejudiced against Roman Catholics

  • Social Darwinists, who viewed the new immigrants as biologically inferior to English and Germanic stocks.

During a severe depression in the 1890s, foreigners became a convenient scapegoat for jobless workers as well as for employers who blamed strikes and the labor movement on foreign agitators. By no means, however, did the anti-immigrant feelings and early restrictions stop the flow of newcomers. At the turn of the century, almost 15% of the US population were immigrants. The Statue of Liberty remained a beacon of hope for the poor and the oppressed of southern and eastern Europe until the 1920s, when the Quota Acts almost closed Liberty’s golden door.


Urbanization and industrialization developed simultaneously as 2 sides of the same coin. Cities provided both a central supply of labor for factories and also a principal market for factory-made good. The shift in population from rural to urban became more obvious with each passing decade. By 1900 almost 40% of Americans lived in towns or cities, and by 1920, for the first time, more Americans lived in urban communities than in rural areas. Those moving into the cities were both immigrants and native-born Americans. In the late 20th century, millions of young Americans from rural areas decided to seek new economic opportunities in the cities. They left the farms for industrial and commercial jobs, and few of them returned. Among those who joined the inexorable movement from farms to cities were African Americans from the South. Between 1897 and 1930, nearly 1 million southern African Americans settled in northern and western cities.
Changes in the Nature of Cities:

Cities of the late 19th century underwent significant changes not only in their size but also in their internal structure and design.

STREETCAR CITIES: A number of improvements in urban transportation made the growth of cities possible. In the walking cities of the pre-Civil War era, people had little choice but to live within walking distance of their shops or jobs. Such cities gave way to streetcar cities, in which people lived in residencies many miles from the jobs and commuted to work on horse-drawn streetcars. By the 1890s, both horse-drawn cars and cable cars were being replaced by electric trolleys, elevated railroads, and subways, which could transport people to urban residences even further from the city’s commercial center. The building of massive steel suspension bridges such as the Brooklyn Bridge (completed in 1883) also made possible longer commutes between residential neighborhoods and the center city. Mass transportation had the effect of segregating urban workers by income. The upper and middle classes moved to streetcar suburbs to escape the pollution, poverty, and crime of the city. The exodus of higher-income residents left older sections of the city to the working poor, many of whom were immigrants.
SKYSCRAPERS: As cities expanded outward, they also soared upward, since increasing land values in the central business district dictated the construction of taller and taller buildings. In 1885, William Le Baron Jenny built the 10-story Home Insurance Building in Chicago- the first true skyscraper with a steel skeleton. Structures of this size were made possible by such innovations as the Otis elevator and the central steam-heating system with radiators in every room. By 1900 steel-framed skyscrapers for offices of industry and commerce had replaced church spires as the dominant feature of American urban skylines.
ETHNIC NEIGHBORHOODS: As the more affluent citizens deserted residences near the business district, the poor moved into them. To increase their profits, landlords divided up inner-city housing into small, windowless rooms. The resulting slums and tenement apartments could cram over 4,000 people into one city block. In an attempt to correct unlivable conditions, NYC passed a law in 1879 that required each bedroom to have a window. The cheapest way for landlords to respond to the law was to build the so-called dumbbell tenements, with ventilation shafts in the center of the building to provide windows for each room. However, overcrowding and filth in new tenements continued to promote the spread of deadly diseases, such as cholera, typhoid, and tuberculosis. In their crowded tenement quarters, different immigrant groups created distinct ethnic neighborhoods where each group could maintain its own language, culture, church or temple, and social club. Many groups even supported their own newspapers and schools. While often crowded, unhealthy, and crime-ridden, these neighborhoods often served as springboards for ambitious and hardworking immigrants and their children to achieve their version of the American dream.
RESIDENTIAL SUBURBS: In contrast to social and residential patterns in the US, in Europe the wealthiest people today live, as in the past, near the business districts of modern cities, while lower-income people live in the outlying areas. There is a historical explanation for US divergence from this pattern. During the 19th century, upper and middle class Americans decided that the best way to escape the problems of the city was to move out to the suburbs. The factors that promoted suburban growth included: (1) abundant land available for low cost, (2) inexpensive transportation by rail, (3) low-cost construction methods such as the wooden, balloon-framed house, (4) ethnic and racial prejudice, and (5) an American fondness for grass, privacy, and detached individual homes. In the late 1860s, the landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted designed a suburban community with graceful curved roads and open spaces- “a village in the park.” By 1900, suburbs had grown up around every major US city, and a single-family dwelling surrounded by an ornamental lawn soon became the American ideal of comfortable living. Thus began the world’s first suburban nations.
PRIVATE CITY VS. PUBLIC CITY: At first, city residents tried to carry on life in large cities much as they had in small villages. They did not expect a lot of public services from municipal governments, and as a result, American cities could not deal effectively with the build-up of waste, pollution, disease, crime, and other hazards. Only slowly did advocates for healthier and more beautiful cities convince citizens and city governments of the need for water purification, sewerage systems, waste disposal, street lighting, police departments, and zoning laws to regulate urban development.
Boss and Machine Politics:

The consolidation of power in business had its parallel in urban politics. Political parties in major cities came under the control of tightly organized groups of politicians, known as political machines. Each machine had its boss, the top politician who gave orders to the rank and file and doled out government jobs to loyal supporters. Several political machines, such as Tammany Hall in NYC, started as social clubs and later developed into power centers to coordinate the needs of businesses, immigrants, and the underprivileged. In return for performing these functions, they asked for people’s votes on Election Day. Successful party bosses knew how to manage the competing social, ethnic, and economic groups in the city. In many cases, the political machines that they ran brought modern services to the city, including a crude form of welfare for urban newcomers. The political organization would find jobs and apartments for recently arrived immigrants and show up at a poor family’s door with baskets of food during hard times. But the political machine could be greedy as well as generous and often stole millions from the taxpayers in the form of graft and fraud. In NYC in the 1860s, for example, an estimated 65% of public building funds ended up in the pockets of Boss Tweed and his cronies.


Urban problems, including the desperate poverty of working-class families, inspired a new social consciousness among members of the middle class. Reform movements begun in earlier decades gathered renewed strength in the 1880s and 1890s.
Books and Social Criticism:

A San Francisco journalist, Henry George, published a provocative book in 1879 that became an instant bestseller and jolted readers to look more critically at the effects of laissez-faire economics. George’s book, Progress and Poverty, proposed placing a single tax on land as the solution to poverty. More important, George succeeded in calling attention to the alarming inequalities in wealth caused by industrialization. Another popular book of social criticism, Looking Backward, 2000-1887, was written by Edward Bellamy in 1888. It envisioned a future era in which a cooperative society had eliminated poverty, greed, and crime. So enthusiastic were many of the readers of George’s and Bellamy’s books that they joined various reform movements and organizations to try to implement the authors’ ideas. Both books encouraged to try to implement the authors’ ideas. Both books encouraged a shift in American public opinion away from pure laissez-faire and toward greater government regulation.

Settlement Houses:

Concerned about the lives of the poor, a number of young, idealistic, and well-educated women and men of the middle class settled into immigrant neighborhoods to learn about the problems of immigrant families first hand. Living and working in places called settlement houses, the young reformers hoped to relieve the effects of poverty by providing social services for people in the neighborhood. The most famous such experiment was Hull House in Chicago, which was started by Jane Addams and a college classmate in 1889. Settlement houses taught English to immigrants, pioneered early childhood education, taught industrial arts, and established neighborhood theaters and music schools. By 1910 there were over 400 settlement houses in America’s largest cities. Settlement workers were civic-minded volunteers whose work provided the foundation in a later era for the professional social worker. They were also political activists who crusaded for child-labor laws, housing reform, and women’s rights. Two settlement workers, Frances Perkins and Harry Hopkins, went on to leadership roles in President Franklin Roosevelt’s reform program, the New Deal, in the 1930s.

Social Gospel:

In the 1880s and 1890s, a number of Protestant clergymen espoused the cause of social justice for the poor- especially the urban poor. They preached what they called the Social Gospel, or the importance of applying Christian principles to social problems. Leading the Social Gospel movement in the late 19th and early 20th centuries was a NY minister, Walter Rauschenbusch, who worked in NYC’s Hell’s Kitchen and wrote several books urging organized religions to take up the cause of social justice. His Social Gospel preaching linked Christianity with the Progressive reform movement and encouraged many middle-class Protestants to attack urban problems.

Religion and Society:

All religions found the need to adapt to the stresses and challenges of modern urban living. Roman Catholics gained enormous numbers from the influx of new immigrants. Catholic leaders such as Cardinal James Gibbons of Baltimore inspired the devoted support of old and new immigrants alike by defending the Knights of Labor and the cause of organized labor. Among Protestants, Dwight Moody and his Moody Bible Institute (founded in Chicago in 1889) would help generations of urban evangelists to adapt traditional Christianity to city life. The Salvation Army, imported from England in 1879, provided the basic necessities of life for the homeless and the poor, while also preaching the Christian gospel. Members of the urban middle class were attracted to the religious message of Mary Baker Eddy, who taught that good health was the result of correct thinking about “Father Mother God” By the time of her death in 1910, hundreds of thousands had joined the church she had founded, the Church of Christ, Scientist- popularly known as Christian Science.

Families and Women in Urban Society:

Urban life placed severe strains on parents and their children by isolating them from the extended family (relatives beyond the family nucleus of parents and children) and village support. Divorce rates increased to 1 in 12 marriages by 1900, partly because a number of state legislatures had expanded the grounds for divorce to include cruelty and desertion. Another consequence of the shift from rural to urban living was a reduction in family size. Children were an economic asset on the farm, where their labor was needed at an early age. In the city, however, they were more of an economic liability. Therefore, in the last decades of the 19th century, the national average for birthrates and family size continued to drop. The cause of woman’s suffrage, launched at Seneca Falls in 1848, was vigorously carried forward by a number of middle-class women. In 1890, 2 of the pioneer feminists of the 1840s, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony of NY, helped found the National American Women’s Suffrage Association to secure the vote for women. A western state, Wyoming was the first to grant full suffrage to women in 1869. By 1900, some states allowed women to vote in local elections, and most allowed women to own and control property after marriage.

Temperance and Morality:

Another cause that attracted the attention of urban reformers was the temperance movement. Women especially were convinced that excessive drinking of alcohol by male factory workers was a principal cause of immigrant and working-class families. The Women’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) was formed in 1874. Advocating total abstinence from alcohol, the WCTU under the leadership of Frances E. Willard of Illinois had 500,000 members by 1898. The Anti-saloon League, founded in 1893, became a powerful political force and by 1916 had persuaded 21 states to close down all saloons and bars. Unwilling to wait for the laws to change, Carry A. Nation of Kansas created a sensation by raiding saloons and smashing barrels of bear with a hatchet. Moralists thought of cities as a breeding ground for vice, obscenity, and prostitution. Anthony Comstock of NY formed the Society for the Suppression of Vice to be the watchdog of American morals. He and his followers persuaded Congress in 1873 to pass the “Comstock Law,” which prohibited the mailing or transportation of obscene and lewd material and photographs.


The change from an agricultural to an industrial economy and from rural to urban living profoundly affected all areas of American life and culture: education, the arts, and even sports.
Changes in Education:

The growing complexity of modern life, along with the intellectual influence of Darwin’s theory of evolution, raised challenging questions about what the schools and universities should teach.

PUBLIC SCHOOLS: Elementary schools after 1865 continued to teach the 3 R’s (reading, writing, arithmetic) and the traditional values promoted in the standard texts, McGuffrey’s readers. New compulsory laws, however, dramatically increased the number of children enrolled in public schools. As a result, the literacy rate rose to 90% of the population by 1900. The practice of sending children to kindergarten (a concept borrowed from Germany) became popular and reflected the growing interest in early childhood education in the US. Perhaps even more significant was the growing support for tax-supported public high schools. At first these schools followed the college preparatory curriculum of private academies, but soon the public high schools became more comprehensive and began to emphasize vocational and citizenship education for a changing urban society.
HIGHER EDUCATION: The number of US colleges increased in the late 1800s largely as a result of (1) land grant colleges established under the Morrill Act of 1862, (2) universities founded by wealthy philanthropists- the University of Chicago by John D. Rockefeller, for example, and (3) the founding of new colleges for women, such as Smith, Bryn Mawr, and Mount Holyoke. By 1900, over 100 educational colleges had been founded in addition to the women’s colleges. There were also significant changes in the college curriculum. Soon after becoming president of Harvard in 1869, Charles W. Eliot reduced the number of required courses and introduced electives (courses chosen by students) to accommodate the teaching of modern languages and the sciences: physics, chemistry, biology, and geology. Johns Hopkins University was founded in Baltimore in 1876 as the first American institution to specialize in advanced graduate studies. Following the model of German universities, Johns Hopkins emphasized research and free inquiry. As a result of such innovations in curriculum, the US produced its first generation of scholars who could compete with the intellectual achievements of Europeans. At the same time, however, there was a trend in another direction as life at many colleges became dominated by social activities, fraternities, and intercollegiate sports.
SOCIAL SCIENCES AND THE PROFESSIONS: The application of the scientific method and the theory of evolution to human affairs revolutionized the social science in the late 19th century. The new social sciences included behavioral psychology, sociology, anthropology, and political science. Richard T. Ely of Johns Hopkins attacked laissez-faire economic thought as dogmatic and outdated and used economics to study labor unions, trusts, and other existing economic institutions not only to understand them but to suggest remedies for economic problems of the day. Evolutionary theory influenced leading sociologists (Lester F. Ward), political scientists (Woodrow Wilson), and historians (Frederick Jackson Turner) to study the dynamic process of actual human behavior instead of logical abstractions. In the legal profession, Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., taught that the law should evolve with the times in response to changing needs and not remain restricted by legal precedents and judicial decisions of the past. Clarence Darrow, a famous lawyer, argued that criminal behavior could be caused by a person’s environment of poverty, neglect, and abuse. Other professions- doctors, educators, and social workers- also began applying scientific theory and methodology to their work. The leading African American intellectual of his day, WEB Du Bois, was the first African American to receive a doctorate from Harvard. Du Bois used the new statistical methods of sociology to study crime in an urban neighborhood. As an activist, he advocated full equal rights for blacks, integrated schools, and equal access to higher education for the “talented tenth” of African American youth. Although fewer than 5% of Americans attended college before 1900, the new trends in education and the professions would have a significant impact on progressive legislation and liberal reforms in the next century.
Literature and the Arts:

American writers and artists responded in diverse ways to industrialization and urban problems. In general, the work of the best –known innovators of the era reflected a new realism and an attempt to express an authentic American style.

REALISM AND NATURALISM: Many of the popular works of literature of the post-Civil War years were romantic novels that depicted ideal heroes and heroines. The first break with this genteel literary tradition came with regionalist writers like Bret Harte, who depicted life in the rough mining camps of the West. Mark Twain (the penname for Samuel L. Clemens) became the first great realist author. His classic work The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1884) revealed the greed, violence, and racism in American society. Another leading realist, William Dean Howells, seriously considered the problems of industrialization and unequal wealth in the novels The Rise of Silas Lapham (1885) and A Hazard of New Fortunes (1890). A younger generation of authors who emerged in the 1890s became known for their naturalism, which described how emotions and experience shaped human experience. In his naturalist novel Maggie: A Girl of the Streets (1893), Stephen Crane told how a brutal urban environment could destroy the lives of young people. Crane also wrote the popular Red Badge of Courage about fear and human nature on the Civil War battlefield before dying himself of tuberculosis at only 29. Jack London, a young California writer and adventurer, portrayed the conflict between nature and civilization in novels like The Call of the Wild (1903). A naturalistic book that caused a sensation and shocked the moral sensibilities of the time was Theodore Dreiser’s novel about a poor working girl in Chicago, Sister Carrie (1900).
PAINTING: Several American painters responded to the new emphasis on realism, while others continued to cater to the popular taste for romantic subjects. Winslow Homer, the foremost American painter of seascapes and watercolors, often rendered scenes of nature in a matter-of-fact way. Thomas Eakins specialized in painting the everyday lives of working class men and women and used the new technology of serial-action photographs to study human anatomy and paint it more realistically. Born in Massachusetts, James McNeill Whistler became an American expatriate when he sailed to Europe at the age of 21 and spent most of his life in Paris and London. His most famous painting, Arrangement in Grey and Black (popularly known as “Whistler’s Mother”), hangs in the Louvre. This study of color, rather than subject matter, influenced the development of modern art. A distinguished portrait painter, Mary Cassatt, also spent much of her life in France where she learned the techniques of impressionism, especially in her use of pastel colors. 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 realists and romanticists alike were the abstract, nonrepresentational paintings exhibited in the Armory Show in NYC in 1913. Art of this kind would be rejected by most Americans until the 1950s when it finally achieved recognition and respect among collectors of fine art.
ARCHITECTURE: In the 1870s, American architecture underwent a fundamental change in direction as a result of the work of Henry Hobson Richardson. Richardson’s urban architecture, based on the Romanesque style of round arches, gave a gravity and stateliness to functional commercial buildings. Influenced by Richardson, Louis Sullivan of Chicago went a step further by rejecting historic styles in his quest for a suitable style for the tall steel-framed office buildings of the 1880s and 1890s. Sullivan’s buildings achieved a most admired aesthetic unity in which the form of the building flowed from its function- a hallmark of the Chicago School of architecture. Daniel Burnham, another leading Chicago architect, designed numerous skyscrapers that influenced modern architecture (even though, at the time, he was better known for reviving classic architecture in his design of the Chicago World’s Fair of 1893). One of the most influential urbanists, Frederick Law Olmsted specialized in the planning of city parks and scenic boulevards, including Central Park in NYC and the grounds of the US Capitol in Washington. As the originator of landscape architecture, Olmsted not only designed parks, parkways, campuses, and suburbs but also established the basis for all later efforts at urban landscaping.
MUSIC: With the growth of cities came increasing demand for musical performances and entertainment appealing to a variety of tastes. By 1900, most large cities had either a symphony orchestra, an opera house, or both. In smaller towns, outdoor bandstands were the setting for the playing of popular marches by John Philip Sousa. Probably the greatest innovators of the era were African American musicians in New Orleans. Jelly Roll Morton and Buddy Bolden introduced the general American public to jazz, a form of music that combined African rhythms with western-style instruments and mixed improvisation with a structured band format. The remarkable black composer and performer Scott Joplin sold nearly a million copies of sheet music of his “Maple Leaf Rag” (1899). Also from the South came blues music that expressed the pain of the black experience. Jazz, ragtime, and blues music gained popularity during the 20th century as New Orleans performers headed north into the urban centers of Memphis, St. Louis, Kansas City, and Chicago.
Popular Culture:

Entertaining the urban masses became a major business in the late 19th century. Even newspapers became less a medium of objective information and more of a mass medium for amusing millions of readers.

POPULAR PRESS: Mass circulation newspapers had been around since the 1830s, but the first newspaper to exceed a million in circulation was Joseph Pulitzer’s New York World. Pulitzer achieved this success by filling his daily paper with both sensational stories of crimes and disasters and crusading feature stories about political and economic corruption. Another NY publisher, William Randolph Hearst, pushed scandal and sensationalism to new heights (or lows).
AMUSEMENTS: In addition to urbanization, other factors also promoted the growth of leisure-time activities: (1) a gradual reduction in hours people worked, (2) improved transportation. (3) promotional billboards and advertising and 94) the decline of restrictive Puritan and Victorian values that discouraged “wasting” time on play. Based on numbers alone, the most popular forms of recreation in the late 19th century (despite the temperance movement), was drinking and talking at the corner saloon. Legitimate theaters for the performance of comedies and dramas flourished in most large cities, but vaudeville with its variety of acts had more appeal for the urban masses. The circus became the “Greatest Show on Earth” in the 1880s through the showmanship of Phineas T. Barnum and James A. Bailey. Also immensely popular was the Wild West Show brought to urban audiences by William F. Cody (“Buffalo Bill”) and headlining such personalities as Sitting Bull and the markswoman Annie Oakley. Commuter streetcar and railroad companies also promoted weekend recreation in order to keep their cars running on Sundays and holidays. They created parks in the countryside near the end of the line so that urban families could enjoy picnics and outdoor recreation.
SPECTATOR SPORTS: Enthusiasm for professionally organized spectator sports (baseball, football, basketball, and boxing) had its origins in the late 19th century. The most famous athlete of the era was the heavyweight boxer John L. Sullivan. Professional boxing bouts drew mostly male spectators from both the upper and lower classes to cheer and wager on their favorite pugilist. Baseball, while it recalled a rural past of green fields and fences, was very much an urban game that demanded the teamwork needed for an industrial age. Owners organized teams into leagues, much as trusts of the day were organized. In 1909, when President William Howard Taft started the tradition of throwing out the first ball of the season, the national pastime was already a well established part of American popular culture. Basketball was invented in 1891 at Springfield College, in Massachusetts. In only a few years, high schools and colleges across the nation had teams. The first professional basketball league was organized in 1898. The first intercollegiate football game was played by two NJ colleges, Rutgers and Princeton, in 1869. Football remained a college sport for decades and did not become a commercial enterprise of professional league teams until the 1920s. American spectator sports were played and attended by men. They were part of what historians have called the “bachelor subculture” for single men in the 20s and 30s, whose lives centered around saloons, horse races, and pool halls. It took years for some spectator sports, such as boxing and football, to gain middle-class respectability.
AMATEUR SPORTS: The value of playing sports as healthy exercise for the body gained acceptance by the middle and upper classes in the late 19th century. Women were considered unfit for most competitive sports, but they too engaged in such recreational activities as croquet and bicycling. Participation in golf and tennis grew, but was often limited to members of athletic clubs, which kept out most of the working class. The very rich could separate themselves from lower-income people by pursuing the expensive sport of polo and yachting. While Jews and Catholics were kept out of some private clubs, the most severely discriminated against were African Americans, who were prevented by Jim Crow laws from joining whites-only clubs and playing on all white big-league baseball teams until the late 1940s.
Urbanization and Immigration

American life in the 20th century has been profoundly affected by two social movements- urbanization and immigration- which progressed at an ever-increasing pace during the years between 1870 and 1920. Between the Civil War and WWI, American cities grew at an unprecedented rate. The population of NYC rose from 1.2 million in 1860 to 4.75 million in 1910. Chicago, from a population of a little over 100,000 in 1860, boomed to over 2 million in 1910. And these cities were not isolated phenomena; in 1860 there were only two cities in the US with populations over 200,000 but in 1910, there were 24.

The effect of this tremendous and fast-paced urban growth on American life was paradoxical. On the one hand, cities signified crime, corruption, and poverty. On the other hand, cities signified progress, glitter, and opportunity. On the one hand, public education and public libraries flourished in the new urban setting, as did newspapers and magazines, spectator sports, the theater, and the symphony. On the other hand, cities sprawled slums and tenement districts, disease, crime, and juvenile delinquency. On the one hand, urban growth led to progress and growth of municipal services such as street paving, electric lighting, public waterworks and sewage disposal, fire and police departments, and public transportation such as electric trolleys and subways. On the other hand, this same growth of municipal government led to widespread municipal corruption, political machines, and “boss’ rule,” It was not by chance that the progressive movement began its crusade on the municipal levels in the interest of clean government and social reform.

Immigration contributed to the urban progress and the urban problems. Between 1860 and 1890, 13.5 million immigrants came to the US, and from 1900 to 1930, the number swelled to 19 million. Most of the immigrants in the first wave, known as the “old” immigration, came from northern and western Europe, while the majority in the “new” immigration came from southern and Eastern Europe. While it was obvious to all that this tremendous influx of peoples had an effect on American social, economic, and political conditions, it was not obvious exactly what this effect was. Some people blamed immigrants for creating slums, increasing crime, and maintaining foreign ways. Others maintained that slums and crime were caused by other factors, and pointed to the immigrants’ enrichment of American life. Some people claimed that immigrant labor caused unemployment and hurt the labor movement’s fight for higher wages and better working conditions. Others maintained that immigrant labor did not cause unemployment and lower wages, and, in fact, served to stimulate the economy. Some people charged that immigrants were a danger to democracy and were manipulated by political machines. Others claimed that immigrants voted independently, unhampered by old party ties. As the controversy deepened, so did the demand for immigration restriction, and from the 1880s to the 1920s laws were passed which limited mainly the “new” immigration.

  1. Urbanization and Its Effect on American Life- M.M. Yeakle on Urban Growth in St. Louis

Urban growth and urban progress in St. Louis were typical of that experienced by many American cities during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The excerpt below is from the book The City of St. Louis of Today, by M.M. Yeakle, which was published in 1899.
No enumeration of the population of the city of St. Louis has been made since the national census of June 1880, when the population was 350,561 souls. Its growth in the present decade exceeds the previous experience, but an estimate of the present population… at the close of the year 1888…. [points] to the conclusion that it is a half million souls. The grounds for this estimate are... as follows: during the last decade, this city has witnessed extraordinary development of its rare resources of site and surroundings… its industries have been enlarged through the constant increment of capital and commerce. Its wholesale and jobbing trades have realized greater expansion in solid growth. The suburban development has been very large, both in population and real estate improvements, while the urban has been most extensive and varied in buildings of every description. {Other grounds include} residences, large and small, stores and warehouses, colleges and churches, halls, machine shops and factories, the extension of the old, and opening of new streets, the construction of more and lengthened sewers, the largely increased consumption of water and gas, the building of new schoolhouses… and lastly, but not least, the increased throngs of men, women and children observed at every turn on the sidewalks, and crowding the street railways, to which many miles of new track have been added, while demands are constantly made for increase in the facilities of rapid transit.

The new manufacturing plants, and the extension of the old ones- a process constantly going on- add yearly a large population to St. Louis from abroad, through the demand for skilled workmen, and in providing employment for an army of the youth of both sexes. A mild climate, exemption from epidemic diseases, cheap living, great advantages of primary, academic and collegiate education, the numerous schools in science, art, technical instruction, complete curriculum of education in all professions and pursuits, the public libraries, and numerous other attractions, are constantly filling this city with a population of the refined and cultured… The volume of the present population of St. Louis has reached that point of fullness, when, as has been observed in the growth of other cities, (remarkably for which were the cities of London, NY, and Brooklyn), it will begin to take increase in a ratio disproportioned to its previous experience; and, it is apparent, that such an era of quickened growth has reached this city, whose increase in population in succeeding decades will be in accordance with the experience of those other very large communities…

Few large cities of our country have as many solid attractions for the residence of a family, composed of parents and children, as this city. To state the facts briefly, a house may be purchased, or rented, at a reasonable- even low- price. Schools, churches and modern improvements are found in every quarter. Sores and markets are convenient. An abundant supply of good water, gas, and thorough sewerage is found in every developed district. Rapid transit on upwards of 160 miles of street, railways, is available, every five minutes and under, at a 5 cent fare for any distance. Institutions and societies for intellectual and physical improvement, and for rational delight are numerous. Libraries are open to the public at a merely nominal cost. The necessaries and luxuries of life are abundant and cheap. Saloons are closed 24 hours on Sundays. Gambling is forbidden by State and Municipal laws, which are rigidly enforced. And the policing of the city being rigid and active, there are few temptations or allurements which youth may not avoid, provided, the training be proper at home, and that made attractive as it can be. Finally, the climate is mild, and in healthfulness St. Louis is equal to the most favored cities of the USA. And, in many other respects, this city is a delightful place of residence.

  1. Charles Zueblin on Civil Progress

Charles Zueblin, a professor of sociology at the University of Chicago, chronicled the progress in municipal reform and “city making” in his book A Decade of Civil Development, published in 1905. An excerpt from that book follows.
In the last decade of the century there came a new conception of public responsibility and activity. The characteristic note of the new era is social. The public-school system began to accommodate itself to the conditions of industry and life, abandoning the all-sufficient pedagogy [teaching] of the “three Rs” and teaching the power of observation, accomplishment, and self-reliance. The administrative reform of cities was promoted with a success which would have seemed incredible in the ninth decade of the century. Village and towns undertook the organization of improvement associations. The last decade of the century also witnessed an astounding development of free libraries, health regulations, factory legislation, interstate commerce provisions and the extension of municipal functions such as street paving and cleaning and lighting, water supply and sewage disposal, parks and boulevards, all expressing a changed conception of public life…

The increasing prosperity which gave the leisure and the culture for social reform facilitated municipal reform. The external improvement of the cities became imperative, and the growth of public activities made municipal reform not only indispensable but impossible… in 1893 the first good government conference was held, leading to the organization of the National Municipal League. In 1894 civil service reform was introduced into NYC, an example followed by Chicago in 1895. Thus recent are the beginnings of a movement which it would take volumes to chronicle. The merit system now prevails in all the large cities of NY State and in many other states, from Massachusetts to California… The conception of city making is a newer one than that of municipal reform. While the city cannot be properly made without a clean and efficient government, the process of making it continues in spite of political imperfection…

No department of city making has witnessed such marked progress during the decade as the functions connected with the streets. Ten years ago few American streets were well paved, and fewer were clean. The typical street of the progressive city today is broad, well-paved, frequently cleaned, free from poles, well lighted, tree-lined in the residential districts, and provided with underground systems of conduits, water and sewage pipes. The newer streets of the older cities are commonly as broad as all the streets of the newer cities. Thus provision is made for abundant light, and, if need be, shade trees and lawns. Several cities, such as Columbus, Ohio, Denver, and Indianapolis, in paving these wide streets, have reduced the area devoted to traffic and increased that reserved for planting, so that a considerable amount of parking is found on either side of the street…

… The underground trolley is in successful operation in NY and Washington. Water and gas pipes and sewers are found under most of the streets in the well-constructed cities, and occasionally subways suggest the correlation of such functions in galleries, the logical method of the future. With the multiplication of these subterranean structures the regulations regarding the breaking of pavements become more stringent, and some cities are moving toward the construction of passenger subways like those of NY or Boston, or freight tunnels, 20 miles of which are to be found in Chicago…

No phase of city making speaks more eloquently of the change in American ideals than the growth of parks, playgrounds and boulevards. For many years such cities as Brooklyn and Philadelphia have boasted of the possession of a great and beautiful park, and Chicago has been noted for its public driveways, but within the decade the idea has developed that not acreage or mileage, but distribution is the standard to guide park commissions. The park, the playground and the boulevard are now seen to be organic parts of the city- the respiratory system, perhaps we may say. The finest appreciation of this fact is found in Boston, NY, and Washington…

The making of the new city will mean the making of a new citizen, and the process is in no sense visionary. Almost every American city is already infested with the new ideals, while some of the leading cities are far advanced in their realization. The crude conceptions of an earlier generation, which planned city streets with the rough precision of the ploughman’s furrows, have been transformed by the experience of the decade.

  1. Jacob Riis On Slum Life in New York

One of the paradoxes of urban growth- the growth of slums- is revealed in the following excerpt from Jacob Riis’ How the Other Half Lives, which was published in 1890. Riis was an immigrant from Denmark and a journalist-turned-reformer who spent his life trying to clean up the slums and tenement districts where the “other half” lived in New York.

Long ago it was said that “one half of the world does not know how the other half lives.” That was true then, it did not know because it did not care. The half that was on top cared little for the struggles, and less for the fate of those who were underneath, so long as it was able to hold them there and keep its own seat. There came a time when the discomfort and crowding below were so great, and the consequent upheavals so violent, that it was no longer an easy thing to do, and then the upper half fell into inquiring what was the matter…

In NY, the youngest of the world’s great cities, that time came later than elsewhere, because the crowding had not been so great… Today three-fourths of its people live in the tenements, and the 19th century drift of the population to the cities is sending ever-increasing multitudes to crowd them. The 15,000 tenement houses that were the despair of the sanitarian in the past generation have swelled into 37,000, and more than twelve hundred thousand persons call them home…

…If it shall appear that the sufferings and the sins of the “other half,” and the evil they breed, are but as a just punishment upon the community that gave it no other choice, it will be because that is the truth… [in] the tenements all the influences make for evil; because they are the hotbeds of the epidemics that carry death to rich and poor alike; the nurseries of pauperism and crime that fill our jails and police courts; that throw off a scum of 40,000 human wrecks to the island asylums and workhouses year by year; that turned out in the last 8 years around half million beggars to prey upon our charities; that maintain a standing army of 10,000 tramps with all that that implies; because, above all, they touch the family life with deadly moral contagion…

Today, what is a tenement?... The typical tenement is thus described when last arraigned before the bar of public justice: “It is generally a brick building from 4 to 6 stories high on the street, frequently with a store on the first floor which, when used for the sale of liquor, has a side opening for the benefit of the inmates and to evade the Sunday law; 4 families occupy each floor, and a set of rooms consists of one or two dark closets, used as bedrooms, with a living room twelve feet by ten. The staircase is too often a dark well in the center of the house, and no direct through ventilation is possible, each family being separated from the others by partitions. Frequently the rear of the lot is occupied by another building of three stories high with 2 families on a floor”…

Where are the tenements of today? Say rather: where are they not?... The tenements of today are NY, harboring ¾ of its population… Suppose we look into one?... Be a little careful, please! The hall is dark and you might stumble over the children pitching pennies back there. Not that it would hurt them; kicks and cuffs are their daily diet. They have little else. Here where the hall turns and dives into utter darkness is a step, and another, another. A flight of stairs. You can feel your way, if you cannot see it. Close? Yes! What would you have? All the fresh air that ever enters these stairs comes from the hall door that is forever slamming, and from the windows of dark bedrooms… That was a woman filling her pail by the hydrant you just bumped against. The sinks are in the hallway, that all the tenants may have access… hear the pump squeak! It is the lullaby of tenement-house babies. In summer, when a thousand thirsty throats pant for a cooling drink in this block, it is worked in vain. But the saloon, whose open door you passed in the hall, is always there. The smell of it has followed you up. Here is a door. Listen! That short hacking cough, that tiny, helpless wail- what do they mean? They mean that the soiled bow of white you saw on the door downstairs will have another story to tell- Oh! A sadly familiar story- before the day is at an end. The child is dying with the measles. With half a chance it might have lived; but it had none. That dark bedroom killed it…

… Come over here. Step carefully over this baby- it is a baby, spite of its rags and dirt- under these iron bridges called fire escapes, loaded down, despite the incessant watchfulness of the firemen, with broken household goods, with washtubs and barrels, over which no man could climb from a fire. This gap between dingy brick walls is the yard. That strip of smoke-colored sky up there is the heaven of these people. Do you wonder the name does not attract them to the churches? That baby’ parents live in the rear tenement here. She is at least as clean as the steps we are now climbing. There are plenty of houses with half a hundred such in. The tenement is much like the one in front we just left, only fouler, closer, darker- we will not say more cheerless. The word is a mockery…

What sort of an answer, think you, would come from these tenements to the question “Is life worth living?” were they heard at all in the discussion? It may be that this, cut from the last report but one of the Associations for the Improvement of the Condition of the Poor, a long name for a weary task, has a suggestion of it: “In the depth of winter the attention of the Association was called to a Protestant family living in a garret in a miserable tenement in Cherry Street. The family’s condition was most deplorable. The man, his wife, and three small children shivering in one room through the roof of the pitiless winds of winter whistled. The room was almost barren of furniture; the parents slept on the floor, the elder children in boxes, and the baby was swung in an old shawl attached to the rafters by chords by way of a hammock. The father, a seaman, had been obliged to give up that calling because he was in consumption [ill with tuberculosis], and was unable to provide either bread or fire for his little ones”

Perhaps this may be put down as an exceptional case, but one that came to my notice some months ago in a Seventh Ward tenement was typical enough to escape that reproach. There were 9 in the family: husband, wife, an aged grandmother, and 6 children; honest, hardworking Germans, scrupulously neat, but poor. All 9 lived in 2 rooms, one about ten feet square that served as parlor, bedroom, and eating-room, the other a small hallroom made into a kitchen. The rent was seven dollars and a half a month, more than a week’s wages for the husband and father, who was the only breadwinner in the family. That day the mother had thrown herself out of the window, and was carried up from the street dead. She was “discouraged,” said some of the other women from the tenement, who had come in to look after the children while a messenger carried the news to the father at the shop. They went stolidly about their task, although they were evidently not without feeling for the dead woman. No doubt she was wrong in not taking life philosophically, as did the 4 families a city missionary found housekeeping in the 4 corners of one room. They got along well enough together until one of the families took a boarder and made trouble. Philosophy, according to my optimistic friend, naturally inhabits the tenements. The people who live there come to look upon death in a different way from the rest of us- do not take it as hard. He has never found time to explain how the fact fits into his general theory that life is not unbearable in the tenements. Unhappily for the philosophy of the slums, it is too apt to be of the kind that readily recognizes the saloon, always handy, as the refuge from every trouble, and shapes its practice according to the discovery.

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