Kevin Kazlow

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					Kevin Kazlow                                                     September 21, 2011
Period 7                                                               Mrs. Anson

                                 Essential Question 2

       An explosion in its simplest terms is defined as a sudden, great increase.
From 1860 to 1900 a massive explosion occurred in Americas cities. Not an
explosion involving chemicals, but rather a massive migration into cities to create
urban megalopolises. In 1860, not one U.S city topped 1 million people, by 1890,
Philadelphia and Chicago were over 1 million, and New York was the second largest
City in the world with some 3.5 million people. Urban Life created industrial jobs,
glamour and chance for wealth that were new golden opportunities for many
people. Also, the surge of population in cities caused major problems including
sanitary issues, housing problems that had to be responded to. Most of all the
migration to cities influenced nativism, culture within the city, corruption, border
protection, and political parties due to the new immigrants.
       More Specifically, city populations skyrocketed in the late 1800’s because of
the many opportunities city’s offered. For example, cities offered industrial jobs
that drew country people off their farms and into the factories to make some money.
Also, the old American life on the farm seemed like nothing compared to the glitz,
glamour and light of the cities. The major upsurge in electricity of over 2,000% in
20 years is a prime reason why the big city’s looked even more alluring. The
skyscraper, first built by Louis Sullivan in Chicago, and other marvels such as the
Brooklyn Bridge that was built in 1883 gave a seductive gleam to the cities as well.
Another opportunity that cities offered was that of convenience. The trolley system
combined with the commutable walking distances made work, home, the city and its
outskirts a lot more connected. Also, the introduction of department stores in cities
such as Macy’s in New York and Marshall Field’s in Chicago attracted middle class
shoppers by the masses and provided middle class jobs for women as well. The
effect that department stores had can be seen through Theodore Dreiser’s fictional
1900 novel, Sister Carrie, when the main character escapes from rural boredom to
the great city of Chicago where she encounters department stores and is inspired to
become richer and more elegant. Clearly, cities had many opportunities and a lot to
offer.
         However, urbanization also created new social problems that Americans
responded towards in a not so great fashion. Originally, major companies such as
Sears and Montgomery Ward did not offer trash cans in their catalogues and that
combined with over population, new cheaper clothing, and no barnyards made
waste disposal a major issue for the urban age. American people became consumers
and buying was easy, but there was no place to throw anything away. The people
responded to this by creating mountains of waste on streets that posed serious
health issues. With so many people in one dense place problems popped up
everywhere. Criminals were able to excel easily, such as the murderer H. H Holmes
in Chicago. Sanitary functions were lagging behind the booming population.
Impurities in water, fecal matter from animals on the street, washed up bodies all
added to the poor health and stench of cities such as Baltimore, described as a
billion skunks. In the case of excess waste, Americans responded very poorly and
better conditions did not appear during the 19th century. Also, due to the,
“dumbbell” tenements, ghettos and slums packed cities and created bad smelling,
dark, blocks that literally caused the death of so many. Sanitary issues were a major
problem in cities and they had such a poor response.
         Unlike sanitary conditions, the new immigrants had a ridiculous amount of
response and resulted in an array of different things. More specifically, an
immediate response to the immigrants was corruption. Helping immigrants find
jobs, get clothing, or food was a way for politicians and big bosses to earn their vote.
This strategy was very effective for certain people, but it was not democratic and
reformers snarled at this obvious exploitation of the new people. Also, Americans
responded to the new people in a really negative way. Antiforeighnism or
“nativism,” formed heavily in the cities. Natives of the land blamed the new
immigrants for degradation of government. Nativist blamed these new people for
the drop in wages. Due to this, the American Protective Association (APA) was
formed. With over a million members, the APA urged to vote against candidates
who represented immigrants such as Roman Catholics and supported propaganda
about run away nuns for example. The AFA’s popularity led to what is known today
as border control. The gates began to close for people who were criminals, disabled,
paupers, maniacs, alcoholics and this even led to the ban of Chinese occurred in
1882. Furthermore, as a result of the new immigrants churches responded.
Protestant churches became less modern. Jewish, and Roman Catholic churches
became more popular as well as the spread of Christianity to new immigrants such
as Walter Rauschenbusch’s German Baptist church. New religions were on the rise
including Mary Baker Eddy’s religion of Christian Science. Further, through the
immigration of so many new people and urbanites many new associations were
founded such as the religiously affiliated YMCA and Jane Addams’ Hull House. the
Hull House taught English, offered services, and helped newcomers adjust to big city
life. Work from Addams and also the women’s rights advocate Florence Kelly
helped blaze a trail for women’s reform, even though it’s original main purpose was
a response to immigration.
          Clearly, cities offered major opportunity and glamour, but with the glamour
and glitz came hard problems that were tough to fix. New cities brought in new
immigrants that really changed the entire city itself. There was a lot of good that
came out of cities and immigration, but a lot of bad was created as well. The turning
point of the century was really illustrated through the development of America’s
cities.

				
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