The Move to the Cities

The nineteenth century was the century of the city in America.

Although some cities, such as Santa Fe, had been founded as early as 1609, the rush toward urban areas came after 1800. As people moved westward, towns and cities – Pittsburgh, Saint Louis, Cincinnati, - formed along the way. Chicago had 100 inhabitants in 1832, but only a half-century later, just before it burned to the ground in 1871, it had 300,000 inhabitants. In 1800, none but the largest city, Philadelphia, had more than 50,000 inhabitants. But by 1900, 38 cities had more than 100,000 people living in them, and a few metropolises, such as New York, had millions.

As cities became the places to live, new social problems arose. Although the economy was expanding, it was at the expense of some citizens. Overcrowding in these new urban places was common, and children fared especially badly: in the 1880s in New York City, even before the great wave of new immigrants made conditions still more strained, many children were part of the work force and some 10,000 lived on the streets.

But at the turn of the new century, the American city – with its steel skyscrapers, its vibrant entertainments, its possibilities for jobs, and its influx of varied groups of people – had become a symbol of American progress and prosperity.

Questions ~

  1. What is the first year in the nineteenth century?
  2. Who was the first US president to hold office in the nineteenth century?
  3. How many States were included in the USA at the beginning of the nineteenth century? … at the end of the nineteenth century?
  4. What started the Chicago fire?
  5. Why did more and more people live in cities?
  6. How was the US population able to continue to increase throughout the nineteenth century?