Cornelius Vanderbilt, also known as the Commodore, knew how to do business. By the time of his death, Vanderbilt managed to built an empire worth millions on the railroad industry. The Commodore had either bought out or crushed competing railways and overlooked the impression he created on the public. Later, the fortune was doubled by his son, William.
Thousands of workers filled Haymarket Square to protest the killings from the protest outside of the McCormick Factory. A bomb explosion killed seven police officers leaving eight anarchists, or people who oppose the government, to be arrested. The nation started to believe that unions were controlled by anarchists and soon an antilabor feeling rushed everywhere.
The Homestead strike was the one of the biggest union vs. company protest. The Amalgamated Association of Iron and Steel Workers were demanding the Carnegie Steel Company that they be let back in their factory with better work conditions. While Carnegie was away, the plant manager, Henry Frick had stepped up production demands and introduced new conditions. The union had refused and they were all locked out. Many workers were killed by the Pinkerton men, a militia force hired by Frick, and this led to a sympathy for workers.
Nearly 150 people, mostly young women, lost their lives that day in March, 1911. Many people jumped through the windows in an attempt to escape the fire, while others made it safely down the stairs or down the elevator. The discovery that the exits had been locked to prevent workers leaving caused a public uproar. People were shocked and started to protest for better working conditions. The fire made the government pro-labor, when they started reinforcing fire escapes, hydrants and other fire precautions.
Immigrants came to the U.S for a variety of reasons. Some came for industrial factory jobs and others came to rejoin family members who had arrived earlier. Leaving their homes required a great amount of courage to face the long journey ahead. But in the end it was worth it.
Adapting to the new society and accepting reality was tough. Tenements were great places for disease to spread rapidly. Outside of home, immigrants who could not speak English were yelled at and treated horribly by their bosses. Larger families sent all their children to work, mostly in hazardous working conditions. In the night, crime seemed to thrive.
Poor families lived in the center of cities, mostly in tenements. As crowding increased, factory owners took advantage of low rents and cheap labor. By buying those homes for factories, the poor were forced into even crowded homes. The middle class consisted of doctors, lawyers and managers. Their homes were all nicely spaced and lined town homes with plenty of trees. The rich owned large mansions on the borders of the city. They lived lavishly and showed off their social status.