How Cities Reflected Social Conditions and Presented Economic Opportunities Group 5 - Abby, Claire, James, Brian

During the late 19th century cities experienced significant growth and social and economic changes. The divisions present in social conditions because of class, race, ethnicity, and culture were reflected in urban America. In addition, new economic opportunities appeared as factories and businesses sprouted and flourished with the cities.

There were serious class divisions present in the urban environment of America. During the late nineteenth century and into the twentieth, there were large populations of immigrants living in American cities. Greek, Italian, Russian, and German immigrants all populated the more poor sections of the cities. High rates of poverty also caused many to live in slums. These slums were crowded, filthy, and overcrowded in many cases. Crime rates grew as a response to extreme poverty. The wealthy, on the other hand, often left he business districts of cities in favor for the rural suburbs.

The cramped living conditions of immigrants in the urban areas

In New York City, most of the immigrants flocked toward the lower east side of the city, causing it to become extremely diverse. These neighborhoods did, however, become extremely cramped environments. Beginning in the 1900's, Italian and Jews began an exodus from overcrowded the lower east side toward the neighborhoods of Brooklyn.

An Italian-American grocer

In addition to social class, culture served as another motivator for social division. Immigrants often attempted to recreate their native regions in many ways. This can be seen in the small pockets of Italy seen throughout New York City in which Italian-Americans shared Italian culture with the urban New York through its food and language. Many of these first-generation immigrants did not speak English very well and that served to limit their integration and it further separated them socially.

Polish immigrants relied on their Roman Catholic faith as a crutch in the urban environments of America. Priests were often local leaders who provided counseling to Polish communities. Polish-Americans often sought help in regard to banking, finding work, and judging among themselves, placing a social barrier between themselves and the "native" American.

New York Race Riot of 1900: Incident between an African-American, Harris, and a white undercover police officer, Thorpe. Harris witnessed Thorpe grabbing his girlfriend and cut him with a knife, not knowing he was a police officer. The days before Thorpe’s funeral, blacks were assuaged and sacked by white street gangs.

Cartoon depicting the Race Riot above.

The heavy urbanization of American cities also led to increased economic opportunities for some groups. Immigrants, for instance, were more willing than the average American to accept dangerous, poorly paying, and long jobs. Immigrants were used as a weapon by business owners to ensure their workers worked. Cities also provided large amounts of laborers for factories and also a market for goods. The vertical construction of cities allowed for intense population density.

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“Chapter 25: America Moves to the City, 1865-1900 - AP U.S. History Chapter Outlines - Study Notes.” Go to the Front Page of StudyNotes, www.apstudynotes.org/us-history/outlines/chapter-25-america-moves-to-the-city-1865-1900/.

IMMIGRANTS IN 1900's NEW YORK CITY - Neighborhoods, immigrants1900.weebly.com/neighborhoods.html.

"Italian American Grocery. Many Italian immigrants settled in New York City, where dozens of small..." Dictionary of American History, edited by Stanley I. Kutler, 3rd ed., vol. 4, Charles Scribner's Sons, 2003. U.S. History in Context, http://link.galegroup.com/apps/doc/PC3401887688/UHIC?u=jack17425&xid=73aff321. Accessed 22 Jan. 2018.

“Streets of New York in 1900.” One Big Photo, 11 Mar. 2014, onebigphoto.com/streets-of-new-york-in-1900/.

"No Irish Need Apply." Immigration and Multiculturalism: Essential Primary Sources, edited by K. Lee Lerner, et al., Gale, 2006, pp. 56-58. U.S. History in Context, http://link.galegroup.com/apps/doc/CX2688400035/UHIC?u=jack17425&xid=071d9ce0. Accessed 22 Jan. 2018.

Rees, Jonathan. “Industrialization and Urbanization in the United States, 1880–1929.” Oxford Research Encyclopedia of American History, 8 June 2017, americanhistory.oxfordre.com/view/10.1093/acrefore/9780199329175.001.0001/acrefore-9780199329175-e-327.

The 1900 New York City Race Riot (1900) | The Black Past: Remembered and Reclaimed, www.blackpast.org/aah/1900-new-york-city-race-riot-1900.

"The Immigrant Experience--Irish, Italians, Germans, Poles, Jews, Japanese, and Arabs." Civil Rights in America: 1500 to the present, edited by Jay A. Sigler, Gale, 1998. U.S. History in Context, http://link.galegro


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