The U.S. Cities in the Late 1800’s: Major Problems and Their Solving

The cities have played an important role in the development of the United States since the founding of the nation. Many historians agree that the Revolution itself and the rise of the Confederation of 13 independent states were nurtured exactly in the cities of America (Green, 1957, p. 2). Urban life in the late 19th century, perhaps more largely than today, when rural isolation has been broken down by the modern miracles of transportation and communication, formed the substance of American civilization (Light, 1983, p. 96).
City enterprise, backed by city money, looking for new products to sell and new markets to sell to, was a powerful force in peopling the country (Jackson & Schultz, 1972a, p. 6). The purpose of this study is to explore the major problems which the American cities faced in the late nineteenth century and how their dwellers resolved them. Toward this end we will discuss the tendency of fast cities’ growing in late 1800s and in what way it conditioned the urban problems, analyze the economical and social factors contributing to emergence of such problems, and consider the successful examples of their solving.
The city is justly regarded as the handmaiden of industrialization. By 1890, a century after the first national census, the number of city dwellers was 139 times larger than the 1790 figure, although the American population as a whole had multiplied only sixteen fold (Jackson & Schultz, 1972a, p. 1). The influence of cities on American life had been mounting steadily throughout the 19th century. With land everywhere available and transport the chief problem to consider, commercial centers had arisen where good harbors provided safe anchorage for ocean-going ships.

Due to this tendency, in 1980s the cities scattered along the coast were necessarily the focus of national economic life (Green, 1957, p. 242). In 1890 the nation’s population was already 1/3 urban and the population in the Northeast was well over 1/2 urban. With 2 million inhabitants New York was the 2nd largest city in the world, and Chicago and Philadelphia each contained about a million inhabitants. Places like Minneapolis, Denver, and Seattle, which hardly existed in 1840, had become major regional metropolises (Goodall & Sprengel, 1975, p. 2).
The enormous growth of American cities at that time is attributed largely to the quickening pace of the industrial revolution which harnessed technological innovation and scientific inquiry to more productive uses of energy and new uses of materials, but also to the political revolution which enshrined individual rights and democratic process in law, and the demographic revolution which increased the size of the population.
Organized means of production led to larger factory complexes and to larger urban centers; in turn, the building of homes and offices and streets and sewers in those centers fueled the industrialization trend (Jackson & Schultz, 1972b, p. 177). Such rash economic development and fast growing of urban population stipulated emergence of many serious problems in urban communities not known earlier. Poverty of the city-dwellers, overcrowding of housing, transportation and environmental pollution were among the most critical problems (Light, 1983).
Rising crime rates, increasing pauperism, and spiraling juvenile delinquency signaled a moral dislocation in cities undergoing commercial and industrial transformation. Swarms of foreign immigrants challenged their capacity to accommodate and assimilate newcomers, as did the influx of white and black native migrants from the countryside and small towns. Everywhere the orderly patterns of existence appeared interrupted; the cities seemed to be overwhelmed by the rush of social change (Ward, 1972, p. 164).
Cities lacking institutionalized systems of orderly government (police departments, fire departments, centralized governmental bureaucracies) had to forge new tools to hammer out an urban discipline (Schultz, 1972, p. 308). A growing and ever more diverse population; new industrial demands on the time and energy of citizens; cities bursting at the seams of their former boundaries; and social institutions like the family and the church dissolving in the heat of economic progress – all these disparate elements of urban life had to be adjusted and accommodated to each other.
Of the various disorders in urban life, the most evident was poverty. To resolve this problem many city leaders championed education to secure social order in a disorderly age. While American cities always had known the poor, urban leaders of the past had believed in the transience of poverty. But in the late 19th century, these attitudes shifted dramatically. City officials began to suspect, that urban poverty was not a passing phenomenon but a permanent condition.
A growing number of urban paupers presaged a day when cities might be divided sharply along class lines; when foreign indigents might threaten the hegemony of native Americans; and when public financial resources might be devoted more to charitable relief, to workhouses, and to prisons than to other needed public services. Many urban leaders saw in public education a form of social insurance against a possible tomorrow when the poor might dominate city life (Schultz, 1972).
The problems of poor city-dwellers were intensified by lack of sufficient habitation. During the three generations of sustained and heavy European immigration into the United States, which preceded the immigration restriction legislation of the early 1920s, congested ghettoes of foreign immigrants assumed substantial dimensions within the residential structures of American cities. Most immigrants settled near the sources of unskilled employment, and the majority of newcomers concentrated on the margins of the emerging central business districts. To solve this problem vacated houses were converted into tenements and rooming houses, while vacant lots and rear yards were filled with cheap new structures (Ward, 1972, p. 164).
One more solution for this housing problem was found in so called filter process that is creation of vacancies in standard housing for families of lower incomes. Filter process describes the way in which the normal housing market should work. As new housing is built, families who can afford to pay more vacate older units which then become available to families of a somewhat lower income who are on their way up the economic ladder and who in turn move out of still less desirable quarters (Green, 1957, p. 138).
Another vital problem was transportation. Associated with urban population rise was a nascent suburban movement; many wealthy families gave up residential locations close to the noisy and crowded marketplaces, opting instead for houses in smaller peripheral towns. These suburbanites maintained their connection with the larger population center by water ferry and steam railroad, or they assumed the expense of providing their own carriages to conduct business and friendships in the city. Thus the residential movement away from the city center and into suburban areas predates the development of mass transit (Green, 1957).
Out of the period of dynamic urban growth between 1820 and 1860 came the development of the omnibus, the first mass-transit innovation used in the U. S. At first, the conveyance was merely a long-distance stagecoach used within the city or an enlarged version of a hackney coach. Within a decade, though, it had taken a fairly standard form: a rectangular box on wheels containing two lengthwise seats for from twelve to twenty passengers (Jackson & Schultz, 1972b, p. 180).
The conducted study proved that whether a given city grew and prospered or stagnated depended on its locational advantages and on the foresight of its civic and business leaders. The speed growth of the U. S. cities was stipulated by the industrial revolution which encouraged cities’ prosperity, but at the same time conditioned the problems they faced such as overcrowding, poverty and lack of local transportation facilities. Anyway, technological innovations and wise ruling of municipal authorities allowed solving these problems and achieve sufficient balance in the cities’ development.
References

Don't use plagiarized sources. Get Your Custom Essay on
The U.S. Cities in the Late 1800’s: Major Problems and Their Solving
Just from $13/Page
Order Essay

Goodall, L. E. , & Sprengel, D. P. (1975). The American Metropolis. Columbus, OH: Merrill. Green, C. M. (1957).
American Cities in the Growth of the Nation. New York: John De Graff. Jackson, K. T. , & Schultz, S. K. (1972a).
The City in American History: Introduction. In K. T. Jackson & S. K. Schultz (Eds. ), Cities in American History (pp. 1-8). New York: Alfred A. Knopf. Jackson, K. T. , & Schultz, S. K. (1972b).
Immigration, Migration, and Mobility, 1865-1920. In K. T. Jackson & S. K. Schultz (Eds.), Cities in American History (pp. 177-184).
New York: Alfred A. Knopf. Light, I. (1983). Cities in World Perspective. New York: Macmillan. Schultz, S. K. (1972).
Breaking the Chains of Poverty: Public Education in Boston, 1800-1860. In K. T. Jackson & S. K. Schultz (Eds. ), Cities in American History (pp. 306-323).
New York: Alfred A. Knopf. Ward, D. (1972). The Emergence of Central Immigrant Ghettoes in American Cities, 1840-1920. In K. T. Jackson & S. K. Schultz (Eds. ), Cities in American History (pp. 164-176). New York: Alfred A. Knopf.

Achiever Essays
Calculate your paper price
Pages (550 words)
Approximate price: -

Why Work with Us

Top Quality and Well-Researched Papers

We always make sure that writers follow all your instructions precisely. You can choose your academic level: high school, college/university or professional, and we will assign a writer who has a respective degree.

Professional and Experienced Academic Writers

We have a team of professional writers with experience in academic and business writing. Many are native speakers and able to perform any task for which you need help.

Free Unlimited Revisions

If you think we missed something, send your order for a free revision. You have 10 days to submit the order for review after you have received the final document. You can do this yourself after logging into your personal account or by contacting our support.

Prompt Delivery and 100% Money-Back-Guarantee

All papers are always delivered on time. In case we need more time to master your paper, we may contact you regarding the deadline extension. In case you cannot provide us with more time, a 100% refund is guaranteed.

Original & Confidential

We use several writing tools checks to ensure that all documents you receive are free from plagiarism. Our editors carefully review all quotations in the text. We also promise maximum confidentiality in all of our services.

24/7 Customer Support

Our support agents are available 24 hours a day 7 days a week and committed to providing you with the best customer experience. Get in touch whenever you need any assistance.

Try it now!

Calculate the price of your order

Total price:
$0.00

How it works?

Follow these simple steps to get your paper done

Place your order

Fill in the order form and provide all details of your assignment.

Proceed with the payment

Choose the payment system that suits you most.

Receive the final file

Once your paper is ready, we will email it to you.

Our Services

No need to work on your paper at night. Sleep tight, we will cover your back. We offer all kinds of writing services.

Essays

Essay Writing Service

No matter what kind of academic paper you need and how urgent you need it, you are welcome to choose your academic level and the type of your paper at an affordable price. We take care of all your paper needs and give a 24/7 customer care support system.

Admissions

Admission Essays & Business Writing Help

An admission essay is an essay or other written statement by a candidate, often a potential student enrolling in a college, university, or graduate school. You can be rest assurred that through our service we will write the best admission essay for you.

Reviews

Editing Support

Our academic writers and editors make the necessary changes to your paper so that it is polished. We also format your document by correctly quoting the sources and creating reference lists in the formats APA, Harvard, MLA, Chicago / Turabian.

Reviews

Revision Support

If you think your paper could be improved, you can request a review. In this case, your paper will be checked by the writer or assigned to an editor. You can use this option as many times as you see fit. This is free because we want you to be completely satisfied with the service offered.

Live Chat+1(978) 822-0999EmailWhatsApp

Order your essay today and save 20% with the discount code RESEARCH