The Urbanization of the Late 19th Century America

This paper discusses the urbanization of the late 19th century America with emphasis on population migration, European immigration, technology and city-based industries.

The years following the Civil War ushered in the modern era of cities. It was during the half century between the Civil War and World War I that the move from the country to the city took place. In 1860, less than a quarter of the American population lived in a city or town; by 1890 the figure had reached a third; by 1910, nearly half.

The urbanization of late 19th century America took place at a staggering pace. Chicago, for example, doubled its population every decade but one between 1850 and 1890, growing from 30,000 to over a million in little more than a generation. Los Angeles jumped from less than 5,000 in 1860 to more than 100,000 in 1900, and Denver from nothing at all to 134,000, while Memphis with 23,000 in the earlier year exceeded 100,000 in the latter. In the nation as a whole, the proportion of people living in towns …

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