Industrialization in the late 1800’s gave rise to more expanded and populated cities, but this rapid urbanization came at a cost to the people who lived in them. Many immigrants and factory workers were forced to live in the cities, causing over-crowdedness as the population began to expand with the economy. Workers who did menial labor in factories had to live close by the factories, and the industries led them to living in the cities. As more and more people were required to run and manufacture items, the more and more crowded cities became. Competition for resources such as water became more driven, and poor sewer and sanitation systems often contaminated the water supply.
In the overcrowded cities fires became more and more common, often resulting in many deaths. Kerosene stoves led to fires in apartment buildings that could displace hundreds of people over night. Disease was spread because of the close-quarters that people lived in, and the conditions at which meat was manufactured made the possibility for disease all the more real. In 1906 Upton Sinclair wrote a novel called the Jungle to depict what life was like for the poor workers in the meatpacking industry. The novel portrayed the poor conditions in which the people worked and the even poorer condition in which meat was tended to and made available for the people. The novel caused an outcry for something to be done, and legislation pertaining to healthy food production was passed.
New inventions paved the way in the late 19th century and early 20th century that were aimed at improving the life of the people who lived in cities. Whereas most people had to live within walking distance of the factory they worked at, electricity was used to power street cars to alleviate some of the close-quarter congestion and allow urbanites to spread out, if only a little. The refining of oil by John D. Rockefeller made it possible for some people to have cars to help them get to work, allowing them to live further away and even outside of the city limits. In New York, skyscrapers became more abundant as construction began to slow on the ground floor and they found limitless space upward. Steel frames allow building to be constructed high than even before, and railroads connected cities to other cities, allowing people to move or just leave the city for a weekend easier than ever before.
The urbanization of America and the railroads that connected urban America made professional sports bigger. Baseball, which was created before the Civil War and became popular during it, was on the rise and quickly on its way to becoming America’s “national pastime.” As a result, urban areas began to become more tightly knit, and reforms were rapidly coming in urban areas such as New York and Chicago to help immigrants who had recently come to the United States to adapt to their new surroundings as well as assimilate into the culture. The new urbanization boom, at first, offered many problems, but many of these problems were able to be overcome in the early 1900s and soon suburban areas would give rise to places such as Levittown, an area able to house droves of more people as the population exploded.
College level lecture
The Jungle by Upton Sinclair
Conlin’s The American Past: A Survey of American History