Chapter 3: The Rise of Urban America




In this chapter we cross the ocean to the wilderness of North America and trace the coming of age of the American city.  As you read through the following pages, note the major role played by environmental factors during the colonial period.  (All of the major early cities were seaports.)  During the nineteenth century, by contrast, changing technology, particularly advances in transportation such as the railroad, came to play a major role in the growth and development of cities.  This chapter, then, takes us from Jamestown up to the contemporary era following World War II.




We are rather new at being an urban continent.  The first European colonists to arrive in North America found a land without indigenous cities, although the indians of the northwest coast, with their reliable food supply from the sea, had established well-built settled villages with an elaborate social structure.  Also at Mesa Verde in southwest Colorado the “ancient ones” had built cliff dwellings.  By and large though, the North American Indian population was nomadic or lived in agricultural villages such as the Taos in the southwest.  Cahokia, located in the Mississippi River valley of southern Illinois, was the most populous pre-Columbian settlement north of Mexico, thriving from about A. D. 900 to A. D. 1400 as a farming and trade center.  Unlike the Spanish colonists, the first English settlers found no existing urban civilizations.  The Native American population may have numbered less than 1 million at the time of the Jamestown settlement (1607).1


From the first, the town-building orientation of the colonists contrasted with Indian ways.  The North American Indians lived in nature rather than building upon it.  They viewed themselves as part of the ecology, part of the physical world.  Their goal was not to master nature but to identify their niche and their relationship with the world around them.  The Europeans came, on the contrary, not to adjust to the environment but to dominate and reshape it.  The Puritans, for example, believed themselves to be God’s chosen people.  Moreover, the Europeans brought a land tenure system based on private ownership of land – something quite alien to the Native American way of life.2


The colonists’ emphasis was on conquering nature, and unfortunately for the Indians, the colonists tended to view Native Americans as a part of the environment.  They were treated as just another environmental problem that had to be encountered and mastered before civilization could be introduced.  The implication for the future was clear.  There was no niche for the Indian in the town-oriented civilization of the colonists.


What has just been said is, of course, an overgeneralization, but from our urban perspective the important point is that the concept of the city, and all the good and evil it represents, came to North America with the first European colonist.  This concept, with all the special technology, social organizations, and attitudes it entailed, was an importation from post-Renaissance Europe.  This meant, among other things, that North American cities had no feudal period.3


The plans of the various companies that settled the English colonies in North America called for the establishment of tight little villages and commercial centers.  The first successful settlements at Jamestown and Plymouth Colony were in fact small towns.  Thus, early English settlers were not primarily agriculturists but rather town dwellers coming with town expectations.  In fact, the initially limited number of farmers was a problem.  Jamestown nearly perished from an excess of adventurers and a dearth of skilled artisans and farmers.  As John Smith wrote back to the English sponsors of the Jamestown colony,


            When you send againe I intreat you rather send but thirty Carpenters, husbandmen, gardeners,

                fisher men, blacksmiths, masons, and diggers up of trees, roots, well provided; then a tousand of

                such as we haus: for except we be able both to loge them, and feed them the most will consume

                with what of necessaries before they can be made good for anything.4


The wilderness of the new world appeared strange and hostile, and the early colonists sorely missed their towns.  William Bradford movingly describes the world of the Pilgrims of 1620:


                They had no friends to wellcome them nor inns to entertaine or refresh their weather-beaten

                bodys, no houses or much less townes to repaire too, to seek for succoure … Besids, what

                could they see but a hidious and desolate wilderness, full of wild beasts and wild men?  and what

                multituds ther might be of them they knew not.5




The following pages note the role played by population organization, environment, and technology in shaping the cities of North America.  Five seaport communities spearheaded the urbanization of the seventeenth-century English colonies.  The northernmost was Boston on New England’s “stern and rockbound coast”; the southernmost was the newer and much smaller Charles Town in South Carolina.6  Barely making an indentation in the 1,100 miles of wilderness separating these two were Newport, in the Providence Plantations of Rhode Island; New Amsterdam, which in 1664 became New York; and William Penn’s Philadelphia on the Delaware River at the mouth of the Schuylkill River.


Environment played a heavy role in the early development of these first five cities.  All five were seaports, either on the Atlantic or – as in the case of Philadelphia – with access to the sea.  Later towns such as Baltimore had similar environmental advantages.  As seaports they became commercial centers funneling trade between Europe and the colonies.  In terms of social structure all were Protestant, and against the established church, except for the ruling class of Charleston and (partially) New York.  As Bridenbaugh points out, the social structure of these towns was fashioned by a background of relatively common political institutions; and the economic and cultural roots, whether English or Dutch, lay for the most part in the rising middle class of the old world.7


The five important urban settlements had certain similar characteristics.  First, all had favorable sites.  As noted above, all were coastal seaports or, like Philadelphia, were on a navigable river.  Second all were commercial cities emphasizing trade and commerce.  Third, all had hinterlands or back country to develop, although Newport would find its hinterland increasingly cut off by Boston in the eighteenth century.  Finally, all of these cities were fundamentally British.  Even New York, which was more cosmopolitan than many European cities, was controlled by a British upper stratum.


New England


The story of early New England is the story of its towns, for New England from the very beginning was town-oriented.  The Puritan religious dissenters who originally settled in New England came heavily from the more populous centers of old England.  They numbered in their midst many tradespeople, mechanics, and artisans.  In the new world these religious dissenters sought to create tight urban communal utopias rather than spreading themselves widely over the landscape.  Massachusetts Bay, according to John Winthrop, was to be “as a City upon a Hill.”  In that colony there existed a social system of a nature unknown outside New England.  The cordial union between the clergy, the bench, the bar, and respectable society formed a tight, self-reinforcing social elite.


Boston early outstripped its rivals in both population size and economic influence and kept its lead for a century in spite of Indian wars that twice threatened its existence.  Boston had barely 300 residents in the 1630s, but by 1650 there were over 2,000 residents, and a visitor could report – with some exaggeration perhaps – that it was a sumptuous “city” and “Center Towne and Metropolis of this Wildernesse.”8 


By 1742 Boston had a population of 16,000.  The barrenness of Boston’s hinterland inclined Bostonians to look toward the sea, and the town grew to prosperity on trade and shipbuilding.  Before Boston was a generation old, it had “begun to extend its control into the back country, and to develop a metropolitan form of economy that was essentially modern.”9


Newport, the second New England city down the coast, was founded in 1639 by victims of religious bigotry in Massachusetts.  Newport’s growth was steady but far from spectacular; in a hundred years the population grew from 96 to 6,200.  However, although Newport remained relatively small, its growing commerce and well-ordered community life gave it a significant place in emerging urban America.  In Newport, as in Boston, education was encouraged; in addition, Newport, due to the influence of leaders such as Anne Hutchinson, had religious toleration.


The Middle Colonies


Manhattan from the beginning had the most cosmopolitan population of the colonial cities, a fact reflected in the diversity of the languages spoken there.  Father Isaac Jogues recorded that as early as 1643 there were already “men of 18 different languages.”  Partially because of this mixture of national and religious backgrounds (Dutch Calvinists, Anglicans, Quakers, Baptists, Huguenots, Lutherans, Presbyterians, and even a sprinkling of Jews, Congregation Shearith Israel being organized in 1706), New York was by far the liveliest of the towns, a position many people maintain it still holds.  Interestingly enough, as of 1720 a third of New York’s population was black.10  With the gradual abandonment of slavery in the North – largely for economic reasons – the proportion of blacks declined substantially over the next century.  New York was already an American melting pot, although the stew would still be a bit lumpy three centuries later.


New York also had decisive environmental advantages that contributed heavily to its eventual emergence as “the American City.”  First, Manhattan had a magnificent deepwater natural harbor.  Second, New York was blessed with a fertile soil.  Third, the city had easy access to the interior hinterland by way of the Hudson River.  The New England towns, by contrast, found their economic growth greatly hindered by the lack of an accessible, fertile hinterland. 


Philadelphia, William Penn’s “City of Brotherly Love,” laid out in 1692, was the youngest of the colonial cities.  This was in many ways an advantage, for by the time the city was organized, the Indians had departed and the land was already being settled.  A policy of religious toleration and an extremely rich and fertile hinterland allowed rapid growth.  By the time Philadelphia was six years old it had 4,000 inhabitants; by 1720 the number had reached 10,000.11  Accounts of the day noted the regularity of the town’s gridiron pattern with its central square, and most frequently the substantial nature of its buildings. 


            A City, and Towns.  were raised then,

                Wherein we might abide.

                Planters also, and Husband-men,

                Had Land enough beside.

                The best of Houses then was known,

                To be of Wood and Clay,

                But now we build of Brick and Stone,

                Which is the better way.12


The South


The southernmost of the colonial cities was Charles Town (Charleston), founded in 1680 on a spit of land between the mouths of the Ashley and Cooper rivers.  The town grew slowly; two decades after its founding it only had only 1,100 inhabitants and had “not yet produced any Commodities fit for ye market or Europe, but a few skins – and a little cedar.”13  For decades rice, indigo, and skins formed the basis of its commerce.  Far more than northern cities, Charleston retained a negative trade balance with Great Britain. 


Charleston’s social organization and structure was unique among the major cities.  The major difference was that by the 1740s over half of Charleston’s inhabitants were slaves.  The middle class artisans and shopkeepers who were the backbone of the northern cities were caught in Charleston between the aristocratic pretensions of the large landowners and the increasing skills of the trained slaves.  The result was civic atrophy, the major local event being the opening of the horse-racing season.  Charleston had few municipal services and could not claim even a single tax-supported school.




The relatively small populations by contemporary standards of the cities and towns of colonial America should not distract us from their seminal importance.  Politically, economically, and socially these five towns dominated early colonial life.  Because of their access to the sea they served as entrepots, exchanging the produce of the hinterland for the finished products of Europe.  In addition to their commercial function they also served as places where new ideas and forms of social organization could be developed. 


Because the local cities had to meet uniquely urban problems, such as paving streets, removing garbage, and caring for the poor, collective efforts developed.  In the words of one historian:


            In these problems of town living which affected the entire community lay one of the vast differences

                between town and country society, and out of the collective efforts to solve these urban problems

                arose a sense of community responsibility and power that was to further differentiate the two ways

                of life.14


As a result of the town-based settlement pattern, by 1690 almost 10 percent of the colonial population was urban, a higher percentage than that found in England itself at the same time.  With the subduing of the Indians and the opening up of the hinterland for cultivation, the percentage (not, of course, the actual number) of urban dwellers decreased between 1690 and 1790.  The opening up of frontier hinterlands permitted greater population dispersal than had previously been possible.  Not until 1830 was the urban percentage of the total population as high as it had been at the close of the seventeenth century.15


Politically, the cities were dominant.  With the exception of Virginia, where the landed aristocracy did not live in cities but nonetheless followed the latest London fashions and maintained a strong commerce with Europe, the cities set the political as well as the social tone.  And the merchant classes became increasingly dissatisfied with British policy.  The crown’s tax measures had a bad effect on business.  Boston was called “the metropolis of sedition”; and as Lord Howe, commander of the British forces at the time of the Revolution, noted, “Almost all of the People of Parts and Spirit were in the Rebellion.”16  This was not surprising, since Britain’s revenue policy had struck deep at urban prosperity.  Business and commercial leaders were determined to resist the crown rather than suffer financial reverses.  This helps to explain the middle class and upper class nature of much of the support for the American Revolution, Urban-based merchants, rather than farmers, were to most upset by “taxation without representation.”




After the Revolutionary War the cities continued their growth, although the first United States census, taken in 1790, revealed that only 5 percent of the new nation’s 4 million people lived in places of 2,500 or more.  Numerically, America was overwhelmingly rural, but this demographic dominance was not reflected in the distribution of power or the composition of leadership groups.  The urban population had an influence on government, finance, and society as a whole far out of proportion to its size.  The Federalist Party, which elected John Adams as the second president, was largely an urban-based party representing the commercial and banking rather than agrarian interests. 


Although three-quarters of the national population still lived within 50 miles of the Atlantic Ocean, there were already clear and widening differences between townspeople and rural dwellers.  The farmers’ orientation was toward the expanding western frontier, while the townspeople were still oriented toward Europe.  Because of their status as ocean ports, the American coastal cities frequently had more in common with the old world, and certainly better communication with it, than with their own hinterlands.  Traveling from Washington to New York took eight days by horse or coach in 1790.


The census showed that the largest city in the young nation was New York, with 33,000 inhabitants.  Philadelphia was the second largest city, with a population of 28,000.  Twenty years later New York had over 100,000 persons.  In 1790 only 5 percent of the population lived west of the Allegheny Mountains.


Such rapid growth of the cities after the Revolutionary War was not only the result of foreign and rural immigration; an exceptionally high rate of natural replacement also played a large part.  Precise data are lacking, but the birthrate is estimated to have been at least 55 per 1,000, or near the physiological upper limit.  Each married woman in 1790 bore an average of almost eight children.  One result of the high birthrate and the immigration from Europe of young adults was a national median age of only sixteen years.  (By comparison, the median age or the white population today is thirty-five years.)  Between 1790 and 1860 the population would increase dramatically, doubling every twenty-three years – a rate equivalent to that in some developing countries today.


The sheer abundance of land and the almost unlimited possibilities for simple tenure meant freedom from Europe’s lingering feudal constraints.17  As put by a European visitor: “It does not seem difficult to find out the reasons why people multiply faster here than in Europe … There is such an amount of good land yet uncultivated that a newly married man can get a spot of ground where he may comfortably subsist with his wife and children.”18


The percentage of the population that is urban has grown every decade except 1810-1820.  The decline in that decade was chiefly due to the destruction of American commerce from the Embargo Acts and the War of 1812.  That war came close to destroying the coastal cities; and partially as a result of isolation from English manufactures and products, the American cities begn developing manufacturing interests.  Even Thomas Jefferson, an ardent opponent of cities, was forced to concede:


            He, therefore, who is now against domestic manufacture, must be for reducing us either to

                dependence on that foreign nation or to be clothed in skins and to live like wild beasts in dens

                and caverns.  I am not one of them; experience has taught me that manufacturers are now as

                necessary to our independence as to our comfort.19


Founding and Expansion of Cities


The period before the Civil War saw a rapid expansion of existing cities and the founding of many new ones.  The invention of the railroad played a major role in this growth.  During the period from 1820 to 1860, cities grew at a more rapid rate than at any other time before or since in American history.20  It is noteworthy that of the fifty largest cities in America, only seven were incorporated before 1816, thirty-nine were incorporated between 1816 and 1876, and only four have been incorporated since 1876.  Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, Memphis, Louisville, Detroit, Chicago, Denver, Portland, and Seattle are all early and mid-nineteenth century cities.  In the far west, the discovery of gold and then of silver did much to spur town building.  Some later became ghost towns, but San Francisco prospered as the major city of the west.


The influence of environmental factors on the growth of nineteenth-century cities can be seen from the fact that of the nine cities which by 1860 had passed 100,000 mark, eight were ports.  The one exception really wasn’t an exception; it was the then independent city of Brooklyn, which shared the benefits of the country’s greatest harbor.21


By the eve of the Civil War the first city of the nation was clearly New York.  It had both a magnificent and a large hinterland to sustain growth, and it had relatively flat terrain westward from the Hudson River.  Nonetheless, what assured New York of its dominance was the willingness to speculate on the technologies of the first Erie Canal and then the railroad.  Mayor DeWitt Clinton Prophesied that the canal would “create the greatest inland trade ever witnessed” and would allow New York to “become the granary of the world, the emporium of commerce, the seat of manufactures, the focus of moneyed operations.”  He was right.


The completion of the canal in 1825 greatly stimulated New York City’s trade and gave it an economic supremacy that has yet to be surpassed.  Thus, the original environmental advantage stimulated a technological advance – the Erie Canal – which in turn led to population growth and changes in the social organization of business and government.  New York’s quick acceptance of railroads as a technological breakthrough, and the possibilities thus presented, further solidified the city’s dominant position.  Not only was New York the most important American city; it also had become a major world metropolis by the time of the Civil War.  New York grew from just over 60,000 in 1800 to over 1 million in 1860.  Of the world’s cities only London and Paris were larger.  By 1860, in addition to serving as the nation’s financial center, New York also handled a third of the country’s exports and a full two thirds of the country’s imports.  New York’s increase in size was matched by the increasing heterogeneity of its inhabitants, with their different tastes, aspirations, and needs – all of which could be best satisfied only in the large city.


Land speculation spurred the growth of cities.  Fueled by a stream of immigrants and a greed for profits, cities went through periods of wild land speculation and building – only to be followed by economic collapse and depression.  Cincinnati, the “Queen city of the West,” for example, experienced a boom during the 1820’s, and during that decade its population expanded rapidly as a result of the development and use of steamboats.  In other cities the technology of the railroad played a similar role in spurring growth. 


Only in the deep south, where cotton was king, did the building of cities languish.  In the plantation owners’ view, cotton fields came before manufacturing and commerce.  The dominance of agriculture can be seen in the development – or, more correctly, the lack of development – of Charleston.  At the beginning of the nineteenth century Charleston was the fifth largest American city; by 1860 it had slipped to twenty-sixth place.22  As a consequence of the Civil War, a devastating earthquake, and economic stagnation, Charleston was not numbered even among the fifty largest cities in 1900.  The city had lost its economic reason for existing.  The post-Civil War stagnation of Charleston is reflected in the saying that Charleston was “too poor to paint and to proud to whitewash.”


Marketplace Centers


Before the Civil War (1861-1864), American cities, while undergoing tremendous growth, retained many preindustrial characteristics.  The urban economy was still in a commercial rather than an industrial stage.  Businesspeople were primarily merchants who intermittently took on subsidiary functions such as manufacturing, banking, and speculating.  In 1850, 85 percent of the population was still classified as rural; 64 percent was engaged in agriculture.


Physically, the city prior to the Civil War was a walking city with a radius extending not over three miles.  The separation of workplace and residence so common in contemporary American cities was limited.  Local transportation by omnibus was slow, uncomfortable, and relatively expensive.  Residences, businesses, and public buildings were intermixed with little specialization by area: “The first floor was given over to commerce, the second and third reserved for family and clerks, and the fourth perhaps for storage.  People lived and worked in the same house or at least in the same neighborhood.”23


The separation that did occur was the obverse of the pattern of the wealthy in the suburbs and the poor in the city that we have come to accept as the American norm.  (See Chapters 4 and 5 for discussion for theories of contemporary urban growth.)  In early American cities, the well-to-do tended to live not on the periphery but near the center.  In an era a slow, uncomfortable, and inadequate transportation, the poor were more often relegated to the less accessible areas on the periphery.24 




The Civil War only accelerated the shift from a mercantile or trade to an industrial economy.  Aided by the new protective tariffs and the inflated profits, and stimulated by the war, northern industrialists began producing steel, coal, and woolen goods, most of which had previously been imported.  The closing of the Mississippi was a boon to Chicago and the east-west railroads. 


A century after its founding (1880), the American nation had grown to 50 million and stretched from coast to coast.  The lands of the Louisiana Purchase and the Northwest Cession were already settled, while the western prairie was being peopled and plowed.  However, in retrospect, this was the end, not the beginning, of the age of agriculture.  The census of 1880 for the first time indicated that less than half of the employable population worked in agriculture.  Meanwhile, foreign immigration was swelling the cities, and urban areas held 28 percent of the population.  A century ago (1890), the census counted 63 million persons.  Today we have over four times as many people.  In 1890, New York was the nation’s largest city with 1.5 million people (Brooklyn, then separate, had 800,000 more people).25  The other cities with over a million persons were Chicago and Philadelphia. 


During the last quarter of the nineteenth century, urbanism for the first time became a controlling factor in national life.  This was a period of economic expansion for the nation.  Capital-intensive industrialism was changing the nature of the economic system, rapidly changing America from a rural to an urban continent.


While the frontier captured the attention of writers and the imagination of the populace, the bulk of the nation’s growth during the nineteenth century took place in cities.  (The classic statement on the significance of the west was Fredrick J. Turner’s famous 1893 paper, “The frontier in American History.”  A major urban response did not come until almost half a century later, with Arthur M. Schlesinger’s “The City in American History.”)26  By the turn of the twentieth century, 38 cities had populations over 100,000; the most notable of these new cities was the prairie metropolis of Chicago, which had bet heavily on the technology of the railroad.  Chicago mushroomed from 4,100 at the time of its incorporation in 1833 to 1 million in 1890.  Between 1850 and 1890 Chicago doubled its population every decade; in 1910 it passed 2 million.  Nationally, in 100 years between 1790 and 1890 the total population grew 16-fold, while the urban population grew 139-fold. 


Technological Developments


As Richard Wade aptly phrased it, “The towns were the spearhead of the frontier.”  Technology was used to overcome the environment.  This was particularly true west of the Mississippi, where the technological breakthrough of the railroad had reversed earlier patterns of settlement.  Josiah Strong, writing in 1885, noted:


            In the Middle States the farms were the first taken, then the town sprang up to supply its wants,

                and at length the railway connected it with the world, but in the West the order is reversed

-first the railroad, then the towns, then the farms.  Settlement is, consequently, much

more rapid, and the city stamps the country, instead of the country stamping the city.

it is the cities and the towns which will frame state constitutions, make laws, create public opinion, establish social usages, and fix standards of morals for the West.27


Strong may have exaggerated his case somewhat, but the railroad was crucial in the development of the west.  During the second half of the nineteenth century, the railroads expanded from 9,000 to 193,000 miles – much of it built with federal loans and land grants.28  The railroads literally opened up the west.


At the same time, changes in farming technology were converting the self-sufficient yeoman into and entrepreneur raising cash crops for market.  Horse-drawn mechanical reapers, steel plows, and threshers heralded the shift from self-sufficient to commercial farming.


Spatial Concentration in Cities


The great cities of the east and Midwest, with their hordes of immigrants, frantic pace, municipal corruption, and industrial productivity, built much of their present physical plant in the era of steam stretching from the 1880s to the depression of the 1930s.  It is important to remember that the late nineteenth century city was a city of concentration and centralization accentuated by industrialization.  Initial industrialization encouraged centripetal rather than centrifugal forces.  Since steam is most cheaply generated in large quantities and must by used close to where it is produced, steam power thus fostered a compact city.  Steam power encouraged the proximity of factory and power supply.  It fostered the concentration of manufacturing processes in a core area that surrounded the central business district and had access to rail and often water transportation.  This in turn tended to concentrate managerial and wholesale distributing activities and, above all, population near the factory. 


The limited transportation technology meant that workers had to live near the factories; this gave rise to row upon row of densely packed tenements.  The distant separation of residence and place of work was a luxury only the very wealthy in the commuting suburbs could afford.  Surrounding the factories, slumlords built jaw-to-jaw tenements on every available open space.  These tenements were then packed to unbelievable densities with immigrant workers – first Irish, then German, Jewish, Italian, and Polish – who could afford no other housing on the pitiful wages they made working twelve hours a day, six days a week.  Slums provided the immigrant workers with housing close to the factories, but at a horrendous price in terms of health and quality of life.


In the brief twelve-year period between 1877 and 1889, inventions such as steel-frame buildings, the light bulb, electric power lines, electric streetcars, electric elevators, the telephone, subways, and the internal combustion engine were introduced.29  Such inventions spurred the growth of cities.


The compact trade and commerce-oriented central business districts of northern industrial and commercial cities reflected the needs of the nineteenth century.  Before the widespread use of the automobile and telephone, it was necessary that business offices be close to one another so that information could be transmitted by means of messengers.  High central-city land values were an inevitable result of the common business demand for a central location.  Nineteenth-century inventions such as a practical steam elevator and steel girded buildings further enabled the core area to become even more densely inhabited.  Steel girded buildings no longer had to be supported by massive outer walls, and offices and businesses could be stacked vertically upon one another as high as foundations, local ordinances, and economics would allow.


The fact that New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, and St. Louis, to name only a few, are essentially cities built before the twentieth century, and before the automobile, is a problem we have to cope with today.  Any attempt to deal with the present day transportation or pollution problems has to take into account the fact that most American cities were planned and built in the nineteenth century.  We still live largely in cities designed, at best, for the age of steam and the horse-drawn streetcar.


As a side note, a quick way of determining the earlier boundaries of a city is to note the location of older cemeteries.  Since cemeteries were traditionally placed on the outskirts, large cemeteries within present city boundaries effectively show earlier high-water marks of urban growth.


Twentieth-Century Dispersion


Contemporary metropolitan areas reflect dispersion rather than concentration.  Three technological inventions contributed to this change: the telephone, the electric streetcar, and, most important, the automobile.  The telephone meant that the city business could be conducted other than by face-to-face contact or messenger.  It enabled businesses to locate their factories separate from their offices.


Before the electric streetcar, separation of places of living from places of work was a luxury restricted to the affluent of well-to-do.  Nineteenth-century suburbs developed along commuter railroad lines and were the private preserves of those who had both the time and money to commute.  The North Shore suburbs of Chicago are an example.  Common people, however, walked or rode the horse streetcars to work.  At the beginning of the twentieth century, the average New Yorker lived a quarter of a mile, or roughly two blocks, from his or her place of work.  Chicago at that time contained 1,690,000 inhabitants, half of them living within 3.2 miles of the city center.30


The electric streetcar changed all of this.  Perfected in 1888 in Richmond, Virginia, the streetcar moved twice as fast as the horse-drawn car and had over three times the carrying capacity.  The new system of urban transportation was almost immediately adopted everywhere.  By the turn of the century horsecar lines, which had accounted for two-thirds of all street railways a decade earlier, had all but vanished.  Electric trolleys accounted for 97 percent of all mileage in 1902, with 2 percent still operated by cable car lines and only 1 percent by horsecars.31


The result was the rapid development of outer areas of the city and the proliferation of middle class streetcar suburbs.32  With one’s home somewhere along the streetcar line, it was possible to live as far as 12 miles away from the central business district and commute relatively rapidly and inexpensively.  This led to an outward expansion of the city and the establishment of residential suburbs in strips along the right-of-way of the streetcar line.  Those high in the electric traction industry and corrupt politicians with influence made fortunes when streetcar lines were built to outlying areas where they just happened to own vacant lots.


The above should also help us to keep in mind that technology is not a neutral force.  The benefits of the streetcar – and later the automobile – technology especially assisted the middle classes in establishing ethnically and racially exclusive suburban neighborhoods.  (For elaboration see Chapter 9, Changing Suburbanization Patterns.)


Land lying between the “spokes” formed by the streetcar lines remained undeveloped.  The cities thus came to have a rather pronounced star-shaped configuration, with the points of the star being the linear rail lines.33  This is a shape cities would hold until the area of the automobile.


Where street rail lines intersected, natural breaks in transit took place and secondary business and commercial districts began to develop.  These regional shopping areas were the equivalent of the peripheral shopping centers of today.  With the coming of the automobile, the city areas between the streetcar lines filled in, and by the 1920’s most of our major cities had completed the bulk of their building.  The depression of the 1930s effectively stopped downtown building; thus, many central business districts remained basically unchanged until building resumed again in the 1960s.34  Outlying areas similarly saw little change until the post-World War II suburbanization boom (Chapter 7).




Corruption and Urban Services


In 1853 New York was described in Putnam’s Monthly as possessing “Filthy Streets, the farce of a half-fledged and inefficient police, and the miserably bad government, generally, of an unprincipled common council, in the composition of which ignorance, selfishness, imprudence, and greediness seem to have an equal share.”  Over the following score of years the situation deteriorated.  Virtually everywhere venality and urban politics became synonymous.  As Arthur Schlesinger charitably put it, “This lusty urban growth created problems that taxed human resourcefulness to the utmost.”35  A particularly high price was paid in the area of municipal governance.  Political institutions that were adequate under simplified rural conditions but inadequate to the task of governing a complicated system of ever-expanding public services and utilities presented an acute problem.  The contemporary observer Andrew White was more direct, “With very few exceptions the city governments of the United States are the worst in Christendom … the most expensive, the most inefficient, and the most corrupt.”36  Or as the noted British scholar James Bryce put it, “There is no denying that the government of cities is one conspicuous failure of the United States.”37


Boss Tweed of New York, who plundered the city of between $60 million and $200 million, was even more explicit: “The population is too helplessly split into races and factions to govern it under universal suffrage, except by bribery or patronage or corruption.”38  The political machines were renowned for graft and voting fraud.  Immigrants were encouraged to “vote early and often” for the machine candidates.


On the other hand, although the political bosses emptied the public treasury, they also provided poorer citizens with urban services, jobs, and help in solving problems.  The bosses were buffers between slum dwellers and the often hostile official bureaucracy.  In return for the immigrants’ vote, the boss provided not abstract ideals but practical services and benefits.  The boss was the one to come to when you needed a job, when your child was picked up for delinquency, or when you drank a bit too much and were arrested for drunkenness.  The boss you arrange something with the police at the stationhouse or even “go your bail” if the offense was serious.  The boss was certain to attend every wedding and wake in the neighborhood, and often provided cash to get the newlyweds going or cover funeral expenses for the widow.  The boss produced.  As a Boston ward heeler, Martin Lomasney, straightforwardly expressed it, “There’s got to be in every ward somebody that any bloke can come to – no matter what he’s done – to get help.  Help, you understand; none of your law and justice, but help.”39


In managing the city the bosses distinguished between dishonest graft and honest graft, of “boodie.”  The former would include shakedowns, payoffs, and protection money for illegal gambling, liquor, and prostitution.  “Boodie,” on the other hand, involved using your control over contracts for municipal services and tax assessments to maximize your advantage.  The boss George Washington Plunkett in a famous passage explained how it worked. 


            Just let me explain by examples.  My party’s in power in the city, and it’s going to undertake

                a lot of public improvements.  Well, I’m tipped off, say, that they’re going to lay out a new park

at a certain place.  I see my opportunity and I take it.  I go to that place and I buy up all the land I can in the neighborhood.  Then the board of this or that makes its plans public, and there is a rush to get my land, which nobody cared particular for before.  Ain’t it perfectly honest to charge a good

price and make a profit on my investment and foresight.  Of course it is.  Well, that’s honest graft.49


In an urban environment committed to the principle of free enterprise, politicians saw no reason for all the profits to go to businesspeople rather than politicians.


While the “better classes” viewed all machine bosses as rogues and thieves, the bosses were apparently far more personable and friendly than the elite captains of industry in the business community.  A study of twenty city bosses described them as warm and often sentimental men who had come from poor immigrant families.  All were naïve urbanites, most noted for loyalty to their families.41  The political machine provided a route for social mobility for bright and alert young immigrants.  Police departments were also an avenue of upward mobility for first and second generation European immigrants.  Without the aid of the ward bosses, new immigrants would have had an even rougher time than they did.  For the immigrants, the boss rule was clearly functional.  As expressed by sociologist Robert K. Merton, “The functional deficiencies of the official structure generate an alternative (unofficial) structure to fulfill existing needs somewhat more effectively.”42 


Immigrants’ Problems


The role of immigrants is treated in detail in Chapter 10, Ethnic Diversity: Ethnics, African Americans, Hispanics, Asians, and Native Americans.  Suffice it to say here that the dimensions of the European immigrant flood are hard to overemphasize – perhaps some 40 million persons between 1800 and 1925.  From the 1840s onward, waves of immigrants landed in the major northeastern ports.  The first of the mass ethnic immigrations was that of the Irish, who were driven from their home in the late 1840s by the ravages of the potato blight.  Later, Germans and Scandinavians poured into the middle west, particularly after the development of steamships and the opening of the railroads to Chicago.


Immigration accelerated after the Civil War, spurred on by the need for industrialization.  This was a period of industrial and continental expansion.  Between 1860 and 1870, twenty-five of the thirty-eight states took official action to stimulate immigration, offering not only voting rights but also sometimes land and bonuses.


By 1890 New York had half as many Italians as Naples, as many Germans as Hamburg, twice as many Irish as Dublin, and two and a half times the number of Jews in Warsaw.43  The traditions, customs, religion, and sheer numbers of migrants made fast assimilation impossible.  Between 1901 and 1910 alone, over 9 million immigrants were counted by immigration officials.  These newcomers came largely from peasant backgrounds.  They were packed into teeming slums and delegated to the lowest-paying and most menial jobs.  Native-born Protestant Americans suddenly became aware of the fact that 40 percent of the 1910 population was of foreign stock – that is, immigrants or the offspring of immigrants.44  The percentage was considerably higher in the large northern industrial cities, where over half the population was invariably of foreign stock. 


To WASP (white Anglo-Saxon Protestant) writers around the turn of the century, the sins of the city were frequently translated into the sins of the new immigrant groups pouring into the ghettos of the central core.  Slum housing, poor health conditions, and high crime rates were all blamed on the newcomers.  Those on the city’s periphery and in the emerging upper class and upper middle-class suburbs associated political corruption with the central city.  Native-born Americans tended to view city problems as being the fault of the frequently Catholic, or Jewish, immigrants who inhabited the central-city ghettos.


Even sympathetic reformers such as Jacob Riis portrayed the central-city slums as anthill teeming with illiterate immigrants.  The masses in the ghettos were a threat to democracy.45


Reform Movements


The writings of “muckrakers” like Lincoln Steffens, who in his articles on ‘the shame of the cities” exposed municipal corruption, gave considerable publicity to the grosser excesses of municipal corruption, such as the deals with utility franchises.  To destroy the power of the bosses and their immigrant supporters, reforms were pushed in city after city.  Reformers of the period had a distinctly middle-class orientation.  Social reformers such as Jane Addams, who founded Hull House to teach “Americanism” and job skills, and Margaret Sanger, who in 1916 opened the first birth control clinic for immigrants in Brooklyn (today Planned Parenthood), were upper middle-class or middle-class.  To the general public the problems of the city were viewed then, as today, as problems of and by the poor in the central core.  While the bosses represented personalized politics, reform represented abstract WASP goals such as good citizenship, efficient administration, and proper accounting.  The progressive movement at the turn of the century, at least in its urban manifestation, was in many respects an attempt by the upper middle class to reform the inner city.  This, of course, meant white, Protestant, middle-class groups regaining political power.  Political reformers joined with businesspeople in organized groups such as the National Municipal League to “reform” city government.


The National Municipal League provided model charters and moral impetus.  By 1912 some 210 communities had dropped the mayor and city-council system and adopted the commission form of government.  In 1913 Dayton adopted the first city-manager system, and during the following year forty-four other cities followed suit.  Under the city-manager system, a nonpolitical manager is appointed to run the city in a businesslike manner.  However, in the largest cities the political machines, while they lost a few battles, managed to weather the storm.  The coming of World War I directed the crusading energies into new channels, and the Roaring Twenties was not a decade noted for municipal reform.  While there are exceptions, such as William Hoan, the reform socialist mayor of Milwaukee, many cities during the 1920s had a colorful and corrupt mayor like James (“Gentleman Jimmy”) Walker in New York or Big Bill (“The Builder”) Thompson in Chicago.  Today, urban corruption still occasionally surfaces.






America has never been neutral in regarding its great cities; they have either been exalted as centers of vitality, enterprise, and excitement or denounced as sinks of crime, pollution, and depravity.  Our present ambivalence toward our cities is nothing new; even the founding fathers had great reservations about the moral worth of cities.  The city was frequently equated by writers such as Thomas Jefferson with all the evils and corruption of the old world, while and idealized picture of the yeoman farmer represented virtue in the new world.  Thomas Jefferson expressed the sentiments of many of his fellow citizens when he stated in 1787 in a letter to James Madison,


                I think our governments will remain virtuous as long as they are chiefly agricultural; and this will

                be as long as there shall be vacant land in any part of America.  When they get piled upon one

                another in large cities, as in Europe, they will become as corrupt as in Europe.46


In a famous letter to Benjamin Rush, written in 1800, Jefferson even saw some virtue in the yellow fever epidemics that periodically ravaged seaboard cities.  Philadelphia, for example, lost over 4,000 persons, almost 10 percent of its population, in the epidemic of 1793.  Jefferson wrote to Rush:


When great evils happen I am in the habit of looking our for what good may arise from them as consolations to us and Providence has in fact, so established in the order of things, as that most evils are the means of producing some good.  The yellow fever will discourage the growth of great cities in our nation, and I view great cities as pestilential to the morals, the health, and the liberties of man.47


This, however, is not the entire picture, for in spite of these sentiments Jefferson proposed a model town plan for Washington, D. C., and after the War of 1812 came to support urban manufacturing.  Also, although in his writings Jefferson advised against sending Americans to Europe for education lest they be contaminated by urban customs, he himself enjoyed visiting Paris and was a social success there.  Other Americans were similarly inconsistent.


Benjamin Franklin, never one to be far from the stimulation, pleasures, and excitement of the city, went so far as to say that agriculture was “the only honest way to acquire wealth ... as a reward for innocent life and virtuous industry.”  Ben Franklin was many things during his long, productive life, but never a farmer; and his own way of life indicates that he never considered an innocent life or conventional virtue to be much of a reward.  Writers as diverse as de Tocqueville, Emerson, Melville, Hawthorne, and Poe all had strong reservations about the city.48


According to de Tocqueville:


I look upon the size of certain American cities, and especially on the nature of their population, as a real danger which threatens the future security of the democratic republics of the New World; and I venture to predict that they will perish from this circumstance, unless the Government succeeds in creating an armed force which while it remains under the control of the majority of the nation, will be independent of town population, and able to repress its excess.


Cowley’s line “God the first garden made, and the first city Cain” expresses an attitude toward cities shared by many Americans.  Thoreau sitting in rural solitude, watching a sunset, is an acceptable image.  Thoreau sitting on a front stoop in Boston, watching the evening rush hour, creates an entirely different image.  In the twentieth century the famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright carried on the anti-urban ideology, referring to cities as “a persistent form of social disease.”


Americans, even while pouring into the cities, have traditionally idealized the country.  A 1989 Gallup poll indicates that, given the choice, almost half of American adults would move to towns will less than 10,000 inhabitants or to rural areas.50  The clearing of the wilderness by the pioneers, and the taming (eradication) of savages – human and animal – was considered a highly laudable enterprise.  By contrast, the building of cities by the sweat and muscle of immigrants was ignored.  It is as if we consider the history of immigrants somewhat discreditable and thus best forgotten.


Vigorous attacks on the city came from writers such as Josiah Strong, who condemned it as the source of the evils of “rum, romanism, and rebellion.”  Strong’s book, Our Country sold a phenomenal – for that date – 175,000 copies.  He effectively mirrored the fears of small-town Protestant America that urban technology and the growth of foreign immigrant groups were in the process of undermining the existing social order and introducing undesirable changes such as political machines, slums, and low church attendance.  Several excerpts give the general tone of his “rum, romanism, and rebellion” argument:


            The city has become a serious menace to our civilization … It has a particular fascination for the

                immigrant.  Our principle cities in 1880 contained 39.3 percent of our entire German population,

                and 45.8 percent of the Irish.  Our ten larger cities at that time contained only nice percent of the

                entire population, but 23 percent of the foreign …

                     Because our cities are so largely foreign, Romanism finds in them its chief strength.  For the

                same reason the saloon together with the intemperance and liquor power which it represents, is

                multiplied …

                     Socialism centers in the city, and the materials of its growth are multiplied with the growth of the

                city.  Here is heaped the social dynamite; here roughs, gamblers, thieves, robbers, and desperate

men of all sorts congregate; men who are ready on any pretext to raise riots for the purpose of disruption and plunder; here gather the foreigners and wage-workers who are especially susceptible to socialist arguments; here skepticism and irreligion abound; here unequality is the greatest and most obvious, and the contrast between opulence and penury the most striking; there the suffering is the sorest.51


An extremely influential lecture by Fredrick Jackson Turner at the turn of the century, “The Winning of the West,” also struck a responsive chord: It glorified the pioneer and the virtues of the west.  Needless to say, such homage was not paid tenement dwellers working under oppressive conditions, who were simply trying to raise decent families.  Today, television perpetuates the same myth when it gives us drama after drama concerning life in the nineteenth century American west but nothing about the nineteenth century American city dweller.  The cowboy, not the factory hand, is the American hero.


Criticism of the city contained some contradictory premises, although these were generally not noticed: While it was being castigated for not exhibiting rural or agrarian values, it was also being taken to task for failing to be truly urban and reach the highest ideals of an urban society.  In short, the city was at the same time supposed to be both more rural and more urban.


Distrust and dislike of the city simmered during the latter part of the nineteenth century and finally crystallized around the issue of the free coinage of silver, with silver representing the agrarian west and gold the commercial and industrial east.  William Jennings Bryan’s campaign for the presidency in 1896 was a major attempt by the agricultural antiurbanites to gain national political power.  As Bryan put it in his famous “cross of gold” speech: “Burn down your cities and leave our farms, and your cities will spring up again as if by magic; but destroy our farms, and the grass will grow in the streets of every city in the country.”52  But by the end of the nineteenth century Bryan’s day had passed, and although agricultural fundamentalism still had some strength, it was no longer a commanding ideology.  The city, not the farm, represented the future.


Myth of Rural Virtue


The myth of agrarian virtue continues to live in politics.  As Hofstadter has amusingly noted, one of President Calvin Coolidge’s campaign photographs in 1924 showed him as a simple farmer haying in Vermont.  However, the photograph said more than was intended, for the President’s overalls are obviously fresh, his shoes are highly polished, and if one looks carefully, one can see his expensive Pierce Arrow, with secret Service men waiting to rush him back to the city once the picture-taking was completed.53  Within more recent times President Carter wasn’t averse to having himself pictured as a small town “good ole boy.”  President Reagan similarly posed for publicity photos of himself cutting wood on his “ranch,” while George Bush, the archetypal easterner, billed himself as a “Texan,” and Bill Clinton in 1992 ran as being a small town boy from Hope, Arkansas. 


Numerically, for two-thirds of a century America has been a nation of urban dwellers, and with every census the percentage of urban dwellers climbs higher.  Only 1.9 percent of the nation’s population resides on farms.54  Even the quarter of the population that does not live in urban places is clearly tied to an urban way of life.  As noted in Chapter 1, the profits of wheat farmers, cattle ranchers, dairy farmers, and other agribusiness people are tied more to government price-support systems than to weather or other natural factors. 


Today our picture of how rural life is lived and the nature of the basic rural virtues is the creation of mass media based in and directed from cities.  Television shows written in New York and produced in Hollywood try to create an image of small towns, filled with friendly folk, with “down-home” wisdom, rather like a Norman Rockwell painting.  Urban advertising also hits hard at the same bogus theme – commercials often depend heavily on nostalgia, with old cars, fields of wheat, and the front porch swing. 


What all this reflects is a deep ambivalence regarding cities and city life.  A 1989 Gallup poll indicated that only 19 percent consider city life to be the ideal.  Suburbs (24 percent), small towns (34 percent), and farms (22 percent) are all rated higher.55  As a people, we glorify rural life but live in urban areas.  North America is the most urbanized of the continents (except Australia), but our attitude toward cities is frequently unrealistic.  Ours is an urban continent, but we treat our major cities as though we don’t trust them and wish they would fade away and stop causing problems.



A Note on Urban Pollution


It is revealing, if depressing, to recognize that the problems of pollution and environmental destruction did not begin in the twentieth century.  Until late in the nineteenth century most American cities, such as Baltimore and New Orleans, still relied on open trenches for sewage.  The only municipal garbage collection provided by most cities until after the Civil War was the provided by scavenging hogs and dogs and other carrion eaters.  Colonial Charleston even passed an ordinance protecting vultures because they performed a public service by cleaning the carcasses of dead animals.*  In 1666 a Boston municipal ordinance ordered the inhabitants to bury all filth, while “all garbage, beasts, entralls, &c,” were to be thrown from the drawbridge into Mill Creek.**  Colonial Boston’s system of burying what you can and throwing the rest into the nearest river was used by many cities well into the modern era. 


A description of Pittsburgh dating from the late nineteenth century details its air pollution in these terms:


Pittsburgh is a smoky, dismal city, at her best.  At her worst, nothing darker, dingier, or more dispiriting can be imagined.  The city is in the heart of the soft coal region; and the smoke

from her dwellings, stores, factories, foundries, and steamboats, uniting settles in a cloud over the narrow valley in which she is built, until the very sun looks coppery through the sooty haze.  According to a circular at the Pittsburgh Board of Trade, about twenty per cent, or one-fifth of all the coal used in the factories and dwellings of the city escapes into the air in the form of smoke… But her inhabitants do not seem to mind it; and the doctors hold that this smoke from the carbon sulfur, and the iodine contained in it, is highly favorable to the lung and cutaneous diseases, and is the sure death of malaria and its attendant fevers.***


Public waterworks were luxuries found in few communities until well after the Civil War.  Some medium-sized cities such as Providence, Rochester, and Milwaukee relied entirely on private wells and water carriers.  Sanitation fared little better.  Boston, which had attained a level few communities could equal, had under 10,000 water closets for its residents.****  Until the twentieth century, facilities were all but nonexistent in the congested tenements of the slums.



*Charles N. Glaab, (ed.), The American City: A Documentary History, Dorsey, Homewood, Ill., p. 115.

**Carl Bridenbaugh, Cities in the Wilderness, Capricorn Books, New York, 1964, p. 18.

***Willard Glazier, Peculiarities of American Cities, Hubbard, Philadelphia, 1884, pp. 322-323.

****Blake McKelvey, The Urbanization of America, 1860-1915, Rutgers University Press, New Brunswick, N.J., p. 13.



Carl Sandburg’s Chicago


Probably the most quoted image of the raw vitality, strength, and brutality of the early twentieth century American city is Sandburg’s poem, “Chicago.”*  An excerpt follows:


            Hog Butcher for the World,

                Tool Maker, Stacker of Wheat,

                Player with Railroads and the Nation’s Freight Handler;

                Stormy, husky, brawling,

                City of the Big Shoulders:


                They tell me that you are wicked and I believe them, for I have seen

                your painted women under the gas lamps luring the farm boys.

                And they tell me you are crooked and I answer: Yes, it is true

                I have seen the gunman kill and go free to kill again,

                And they tell me you are brutal and my reply is: On the faces of

                women and children I have seen the marks of wanton hunger.  And

                having so answered so I turn once more to those who sneer at

                this my city, and I give them back the sneer and say to


                Come and show me another city with lifted head singing so proud

                to be alive and coarse and strong and cunning.

                Flinging magnetic curses amid the toil of piling job on job, here

                is a tall bold slugger set vivid against the little soft cities;

                Fierce as a dog with tongue lapping for action, cunning as a

                savage pitted against the wilderness,





                Building, breaking, rebuilding,

                Under the smoke, dust all over his mouth, laughing with white


                Under the terrible burden of destiny laughing as a young man


                Laughing even as an ignorant fighter laughs who has never lost a



                Bragging and laughing that under his wrist is the pulse, and

                under his ribs the heart of the people,


                Laughing the stormy, husky, brawling laughter of Youth,

                half-naked, sweating, proud to be Hog Butcher, Tool Maker, Stacker of

                Wheat, Player with Railroads and Freight Handler to the Nation.




Carl Sandburg, Chicago Poems, Holt, New York, 1916.



1 Some estimates range as high as 10 million Native Americans, but in any case, small pox, cholera, and other European introduced diseases destroyed most of the indigenous population.

2 Marshall Dees Harris, The Origin of the Land Tenure System in the United States, Iowa State University, Ames, 1953.

3 Lewis Mumford would not agree with this statement.  Mumford saw New England villages and towns as the last flickering of the medieval order.  See, for example, Lewis Mumford, Sticks and Stones: A Study of American Architecture and Civilization, Liveright, New York, 1924.

4 John Smith, The General Historie of Virginia, New England, and the Summer Isles, University Microfilms, Ann Arbor, Mich., 1966 (first published London, 1624), pg. 72.

5 Bradford’s History of Plymouth Plantation, William T. Davis (ed.), Scribner, New York, 1908, p. 96.

6 Constance McLaughlin Green, The Rise of Urban America, Harper & Row, New York, 1965, p. 2.

7 Carl Bridenbaugh, Cities in the Wilderness, Capricorn Books, New York, 1964.

8 Quoted in Kenneth T. Jackson and Stanley K. Schutty (eds.), Cities in American History: The First Century of Urban Life in America, 1625-1742, Knopf, New York, 1972.

9 Carl Biddenbaugh, quoted in Charles N. Glaab and A. Theodore Brown, A History of Urban America, 2 ed., Macmillan, New York, 1976, p. 12.

10 Green, The Rise of Urban America, p. 22.

11 Ibid., p. 27.

12 Richard Frame, “A Short Description of Pennsylvania in 1692,” in Albert Cook Myers (ed.), Narratives of Early Pennsylvania, West New Jersey, and Delaware, Scribner, New York, 1912; reprinted in Ruth E. Sutter, The Next Place You Come: A Historical Introduction to Communities in North America, Prentice-Hall, Englewood Cliffs, N.J., 1973, p. 90.

13 Constance M. Green, The Rise of Urban America, Harper and Row, New York, 1965, p. 21.  For further information on Charleston, see David A. Smith, “Dependent Urbanization in Colonial America: The Case of Charleston, South Carolina,” Social Forces, 66: 1-28, September, 1987.

14 Charles N. Glaab (ed.), The American City: A Documentary History, Dorsey, Homewood, Ill., 1963, p. 3.

15 Glaab and Brown, A History of Urban America, p. 21.

16 Green, The Rise of Urban America, p. 51.

17 Sam Bass Warner, Jr., The Urban Wilderness: A History of the American City, Harper and Row, New York, 1972, p. 16.

18 Quoted in James H. Cassidy, Demography in Early America: Beginnings of the Statistical Mind, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Mass., 1969, pp. 154-155.

19 P. L. Ford, The Works of Thomas Jefferson, Putnam, New York, 1904, pp. 503-504.

20 Glaab, The American City, p. 65.

21 Blake McKelvey, The Urbanization of America, 1860-1915, Rutgers University Press, New Brunswick, N. J., 1963, p. 4.  See Howard P. Chudacoff, The Evolution of American Urban Society, Prentice-Hall, Englewood Cliffs, N. J., 1975, chap. 9.

22 Nelson M. Blake, A History of American Life and Thought, McGraw-Hill, New York, 1963, p. 156.

23 Christopher Tunnard and Henry Hope Reed, American Skyline: The Growth and Form of Our Cities and Towns, New American Library, New York, 1956, p. 59.

24 Sam Bass Warner, Jr., The Private City: Philadelphia in Three Periods of Its Growth, University of Pennsylvania Press, Philadelphia, 1968, p. 13.

25 Bryant Robey, “Two Hundred Years and Counting: The 1990 Census,” Population Bulletin, 44:1, April, 1989, p. 7.

26 Arthur M. Schlesinger, “The City in American History,” Mississippi Valley Historical Review, 27: 43-66, June 1940.

27 Josiah Strong, Our Country: Its Possible Future and Present Crisis, Baker and Taylor, New York, 1885, p. 206.

28 William Peterson, Population, Macmillan, 1961, p. 34.

29 Janice Perlman, “Mega Cities and New Technologies,” paper presented at XI World Congress of Sociology, New Delhi, India, July, 1986.

30 Paul F. Casey, “Population Succession in Chicago: 1898-1930,” American Journal of Sociology, 44:59, 1938.

31 Glaab and Brown, A History of Urban America, 2 ed., p. 144.


32 For an excellent account of this phenomenon, see Sam Bass Warner, Jr., Streetcar Suburbs: The Process of Growth in Boston, 1870-1900, Antheneum, New York, 1970.  Also see Kenneth T. Jackson, Crabgrass Frontier, Oxford University Press, New York, 1985; and J. John Palen, The Suburbs, McGraw-Hill, New York, 1924. 

33 Richard Hurd, Principles of City Land Values, The Record and Guide, New York, 1924.

34 For more on central business districts, see Chapter 12, The Question of Urban Crisis.

35 Schlesinger, “The City in American History,” pp. 35-44.

36 Quoted in James Bryce, Forum, X, 1890, p. 25.

37 James Bryce, The American Commonwealth, vol. 1, Macmillan, London, 1891, p. 608.  Reprinted by Putnam, New York, 1959.

38 Quoted in Arthur B. Schlesinger, Paths to the Present, Macmillan, New York, 1949, p. 60.

39 Quoted in Lincoln Steffens, The Autobiography of Lincoln Steffens, Literary Guild, New York, 1931, p. 618.

49 Howard P. Chudacoff, The Evolution of American Urban Society, Prentice Hall, Englewood Cliffs, N. J., 1975, pp. 131-132.

41 Harold Zink, City Bosses in the United States: A Study of Twenty Municipal Bosses, Duke University Press, Durham, N.C., 1930, p. 350.  For a study of the role of the twentieth century boss, see Andrew Theodore Brown and Lyle W. Dorsett, K.C.: A History of Kansas City, Missouri, Pruett Publishing, Boulder Colorado, 1978.

42 Robert K. Merton, Social Theory and Social Structure, Free Press, Glencoe, Ill., 1957, p. 73.

43 Glaab and Brown, A History of Urban America, p. 125.

44 Donald Bogue, The Population of the United States, Free Press, Glencoe, Ill., 1969, p. 178.

45 Jacob Riis, How the Other Half Lives: Studies among the Tenements of New York, Scribner, New York, 1890; republished by Corner House, Williamstown, Mass., 1972.

46 Quoted in Glaab, The American City, p. 38.

47 Andrew A. Lipscomb and Albert E. Bergh (eds.), The Writings of Thomas Jefferson, vol. X, The Thomas Jefferson Memorial Association, Washington, D. C., p. 173.

48 Morton White and Lucia White, The Intellectual versus the City, Harvard and M.I.T. Presses, Cambridge, Mass., 1962.

50 Gallup Poll, New York Times News Service, Oct. 8, 1989.

51 Strong, Our Country, chap. 11.

52 Glaab and Brown, The American City, p. 59.

53 Richard Hofstadter, The Age of Reform: From Bryan to FDR, Knopf, p. 31.

54 U.S. Census of Population, “Residents of Farms and Rural Areas: 1990,” Current Population Reports, Series P-20, no. 457.

55 Gallup Organization, “Your Kind of Town,” Richmond Times Dispatch, Oct., 8, 1989, p. K1.