occurs when the population shifts from rural to urban
the advent of innovative agricultural technologies
and industrialization, Americans began to migrate to
cities in droves during the 1800s. By 1920, over 50% of
Americans lived in cities.
movement had many negative consequences for the people
living in cities:
Effects of Urbanization
|Corrupt political machines such as
Tammany Hall in NYC took advantage of
their positions in order to receive graft. These
organizations also provided much needed services
for immigrants and new city-dwellers in exchange
for their vote.
|The massive wave of population
entering cities helped to spread diseases. To
make matters worse, clean water and proper
sanitation were virtually unheard of, making
disease even more common.
|Housing was constructed quickly
and cheaply to provided for the great numbers of
people entering cities. Many tenements
were unhealthy due to lack of light or
sanitation. Neighborhoods of tenement housing
became slums where crime flourished.
Soon, many of these problem began to be addressed,
and cities soon demonstrated positive characteristics.
Effects of Urbanization
|Social reformers began to provide
services for immigrants and new city dwellers,
making them less susceptible to the influence of
political machines. Examples abound, including Jane
Addams who founded the Settlement House
Movement with her Hull House in Chicago.
This freed public money to be spent for the
|Museums, libraries, schools,
parks, zoos, and other cultural centers were
built in cities. These facilities provided urban
citizens with cultural and educational
opportunities that were unavailable in rural
|Technology made urban living more
practical and comfortable. Elevators and the use
of steel girders allowed cities to grow into the
sky. Mass transit was being provided by
trolleys, street cars, and eventually subways.
Public lighting made areas safer, while water
and sewage systems improved the overall health
With the proliferation of the automobile due
to Henry Ford's mass production assembly line, and a
growing middle class, people began to move into suburbs.
Levittown, on Long Island outside of New York
City, was the first planned suburban development built
in the early 1950s.
This trend continued through today and
led to sprawl as Americans continue to spread out away
from cities. This has caused an increase in traffic
congestion, pollution, and infrastructure costs as
American drive longer distances to and from work.