Industrialization, Urbanization, and Immigration

During the Gilded Age, two transforming experiences changed many aspects of American life – industrialization and urbanization.
Four primary factors contributed to the rapid industrialization of America: improved transportation and communication; new inventions and technology; new marketing and merchandizing techniques; and plentiful labor.  Technology fuels most political, social, and economic change.
occurs when a nation's economic system decreases its reliance upon producing goods by hand and increases its reliance upon producing goods by machine.

Factors contributing to the rise of Industrialization

  • Improved transportation and communication.
  • A growing number of entrepreneurs.
  • New inventions and technology.
  • New marketing and merchandising techniques.
  • Plentiful natural resources.
  • Plentiful labor.
  • Government support

The First Industrial Revolution

Between 1820-1869 when New England textile mills employed thousands to turn the raw materials from the South into finished products. Outside of the growing textile industry, most Americans considered a large business to be one that employed 100 workers. Cities gradually grew in the North, while the South and the growing western regions remained primarily agricultural. By the end of this Revolution, most people worked on farms. 

The Second Industrial Revolution 

Between 1870-1910 when new industries employed hundreds of thousands to produce items needed for America's growing industries and goods desired by American consumers. Most industrial businesses employed thousands of workers. Industrial cities grew rapidly, especially in the northeast along the Great Lake region. By the end of this Revolution, the U.S. had become a mature industrial society in which two-thirds of Americans worked for wages in city jobs.

Consequences of Industrialization

1. The nation grew faster than it ever had, bringing about great shifts:

  • from a largely homogeneous population of Western European immigrants into a more heterogeneous population;
  • from an agricultural economy to an industrial economy;
  • from a predominately rural society to a predominately urban society; and
  • from an isolated nation that was economically dependent upon European capital and manufactured good to an international nation that became a major industrial, financial, and trading power.

2. American social beliefs became intimately tied to capitalism and Social Darwinism.

3. Corporations became increasingly dominant in the American economy.

4. Violent conflict arose between the industrialists/Robber Barons and American laborers.

5. The nation became increasingly urban.

occurs when a community takes on the characteristics of a city. city is a relatively large and permanent settlement of people who generally have some type of system for sanitation, utilities, land usage, housing, and transportation and more.

By 1870, the nation had only 25 cities with more than 50,000 people.

with a total population of 5 million. By 1890, there were 58 cities that size with nearly 12 million people. Most were in the Northeast and near the Great Lakes.

  • The vast majority of cities grew with only minimal, if any planning. Most choices about land use and construction were made by individual landowners, developers, and builders who wanted to make large profits.
  • Thus, everyone buildt the most working and li\ving space for the least cost - leaving little room for pleasant or open space.

Consequences of Rapid Urbanization  

On the positive side, urbanization brought new jobs, new opportunities, new housing, and new transportation; but on the negative side, urbanization gave rise to widespread urban poverty, sub-standard housing, environmental degradation, increasing crime and violence, violent clashes between labor and management, and political corruption.

  • Housing problems… Urbanization in the late 1800s was especially bad in New York City.
  • Crime: crimes against persons, crimes against property, crimes agains societal morality
  • Environmental degradation
  • Political corruption, patronage, and the "well-greased" political machine
  • The Democratic Party bribed the state legislature to pass laws that increased the power of the city to tax, borrow, and spend.
  • Then a leader built public support by spending tax funds on various charities, helping the poor, and funding construction projects.
  • The poor and those receiving jobs and construction contracts, in turn, were expected to vote for the politicians.
  • When helping construction businesses, city governors expected kick backs from the already inflated construction budgets, as well as votes.
  • It all worked like a well-greased machine.  When a machine amassed great power - as it did in New York City, it would often have a well-known boss.

Immigration is the process of moving from one nation to another nation to permanently resettle.

Emigration is the process of moving from one nation to another, with the possibility of returning to one's original homeland.

Migration is the process of moving from one location within a nation to another location within that same nation. 

Major Factors for Immigration

Push - The forces that push - either through encouragement or force - people to immigrate.  Encouraging push factors include diminishing land resources, unemployment, poverty, drought, economic depression.  Forceful push factors include enslavement and imprisonment.

Pull - The attractive forces that pull persons to search out a new life in a distant place.  These can political, ideological, and economic - but again, most pull factors are economic.