12. Nineteenth-Century Cities source: YaleCourses
"Published on Sep 2, 2009
European Civilization, 1648-1945 (HIST 202)
The nineteenth century witnessed an unprecedented degree of urbanization, an increase in urban population growth relative to population growth generally. One of the chief consequences of this growth was class segregation, as the bourgeoisie and upper classes were forced to inhabit the same confined space as workers. Significantly, this had opposed effects in Europe, where the working classes typically inhabit the periphery of cities, and the United States, where they are most often in the city center itself. The growth of cities was accompanied by a high-pitched rhetoric of disease and decay, as the perceived hygienic problems of concentrated urban populations were extrapolated to refer to the city itself as a biological organism. The Baron Haussmann's reconstruction of Paris under the Second Empire is a classic example of the intertwinement of urban development, capitalism and state power."
New Atlantis: Bacon's vision for a Utopian New World in North America
"The late nineteenth century America was seen as the land of opportunity and New York City as the gateway. After the unification of the United States at the end of the civil war in 1865, through foreign eyes America began to emerge as a country where discrimination was intolerable and freedom was promised to all who entered. As the United States economy grew, other countries economies weakened. Many European countries suffered from economic hardship. Crop failure, resulted in loss of jobs and famine. Although poverty became a problem in Europe which helped fuel the mass migration, it was not the only obstacle Europeans faced."
A New Atlantis
"In it he depicted a land where there would be freedom of religion – showing a Jew treated fairly and equally in an island of Christians, but it has been debated whether this work had influenced others reforms, such as greater rights for women, the abolition of slavery, elimination of debtors' prisons, separation of church and state, and freedom of political expression, although there is no hint of these reforms in The New Atlantis itself. His propositions of legal reform (which were not established in his lifetime), though, are considered to have been one of the influences behind the Napoleonic Code, and therefore could show some resemblance with or influence in the drafting of other liberal constitutions that came in the centuries after Bacon's lifetime, such as the American Constitution."
Urbanization of America, Growth of Cities
"Until the middle of the 19th century, the center of the city was the most fashionable place to live. Merchants, lawyers, and manufacturers built substantial townhouses on the main thoroughfares within walking distance of the docks, warehouses, offices, courts, and shops where they worked. Poorer people lived in back alleys and courtyards of the central city. Markets, shops, taverns, and concert halls provided services and entertainment. The middle classes lived a little farther from the center, and other poor people lived in the suburbs, farther from the economic and governmental centers and away from urban amenities such as town watches, water pumps, and garbage collection. Cities were densely populated, as people had to live within walking distance of work and shops. Streets were narrow, just wide enough to accommodate pedestrians and wagons.
The Industrial Revolution of the 19th and 20th centuries transformed urban life and gave people higher expectations for improving their standard of living. The increased number of jobs, along with technological innovations in transportation and housing construction, encouraged migration to cities. Development of railroads, streetcars, and trolleys in the 19th century enabled city boundaries to expand. People no longer had to live within walking distance of their jobs. With more choices about where to live, people tended to seek out neighbors of similar social status, if they could afford to do so. The wealthy no longer had to live in the center of the city, so they formed exclusive enclaves far from warehouses, factories, and docks. Office buildings, retail shops, and light manufacturing characterized the central business districts. Heavier industry clustered along the rivers and rail lines that brought in raw materials and shipped out finished products. Railroads also allowed goods to be brought into downtown commercial districts. By the second half of the 19th century, specialized spaces—retail districts, office blocks, manufacturing districts, and residential areas—characterized urban life.
The wealthy created separate neighborhoods for themselves by building mansions on large plots of land at the edges of the cities or in the countryside. Housing developments of similar-looking single-family or multiple-family dwellings, built by speculators, sprouted on the edges of cities. These often catered to a new middle class of white-collar employees in business and industry. The houses faced broader streets and increasingly had plots of grass in front and sometimes in the rear. New apartments were spacious and often had balconies, porches, or other amenities. By 1900 more than a third of urban dwellers owned their own homes, one of the highest rates in the world at the time.
As the middle classes left the bustle and smoke of cities, poorer people—newcomers from the countryside and immigrants—moved into the old housing stock. Landlords took advantage of the demand for housing by subdividing city houses into apartments and by building tenements, low-rent apartment buildings that were often poorly maintained and unsanitary. Immigrants gravitated to the cheap housing and to the promise of work in or near the center of cities or around factories. Now the rich lived in the suburbs and the poor near the center of cities.
In the 50 years from 1870 to 1920, the number of Americans in cities grew from 10 million to 54 million. Into the 20th century, cities grew in population and expanded geographically by absorbing nearby communities. In 1898 New York City acquired Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx as boroughs, political divisions that are like counties. Chicago grew from about 300,000 inhabitants in 1870 to more than a million in 1890. Three-quarters of the city's residents were born outside the United States, and while some found work and a comfortable existence, many suffered severe poverty. That poverty, however, was largely invisible to the rich living on the outskirts of the city, since the poor were concentrated in distant neighborhoods.
The growth of cities outpaced the ability of local governments to extend clean water, garbage collection, and sewage systems into poorer areas, so conditions in cities deteriorated. Cities in the late 19th century were large, crowded, and impersonal places devoted to making money. Not surprisingly, corruption was rampant in city government and city services, in the construction industry, and among landlords and employers. High rents, low wages, and poor services produced misery in the midst of unprecedented economic growth.
The Progressive movement of the late 19th and early 20th centuries succeeded in reducing some of the corruption and in establishing housing codes, public health measures, and civil service examinations in city governments. Progressive, regulatory approaches to the problems of cities expanded during the New Deal in the 1930s and during the War on Poverty in the 1960s, but cost-cutting political movements in the 1920s, 1950s, and 1980s reduced funding or eliminated many regulatory programs. As a result of local reform movements throughout the 20th century, corrupt officials were periodically voted out of office and replaced with reformers.
Upward mobility, home ownership, educational opportunities, and cheap goods softened many of the disadvantages of 19th-century urban life. Beautification programs, electrification, and construction of libraries, parks, playgrounds, and swimming pools, gradually improved the quality of urban life in the 20th century, although poor areas received fewer benefits. Poverty, particularly among new arrivals, and low wages remained problems in the cities throughout the 19th and 20th centuries. American reform movements, such as the settlement house movement, have typically been more interested in treating the effects of poverty—housing, health, and corruption—than the causes of poverty—unemployment, underemployment, poor skills, and low wages. Labor unions helped raise wages and benefits for many workers, particularly the most skilled, from 1900 to 1950, but since then replacement of skilled factory work by service employment has reduced both wage levels and the influence of labor unions. The U.S. Department of Labor reports that the average annual wages of American working men fell from $31,317 in 1979 to $33,244 in 1999 (adjusted for inflation). Wages fell further for those without high school diplomas.
Although murder was rare in the nation in the late 19th century, rates rose in cities. Robbery and theft were commonplace, and prostitution flourished more openly than before. Cheap newspapers exaggerated increases in crime with sensational stories. Professional police forces were created in the late 19th century to keep order and to protect property. The Prohibition period, 1920 to 1933, had the unintended effect of increasing organized crime in America, as manufacturing, importing, and selling illegal alcohol provided a financial windfall for gangs of criminals in the cities. The money was used to expand the influence of organized crime into gambling, prostitution, narcotics, and some legitimate businesses. Police and judges were sometimes bribed. Federal prosecutions of criminals in the 1950s and 1960s helped weaken organized crime. The rise in drug use since the 1970s increased the incidence of violent crime, most visibly in cities, although the majority of drug customers are from the suburbs. This has led to increased professionalization of city police forces, including more weapons, increased training, and higher educational requirements for officers. Higher employment rates at the end of the 1990s have helped to reduce crime rates.
Urban areas have continued to expand, but city boundaries have with few exceptions been set since the early 20th century. City populations increased until the 1950s. Then factories began to move to areas where labor was cheaper: to the South, Latin America, and Asia. As jobs in cities disappeared, cities began to shrink. In the second half of the 20th century, the most rapidly growing urban areas were those outside city limits."
Urban Development, Capitalism & State Power: Prison Profits
"After 45 years, more than $1 trillion wasted, and the creation of the world's largest prison system, America still lacks the political will to change its failed drug policy"
Making Profits on the Captive Prison Market
"Earlier this year, I attended a prison trade show in Louisiana, which has the nation’s highest rate of incarceration. Cheery representatives from CrossBar, a Kentucky-based company, demonstrated the bendable electronic cigarettes that are sold in prison commissaries. I chatted with employees of Wallace International, which makes the automated front gates for jails. Sentinel, which makes ankle bracelets to track parolees, distributed slick handouts. A couple hundred more exhibitors were packed into a two-hundred-and-twenty-four-thousand-square-foot space in a New Orleans convention center, a space larger than three professional football fields, including the end zones. It was an education in the scale of the industry of profiting on America's incarceration system."
"Private prisons—both state and federal—represent just a small slice of the eighty billion dollars spent yearly on corrections, and they housed only about a hundred and thirty-one thousand inmates in 2014, compared with the 1.4 million inmates locked up in government-run facilities. But, because private prison companies routinely lobby Congress for lengthier prison sentences, the federal government’s announcement was seen as a modest victory for criminal-justice-reform advocates, whose long-term goal is to end mass incarceration."
"The prison economy is expansive. In many prisons and jails, basic commissary items like cereal and canned soup can cost five times the retail price. As the country’s inmate population has ballooned, so has revenue. The Prison Policy Initiative, a nonprofit criminal-justice think tank, estimates that commissary companies earn $1.6 billion per year."
Mythical Taped History: The Origins of The Modern Drug War
"The Nixon White House tapes from 1971-1972 demonstrate that the foundation of the modern war on marijuana was Nixonian prejudice, culture war and misinformation. CSDP's Doug McVay spent several days at the National Archives listening to the Nixon White House tapes to find conversations about drug policy, especially regarding the National Commission on Marihuana and Drug Abuse ("the Shafer Commission"), appointed by President Nixon. He found: Nixon blaming calls for marijuana legalization on Jews; Nixon blaming the decline and fall of ancient Rome, and of the Catholic Church, on homosexuality; and Nixon criticizing the CBS sitcom "All in the Family" as a show which promoted homosexuality."
BANKING ON BONDAGE: PRIVATE PRISONS AND MASS INCARCERATION
"The imprisonment of human beings at record levels is both a moral failure and an economic one — especially at a time when more and more Americans are struggling to make ends meet and when state governments confront enormous fiscal crises. This report finds, however, that mass incarceration provides a gigantic windfall for one special interest group — the private prison industry — even as current incarceration levels harm the country as a whole. While the nation's unprecedented rate of imprisonment deprives individuals of freedom, wrests loved ones from their families, and drains the resources of governments, communities, and taxpayers, the private prison industry reaps lucrative rewards. As the public good suffers from mass incarceration, private prison companies obtain more and more government dollars, and private prison executives at the leading companies rake in enormous compensation packages, in some cases totaling millions of dollars."
The 19th Century: Manifesting Manufactured Destiny's Children
A Gilded Golden Age of Scientific Revolutions, Rail Roads & Electrical Moving Carriages
The 19th Century source: Ryan Reeves
An Economical Age of Darwin & Dinosaurs: The 19th Becomes The 20th Century & Today