America Learns to Play: A History of Popular Recreation, 1607-1940

By Foster Rhea Dulles | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XIII
METROPOLIS

WHAT WAS TYPICAL OF URBAN AMUSEMENTS AT THE CLOSE OF the past century? Everything, and nothing. But the great mass of city dwellers sought out as they had throughout the century the most lively and exciting popular entertainment. In the 1840's spokesmen of labor had declared that the intolerable burden of working conditions in the city demanded "excitement fully proportioned to the depression." It was even truer half a century later. Imperial Rome had sought to appease the restlessness of its laboring masses by providing the free spectacles of the circus and gladiatorial combat. Imperial America had its amusement palaces, its prize-fights, its concert-saloons, for which the modern workingman had to pay.

These phases of recreation now bulked larger than ever on the national horizon. The tremendous growth of cities made them of great importance. In 1850 there had been but eighty-five urban communities with a population of more than 8,000; there were almost seven times as many by the end of the century. Between 1880 and 1900 alone the urban population had more than doubled, rising from fourteen to thirty million. New York and Brooklyn accounted for over two million in 1890; Chicago and Philadelphia for over a million each; Boston, Baltimore, and Washington for about half a million apiece. There were in all twenty-eight cities with more than 100,000 inhabitants.1

These great masses of people were made up of all types and all nationalities. In Chicago the foreign-born numbered nearly as many in 1890 as the entire population ten years earlier. Germans, Swedes, Norwegians, Bohemians, Irish, Italians, Poles, thronged

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America Learns to Play: A History of Popular Recreation, 1607-1940
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface vii
  • Contents xiii
  • Illustrations xv
  • Chapter I - In Detestation of Idleness 3
  • Chapter II - Husking-Bees and Tavern Sports 22
  • Chapter III - The Colonial Aristocracy 44
  • Chapter IV - The Frontier 67
  • Chapter V - A Changing Society 84
  • Chapter VI - The Theatre Comes of Age 100
  • Chapter VII - Mr. Barnum Shows the Way 122
  • Chapter VIII - The Beginning of Spectator Sports 136
  • Chapter IX - Mid-Century 148
  • Chapter X - Cow-Towns and Mining-Camps 168
  • Chapter XI - The Rise of Sports 182
  • Chapter XII - The New Order 201
  • Chapter XIII - Metropolis 211
  • Chapter XIV - World of Fashion 230
  • Chapter XV - Main Street 248
  • Chapter XVI - Farm and Countryside 271
  • Chapter XVII - The Growth of the Movies 287
  • Chapter XVIII - A Nation on Wheels 308
  • Chapter XIX - On the Air 320
  • Chapter XX - The Great American Band-Wagon 332
  • Chapter XXI - Sports for All 347
  • Chapter XXII - The New Leisure 365
  • Bibliography 375
  • Notes 391
  • Index 425
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