Holyoke, Massachusetts: A Case History of the Industrial Revolution in America

Holyoke, Massachusetts: A Case History of the Industrial Revolution in America

Holyoke, Massachusetts: A Case History of the Industrial Revolution in America

Holyoke, Massachusetts: A Case History of the Industrial Revolution in America

Excerpt

When Jefferson in 1801 spoke of the United States as "a chosen country, with room enough for our descendants to the thousandth and thousandth generation," a map of North America would have revealed so few towns and cities that the President's estimate would seem conservative. Today, five generations later, the country from Atlantic to Pacific is dotted with cities. How has this almost fabulous growth come about? What has determined its urban character? What factors have been instrumental in locating these cities? Geographical influences have indicated the sites. Immigration and natural increase of the native population; a revolution in means of communication and transportation; the mechanization of life until the farm itself has been brought within the realm of the machine world; these are general answers to the question, why cities have arisen.

At the fall line of the rivers mill towns had begun to arise in Jefferson's day. But still in 1850, indeed in 1860, the United States was rural. The phenomenon of widespread urbanization was a development of the last quarter of the nineteenth century. Only within the last decades has the transmission of electric power induced the de-centralization of industry and thus a relaxing, even a reversal, of the process of urbanization. The crowding of people into limited areas in order to be near their work, the diversification of racial stock and hence the variations of social background which the floods of old- world immigrants have brought into American cities, the growing impersonality of industry and the widening of the gulf between poor and rich, all these factors of the modern city have created problems in American life before which "the apostle of Americanism" would doubtless stand appalled. The fact of the twentieth century American city is familiar . . .

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