The Irish in Philadelphia: Ten Generations of Urban Experience

The Irish in Philadelphia: Ten Generations of Urban Experience

The Irish in Philadelphia: Ten Generations of Urban Experience

The Irish in Philadelphia: Ten Generations of Urban Experience

Excerpt

This is a book about one people in two countries. It is about an ancient people--the Irish--engaged with the tumultuous forces of modern city growth. Although it deals with only a portion of the great outpouring of population from Ireland that settled in American cities, it attempts to discern the process by which Irish countrymen became American urbanites.

For those of us who have had to cope with the recurring waves of city growth and distress in the twentieth century, the process by which our urban centers developed in the industrial age of the nineteenth century is of continuing interest. The technical and industrial expansion of our great cities in the last century took place within the vast panorama of transAtlantic migration. The ways in which harassed and struggling people from rural backgrounds learned to live amid the extraordinary new environment of industrial urbanism makes a fascinating drama of human endeavor and adjustment.

For the social historian, the flight of multitudes from Ireland to America is but one episode in the passage of modern man from ancient customs rooted in the soil to a new form of civilization founded upon the mastery of nature through science and technology. Since the eighteenth century, the gathering momentum of technological change has produced a " revolution of environment." This transformation has, in turn, had profound effects upon human development and patterns of living throughout the world. From the point of view of American social historians only the most tentative inroads have been made into the study of this momentous change. The same may be said of the study of the adjustment of immigrants to the urban environment.

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