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