The New Era
T he post-Appomattox reform pulse worked especially vigorously in northern cities. Mushrooming commercial and industrial centers along the northern Atlantic, Great Lakes, and major river shores attracted talented, vigorous veterans of the War's civil or military services and entrepreneurial management. These new urbanites rose swiftly to prominence in businesses, professions, and local politics; especially of Republican varieties. They rejected the individualistic, haphazard politics of their party's antislavery pioneers. Hustle, efficiency, organization, and success were their catchwords. "Push, labor, shove" were Cincinnati's ways, Rutherford Hayes wrote happily after he moved there; "these words are of great power in a city like this."
Urban amenities delighted the newcomers. They saw their augmenting communities as new frontiers blessed with entrepreneurial and cultural resources unknown on farms or in provincial towns. In 1865 they felt themselves to be on the brink of "a new era," wrote Yale law professor Theodore Woolsey. Boston public-health champion Samuel Eliot described this "age of great cities" as a profound social motion equal to emancipation or reunion.
Here was the rub. It was fine to enjoy interior toilets, piped water, illuminants, and fuels; fire, police, and sanitary services; and urban shops and markets. But sometimes the city's advantages became offensive to the senses, dangerous to health, and repugnant to war-heightened notions of pure public service. Rising property taxes and insurance rates during and after the