Problems of urban life as shown in The Devil in the White City As decreibed in this book, explain the major problems of urban life in America cities such as Chicago in the 1890s. .

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Safety was a major problem in urban life in the 1890s. Technology, especially in the area of transportation, outpaced safety measures in many ways. Larson cites some specific examples early in his book. On average, two people were killed each day at railroad crossings, and others suffered gruesome injuries. Streetcars...

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Safety was a major problem in urban life in the 1890s. Technology, especially in the area of transportation, outpaced safety measures in many ways. Larson cites some specific examples early in his book. On average, two people were killed each day at railroad crossings, and others suffered gruesome injuries. Streetcars and horse-drawn carriages also inflicted damage on unsuspecting pedestrians. Fires, too, were a major problem in urban life. Many buildings were constructed with flammable materials, and fire departments struggled to contain blazes in crowded urban areas.

In addition to accidents and fires, violent crime increased as cities grew. For example, there were almost eight hundred violent deaths in Chicago during the first six months of 1892. Police forces were not able to keep up with the volume. Additionally, according to Larson, their investigation techniques were insufficient to truly cope with this type of crime.

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Some of the problems plaguing urban centers such as Chicago in the 1890s are described in the chapter called "A Gauntlet Dropped." The United States's economy was doing poorly, which was causing unrest and violence. Larson reports that 5,906 people were murdered in the U.S. in 1891, a forty percent increase over the year before.

Earlier in the book, we learn of problems plaguing the city of Chicago that threatened to seep into the fair. These included not only crime, but disease outbreaks. Diseases such as smallpox and cholera "roamed the city." Cholera was spread by the city's drinking water, which was contaminated with bacteria, as well as by "dead cats" and "fecal matter." Another significant worry in Chicago was fire. Burnham considered it the worst threat to the fair of all, and developed a fire fighting system more sophisticated than that used by the city of Chicago.

As Burham tried to build an idyllic enclave in Jackson Park, the inadequate urban infrastructure and social problems caused by a shaky economy threatened his enterprise.

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One major problem was overcrowding. Society was beginning to move away from agriculturally-based living conditions (small communal farms spread across the land) and towards urban environments supported by those farms. This allowed far more people to congregate in a small space, making it hard or even impossible to identify missing persons. The Chicago World's Fair, which brought in even more people, added to the problem; Holmes found it easy to identify and abduct poor people on the fringes of society. Busy with managing the Fair and the increasing number of new problems brought on by urban living, societal controls (such as police) were hard-pressed to realize or care if poor people went missing. This new paradigm of living, including homeless people and travelers, made it easy for Holmes to indulge his evil desires.

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One of the biggest problems was greed.  Innocent but naïve people were taken advantage of.  Chicago was greeted by the World’s Fair, and that resulted in all kinds of abuse and cons.  The excitement of the fair and the newness of the ideas made the city ripe for cons.

The Exposition Company’s decision raised a groundswell of greed throughout Chicago’s South Side. (p. 74)

Any con man with an idea could convince some sap to give him all his money.  Holmes had other cons going, but the fair gave him good ideas for more.  He could move on from selling stolen bicycles (bought on credit not paid back) to larger construction cons.

 

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The problems of urban life do not have that much to do with Burnham and the fair or "Holmes" and his murders.  The general problems of urban life at this time had mainly to do with the lack of modern conveniences and the poor working and living conditions.  Cities at this time were rather dirty places that tended to have a lot of diseases because of the filth.  They were places where people had to work in dangerous jobs at low pay.  These people typically then went home to cramped and crowded apartments.  Life was not at all easy in these cities, particularly for the working class.

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