How did cities reform local systems of government and utilities in the early 1900s?  

Expert Answers
pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

With respect to utilities, the main reform that was enacted was public ownership.  Progressives wanted to prevent big businesses from owning these sorts of necessary services and so they tended to take them under public ownership.

With city government in general, the trend was towards reforms that took power from the urban political machines.  These included reforms like instituting the secret ballot and having non-partisan, at-large elections for city government.  These reforms were meant to prevent machines from gaining strength through their domination of areas where large numbers of immigrants lived.  There were also cities in which attempts were made to take power from mayors and distribute it more widely (weak mayor, strong council system of government) or to people who would govern professionally (city managers) instead of basing their decisions on politics.

In these ways, Progressive reformers hoped to make city government more responsive to the middle classes.