Why did American cities grow so dramatically in the late 19th century?

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pohnpei397's profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The major reason why cities grew during this time was industrialization.  As industry boomed, cities boomed.  Industry was booming as new processes were being invented to make things like steel more easily and cheaply.  As this happened, cities in the United States attracted masses of people from the rural US and from foreign countries.  These people came to the cities in search of jobs in the new factories that were popping up and getting to be very big.  Cities and industries, then, grew together in the late 1800s as America experienced rapid economic growth.

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mkoren | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

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There were several reasons why cities grew so quickly in the United States in the late 1800s. One reason had to do with immigration. Many immigrants were coming to the United States during this time. There was a large influx of immigrants from South and East Europe in the late 1800s. Many of these immigrants settled in the cities. They settled in the cities because there were many people from their native countries living there. By living in ethnic neighborhoods, these immigrants could be with people who would help them learn about American ways of life. They could be with people who shared similar traditions, customs, and languages. This would make assimilation easier for these immigrants.

Another reason cities grew was that there were jobs available in the cities. As factories grew due to the industrial revolution, more workers were needed. These factories were located in the cities. Thus, jobs were also available. Additionally, cheaper housing was available in the cities. Many immigrants lived in the overcrowded tenement apartments because they could afford the rent to live there.

Finally, the cities offered more opportunities for doing things. The rural lifestyle was an isolated and lonely one. In the cities, there were more opportunities to do things. People could attend social and religious functions easier in the cities than they could in the rural areas. It was easier to get around in the cities than it was in the rural areas.

There were many reasons why cities grew in the late 1800s.