Immigration and Urbanization

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How did urban life and residential patterns change during the Gilded Age due to economic development?

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The Gilded Age, a period in American history stretching from the end of the Civil War to the beginning of the twentieth century, was marked by major changes. It was a time of rapid economic and industrial growth and saw the dramatic expansion of urban areas, particularly in the Northeast. Growth was so rapid as to be unmanageable, and this period witnesses the first ghettos and slums. The development of the railroad and transportation networks meant that those who could lived further from urban centers, which were becoming denser and less pleasant to live in as a result of industrial development.

The middle class aspired to live like the elite, as landed gentry. They sought out residences outside of the cities when possible and their preferences led to the development of suburbs.

The working class, in contrast, lived in apartments and tenements close to where they worked. These dense urban neighborhoods were characterized by problems of disease, lack of resources, and crime. The desire to improve the conditions of life for the urban poor helped usher in Progressive era reforms involving public health and other initiatives.

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The major change in urban life during the Gilded Age is that there was just so much more of it -- the number of people living in American cities boomed.

Economic development, and the development of public transit changed residential patterns by moving the more affluent out to the suburbs while the poorer people were stuck near to the factories where they worked.

The middle classes aspired to live more like the rich, as usual.  The working class lived in much more crowded conditions than the middle class -- this is the era of the famous city tenements.

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