Why did urban America fail to meet the dreams and expectations of its tenants?

As a result of industrialism there was a mass movement to urban
areas. The movement of people from rural to urban areas is known as
urbanization. The cities were not ready for this influx of new
population and were unable to cope with the results.

The following is a fictional letter that might have been written
by poor family member living in the city. It was written by Maria
Dellegrazie, a former student in my class:

Dear Friend,

It is terrible here. Bread and water is good and everything but
I’m tired of Dad coming home every day with another injury at work.
He has already lost a finger and I’m afraid the nexttime it’ll be
worse. He works all the time and you’d figure he’d bring home some
dough and itdoesn’t have to be just money. Oh well, my opinion is I
hate it in the city and I wish I lived back in the country with you.
I have this leak in the ceiling and it’s really starting to irritate
me, especially when it leaks in my eye.



Some of the results of urbanization included:

1. The creation of slums where the working
class lived crowded together in tenements, row houses and
boarding houses. Tenements were apartment buildings with small
narrow apartments. Often they had no windows and ventilation was
poor. There were no fire escapes and no fire extinguishers. Sometimes
the walls were covered in newspaper or fabric. Many row houses and
smaller tenements were built with wood and other flammable materials.
Needless to say it was quite dangerous.

2. Disease ran rampant. Sewers backed up, poor ventilation and
overcrowding were the perfect conditions for tuberculosis and other

3. Fires destroyed homes and there were no professional
firefighters, building codes or sprinkler systems to help stop them.

4. De facto segregation divided the cities up into
neighborhoods. Blacks, Irish, Italians and Jews each had their own

5. Transportation was inadequate.

6. Sewers dumped raw sewage directly into the rivers. Pollution
from factories made the air black.

In time some of these conditions slowly changed. Dumbbell
tenements, an improvement from their original designs, had air shafts
and windows. Professional fire fighters were hired and sprinklers
were made mandatory. Buildings began to be built out of stone, brick
and concrete. In New York the first elevated railroad was built.
While life in the city was still tough, it did improve.