America Moves to the City: Urban Growth in the Late Nineteenth Century

The industrial boom of the late 19th century led Americans and immigrants to leave farming life and head to the city. Introduction Americans increasingly moved into cities over the course of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, a movement motivated in large measure by industrialization. Eleven million people migrated from rural to urban areas[…]

Faith in the City: Religion and Urban Life in Chicago, 1870-1920

How, if at all, did religious communities change their inherited traditions in the midst of new surroundings? Introduction In the fifty years between the Civil War and World War I, the United States experienced a dramatic transformation. In 1870, three-quarters of the population lived in rural areas; by 1920, over half the nation lived in[…]

The Great Depression: Farms and Cities in the 1930s

By Tom MorainHistorian Introduction Farmers struggled with low prices all through the 1920s, but after 1929 things began to be hard for city workers as well. After the stock market crash, many businesses started to close or to lay off workers. Many families did not have money to buy things, and consumer demand for manufactured[…]

The Industrial Revolution: Transformation of Cities and the Urban Experience

Europeans faced issues such as pollution, health, disease, poverty, and crime. Introduction The Industrial Revolution started in Britain in the late 18th century. Through raw materials, the improvement of machinery and transportation, which created many more factories, lead to the start of the Industrial Revolution. While we consider it a great achievement in history, many[…]

A Short History of the Idea of ‘Main Street’ in America

From Nathaniel Hawthorne to Disneyland, the concept has represented both the experimental and the conventional. In the United States, Main Street has always been two things—a place and an idea. As both, Main Street has embodied the contradictions of the country itself. It is the self-consciousness of the idea of Main Street—from its origins in[…]

The Rise of Cities in Georgian Britain

Life in the 18th-century city would have provoked a dazzling mixture of sensations: terror and exhilaration, menace and bliss, awe and pity. Cities expanded rapidly in 18th century Britain, with people flocking to them for work. Matthew White explores the impact on street life and living conditions in London and the expanding industrial cities of[…]

Nineveh, Antioch-on-the-Orontes, and Lepcis Magna: Three Ancient Cities to Rival London, Paris, and New York

It can be difficult to imagine that the antiquities in museums were once a part of vibrant and cosmopolitan cities. Introduction London, Paris and New York are global cities: modern hubs for travel, technology and trade, their names and images echo around the globe, capturing our imaginations with their distinctive histories, famous residents and iconic[…]

The Eternal City’s 17th-Century Building Craze also Bolstered Urban Planning

“Did the public have a voice in the development of a theocratic city?” As University of Tennessee professor Dorothy Metzger Habel examined architectural archives for seventeenth-century Rome, she started hearing voices. The many participants in the Eternal City’s building boom at that point—when 30 percent of the work force was engaged in the construction industry—came[…]

Citizen v. John Foreigner: The Politics of Inclusion in Medieval England’s Urban Centers

John Medewall, bearing a very English-sounding name, describes himself as a foreigner, and as such at a disadvantage in a suit against a London citizen. In the late fifteenth century, John Medewall brought his petition before the chancellor at Westminster. He explained his dilemma. Purportedly written from his prison cell in London, he recounted how[…]

City Sanitation Regulations in the Coventry Mayor’s Proclamation of 1421

In 1421, the newly elected mayor of Coventry, England issued a proclamation that gives us insights into medieval urban sanitation concerns and their regulation in the later medieval period. On 25 January 1421, John Leeder, the newly elected mayor of Coventry, England, issued a mayoral proclamation outlining how the city would be run. He began[…]