The Industrial Revolution of the 19th and 20th centuries transformed urban life .
In the 50 years from 1870 to 1920, the number of Americans in cities grew from 10 million to 54 million. Into the 20th century, cities grew in population and expanded geographically by absorbing nearby communities. In 1898 New York City acquired Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx as boroughs, political divisions that are like counties. Chicago grew from about 300,000 inhabitants in 1870 to more than a million in 1890. Three-quarters of the city’s residents were born outside the United States, and while some found work and a comfortable existence, many suffered severe poverty. That poverty, however, was largely invisible to the rich living on the outskirts of the city, since the poor were concentrated in distant neighborhoods.
THE CITY TENEMENT FAMILY
THE MIDDLE CLASS HOME
HOW THE WEALTHY LIVED.
The wealthy created separate neighborhoods for themselves by building mansions on large plots of land at the edges of the cities or in the countryside. Housing developments of similar-looking single-family or multiple-family dwellings, built by speculators, sprouted on the edges of cities.
The homesteaders came from all over the globe, from all walks of life. They were newly arrived immigrants. They were American farmers without land of their own in the east. They were families with young kids. They were single women. They were former slaves, freed during and after the Civil War.
BLACK AND WHITE SHARECROPPER FAMILY
After the American Civil War (1861–65), southern plantation owners had to find help working the lands that slaves had farmed. They took advantage of the former slave desire to own their own farms, plantation owners used arrangements called sharecropping and tenant farming. Both methods required the planters to divide their plantations into smaller parcels of land, which they continued to own. Using smaller parcels of property, the owners forged mutually beneficial arrangements with independent farmers to work the land.
In sharecropping land owners provided sharecroppers with a house and a plot of land, as well as all the seed, fertilizer, and tools necessary to cultivate crops. Owners dictated what crops were to be raised and supervised laborers who worked in the fields. In exchange the sharecroppers worked the fields from seed through harvest.
At harvest the entire crop was given to the owner, who sold it. After deducting the cost of supplies for which the owner had paid, the owner shared the remaining profits with the sharecroppers. Sharecroppers usually received between one-third and one-half of the remaining profits.
Approximately two-thirds of all sharecroppers were white, and one third were black. Though both groups were at the bottom of the social ladder, sharecroppers began to organize for better working rights, and the integrated Southern Tenant Farmers Union began to gain power in the 1930s. The Great Depression, mechanization, and other factors lead sharecropping to fade away in the 1940s.
THE HOBO HOME IN THE “HOBO JUNGLE”
Sometimes as many as a million homeless men drifted across the country, known as Hobo’s they could no longer make a living on the small farm adn now they sought work in the cities or traveling across the country during harvest time.