Effects of Urbanization
Urbanization is the process through which large groups of people become permanently concentrated in small areas which translate into cities. Urbanization played a critical role in improving the working, middle and elite classes of people in American society during the nineteenth century. Urbanization occurred owing to many reasons. The emergence of new technologies led to increased industrialization which led to increased demand for workers. With powerful machinery and electricity came the need for workers to live close to factories as they had to work 12-hour shifts since factories now run all day, (7) seven days a week. While the work was dangerous, it offered lower wages in industrial labor. The explosion of urban population growth brought employment opportunities that attracted people to city life. Eventually, cities adopted a unique character based on the industry that spurred its growth for instance, in New York, it was garments, Pittsburg steel, and Chicago meatpacking. Regardless of its benefits, urbanization also caused universal problems relating to communication, transportation and housing, and living conditions. The issues were deeply rooted in class inequalities, disrupted by corrupt politics, and shaped by ethnic strife, racial divisions, and religious differences.
Social classes in American society changed in the use and scope after urbanization occurred. Problems such as crime, pollution, disease, and congestion became prevalent and the norm for city dwellers and living conditions were atrocious. Houses were crowded and cramped with poor ventilation and substandard sanitization and plumbing. Diseases such as cholera and typhoid were rampant leading to loss of life warranting the introduction of sewage systems for effective waste management. Civic organizations and churches gave relief to help address the problems that working-class city dwellers were encountering. With time, the organizations also began giving community services to the urban poor. Additionally, secular spheres began showing support by giving additional relief. They developed settlement houses in urban cities to help the working class and mainly women find aid. The movements offered services including evening classes, child daycare, gym facilities, libraries, and free healthcare. Notably, the movement spread to other cities where they gave relief not only to working-class women but also helped them secure employment opportunities. This helped empower and bridge the gap between the poor, working, and elite classes by bridging the poverty gap.