Thursday, November 3, 2011

America's Chicago

Chicago can definitely be called the American city that transformed the United States at the end of the nineteenth century. At the height of the industrial revolution, Chicago thrived technologically and socially as it established itself as a main city for America. New opportunities in the job world opened as citizens flocked from all around the world to join the rapidly growing city. This integration of new people accounted for a diverse culture that represented what was occurring in many other cities nationwide. New social events also exposed new cultures and ideas that would be soon incorporated into modern society. Competition in the working class grew, and as seen in the Gilded Age, a stronger gap amongst classes existed. The elite helped make Chicago the industrial core it was. Business moguls used Chicago to spread use of streetcars, railroads, and other means of transportation and technology.

Technology excited people, and it provided a new hope for America leading into the twentieth century. As we have read before, the middle class believed technology could provide an answer to the social problems in the U.S. This was seen in the analyzations of Edward Bellamy’s “Looking Backward.” Technology affected the upper class by making them wealthier and more powerful, and the lower class either was hurt by the lack of need for employment, or helped by the new job fields available.

Chicago was arguably the most popular city in America at the time. New ideas such as skyscrapers and the ferris wheel attracted people and created a new lifestyle for Americans. Fun replaced luxury, as fairs and carnivals were cheap and available to more classes. In some ways this merged the classes, offering common activities that weren’t just privileged to the elite. Skyscrapers influenced living conditions and business. Living became a vertical thing instead of a horizontal thing. As for business, it displays our modern business setup. Tall executive buildings built to house companies are what we still have today.

Overall, Chicago’s transition during the industrial age attracted many new people and offered many new cultural ideas that made it considered “America’s City.” Socially and economically, it reflected the U.S. moving into the twentieth century and modern American society. Many of the advances and ideas created in Chicago found their way to other major cities around the country. Its influence on America was undeniable.

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