Thursday, November 10, 2011

Chicago: A Discovery of the Social Affects During the Transition to Modern American Society

Social life in modern American society was greatly affected by the growth and prosper of Chicago. Chicago represented a new chapter in U.S. history, quickly becoming the most popular city in the country. What Chicago brought to the twentieth century was the integration of modern technology and newer social systems. This was all stemmed by the World Fair it hosted in 1893. The fair opened bridges to new scientific theory by gathering ideas and opinions from elite minds. Some of the technological advances that resulted were the invention of the ferris wheel and the street car. Both were fascinating to all American citizens, who had never seen such eye-opening creations. Also highlighted were new building trends such as skyscrapers, which influenced modern business. New architectural trends were also discovered during the Gilded Age.

Above all were the social affects that came from Chicago’s rise to national legitimacy. As seen throughout history, gaps between classes still existed. However, with the rise of industrialism and mass production, monopolists separated themselves from the pack as they dominated specific industries. This led to more wealth for the upper class and less wealth for the lower class. Less jobs were available because machines could now do the work of a human being, and with the decline of agriculture, Americans were needing more of an educational background to qualify for the urban jobs being created. At the same time, immigration was arguably at its highest peak in U.S. history, drawing people from all over the world to try and make a living. Loyal American citizens were competing for low-level jobs with hard-working immigrants who could work for less. This problem still presented itself well into the twentieth century. So, once again, the elite found ways to become more wealthy and distant from the working class, and the poor suffered as a result. All of this was seen clearly in the grand city of Chicago, a prime location for modern industry and immigration.

Other social affects of the transitional period of the Gilded Age were increases in crime and business. Lower class citizens felt they deserved more from the society they contributed to, and often rebelled against authority. A source for this inspiration was the literary work of Edward Bellamy. As for business, newer technology opened opportunities in the market for goods and stocks. Urbanization increased business activity as well. Overall, Chicago’s presence in the emerging modern American society highlighted many social transitions still seen today.

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