Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Gilded Age City

When the Chicago World’s Fair Opened in 1893 the gilded age had already permeated the streets of Chicago. The Chicago experience brought on many gilded age transformations, but it specifically put a spotlight on the positives of the urban experience and the negatives of the urban experience. New urban systems were coming together to create a new city such as the power and transportation systems and it was affecting people in their day-to-day lives. Workers began using transportation like the electric streetcar to get to work easier and quicker; electricity was being installed in private homes along with telephones. New luxuries were growing throughout Chicago; it was now easier for single, young adults to travel to Chicago to find a place to stay and a job to start their own lives. Culture was flooding the streets; the idea that Chicago was able to be a shining, cultural epicenter was becoming very popular. It was a place of exciting change, but it was also a place for dangers.

The dangers of the Chicago urban experience was a big concern; in regards to young people coming to the city alone it might have been easy but it made them extremely vulnerable. It became harder to trust people and to create a safe environment for you. Young women especially had to diligently look after themselves to avoid being taken advantage of. The Devil in the White City is the perfect example of that because on of the main characters H.H. Holmes is a serial killer who takes advantage and murders poor, young women who come to Chicago to make a living for themselves. The new urban systems had cons to them as well. Even though new luxuries were the product of these new technologies so was waste. The city was becoming extremely dirty, just as any gilded age city because of the large amount of waste (ex. smog from factories and transportation systems.) The urbanization of Chicago also brought on more and more people moving into the city thus creating crowding, which brought on disease. This of course, only happened within poorer and immigrant communities. The upper class could afford to move into the suburbs or bigger apartments in the city, that over the years became more and more lavish and decorated.

It seems that the city of Chicago is the perfect example of the gilded age American city; a city that changed so much in such a short amount of time but it was extremely necessary for what was to happen decades later. Chicago changed in a National and International perspective which changed the U.S. forever.

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