Our first step toward addressing the big questions in this course will be to determine who has been a part of the “community.” That is, who is here, when did they come, from where? The movement to cities (summarized in Slide 1 below) came in several overlapping waves, including immigration (people coming from outside the United States) and domestic migration (people coming from other places inside the United States). This lecture will focus on the three big waves of immigration that have affected American cities: (1) from about 1850 to about 1890, immigrants from northern and western Europe (specifically, Germany, Ireland, and the United Kingdom) predominated. Many of these immigrants came to cities in the northeast and midwest; New York, Boston, Chicago, Philadelphia, Milwaukee, and other industrial cities saw large increases in their populations due to immigration. German immigrants were especially numerous in the 1850s and 1880s and several cities had large German neighborhoods. Cities like Boston and New York were characterized as well by large Irish populations.
(2) During the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries, immigration to the United States came mainly from southern and eastern Europe. This surge of immigration peaked in 1907 when over 1.2 million people entered the country. By 1910, Poles, Italians, Slovaks, Hungarians, Finns, and other European immigrants comprised the majority of workers in basic industries like steel manufacturing and coal mining. These immigrants tended to be crowded into segregated ethnic communities in center cities in the northeastern and midwestern United States. Because of anti-immigrant sentiment during World War I (1914-1917), efforts were made to “Americanize” immigrants and limit their numbers. Immigration laws were passed in 1921 and 1924 that severely restricted European immigration. Although these succeeded in stemming the flow of immigration, the impact of the foreign born on cities was already profound.
(3) 1After 1945, immigration picked up and assumed a new pattern. Immigration had been quite low from the late 1920s through the 1940s. From 1945 through the 1970s, immigration would average about 250,000 to 300,000 per year. By 1978, the annual volume of immigration reached 600,000. The result was over 10 million legal entrants to the United States between 1971 and 1990, accompanied by an unknown number of illegal entrants.
The post-1965 group of immigrants differed from early-twentieth century immigrants. Recent immigrants have come mainly from Asia and Latin America. During the 1980s, Asia and Latin America accounted for about 85 percent of the total immigrant pool, with Mexicans, Chinese, Filipinos, and Koreans leading the list. Their destinations have also varied from the early twentieth century. Increasingly, new immigrants are going to the south and west, with Cubans predominating in Miami and Mexicans in the southwest and California.
This slide shows the major demographic movements that we will review in the first three lectures of this course. Remember that immigration refers to the movement of foreigners to the United States. The other movements are all domestic migrations (people already in the United States moving to cities, or in the case of suburbanization, moving to the outskirts of cities). The Great Migrations (which we will hear about next week) refers to the movement of African-Americans out of the southern states, mainly to cities in the northeast, midwest, urban west, and cities in the South. Although both of these movements (immigration and the Great Migrations) were part of a larger transition of rural people to cities, we can also distinguish the movement of rural white Americans to cities in the twentieth century especially. Dispersion refers to the growth of large cities outside the northeastern and midwestern United States. Finally, I will use deconcentration to refer to the movement of businesses and people to the outskirts of cities; suburbanization, suburban sprawl, and the growth of edge cities will be a part of this process. All of these movements are vital for understanding who is part of the urban context. These demographic movements are among the most powerful forces (perhaps the most powerful force) shaping cities. They will influence how we conceptualize community and how we think about our obligations toward other city dwellers.
We need a frame of reference for talking about demographic change. This slide presents the population for the entire US each decade since 1850. Note that in 1850, there were about 23 million people here. The population more than doubled by 1880 (about 50 million). It more than doubled again by 1920 (105 million). By 1970, it had doubled again (to over 200 million). And by 2010, it is estimated to be over 300 million. Note that the growth is fairly steady, except for the 1930s when the Great Depression caused a slowing of population growth (not a decline, just not as much growth).
Immigration has not been constant. Here you see yearly totals since 1820. There are notable spikes in the 1850s, 1870s, 1880s, 1900s, and 1920s, before a prolonged slowdown from the 1920s to the 1980s. Recall that the country’s overall population was much larger in the 1970s, 80s, and 90s, than in earlier periods, so while the absolute number of immigrants in the early 1890s was about the same as in the early 1980s, they represented a much smaller percentage in the latter decade. The all-time peak of immigration occurred in 1907, when 1,285,349 immigrants entered the US. Fifty percent more (1,825,595) entered in 1991, but the population was more than 2 ½ times larger in 1990 than in 1910, so while immigration represented about 1.4 percent of the population in 1907 it was only .7 percent in 1991 (or about half as much by percentage).
Here you see immigration figures by decade. It is clear that the 1850s, 1880s, and 1900s saw enormous numbers of immigrants entering the country; compared to the population, especially, these decades, and to a lesser extent the 1910s, were profoundly affected by immigration. Note that immigration drops dramatically between the 1900s and the 1930s and 1940s, when the Great Depression and then World War II slowed the movement of people to this country. Immigration picks up again in the 1950s, but of course the population had grown as well. Not until the 1990s, does immigration return to levels (relative to the population) that we had seen in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
Here you can see the effects of the swings discussed in earlier slides. Note that the number of foreign born persons in the US almost doubles between 1850 and 1860, and we have not seen that big a jump since then. The foreign population increases notable in other decades, such as the 1880s and 1900s and 1990s, but note as well the substantial drop between 1930 and 1940 that continues until 1970, when the percentage of foreign born drops to its lowest level ever: 4.7 percent.
Here you see the information from the previous slide in graphic form. The number of foreign-born in the United States increases steadily from the 1850s through the 1930s, reaching almost 15 million persons by 1930. The number declines to about 10 million in 1970 and then begins to increase rapidly through the year 2000. Remember that the total number of American citizens is growing steadily becoming the 1850s and 2000 with a slight slowdown in the 1930s. This then explains the changing percentage of foreign-born persons in the United States. Note that the percentage increases dramatically from 9.7% in 1850 to 13.2% in 1860 and remains above 13% until 1940. Because of restrictive immigration laws passed in the 1920s the percentage of foreign-born in the United States declined steadily from 1920 until 1970 when it reached its historic low of 4.7%. The number and percentage of foreign-born increases after 1970 but even after the enormous increases in immigration in the 1990s the percentage of foreign-born in the United States in the year 2000 was only 11.1%, a level last seen in the 1940s.
In this slide, the decades are arranged in terms of the highest percentage of foreign-born. 1890, 1910, and 1870 are the years when America had the highest percentage of foreign-born among its citizens, each decade with over 14% foreign-born. 1900, 1880, 1920, and 1860 are all gears in which the foreign-born constituted more than 13% of the population. In 1930, 11.6% of the population was foreign-born, a slight decline from 1920; this was due to restrictive immigration laws passed in 1921 and 1924. Even though immigration increased dramatically in the 1990s, by 2000 the United States was only 11.1% foreign-born. This represented a steady increase in the percentage of foreign-born since 1970, when the percentage was 4.7.
Now that we have seen the overall impact of immigration on the United States, we need to look more closely at the specific sources of immigration. Immigrants have not always come from the same places, and the difference is in the origin of immigrants has had an important bearing on our sense of community. This slide shows that between the 1820s and the 1950s Europe was by far the largest source of immigration. Immigration from Europe peaks in the 1890s and declines through 1980s. emigration from the Americas, mainly from Mexico, remains a relatively small percentage of immigration until the 1910s when the Mexican Revolution pushed many Mexicans northward. Immigration from Latin America especially constitutes over 50% of total immigration by the 1960s and again in the 1990s. During the 1970s and 1980s, immigration from Asia also increases dramatically.
In the first slide for this lecture, I indicate that there are three big waves of immigration to the United States. This slide illustrates two of those waves. The first wave of immigration came from northern and western Europe. Here you can see the three main sources of this first wave: the orange line shows immigration from Ireland; the light blue line shows immigration from the United Kingdom (England, Scotland, Wales); and the dark blue line is from Germany. Immigration from Ireland is very high in the 1840s and 50s and then again in the 1880s, declining steadily thereafter. Immigration from England rises steadily between the 1820s and the 1880s and declines thereafter. Immigration from Germany increases dramatically in the 1840s and 1850s, reaching a new peak in the 1880s. It then speaks briefly again during the 1920s and especially in the 1950s after which it declines. These changes can be linked to political disruption and war in Germany. This wave of northern and western European immigration declines after the 1880s. You can see that during that 1890s, immigration from the southern and eastern Europe increases notably, and then quite dramatically during the next decade, far surpassing immigration from northern and western Europe. This second wave of immigration was prompted by the dissolution of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, industrial change, and political unrest, as well as the persecution of ethnic minorities, especially Eastern European Jews. The Italians, Jews, and other eastern European minorities in this second wave were seen as so unusual by many Americans, and so inclined toward socialism, that restrictive immigration laws were passed in 1921 and again in 1924, thus bringing a sharp close to this wave of immigration.
Immigration from Latin America follows a different course. Note that the largest source of immigration from Latin America is from Mexico. You see a spike in Mexican immigration during the 1920s, a result of the Mexican Revolution. During the 1950s, immigration from Mexico picks up again, jumping from around 600,000 in the 1970s to about one million in the 1980s and then rocketing to almost 3 million in the 1990s. Immigration from the Caribbean also increases dramatically after the 1960s. Immigration from Cuba rises in the 60s and 70s but declines thereafter, while immigration from Central America has been increasing since the 1970s.
This third wave of immigration also included Asians. In this slide you can see that immigration from China spiked during the 1870s. Much of this immigration was directed toward the west coast of the United States. Chinese immigration was curtailed in 1882 when the United States Congress passed the Chinese Exclusion Act, prompted by racial hatred of the Chinese that had been growing for several decades. In 1943, this act was finally repealed. Immigration from China increased during the 1980s and 1990s, but immigration from Asia is more complex than just China. Note that there are dramatic increase is in immigration from the Philippines Indiana Vietnam and other Asian countries after the 1960s. Note as well that there is an increase in immigration from Korea in the 1970s and 80s, although that has declined in recent years. Many of these Asian immigrants came to the West Coast of the United States, although some established Asian neighborhoods in major cities in the eastern United States.
This slide shows the composition of our foreign-born population. Note that about 90% of persons born in other countries in the 1850s and 1860s came from northern and western Europe. That percentage declines steadily between 1860 and the present. Immigration from southern and eastern Europe resulted in an increasing proportion of immigrants from those countries from 1880 to 1930, after which the percentage declines, although it remains slightly higher than the percentage of foreign-born citizens from northern and western Europe. The percentage of persons born in Asia begins to increase in the 1930s and has reached almost 30% today. Nearly 50% of America's foreign-born today are from Latin America.
The figures in early your slides might suggest that the influence of immigration on the United States has been small; at most, fewer than 15% of Americans have been foreign-born, even during those decades in which we witnessed the most immigration. However, immigrants have not distributed themselves evenly throughout the United States. Their influence has been disproportionate on urban areas, as of this slide shows. The blue line indicates the percentage of the population of the United States that has lived in urban areas. In 1890 fewer than 40% of Americans lived in urban areas. That percentage increases steadily to 1930, levels off briefly during the 1930s, and it increases again through the 1970s. Today about three quarters of Americans live in urban areas, which includes suburbs. The green line shows that throughout this entire period immigrants are much more likely to live in cities. Note that in 1890 almost two thirds of immigrants lived in cities, and that percentage increases to over 90% by 1990. In other words, immigration has its greatest effects on cities.
Not all cities have been affected by immigration in the same way. Immigrants tend to be attracted to larger cities because of the availability of jobs. In this chart you can see the effect of immigration on these big cities. Recall that in 1850 fewer than 10% of Americans were immigrants. But in that same year 46% of New Yorkers were immigrants, more than half of the city of Chicago and almost two thirds of the city of Milwaukee were immigrants. You see in the case of New York City there is a gradual decline in the percentage of foreign-born until 1970, when fewer than one in five New Yorkers were born in other countries, but that percentage has increased in the last decades. However it has not returned to levels seen in the 19th century. In the case of Chicago the decline is even more dramatic; by 1970 only about one in every 10 residents in the city of Chicago were foreign-born, although that percentage has increased by about 50% in the last few decades. Most dramatic of all of course is Milwaukee: today fewer than one in 20 residents of that city are immigrants. Los Angeles exhibits a different pattern yet witnessed a decline in the percentage of foreign-born and in an increase; unlike eastern and midwestern cities such as New York, Boston, Milwaukee, and Detroit, Los Angeles and San Francisco, as Western cities, are recipients of the third wave of immigration from Asia and Latin America. Miami exhibits yet another pattern. It witnesses and a sharp decline in its percentage of foreign-born between 1920 and 1940 and in an extraordinary increase during the 1960s when immigration from Cuba reshaped the city. Today, Miami has the highest percentage of foreign-born residents of any major city in the United States.
Here you see the same information in graphic form. The overall trend is one of decline in the percentage of foreign-born. However Western cities and large eastern cities see an increase in the percentage of foreign-born after 1970. Miami, as can be seen from the pale green line, has an almost unique pattern: a dramatic drop and then an extraordinary increase in the percentage of foreign-born.
These figures, which are taken from the 2000 census, show that even within the cities the impact of immigration has not been uniform. In each of these major cities, with the exception of Detroit, immigrants are far more numerous in the central city as compared to the larger metropolitan area. In other words, immigrants are much more likely to be found in the cities rather than suburbs. This is not to say that immigrants do not go to suburbs, but the lower of jobs and the proximity of jobs to housing has always been one of the main reasons that immigrants have chosen cities.
Although it would be inaccurate to say that all immigrants to United States have had the same experience, we can talk about some similarities that cut across a wide variety of groups. Immigrants are both pushed and pulled to come to the United States. They are often pushed by political unrest, economic change, religious and ethnic persecution, and war. They are often pulled by family relationships (a relative who already resides in the United States), the prospect of more political or religious freedom, and most often of all the prospect of economic improvement. So, while there are exceptions to this, it is nonetheless true that immigrants generally arrive in the US as a very poor group of people; they need assistance, though this does not mean that they get it, at least not from the government. It also creates the impression that they are needy and may be taking more resources than they bring.
Once they arrive in the United States, immigrants tend to stick together. During the 19th century, and in many cases today, immigrants created vast ethnic neighborhoods in American cities. In these neighborhoods, immigrants could partially re-create the cultural conditions which they left in their home countries: with the same food, the same language, the same institutions. These working-class immigrant neighborhoods could be quite stable, though new immigrants sometimes creating tensions within them. Though these neighborhoods provided refuge for newcomers and a familiar community for new residents, most immigrants had to pursue a living outside of their own neighborhoods, which meant that they had to interact with other immigrants and with native-born Americans. In spite of this mixing, immigrants have also practiced mutual avoidance: they create their own neighborhoods but tend to stay away from other immigrant groups. This meant that American cities tended to be patchworks of ethnic neighborhoods, interspersed with neighborhoods of native-born Americans. Living conditions in ethnic neighborhoods, or any neighborhood of poor people in the United States, could sometimes be very bad, with unpaved streets and ramshackle housing. This meant that, typically, immigrants were seen as strangers who lived in their own neighborhoods that made them seem even more unusual to native-born Americans and other ethnic groups. While there has been “melting” after a period of time, eras of intense immigration have often resulted in an increasing awareness of differences.
In sum, immigrants have had a profound effect on cities. Especially during times when levels of immigration were very high, they were often seen as poor, strange, and threatening, even as they added to the cultural richness of cities. Those differences show up in other areas of urban life, especially politics, where the problem of distributing resources is felt most acutely.