New Immigrants Come to America

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Immigration & Urbanization

The New Immigrants

New Immigrants Come to America

Immigrants coming to the U.S. between 1840 & 1860 were mostly from Northwestern Europe. Between 1880 and 1920 Southern & Eastern European immigrants arrived in the U.S. in great waves. Many native-born Americans felt threatened by these newcomers with different cultures & languages.

Causes of Immigration

Push Factors

Pull Factors


Religious & Political Freedom

Economic Hardship

Cheap Land

Lack of Jobs

Factory Jobs


Family in the United States




Catholic & Jewish


North/Western Europe
South/Eastern Europe


Both escaping poverty, religious, and political persecution.


Moved to farms in the Midwest.
Moved to cities in the Northeast.


Became farmers
Unskilled workers
The Immigrant Experience

Immigration officials determined who could stay in the U.S. To enter, immigrants had to be healthy and show that they had money, a skill, or a sponsor to provide for them.
Most European immigrants arrived in New York Harbor. Beginning in 1892, they were processed at Ellis Island. The goal was to “screen” immigrants coming from Europe. Immigrants took physical examinations & were held at Ellis Island before they were released to the U.S. mainland.

Chinese and other Asian immigrants crossed the Pacific Ocean,

arriving in San Francisco Bay. They were processed at Angel Island,

which opened in 1910. Angel Island was not as welcoming as Ellis

Island was to immigrants.

Chinese immigrants were turned away unless they could prove that

they were American citizens or had relatives living in America.


most immigrants left Ellis Island within hours, Chinese immigrants at

Angel Island were often held for weeks or even months in poor conditions.

Opportunities & Challenges in America

Most new immigrants stayed in cities, close to industrial jobs in factories. There, they often lived in ethnic neighborhoods, called ghettos, with people who shared their

native language, religion, and culture.



According to this theory, people from various cultures have met in the United States to form a new America.
The contributions of individual groups are not easily distinguished. The resulting culture is more important than its parts.

This theory recognizes that groups do not always lose their distinctive characters. They can live side by side, with each group contributing in different ways to society.
This approach is sometimes called the salad bowl theory since groups, like different vegetables in a salad, remain

identifiable but create a new

larger whole. This theory is

also referred to as pluralism.

Accepting immigrants into American society was not always easy. Newcomers often faced nativism, which was a belief that native-born white Americans were superior to newcomers.

Historical Significance: Old immigrants resented new immigrants. New immigrants came to this country for the same reason as the old immigrants.

Chinese Exclusion Act

Some native-born Americans labeled immigration from Asia a “yellow peril.” Under pressure from California, which had already barred Chinese from owning property or working certain jobs, Congress passed this law sharply limiting Chinese immigration. Many Chinese dared not visit their families in China, fearing they would not be permitted to return to the U.S.

President Rutherford Hayes vetoed this act and Congress would

override it. Hayes would not be reelected. Chinese immigration

would be reelected until the 1920s.


Immigration & Urbanization

Cities Expand and Change

America Becomes a Nation of Cities

In 1860 no American city boasted a million people. By 1890, New York, Philadelphia, and Chicago had spurted past the million mark. Cities grew rapidly because they were near raw materials, industrial areas, transportation routes, and had job opportunities.

Urbanization – Expansion of cities and/or increase in the number

of people living in them.

Most immigrants settle in cities to get cheap housing and factory jobs.

In cities, immigrants assimilated into the main culture (Americanization). Many rural-to-urban migrants moved to cities because farm technology decreased the need for laborers, so people moved to cities for factory jobs.

Technology Improves City Life

Cities were on the cutting edge of new innovations that improved living conditions for people.

Cities offered the following new technologies:


•Bright Lights & Electricity

•Public Water Systems

•Asphalt pavement & Transportation

Indoor Plumbing

•Sewage Disposal

•Central Heating

Urban Living Creates Problems

Several families lived in one apartment or even

one room.

They used the space for sewing

clothes or doing other piecework to earn money.


enements –
Low cost multifamily

housing designed to squeeze in

as many families as possible.





In the 1860s, tenements had an

inadequate supply of water.
Some tenements did not have access to

piped water.

The streets were exposed to manure, open gutters, factory smoke, and poor trash collection.

By 1900, cities developed sewer lines and created sanitation departments.

As population grew,

thieves flourished.

Early police forces were too small to be effective.

Fire Hazards: limited water, wood houses, candles and kerosene heaters.

Most firefighters were

volunteers and not always available.

By 1900, most cities had full time

professional fire departments.


Immigration & Urbanization

Social & Cultural Trends

The Gilded Age, 1870-1900

“The Gilded Age” was a phrase penned by Mark Twain as satire for

the way America had become. It revealed the “best and worst

of America. The Gilded Age suggests that there was a glittering layer

of prosperity that covered the poverty and corruption that existed

in much of society.

Reform was Needed! Twain depicted American society as gilded,

or having a rotten core covered with gold paint.

Americans Become Consumers

More people began to work for wages rather than for themselves on farms. More products were available than ever before and at lower prices. This led to a culture of conspicuous consumerism.
Conspicuous Consumerism – Purchasing of goods and services

for the purpose of impressing others.

All but the very poorest working-class laborers were able

to do and buy more than they would have in the past.

Americans all across the country became more & more

alike in their consumption patterns. Rich & poor could

wear the same clothing styles, but quality varied.

Household gadgets, toys, and food preferences were

often the same from house to house. This is known

as mass culture.

Mass Culture – Similar cultural patterns in a society

as a result of the spread of

transportation, communication

and advertising.

New Forms of Popular Entertainment

Urban areas with thousands of people became

centers for new types of entertainment in

the Gilded Age.
City dwellers escaped to amusement parks,

circuses, vaudeville shows, and sports.

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