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Cities, The Hub Of American Culture

842 words - 4 pages

Cities, the Hub of American Culture In the cities of the late nineteenth century the class structure was defined by geography. The poor tended to live in the inner city in the factory districts, the middle class moved out to the suburbs, while the social elite insulated themselves from the world in exclusive sections of the cities or they moved out beyond the suburbs completely. Because of this well-defined class system an even more defined urban culture was born, dependency upon ethnic social institutions and new leisure activities enabling the city inhabitants to accommodate themselves to the world in which they live. The city evolved into the hub of high culture in America. The ...view middle of the document...

" The social elite now depended upon outward displays; conspicuous displays of wealth, exclusive social clubs, and above all was choice of neighborhood. The commercial development of the downtown residential areas and improving transportation services spurred the mass exodus of the social elite out of the cities and into the exclusive subdivisions of the countryside. Despite the draw of the country life many of the richest of the rich preferred the insulated sections in the hearts of the cities. A great fortune did not automatically translate into a high social standing. In the older cities the wealth was passed down from generation to generation, creating a close-knit group of old-line families that kept the new money at bay. However, in the newer cities the social elite tended to be more welcoming to the new money, but only if they were willing to openly display the newfound wealth. City people compartmentalized everything in life, separating the workplace from home. "Going out" became a necessity, not just to escape the pains of a hard days work but as proof that life was better in America than in Europe. Amusement parks were springing up across the country at the end of the trolley lines. Another sanctuary from the harshness of the real world was the theater. The theater brought the world to vaudeville that had...

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