Since the 19th Century after the Second World War, urban expansion has been explosive. Major cities grew rapidly in the 19th Century contributing to environmental, social, political and economical problems. First, overpopulation due to urbanization led to associated problems such as high crime rates, high disease rates, increased crime rates and unemployment. The rate of growth in major cities in Europe and the US was so rapid that the services could not keep up pace. Lack of sanitation and sewerage accumulation led to outbreak of diseases such as typhoid, diarrhea and malaria. In addition, the heavy dependent on coal in many industries led to accumulation of dirt and grime in the environment contributing to airborne diseases (Buhle, Armitage, Czitrom and Faragher, 2009). Due to industrialization, many people migrated to major cities causing a lot of pressure in these cities. Government facilities became inadequate to accommodate the increasing population in the major cities.
Racial discrimination is another problem that arose, whereby African Americans were discriminated by whites in the United States. Many blacks were socially discriminated by Americans especially in terms of employment. As the industries grew, many people migrated to the major cities in search of employment but due to the increased number of urban dwellers, the rate of unemployment increased. In addition, the wealthy cities separated themselves from their neighbors; an example being that of the Southern part of the United States that separated from the North. Class discrimination was also a problem during this period. Poor people were discriminated by the wealthy. The houses became expensive due to rapid expansion of cities and the proprietors took advantage of the housing demand by subdividing city houses into low, medium and high-class rental apartments. The rich lived in the suburbs and the poor lived in cheap houses characterized by poor sanitation.
Another problem that arose is political in nature, which came up as the major cities expanded. Many political scandals such as corrupt state governments, immense fraud and widespread governmental corruption were a result of rapid growth of major cities. There were extensive calls for change such as civil service reforms that led to democratic change especially in America (Faragher, Buhle, Armitage and Czitrom, 2005 pp.333). The government’s intervention in the economy led to favoritism, kickbacks and increased corruption. Some political democratic parties contributed to the free market, low tariff, low taxes and the laissez-Faire economy. Most states advocated high protective tariffs in order to protect America’s high wages from the low wage systems.
Economically, the growth of major cities led to such impacts as the increase in the cost of economic goods as well as the increase in the cost of living. Schultz (2005, pp. 235) points out that once the cities developed, there would be an economical effect especially remarkable increase in cost of economic goods. This is due to the high demand for commodities, which pushes the price high ensuring that lower class people are unable to meet their demanding needs. The result is participation in criminal activities thus causing insecurity in major cities. In addition, due to immigration of people from rural areas to the cities, the agricultural sector was impacted. This in turn affected many industries, which depend on agricultural commodities to manufacture products.
Traffic congestion and housing shortages was another major problem in developing cities during the 19th Century. Many Americans spent (and still do) more time commuting to places of work, shopping centers, schools and social events because of traffic congestion. By the 20th Century, traffic jams had become a characteristic of most cities. In addition, the United States experienced housing shortages due to urbanization especially in the late 1940s. Many developers used the principles of mass construction to housing, whereby they created identical houses to accommodate workers. The housing constructions were uniform depending on social status, religion and ethnicity.
Buhle J.M., Armitage, S., Czitrom, D. & Faragher, J.M. (2009). Out of Many, Volume I1: A
History of the American People. New York, NY: Prentice Hall.
Faragher, J.M., Buhle, J.M., Armitage, H.S. & Czitrom, D. (2005).Out of Many, Volume 1: A
History of the American People. London. Prentice Hall.
Schultz, M. (2005). History Notes: Out of Many: A History of the American People Volume II
Fifth Edition. New York, NY. Pearson Education.