Chapter Twenty: The Rise of the American City, Part One
In this lecture you will learn about the rise of the American city, a microcosm of modernity for the growing nation, a kind of laboratory on a big scale for the social experiments that were needed to discover how large numbers of people from dozens of cultures and backgrounds could live successfully together while driving the economic engine of the growing industrial economy. If you live in a city or a suburb of a city, we are talking now about the actual creation of the world you live in. First, you will learn about the inspirational attempts of the City Planners to create templates of futurity for the new city, actual experiments in engineering and architecture which were given magical names like the White City, the City of Palaces, and the City Beautiful. Then you will learn how the planners dealt with the more prosaic challenges of improving the quality of life in, and the efficiency of, actual cities; designing and building water, sewer, and transportation systems; constructing affordable housing for the city's millions of immigrants; bringing in fresh food daily for the city's energetic and hungry workers; making room for the city's new steel-framed skyscrapers; designing parks, pools, and greenbelts for public recreation; building libraries and city centers for public enjoyment and education; and creating a safe and secure environment for everybody. Then we will hop a train and take a trip out to the suburbs, which also came into their own at this time as the city grew in power and population. You may be surprised at how little life has changed in the "burbs,' even though technology has marched on for a hundred and twenty years. While we are out there we will also check out the amazing Chautauqua Phenomenon, which also grew up in the environs of the big cities, and flourished for fifty years. A day at the Chautauqua was so much fun that you might wish that Steve Jobs had invented a time machine instead of all that Apple technology you love so well. Back in the city, we will next check out what improvements were happening in public and private education, very important to the success of creating an educated electorate and an educated work force. All this, and much more, awaits you in Part One of this chapter on the rise of the American city. This file is 2 hr. 20 min. in length and 128 MB in size. You may download it twice. Give it plenty of time to do so.