The Role of Immigration in Shaping American Cities

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FALL 2007
URBS 310
CLASS 13968

The role of immigration in shaping American cities
The United States of America is correctly defined as a melting pot of cultures, and a people because it is not a homogenous nation. People from all over the world can be found living closely together, some even harmoniously live together despite their different ethnicities. This has not always been the case because America’s initial habitants were Native Americans, who were then invaded by and conquered by Europeans mostly from Northwestern Europe. Many years after initial contact with America, the Europeans brought African slaves with them, and these slaves are the ancestors of modern day African Americans. In the first 50 years of this new America 95% of the settlers lived on farms and in small villages. But as more people arrived into America, they expanded further into the Americas taming the wild land into farms and small settlements. Consequently, as more people arrived due to the economic attraction of this new land there was increased segregation in cities based on ethnicities, urban sprawl and the restructuring of many major urban cities throughout the United States. The differing economic viability and attraction of the various urban areas in America helped further propagate this phenomenon. Some of the immigrants sought employment or entrepreneurship opportunities in the major cities, while some preferred to remain in rural areas as farmers such as the Scandinavians and the Germans. The influence of immigrants into the United States was so insidious that many smaller urban areas began to sprawl within the United States, growing into small cities and then much later growing into large cities that consisted of immigrants from varying ethnicities. Critical events such as World War I and II as well as the Vietnam War continued to fuel this major immigrant influx and thus culturally influence the cities where these immigrants moved. Many Chinese...
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