CITY  LIFE

 

WORKERS

Workers
Riveters at work on steel framework at Gateway Center,
Pittsburgh, 1951, a project that revitalized downtown.
For more than a century, urbanization in the United States has been defined by massive immigration bringing people from all corners of the globe to seek opportunity in America. These newcomers comprised the foundation for the rapidly expanding urban working class, and the bedrock for cities’ labor force in trade, manufacturing, and services. In response to low wages and poor working conditions, many workers organized trade unions.

 

 

Workers
Workers laying track for the new Broadway street car line at
10th Street, near Grace Church in Manhattan, 1891.
The rise of the modern city also required new kinds of workers who would serve the needs of a large population. Workers who were unnecessary in a rural environment, such as the construction workers building a street car line (right) or the street cleaner (bottom of the page), were critical to the growth and maintenance of the city. Modern cities also called for more firefighters, law enforcement officers, sanitation workers, construction workers, school teachers, and clerical workers.

 

Workers
Dominicans sewing in a garment factory, c. 1960.
Cities also bring diverse groups of workers together. Some sectors of the economy, such as the garment industry, have drawn particular groups, such as Dominicans (right), who were preceded by Italians and Jews earlier in the 20th century. Dominicans are part of a new influx of immigrant workers who have revitalized many cities, slowing or reversing population losses that began in the mid-20th century.

Workers
Lewis Hine’s “Group of Italian street laborers under Sixth
Avenue Elevated, New York City,” 1910.

 

 

Workers
Workers laying track for the new Broadway street car line at
10th Street, near Grace Church in Manhattan, 1891.

CUNY