Anthony Punch 111385471
Photographs in Digital Archive
New York in the 19th century was a burgeoning city of commerce, industry and finance. Between 1800 and 1900, the population rose drastically in the city and many new experiences and practices developed for the urban population at this time. Methods of communication were improved and with the growth of railways and steam ships in the late 19th century, the other side of the world wasn’t as unreachable as before. The city began to modernize itself and through regulations which control, the people became disciplined. Actions such as queuing for a bus were new, as was being put on hold on the telephone, over the course of these two centuries. Modernity led to the re-orientation of public experiences, and the remaking of spatial practices.
Along with this modernisation came increased immigration and more new experiences for locals. Mulberry Street 1900 was now an economic centre, and more discipline would have been learned. Downsides included the increasing amount of slums
New York became a city characterized by extremes in wealth and poverty. The progress being made, commercially, industrially and technologically in these centuries was massive but this gap was becoming a problem, with the amount of slums, and homeless people particularly children, a big issue.
One person who captured these new experiences on camera was Jacob A. Riis, a Danish immigrant who came to New York as a journalist in 1870. He took many photos of the big slums which had developed and he highlighted many young homeless people. Of all the new experiences and practices for urban people in these two centuries, I think the increase in poverty levels is by far the most striking, and we can see this in the following photograph.
Towards the end of the 20th century, New York was one of the leading cities globally, the population was over 7.5 million and the economy was thriving. (Census 1990) No doubt, city life has changed, many new experiences and practices then, now define the lives of people. A simple phone call, trip to the cinema, a photo, street lighting, text messages, were all introduced over these two centuries and we would feel stranded without them today but still many people don’t get to experience these new practices very often.
Is it all worth it?
Donosh, M, 1998. Those "Gorgeous Incongruities": Polite Politics and Public Space on the Streets of 19th Century New York. Annals of the Association of American Geographers, Vol. 88 No.2, 209-226.
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