The Making of the Multi-Ethnic American City from the 1880s to the 1920s

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The Making of the Multi-Ethnic American City from the 1880s to the 1920s

The United States has always been a nation made up of many nationalities. In little more than two hundred years of its existence, it has taken more than 55 million people, from nearly every corner of the world. People of different countries have brought varied ideas about religion, politics, tradition, and custom to American shores.

At the beginning of the twentieth century a Jew immigrant from England, Israel Zangwill, wrote a play entitled "The Melting Pot". Its message still holds a tremendous power on the American imagination – the promise that all immigrants can be transformed into Americans, a new alloy forged in a
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However, even if America has always been referred to as the home of the free and the brave - a place where liberty comes first above all else, this inviting "melting pot" image can be challenged. Many insist that America is more of a “salad bowl” where cultures do not mix; instead they live as distinct factions within a foreign world.

The country has had three major periods of immigration. The first wave began with the colonists of the 1600's and reached a peak just before the Revolutionary War broke out in 1775. The second major flow of immigrants started in the 1820's and lasted until a depression in the early 1860's. Immigration declined during the U.S. Civil War (1861-65) but increased once more by 1870. The late nineteenth century was one of the great ages of immigration in American history. This era of immigration differed from previous immigration booms in two key respects: scale and sources. In many ways, the change in sources of immigration was more important than the change in scale. By far the largest sources of immigrants in the period were the nations of central, eastern, and southern Europe. These immigrants were refugees from economic privation and political and religious persecution in the empires of Austria-Hungary and Russia and the new, fragile nations of Italy and Germany.

This also was the first great period of Asian

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