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In early twentieth-century America, affluent city-dwellers made a habit of venturing out of doors and vacationing in resorts and national parks. Yet the rich and the privileged were not the only ones who sought respite in nature. In this pathbreaking book, historian Colin Fisher demonstrates that working-class white immigrants and African Americans in rapidly industrializing Chicago also fled the urban environment during their scarce leisure time. If they had the means, they traveled to wilderness parks just past the city limits as well as to rural resorts in Wisconsin and Michigan. But lacking time and money, they most often sought out nature within the city itself--at urban parks and commercial groves, along the Lake Michigan shore, even in vacant lots. Chicagoans enjoyed a variety of outdoor recreational activities in these green spaces, and they used them to forge ethnic and working-class community. While narrating a crucial era in the history of Chicago's urban development, Fisher makes important interventions in debates about working-class leisure, the history of urban parks, environmental justice, the African American experience, immigration history, and the cultural history of nature.
This book traces the rise and decline of what Theodore Roosevelt once called the "most American thing in America." The Chautauqua movement began in 1874 on the shores of Chautauqua Lake in western New York. More than a college or a summer resort or a religious assembly, it was a composite of all of these—completely derivative yet brilliantly innovative. For five decades, Chautauqua dominated adult education and reached millions with its summer assemblies, reading clubs, and traveling circuits. Scholars have long struggled to make sense of Chautauqua’s pervasive yet disorganized presence in American life. In this critical study, Andrew Rieser weaves the threads of Chautauqua into a single story and places it at the vital center of fin de siècle cultural and political history. Famous for its commitment to democracy, women's rights, and social justice, Chautauqua was nonetheless blind to issues of class and race. How could something that trumpeted democracy be so undemocratic in practice? The answer, Rieser argues, lies in the historical experience of the white, Protestant middle classes, who struggled to reconcile their parochial interests with radically new ideas about social progress and the state. The Chautauqua Moment brings color to a colorless demographic and spins a fascinating tale of modern liberalism’s ambivalent but enduring cultural legacy.
Yiddish melodramas about the tribulations of immigration. German plays about alpine tourism. Italian vaudeville performances. Rubbernecking tours of Chinatown. In the New York City of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, these seemingly disparate leisure activities played similar roles: mediating the vast cultural, demographic, and social changes that were sweeping the nation's largest city. In The Immigrant Scene, Sabine Haenni reveals how theaters in New York created ethnic entertainment that shaped the culture of the United States in the early twentieth century. Considering the relationship between leisure and mass culture, The Immigrant Scene develops a new picture of the metropolis in which the movement of people, objects, and images on-screen and in the street helped residents negotiate the complexities of modern times. In analyzing how communities engaged with immigrant theaters and the nascent film culture in New York City, Haenni traces the ways in which performance and cinema provided virtual mobility--ways of navigating the socially complex metropolis--and influenced national ideas of immigration, culture, and diversity in surprising and lasting ways.
In 1865, when San Francisco's Daily Evening Bulletin asked its readers if it were not time for the city to finally establish a public park, residents had only private gardens and small urban squares where they could retreat from urban crowding, noise, and filth. Five short years later, city supervisors approved the creation of Golden Gate Park, the second largest urban park in America. Over the next sixty years, and particularly after 1900, a network of smaller parks and parkways was built, turning San Francisco into one of the nation's greenest cities. In Building San Francisco's Parks, 1850-1930, Terence Young traces the history of San Francisco's park system, from the earliest city plans, which made no provision for a public park, through the private garden movement of the 1850s and 1860, Frederick Law Olmsted's early involvement in developing a comprehensive parks plan, the design and construction of Golden Gate Park, and finally to the expansion of green space in the first third of the twentieth century. Young documents this history in terms of the four social ideals that guided America's urban park advocates and planners in this period: public health, prosperity, social coherence, and democratic equality. He also differentiates between two periods in the history of American park building, each defined by a distinctive attitude towards "improving" nature: the romantic approach, which prevailed from the 1860s to the 1880s, emphasized the beauty of nature, while the rationalistic approach, dominant from the 1880s to the 1920s, saw nature as the best setting for uplifting activities such as athletics and education. Building San Francisco's Parks, 1850-1930 maps the political, cultural, and social dimensions of landscape design in urban America and offers new insights into the transformation of San Francisco's physical environment and quality of life through its world-famous park system.
With welfare reform a burning political issue, this special anniversary edition of the classic history of welfare in America has been revised and updated to include the latest bipartisan debates on how to "end welfare as we know it". With an informative new Introduction and a new concluding chapter, this timely edition makes for important reading. Index.
During the nineteenth century, the American temperance movement underwent a visible, gendered shift in its leadership as it evolved from a male-led movement to one dominated by the women. However, this transition of leadership masked the complexity and diversity of the temperance movement. Through an examination of the two icons of the movement -- the self-made man and the crusading woman -- Fletcher demonstrates the evolving meaning and context of temperance and gender. Temperance becomes a story of how the debate on racial and gender equality became submerged in service to a corporate, political enterprise and how men’s and women’s identities and functions were reconfigured in relationship to each other and within this shifting political and cultural landscape.

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