Unit 4: Growing Cities and Immigration
Frameworks for America's Past

Click on the links below -

  Study Guide: pages 55 - 64
(pages are shown with notes and maps completed)

Exploring: History in their own words
Jane Addams Works for Better Cities

Historical photo sets

1.  Urbanization: Growing cities  

2.  Immigration - Ellis Island and Angel Island  

3.  Tenement buildings and overcrowding

4.  Immigrants: Welcomed. . . or not?  

5.  Jane Addams and settlement houses

6.  Big city "political machines"  
History food feature
Making sourdough bread and peanut butter cookies in
a wood burning stove
YouTube videos
and Internet sites

Students: Check with your parents for permission before visiting Internet links.
Growing cities and immigration - late 1800s and early 1900s - segment from The Century: America's Time - Seeds of Change (2 of 3).  Watch from 11:02 to 14:48, and continue on to the next segment (part 3 of 3), from 0:00 to 4:30.

Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island - 2 Minute Tour  (a short video)

Ellis Island oral (spoken) histories  (a video with three short but emotionally powerful accounts by immigrants telling their memories of arriving in America.)

Tenement Museum  (a video about the popular museum that shows what life was like for people living in tenement buildings in the Lower East Side neighborhood in New York City during the late 1800s and early 1900s)

San Francisco, 1906 - trolley ride and street scenes  (a video with rare old film footage - the music was added in recent times)

Maps - Immigration patterns: 1870 - 1880 - 1890 - 1900  (This online historical atlas lets you click on the timeline to change the year, and get immigration data for specific counties / cities.)

Music:  Spanish Lady  (an old Irish song, performed by a group from Ireland that often visits the U.S.  Irish music has long had a big influence on American music.)
Mainly for teachers America: The Story of Us TV mini-series, Episode 7, "Cities," has good video segments about life in New York City in the late 1800s and early 1900s.  This widely praised production originally ran on the History Channel.  Less than $20 on Amazon for the 3 DVD set.  Topics in this episode include:
  • The Statue of Liberty construction
  • Ellis Island and immigration
  • Steel making / building of steel framed buildings / Carnegie
  • Elevators - made modern cities possible
  • City police work (some violent scenes)
  • Tenements & Jacob Riis' work to improve conditions
  • Sanitation and sewers
  • Electric light bulbs / Thomas Edison
  • Move to cities / women working
  • Triangle Factory fire and new safety laws
Dear America: Dreams in a Golden Country  Students really enjoy this dramatization of a family of Russian Jewish immigrants in New York City in 1903.  You can quibble over some historical details, but the overall lesson of the story is very good.  Available from Amazon sellers on VHS tape (Click on "See All Buying Options,"), or as a digital video purchase, also on Amazon. 

The myth of name changing at Ellis Island  An article from the New York Public Library shows that the claim about immigrants' names often being changed at Ellis Island is not true.

"No Irish" signs - did they really exist?   This article originally published in the Journal of Social History (2002) by a well-known historian argues that if they existed at all, they were very rare.

Copyright Notice

   Copyright 2009, 2017 by David Burns.  All rights reserved.  As a guide to the Virginia Standards of Learning, some pages necessarily include phrases or sentences from that document, which is available online from the Virginia Department of Education.  The author's copyright extends to the original text and graphics, unique design and layout, and related material.