• Avani Sood

Romanticization of cities - How did the movement to cities start?

The industrial revolution in 18th-19th century America resulted in the growth of cities, resulting in a process known as urbanization. Since factories were located near urban areas, these businesses attracted immigrants as well as people moving from rural areas. As a result, cities grew rapidly. In newer cities, time became money and convenience was the new norm. City life was complex with a constant motion and a large population that supported a rich culture and exposure to social interaction.


This, however, posed a big problem for cities, whose populations were heretofore limited. It posed a rapid population growth to cities that lacked central planning. Unpaved roads, few sewer systems, and minimal clean water were the results of this hindrance in planning. Cities and their services had a difficult time keeping up.


Urban populations and the romanticization of cities

Ever since the 19th century, cities have been growing at a rate faster than ever. Everyone operates under constraints of their jobs and relations and there are both push and pull factors that play into the reasons why a person lives in a certain place. Convenience is the new norm: mail delivered right to your doorstep, food and groceries not more than 10 minutes away, high connectivity and proximity to services. People choose cities for the convenience they offer, more than anything else.


Fueled by new technologies, the enabling of the building of cities upward resulted in urban population growth. Innovations in steel allowed us to develop skyscrapers, allowing for even greater population densities. Today, over half the world’s population lives in urban areas, and that number is projected to rise to two-thirds of the population. Currently, there are 37 megacities - a city that has a population of more than 10 million - in the world.


The dark side

City life encompasses stressful lifestyles that come as a result of a fast-paced life. Densely populated slums form within the largest cities. Cities such as Mumbai, India do not have the means to support the overwhelming urban population. Over half of Mumbai's metro residents live in slums surrounding the cities, causing health and environmental problems for the residents as well as those surrounding them.


Populations living in slums do not receive access to proper health care, education or housing. These often result in criminal activities due to the discontentment of city residents. Lack of fulfillment of basic needs such as food, water, shelter, and even clean air often leads to an increase in crime rate, proving atrocious for cities.


Concentrations of people have also resulted in mean concentrations of pollutants and trash. Urban landscapes account for up to 70% of global CO2 emissions. Smog is also becoming a common feature among these. Large swaths of continuous pavement prevent water drainage and boost temperatures. Without proper infrastructure, cities also risk having waste – both trash and human waste – causing damage. And with cities across the globe producing more than 2 billion tons of waste annually, that’s a lot for one area to handle.


Sources:

https://www.khanacademy.org/humanities/us-history/the-gilded-age/gilded-age/a/america-moves-to-the-city

https://ohiohistorycentral.org/w/Urbanization#:~:text=One%20important%20result%20of%20industrialization,rapid%20rate%20as%20a%20result.

https://www.movers.com/moving-guides/reasons-why-people-move-from-the-country-to-a-big-city.html

https://worldpopulationhistory.org/urbanization-and-the-megacity/

https://www.vcbay.news/2021/06/09/the-dark-side-of-smart-cities/

https://theconversation.com/movies-and-tv-choose-to-tell-us-different-stories-about-the-cities-of-today-85533




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