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Cities in the United States’ History Term Paper

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Environmental Protection, Historic Preservation, and Gentrification

Key Values and Ideals

After decades of environmental pollution and degradation, Americans decided to revitalize their approach towards environmental protection during the beginning of the second half of the twentieth century (Bryant and McGee 46). From district headquarters to national levels, government sectors of America merged and combined their efforts towards protecting the environment using environmental protection policies, gentrification approaches, and historic preservation strategies. Environmental protection refers to strategies used in safeguarding the natural environment from any physical harm to benefit humans and other inhabitants. Comparatively, gentrification is the process by which wealthy individuals or inhabitants migrate to uninhabited areas and dominate with a view of making a socioeconomic impact (Bryant and McGee 47). Historic preservation comprises private or public efforts tailored towards preserving and restoring historical land features, artistic values on the landscape, and cultural dimensions of land inhabited. All these movements had specific aims and ideal values towards the planning of urban space.

The greatest aim of revitalizing the urban landscape was to provide a favorable human environment where people could manage to dwell in clean towns, enjoy infrastructural growth, and live in a natural atmosphere (Bryant and McGee 51). The three movements, namely, environmental protection, historic preservation, and gentrification, had key values and ideals for urban development in America. A key-value associated with the historic preservation of the American urban landscape was to meet the preservation challenges that hampered the promotion, protection, and development of a sustainable urban environment with cultural picturesque. Historic preservation through maintenance of cultural land elements, artistic landscape features, and other historical artifacts in modern urban design hinged upon the aim of providing balanced modern development of towns (Bryant and McGee 53). Historic preservation also aimed to protect cultural values, while providing tenancy, leadership, and education aimed to promote socioeconomic equality.

The gentrification approach has almost similar values and ideals with historic preservation and environmental protection movements towards the urbanization process and human welfare. When wealthy investors moved into uninhabited local areas and renovated the housing systems into modern urban planning, the socioeconomic statuses of these remote areas changed (Bryant and McGee 62). Gentrification movement aimed at improving the living standards of people within local suburbs, renovating countryside areas into urban zones, and providing sustainable urban development. Similarly, environmental protection is the movement that generally targeted to improve human and animal lives through the protection of marine life, air and water resources, and wildlife or other components of flora and fauna (Bryant and McGee 100). Such perception means that the three movements typically aimed at providing the urban environment, which promoted environmental protection, socioeconomic equality, respect to the cultural landscape, and maintenance of prehistoric artifacts.

Benefits to Urban Development

The three movements aimed at promoting sustainable urban growth that respects human welfare, socioeconomic equity, wildlife preservation, maintenance of air and water quality, and sustenance of cultural values, including preservation of historical artifacts, was beneficial to urban development (Bryant and McGee 113). The beneficial aspect of urban development is the effort of these movements in enabling robust economic development that seemed essential to modern living. Well-maintained prehistoric urban artifacts, buildings, and places were sources of revenues as they offered tourism sites that provided employment opportunities to residents. According to Bryant and McGee, urban planning resulted in the attraction of corporate investors, business tycoons, and multinational companies to invest in America and provide economic growth opportunities (47). Investors, who set up businesses in the United States like real estate business or sustainable atmosphere due to the attraction by the growth of tourism provided employment opportunities to American workers.

The booming real estate business prompted businesspersons to migrate into America in search of commercial spaces to operate their businesses, which subsequently generated revenues to the government through the taxation process. The improved infrastructure that eased transport made it easy for internal and cross border trade to operate effectively. Bryant and McGee note that trade, tourism, industries, and real estate businesses provided substantial sources of income, which emanated from proper environmental protection, gentrification, and historic preservation measures (57). Urban pioneers financed urbanely renovated buildings, concrete skyscrapers, prestigious offices, commercial buildings, and residential space that attracted wealthy city dwellers, who acted as sources of employment and government revenues. Bryant and McGee (73) state that despite bringing lucrative benefits to the economic expansion of America, the movements that aimed at providing sustainable urban planning prompted several criticisms regarding equitable human survival.

The three movements towards urban growth resulted in socioeconomic inequalities, and thus, proving challenging to low-income earners in America. These movements are sources of displacement of economically weak persons. Bryant and McGee assert that “displacement of long-time and low- and moderate-income neighborhood residents by middle- to upper-income newcomers occurs as rehabilitation fever sweeps across a quaint neighborhood” (52). Business tycoons gradually convert affordable rental houses to luxurious bungalows, condominiums, or large commercial and residential houses only meant for upper-class dwellers. The conversion means that newcomers displaced and replaced the minorities with low income and unemployed persons, who were original inhabitants (Bryant and McGee 62). The cost of urban maintenance exceeded urban planning as industrial sewage treatment, protection of minority rights, national security, wildlife conservation, mitigation of air pollution, and maintenance of city population proved to be very costly.

Different ways Americans regulated, imagined and traversed their cities in the 20th century

Migration and immigration wave of activities in the United States are amongst the most remarkable moments of the American history that made America receive a new name as a state of immigrants. Historically known as the city of gold and good life fortunes, the United States urban history in the 20th century initially began with these two major assumptions (Martin and Midgley 4). After immigrants took positions within certain regions and borders, a new wave of immigration suddenly began at the end of the 19th century, when urban planning and development started dominating major cities. According to Martin and Midgley, even after the invasion of immigrants into regions of America, the United States remained predominately rural until when residential and commercial electrification heightened within towns (10). Urban industrialization and urban city planning created room for Americans to leave their rural suburbs and began rural-urban migration.

Industrialization and urban planning was probably the major cause of emigration movements that Americans practiced during the 20th century. While agricultural labor demand in the rural areas decreased dramatically, urban planning and integration of modern industries acted as a rapid source of economic growth in the United States and consequently stimulated rural-urban migration (Martin and Midgley 7). The pace of rural development during the 20th century was comparatively low as casual agricultural jobs in the rural suburbs decreased tremendously, and subsequently forced people to traverse urban centers in search of industrial vacancies. Teitz and Chapple state that the American city planners during the second half of the twentieth century had started discovering means of structuring, planning, and constructing urban cities and towns (35). The designs would accommodate the economic and business needs of city dwellers, merchants, and upcoming businesspersons.

As residential electrification continued to be slow within the rural centers of America and people discovered the new opportunities that industrialization and urban planning had provided, the quest for rural-urban migration enhanced (Teitz and Chapple 33). Early technologies and discoveries of new construction techniques, which involved the use of steel frames, concrete, and iron, as new technologies of building impelled people to admire the urban planning. The condition of farming in the local suburbs was worsening as unpredictable climate, atmospheric imbalances, and natural catastrophes discouraged farming, especially within the southern parts of America (Teitz and Chapple 43). A typical situation that explains the cause of the 20th-century urban migration was the plight of the poor Black American farmers, whose urban exodus marked an important part of African American history. The Blacks occupied parts of South America, where farming gradually dwindled.

The 20th century in America saw the nation divided into two distinct parts of agricultural and industrial activities. The northern part grew industrially, while the rural southern regions of the poor minorities struggled to pursue agriculture. According to Martin and Midgley, peasant farmers within South America experienced remarkable farming challenges such as falling prices of commercial crops, droughts, floods, and discrimination during the period of 1910-1915 (15). The Southerners faced discrimination from the regime of Jim Crow, which imposed laws of segregating African Americans on basic amenities such as schools, hospitals, railroads, restaurants, and hotel services (Martin and Midgley 19). The literacy test laws, which were preconditions for African Americans to qualify for voting exercise, hampered the efforts of them from exercising their political rights of voting. During this era, the northern industries were performing incredibly with a great economic boom.

When it approached the 1930s, Europe was increasingly making demands for weaponry goods from America that seemed to have gained an economic stance in its northern cities compared to other neighboring nations (Teitz and Chapple 38). The demand for labor augmented in the economically stable northern industries that could no longer rely on either natives or Europeans for labor fulfillment. The African Americans, Spanish Americans, Latinos, and other minority communities saw the need to traverse the northern cities and explore the vacant work opportunities that the northern industries offered (Teitz and Chapple 51). Comparatively, while farm laborers could only make between 50 cents to $2 as their daily wages, workers employed in the booming northern industries could lucratively make about $2 to $5 as their daily wages.

Omaha was a northern city that experienced dramatic urban and industrial growth. From a small population of Blacks in the 1900s relative to thousands of Whites, who occupied Omaha, the number grew to thousands of Blacks, who fled their devastating south to seek employment in the northern regions (Martin and Midgley 32). The White industrial workers had discovered the demand for a skilled workforce, and they started demanding better wages through their organized unions. New immigrants to the urbanized and industrialized North America, including most of the minority communities, became excited with such developments as companies noticed that these groups were finally willing to become replacement workers (Martin and Midgley 41). The recruitment laws tailored against minority groups in the southern parts of American became ineffective in the northern industrialized zone, where labor demands were incessant. Conclusively, the economic pressure that urban planning and industrialization brought to America was significant to explain the rural-urban movements of Americans.

Works Cited

Bryant, Donald and Henry McGee. “Gentrification and the Law: Combating Urban Displacement.” Journal of Urban and Contemporary Law 25.1(1983):46-65. Print.

Martin, Philip and Elizabeth Midgley. “Immigration: Shaping and Reshaping America.” Population Bulletin 58.2 (2003): 1-44. Print.

Teitz, Michael, and Karen Chapple. “The Causes of Inner-City Poverty: Eight Hypotheses in Search of Reality.” A Journal of Policy Development and Research 3.3 (1998): 33-70. Print.

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