tv Lectures in History Politics and Culture in Early America CSPAN August 12, 2022 3:18am-4:20am EDT
so welcome to our lecture today on the growth of cities in the early american republic a period of american history that i'm fascinated by and i'm really excited to share with all of you today. and as we've already discussed in this class, we know that the early american republic which were roughly defining as the period between the end of the american revolution and the election of andrew jackson was a period of possibilities and of problems. it was a time in american history when many of the big questions about what the nation would look like who would hold power and what kind of spaces and values would define the country. remained very much in question. and so last class we talked about america's transition to capitalism. and we talked about how this economic transformation was linked to changes in the labor market in banking systems in the
rise of corporations, and we looked at how these transformations were particularly affecting for young women like mary paul the worker in the lowell mills in the 1840s. so today we're going to continue our conversation about how economic changes affected america's urban centers its cities and we'll examine how questions about the national built environment and access to material resources like goods land and money came to a head in america's growing urban landscapes both along the east coast in places that are familiar to us, but also in growing midwestern cities between the 1790s and into the 1830s so with these themes in mind i thought we could start off today with a little bit of a comparative story that illuminates some of the ideas that we'll talk about in more detail today, particularly how americans and the early national
period encountered commented on and experienced urban infrastructural growth and change. in 1810 a young woman by the name of margaret van horn dwight set out on a 500-mile journey from connecticut to the ohio territory, and she's going with a few travel companions and friends. margaret was born in 1790 and she was the descendant of a prominent line of connecticut theologians and yale college presidents and she grew up in an age defined by the uncertainties and the possibilities of the new nation. yet margaret's six-week journey west left a lot to be desired the group stayed in dirty taverns, they encountered scores of other wagons making the journey west and they struggled to navigate their route, especially in the allegheny mountains. and if any of you have ever written a grumpy dramatic
journal entry while on a long trip or being frustrated with the people you're traveling with maybe you'll empathize with margaret's words margaret wrote. we crossed the longest hills and the worst road i ever saw two or three times after writing a little distance on the turnpike. we found it fenced across and were obliged to turn into a wood where it was almost impossible to proceed it appeared to me that we had come to an end of the habitable part of the globe. she commented on infrastructure or i guess i should say for the purposes of this class in this moment the lack of infrastructure. roads turnpikes poor wayfinding margaret's journey. west was not great. and she concluded by mentioning. the reason so few people are willing to return from the western country is not that the country is so good, but because the journey is so bad. now if we flash forward almost
20 years later we encounter yet another woman making the same journey west. francis trollope an english novelist and writer she moved to the united states to join a utopian community and then she later traveled around the country in the 1820s and wrote about what she experienced she returned back to england and published the book domestic manners of the americans in 1832. and francis on her journey west followed the same route that margaret did. but this time instead of a bumpy unpaved road. she traveled along the national road the first federally funded road in america connecting east and midwestern cities. and francis wrote the whole of this mountain region through 90 miles of which the road passes is a garden. i really can hardly conceive of a higher enjoyment than a tour
among the allegheny mountains as our noble terrace road the simplon of america rose higher and higher all that is noblest in nature was joined to all that with sweetest and here she uses an illusion to the simplon road a mountain scenic road through the alps. now, what do you guys notice about the differences between margaret and francis's journeys particularly francis's journey what's different here? yeah. and since so much time is yeah, absolutely. yeah other observations. yeah. cause of the national road, she was allowed to enjoy the beauties of nature rather than being frustrated by. absolutely. absolutely. yes, and so here we see how much had changed for these two women commenting on the same stretch of country just 20 years apart. by the mid 1820s the population had nearly tripled to 12 million people from what it had been in 1784.
the nation's land area had more than doubled more states had been added to the union and there were new roads steamboat routes canals. and more all of which helped to bring economic development to the west and spurred the growth of cities. but what exactly was causing this dramatic transformation in american life? this week we're going to explore the roots of these changes and how they took place in america's cities. and we'll do that through the lens of three questions. first why was the early national period such a transformative moment in american urban growth? next how to historians know what cities look like in this period and what physical evidence do they have to understand urban change over time? and lastly we'll ask. how did infrastructural change affect the socio-economic dynamics of the urban experience and we'll begin with our first
question? to understand how america's early national cities changed. we first need some grounding and what these places were like in the colonial period in the 17th and 18th centuries european powers as we know including the english the spanish the french the dutch established cities along the atlantic coast of north america and these were places intended to primarily serve the merchant and imperial interests of european empires. these early cities served as important crossroads for the movement of people and goods. and the colonial economy flowed first and foremost through its urban centers, including things like the slave trade. and as historian colin calaway reminds us european powers were certainly not the first people to create large-scale urban settlements in the americas. native americans had also
created monumental towns and cities long before the europeans showed up. the native american urban frontier was a space of cultural contact and exchange and colin callaway actually writes. he says well christians were erecting gothic cathedrals in the 12th and 13th century europe indian people in the mississippi river basin were constructing temple mounds creating ritual spaces and demonstrating their power through building. and we know that indians continued to visit cities in america and in europe well into the 18th and 19th centuries, they went as diplomats invited guests and of course curious travelers. but with the rise of british imperial power in the 18th century, we see a series of anglo-american cities emerging to the forefront of the north american landscape. by 1775 boston, newport, new
york, philadelphia and charleston where the largest urban centers in british north america, and they had populations ranging anywhere from 12,000 people to 20,000 people. and you're probably starting to see this by looking at these statistics that those cities are forming an important part of the colonial economic experience. there's certainly not the norm for ordinary folks only about one in 20 people actually lived in cities in the colonial period so these were small places compared to the large-scale metropolises that will emerge in the 19th century. and of course compared to what we think of when we think of big cities today. a number of factors shaped the growth of cities in the early national period there are far too many to explore in just one lecture. so we're going to focus in on just a few key points. we'll talk about the market revolution.
we'll look at westward migration and we'll examine changes to the labor market and then we'll shift gears and we'll zoom in on the physical evidence of cities to talk about their impact on people's everyday lives. in the early national period american cities were shaped in large part by what historians have come to call the market revolution, you know, we talked about this a little bit last class and this revolution was not something draw, you know drawn out by bloodshed or by war but rather by innovations and transportation and technology and factories changes to the labor market. and of course accompanying economic and infrastructural growth and though historians disagree about when the market revolution officially started some argue that we should be talking about this much earlier in the 18th century. they all agree that the market revolution fundamentally re-oriented americans relationship to the broader
economy. especially the act of buying and selling goods and earning a living and cities are the places where these changes are felt and seen most clearly so what was the market revolution trying to address? one of the biggest pieces that the market revolution is trying to address is the terrible inefficiency of the colonial market. in the 1700s so in the colonial period it was incredibly inefficient to transport goods from city ports to rural markets. it costs the same amount of money to ship a good just 30 miles inland that it did to bring that good from europe in the first place. so as you can imagine this economic inefficiency would have frustrated many americans particularly people with interest in the economic sector in business. and many people began to funnel that frustration into innovative action. so by the 1830s a number of
innovations arrived to make the movement of people goods and money much more efficient specifically the rise of turnpike's and canals. in the early 1800s congress authorized the construction of the national road this paved road from maryland to the old northwest that they extended a few times in the 1820s and 1830s eventually terminating in illinois. this was the same road that francis traveled on in her journey west that we saw earlier today. and in 1825 cities like new york celebrated the opening of the 363 mile long eerie canal this system of canals and hudson river transport that connected new york city to growing upstate new york cities and towns like syracuse buffalo. and this also ushers in a major migration of new englanders into
upstate new york and into ohio as they're able to reap the benefits of these economic trends transformations in deeper western areas. and you can see on this map behind me here the roads and canals criss-crossing across the country. what is jumping out to you here about the number of transportation networks by the 1840s. what do you see? yeah. well, i would say in contradiction to what we previously learned now. we're able to travel more towards the rule ports such as in north carolina even down towards, alabama, mississippi rather than being tied to the coastline allowing greater transportation and access to people of all backgrounds and demographics. excellent. yeah. what else do you see? trust it goes a lot further western previously now, it's all the way to green bay and in the iowa territory. whereas not that long ago people were complaining about going into ohio. yeah. absolutely. yeah, no more complaining about going to ohio.
yeah, absolutely other things, but what do you notice? what about cities? any any city names jumping out to you? what do you notice? yeah, alex mulatto the course that he's like boston new york, philly. they're all connected by highways but also new cities like chicago new orleans. they're also connected. yeah, excellent. so we have these colonial era cities being connected to one another and a more concrete way through road and rail transport and then we all have the emergence of new western cities. excellent. yeah, jordan. yeah going off the point also now that there's an ability for city to pop up in the middle of the country no longer just along seaport because they're able to travel a lot easier than just through the water. yeah great. great. yeah. excellent. so the economic transformations in the early national period as we've seen drastically altered
people's relationship to western lands and spurred the growth of these new cities that we've been talking about today. and americans were lured west by improvements in transportation and communication and between 1790 and 1840 a period of just 50 years about 4.5 million people crossed over the appalachian mountains to settle in new western areas. and people's migratory roots typically followed one of three pathways and with this movement came the creation of new territories and states. they would move from the southeastern states to the new cotton kingdom of alabama, mississippi, louisiana and arkansas. they'd go from the upper south into southern, ohio and indiana and illinois. and from new england into new york and the upper north and midwest places like, ohio, indiana, illinois, michigan and wisconsin. and at the heart of all of these
migrations sit midwestern cities places like cincinnati saint louis chicago that form the center of these growing trade and exchange networks. but you also see growth happening on the east coast these trade and transportation transportation networks connecting east and west spur the growth of some other cities like baltimore on the coast that really comes into its own in the early national period an urban populations in the united states skyrocket between 1820 and 1850. in 1820. there are just 12 cities with populations of more than 5,000 people. but by 1850 there are almost 150 cities with populations of that size. and as western settlers are traveling they're going with their families. they're bringing their belongings and they're taking things with them that you would expect your typical household belongings things like, you know
furniture and farming equipment, but also in many cases they're traveling with enslaved men and women and i'll just say this briefly here because we're going to return to this in future lectures when we talk about the material culture of the southern urban experience of slavery in the 19th century that that though urban growth brought with it economic opportunity. it was linked to the backs of enslaved labor and that's essential to the story as well that the market revolution and westward expansion happened in tandem and the choices and decisions that are authorizing the construction of new roads canals transportation networks are ultimately motivated by other choices and decisions that heightened america's reliance on slave labor. so when we're talking about people spinning thread into
cloth in northern factories, we have to talk about the ties to the southern cotton economy when we're talking about the growth of railroads and canals not just in the northeast but especially in the deep south and into the new western territories. we have to think and acknowledge the role of enslaved labor in building that infrastructure. so we've seen how the market revolution offered greater efficiency for the movement of people and goods. but how did these economic changes shape the growth of cities and the people who lived in them? now's the time for a quick refresher from last class. so if we cannot brush off the cobwebs from from the other day. we discussed the decline of the household system of labor. anybody want to remind us what that was all about? finally revolved around an apprentice staying with a master and they would learn the craft from this master for many many years so that they could perfect
every aspect of the trade, but that wasn't very efficient. and so it led to them wanting a factory style of work or piecework where one person would specialize in a particular part of an object so that they wouldn't have to be trained as long and things could go a lot quicker rather than knowing every part of the trade in expertise. yeah, excellent. excellent. yeah other things that we want to add to that understanding of the household system of labor and it's decline yeah, annalize summarized it nice for us. that was that was really really nice. okay, so we have this household labor system the system of a master craftsman working in a trade his apprentices and his journeyman living with his family under one roof and as annalize remind us this is a fairly inefficient system and as we see the rise of factories and more and more folks depending on peace work the kind of descaling of the labor force people become
too relying more and more on wage labor. and we see jobs popping up in things like factories and mills and the earliest mills. happen in places like new england in pawtucket, rhode island for example or in lowell, massachusetts. these are places where you can build along a river or a fall line where water power from waterfalls or the movement of a river will be harnessed to power water powered machinery. and by the 1840s we have factories springing up in places like philadelphia and chicago as folks are turning towards more steam powered technologies, and then by the 1850s american factories have expanded well beyond textile mills specializing in the production of goods like tools agricultural shoes clocks. you name it? and this economic expansion fuels a demand for more labor, which was met in part by an
increased arrival of immigrants from abroad. in cities along the east coast and into the midwest and increasing labor force of irish and german immigrants arrive to fill these jobs. and here are just a few stats to give you a sense for the growth of immigrants in the 19th century. we see that 90% of the immigrants arriving in the united states in the mid-19th century are heading directly for midwestern cities where job opportunities are abundant, and they're not going to have to compete with enslaved labor. by 1860 one-third of wisconsin's population for example was foreign born and you see this growth happening in the chart behind me here in the 1840s. you see the arrival of just over 400,000 immigrants. in 1846 to 1850 that number has jumped to over 1.2 million and then by 1850 it's in the 1.7 millions. so that number is really starting to grow.
immigrants from england were easily absorbed into the american population particularly the long-standing connections to the british empire and that history made that assimilation quite easy for some folks. but folks from ireland and other nations were often and count encountering a lot of hostility. and the influx of irish immigrants in the 1840s and 1850s. really alarmed many native-born americans and historians call those people who feared the impact of immigration on the american political and social life. they call them nativists. and nativists blamed immigrants for a whole host of urban problems crime political corruption bad behavior. the list goes on and they accused immigrants of a wide variety of vices everything from undercutting job opportunities for american-born workers to
being willing to work for such low pay that, you know, no one could get a job and sometimes these nativist reactions could turn violent like they did in the 1840s in both, new york and philadelphia where anti-immigration riots like the one depicted on the screen behind me here sprang up in response to the influx of new arrivals and increased job competition. so let's try to put all of this in some kind of context. it's a little tricky to see but who has seen this painting before? yeah, a lot of you have a lot of you have so we're looking at a pretty familiar site from the 19th century. this is john gastz. now 1872 painting american progress. you probably saw this in your textbooks in high school and things like that. and this was a print that was widely disseminated in the 1800s americans would have been really familiar with this image, but it
was also a pretty loaded image. so let's take a minute and try to tease out what we can glean from the picture that you see behind me here. what's what's going on in this image? what do you see? elizabeth it's almost like the angelic figure is bringing light to the land that hasn't yet been settled by like americans coming west and that as they move towards the western region. it's almost like an enlightenment and like a period of knowledge coming to the west by these people moving. yeah. yeah, what else can we say about this picture? yes. picture but moving forward. yeah, absolutely. absolutely other things that we notice in this image. yeah building off the transportation point we see
boats in the foreground. we see some trains as well that goes with the notion that instead of just being on the east coast now you're able to move towards the west and midwest as a whole. yeah, absolutely. so there's one way to read this image as sort of this this forward motion of progress the westward movement of progress and indeed in the 19th century many people did read it as such the figure of colombia dressed in her classical outfit carrying a school book in her arm and a telegraph wire and her other hand is pulling progress across the country towards the west pushing indigenous peoples out of the way as she goes but there's another way to look at this picture and it's one of urban growth and change anybody notice where the cities are in this picture. can you see it? might be a little tricky to see. in the top corner up here. we've got yes mitch. in the east yeah, so they're on
the east we've got new york in the background. we've got this growing metropolis in the background and there's this sense that all of this progress is emanating from this urban police. all right, so we have this image in our minds of a nation in motion a society in motion and from the 1830s to the 1850s the market revolution and the resulting urban changes had produced an american landscape that people described as energetic materialistic and seemingly constantly on the move and these transformations were particularly apparent to outsiders and visitors folks like alexis de tocqueville who commented on the manners of americans and he said each member of the community severs from the mass of his follows to draw apart with his family and friends leaving society at large to itself. so we've seen that economic and
social transformations happening in urban areas are pushing people across the class spectrum to reconsider their relationships to cities but also to each other and this brings us to the second part of our class today how historians actually study what these places look like and what we can learn from studying these landscapes today. so one of the most interesting things i think about studying the history of early national cities is the kind of on the ground research that goes into exploring the built environment and architecture and what these places would have looked like in the past. and it teaches us to really think carefully and really see and understand that change over time that's happening at the human level through things like physical evidence stuff like the city streets buildings and even archaeological remains. and these are all remnants of
how people lived worked and came into contact with one another throughout the early 19th century. and we call the experts that examine this lived experience through physical evidence vernacular architecture historians and material culture scholars. and these are the folks that help us understand what cities look like. how they worked at a physical level and they use evidence like archeology city views architecture and building plans to reconstruct these landscapes somewhat metaphorically speaking for us to understand them today. so i want to take a few minutes today and actually work from the bottom up starting beneath the ground and ending with the buildings themselves to think about how these urban spaces worked and functioned. one of the ways that we can understand urban change over time is through a school of thought and practice known as
historical archeology. but not this kind of archeology. unfortunately, unfortunately, we're going to be talking more about this kind of archeology fieldwork happening on the city streets around us. and urban archaeologists who study urban growth and city development are often looking feet beneath the ground for evidence of human habitation and change. and their discoveries of built landscapes in the early national period help us see what once existed how people adapted their surroundings to new needs and priorities and how these places changed over time. so here is an early example. from new york city so you're looking at a google satellite view of lower manhattan at the intersection of water street and old slip right near the east river not too far from the entrance to the brooklyn bridge. and you're probably looking at
this and you're thinking gosh professor lasso. this isn't really mean anything to me, but i promise you it will in just a second. so what you're looking at here is the approximate location of what was once a wharf owned by new york merchants? theophil act beige who has one of the coolest old-timey names i have ever heard. and beige and his wharf were a prominent feature of new york's early 19th century landscape? and the remains of this wharf? still exist, they rest feet beneath the ground in lower manhattan. and in the 1980s archaeologists went and they uncovered the remains of basia's wharf and what they found looks something like this. they dug up this site and unearthed huge wooden timbers sitting feet beneath the ground and if you just look at this image here, you can see there's the archaeologist and another
one right here up on top of that timber cribbing just to give you a sense of scale. this is huge. these huge timber frames structures beneath the ground. and they dug this up to try and find traces of new york's early national waterfront. and looking at archaeological remains like this one. we can better understand how wealthy new yorkers were able to take advantage of the economic opportunities afforded by the growth of cities in this period while ordinary and poorer people often struggled to make ends meet base was a very wealthy new yorker. he was a merchant and he purchased a type of property called a water lot in 1775. and he did this to expand his business empire. now a water lot is a term for a plot of land that sits beneath the water. that merchants would buy in the 18th and early 19th century with
the intention to frame out with wood and fill in with dirt and sand and all sorts of stuff to create warps new city streets and plots of land for building upon all with the goal of expanding the city's footprint out into the water and we see phenomenon like that's happening here in boston. it happens in philadelphia. it happens in waterfront cities across the united states in this period it's a very common way of building. and we know from property records real estate documents city directories census records that base is building in not only one of the kind of hottest real estate regions in the city of this time, but also one of the most crowded so i just want to show you for a moment what you're looking at here is a property map a plat map created centuries later. so this is from the early 1900s showing you the names of the different property owners who bought waterlot property around
the same time that beige did and so there's his water lot. plot right here so this region is also incredibly dense. over 5,600 people lived on roughly 53 acres of land surrounding bases wharf and if you're trying to get a sense for what that means and you like to think in terms of sports. we're thinking about approximately 55-ish football fields worth of space. all right. and it's important that we consider this density in relative terms. so manhattan had a much smaller geographic footprint at the time that base is building. it was only about a mile north to south and half mile east to west and it had a population of about 32,000 people in 1789. and in when base is building and warfing out this waterlot 5600
people live in the immediate vicinity. so there's a higher concentration of people relative to the size of the city. and this suggests that as merchants are buying up valuable waterfront real estate and reaping all these financial benefits of urban development. there are also scores of poor and working class men and women who find themselves increasingly crowded into the nooks and crannies of these newly built spaces. and many of the public health issues that plagued early national cities were often traced to these exact neighborhoods, especially things like yellow fever. so we know today that yellow fever is the disease caused by what? anybody know? what causes yellow fever? nobody knows any guesses. yeah, that's a human right? not rats, but another kind of test. common to us in the summertime
here in new england yeah is a mosquito it's mosquitoes exactly exactly. so we know today that yellow fever is caused by mosquitoes but in the early national period people didn't know this fact and so they often blamed a whole bunch of possible causes for the recurrent and very common yellow fever epidemics that would often show up in cities. they blamed breathing unhealthy air smelling spoiled cargo. they blamed people's personal hygiene and living conditions. and so in the 1790s and early 1800s as cities are visited over and over and over again by yellow fever outbreaks. we see that they tended to affect the poor more than they did the wealthy. any thoughts about why the wealthy might have been spared the worst effects of yellow fever. in the early national period
ryan their clothing was a lot like more covering of their bodies, i guess and like it was just like more coverage. they wouldn't give my computer. that's an interesting theory. i hadn't thought about that perhaps there's something to be said for the material clothing that you're wearing. yeah tomas they can spend more leisure time. oor not working. outside. okay, so they can go inside. yeah, what else? lucy land afforded them more personal base so they weren't crowded together. yeah, so one of the things that wealthy urbanites can do as they can do today and we saw during the covid pandemic is they can pack up and leave if people are getting sick and they don't want to stay there. they can flee to their country estate they can head up to their cousin's house someplace outside of town whereas, you know the poor and the working class. they don't have these same options. and so when we when we see these yellow fever outbreaks happening, we notice that the poor are not only stuck, but they're also the ones getting sick. so when we consider the
relationship between construction of things like theophil act bases wharf and the crowding of poor and lower class people we see that things like archaeological evidence can help us understand how city growth could create greater disparity between the haves and the have-nots. here's another example of urban archeology from brooklyn new york. this is the empire stores warehouse located in brooklyn bridge park, right underneath the brooklyn bridge in brooklyn. and in the late 1970s and 1980s archaeologists excavated the ground outside of the empire stores warehouse, which was originally in 1860s coffee storage warehouse. that had been home to centuries of new york's urban industry and commercial growth. and when they went to dig out in front of this space.
they found remnants of timber frame cribs those structures used to expand the city's shoreline to create more land. and when they excavated the interior of these cribs, they found thousands of objects stuff like shoe leather metal pieces glass bottles and ceramic plates. what do you think all of this stuff was doing inside of a landfill crib a structure? that's meant to sit beneath the ground. lucy it was all trash that people use to weigh down these cribs. yes exactly. this was all of their garbage. these items were there because 19th century new yorkers through them away. these items had ended up in the trashy of history, and then they got uncovered by archaeologists centuries later. they comprised the landfill that would have helped built out the shoreline of places like new york and brooklyn so in short, what can we learn from all of
this? well, the objects that we pull up from the ground teach us about how people built but also about what kind of stuff they spent their money on and we see them engaging in the world of the market revolution through what was essentially their trash. another way that historians study and interpret how early national cities grew and developed is through things like city views drawings paintings. works on paper things that depict cities in a particular historical context and you've probably seen some instagram shots like these ones behind me here. you may be taken a couple yourself. so we've got our beloved beacon hill behind me here and then over here. we've got the manhattan bridge in brooklyn. supposedly one of the the most iconic instagram places to take a photo in the country. i don't know. i don't know if that's true. but what do we see here?
we see people doing what what are they doing in the urban experience here? walking. okay, they're walking but what's the point of an instagram shot like this? yeah, 20 to capture the beauty of the landscape. okay. sure. what else why would you take a picture like this? yeah, jordan to capture a moment in time when you were once there. yes, absolutely. so they're trying to capture cities at a particular moment in time to say i was here. i saw this place. they're trying to preserve in essence for future generations what these spaces were like and who they were when they were in them. and 19th century americans definitely didn't have instagram, but they did have paper and pen and paint and so we can look at artistic depictions of cities to see how folks in the 19th century were also thinking about urban growth and change. and one of my favorite places to look is that the artwork of a
man by the name of william chapel. who painted a series of new york city cityscapes in the 1870s and now by this point chapel was an older man. he had lived throughout the duration of the 19th century and what he was painting was the new york that he remembered from his childhood. he's painting things like city streetscapes and work a day landscapes. what are some of the things that you notice about chapels paintings? we can start with this one over here. elizabeth it's not like a particular moment in time or like a famous event, but it's actually just kind of a mundane like picture of what that city would have looked like on any other day. yeah. he's capturing very ordinary work a day spaces. absolutely. what else do you notice about what he's capturing here? yes.
it doesn't look like the new york that we think of it looks very much like a small town there's no really tall buildings or anything like that. yeah, this is a new york and a totally different scale than the new york. we would think of today. absolutely. what about structures like this? no, i recognize it's a little hard to see but and here. what are you noticing there? what are those lucy? absolutely, that's some timber waterfront cribbing for wharves and landfill. yeah, absolutely. absolutely. all right. how about over here? you kind of get a sense. this this one's the tea water pump. what does that suggest to you about? what's going on here? what's this guy doing? can you see? you know a little dude here. horse cart lucy is that just like fresh water in a barrel at the end of his cart that going to people for yeah. yeah, so at a moment in time
where access to the infrastructure for fresh running water like we understand today was not as easy to come by you would have water cartman who would walk around the city and you could get your fresh water for your tea. so there's the tea water pump. this is where you could go and make your tea. yeah, absolutely. so we see these in these work a day spaces and effort to capture these cities in a moment in time. and finally, we can study the buildings themselves. like those that still stand around us today like these former warehouse spaces right here in boston on broad street designed by charles bullfinch and this building. you can still go visit this one. it's just up the street. this warehouse would have been one of 40 identical warehouses lining broad and india streets in downtown boston in the early 1800s. and it was built in financed as part of this much larger waterfront development project
that included the creation of warehouses shops like this one and a monumental wharf building called india wharf the whole project was built bought and sold in phases from approximately 1803 into the 18 teens. and remember how laugh class we talked about the rise of corporations. what were some of the reasons why merchants and businessmen were kind of keen on establishing corporations in this period what were they jazzed about? yeah annalize. corporations could outlive the members of a business so before if they just had a business between two people it would die out but corporations could live on through other people and keep the financial success growing. yeah, absolutely other reasons why it was popular to start to incorporate. giovanni there was the concept of limited liability. so basically even if the corporation had some sort of problem or it was approaching bankruptcy. they couldn't go after your own
personal assets. it was just limited to the corpor. yeah, totally and what else other things we like these things today when we invest in corporations. yeah, lucy, it allowed the business people to like return dividends to their shareholders. so it was worth investing in the business. yeah, totally you can make money off of it if it goes. well, yeah, so this is these are things that we're familiar with today. so the same sort of thinking and phenomena is happening in the early 1800s. so here in boston, we have a group of merchants who want to get in on exactly this kind of business and they form a corporation with sanction from the state. that allows them to build the real estate that you see behind me here. they called themselves the broad street associates and then they approached architect charles bolfinch to have him design them some really neoclassical monumental structures for the city of boston. and so both inches designs are
replacing outdated rickety waterfront buildings with two streets lined with brick stores. like the one you see behind me here. and the broad street associates do all this work. they purchase a whole street called battery march street here in boston. they rename it broad street, and then they landfill additional space and they build india street on it. so if you walk in downtown boston today, you're walking on those same streets today. and they start building a bunch of stores on top of them, which i'll share a similar architectural vocabulary. so they're all built of brick. they have a marble belt course separating the ground floor from the upper stories. you'd have a shop on the ground floor storage space above and all of the warehouses would have looked essentially the same. and one of those stores still stands on the corner of broad and customs house streets here in downtown boston 68 broad street. and historians know quite a bit about this particular building
because they went out and drew it they documented it the historic american building survey went out and created these elevation drawings of this warehouse in the 20th century capturing the this building at a particular moment in time. we also know about these buildings because of both inches own records drawings like this one a building plan a series of building plans like the one you see behind me. you can almost imagine, you know both inch crowding over his drafting table thinking about the different folks who have financed these buildings and thinking about where he'll place them on the street and how they'll be oriented. and how these buildings are going to fit together in the landscape. and if we look closely at this document we see that many of the corporate members the men who are financing this project have their names listed inside different warehouses. so here's lloyd, otis. cutting names for all of the last names of the men investing
in this project and we noticed that all of these names of course are male, and this is a feature indicative of a lot of corporate change happening in the early republic the merchants who funded the broad street warehouses wanted these buildings to serve a very particular corporate function. these buildings would be used for storage. they'd be used for business. they'd be used for shopping and office space all under one roof. and this intentionality is a departure from what folks would have been familiar with in the colonial period when home and work often happened under the same exact roof. so now you see this differentiation between a person's home space and their workspace. and as a result of this one of the biggest impacts that boston's early corporate development had was on women. because these prescribed uses
and types of control over how urban space would function particularly around things like property ownership. we're very elusive for women because of things like marriage and custom stuff that we've talked about in this class. many women often found themselves locked out of the different kinds of financial opportunities that these types of real estate endeavors would have afforded. yet. if we look at city directory documentary evidence. we can see that women may have found some ways to resist the real estate development trends happening around them, especially once the buildings were completed and occupied. so these are two pages from a city directory. does anybody know what a city directory is so it's an odd little document. that's not totally familiar to us today. what you think this is? elizabeth it kind of shows like all the business owners in the city and like where they are located and what they do.
yeah, not just business owners, but basically anybody who wanted to could have their name their residents their place of occupation listed in a city directory so we can think of this as a book akin to a phone book before phones. this is where you could kind of go to look up who lived where and what they did. so we can look at these these books. published on a yearly basis in cities and we can find evidence of a variety of folks doing a variety of jobs living in a variety of places everything from merchants physicians hairdressers, apothecary sailors, steve adores and laborers. and one of the things that we can also find is the existence of women. for example, we see a woman named lydia eskildon operating a boarding house at 115 broad street in 1810 and boarding houses were a very particular and popular form of employment opportunity for women in this period because they could run sort of a domestic lodging space
for sailors and laborers. we also know that widow abigail stone operated a lady's boarding house at a hundred and eight broad street with two documented female tenants a woman named elizabeth sears. and by 1821 as this page indicates behind me abigail had moved her boarding house from broad street to purchase street. so what do we make of all of this evidence? what is this suggest to you? when you see the presence of women in spaces designed by this corporate entity. any thoughts what do you think's happening here? what can we? surmise from what we see here. charles and then giovan feel like more often. it might be also i married women which is why one of them is a widow given a lot of the loss
concerning married woman would often be that they couldn't have property. yeah, so we see a widowed woman. so she's unmarried so she has a little bit more flexibility in society because she's not covered by her husband. yeah. giovan. also shows that women were capable of making money if you're a corporate business owner and you're constructing these buildings you want to turn a profit from them. so if you're going to allow women to use them or be in them. they have to be producing. yeah, excellent, excellent. and another thing that we can surmise from what we see here is that there's a possibility that women were finding opportunity in a growing rental market. so whereas they might not be able to buy one of these buildings outright. they might be able to rent space inside it and as giovann tells us have to make a living earn some money to be able to pay their rent and and put a roof over their head support their tenants things like that. so renting in this case might have given some of these women a little bit more of economic
flexibility, they could move from place to place seek a new landlord find a cheaper rent all in an effort to grow their own businesses and support themselves in the city. so we see tucked behind and within these new monumental buildings. are the city's ordinary sorts women like the one you see here who are seeking some sort of access to the newly corporatized waterfront through rental properties. so what are we to make of this physical evidence? and how does it illustrate the socio-economic dynamics of the urban experience? how can physical evidence teach us about real people's lives or the social life of cities and i'll ask you guys, how are you thinking differently about the relationship between human lives and urban space now that you've heard these stories today. annalize a lot of urban life
comes out of the human experience and those types of buildings were created because people decided that that would have been a good thing to create and at the same time these architectural spaces affect the individuals that are living in these cities as shown by the women that had set up their own spaces. absolutely other things that we're thinking about now that we've seen this connection between people and buildings. how will you think differently about this period of history now? well, i'll offer up some ideas from the historians who do this work for a living. one of the big takeaways from research like this is that it gives us tangible proof. of the ways that urban development and change cannot
only lead to economic opportunity for some folks but can also make things a lot more complicated for everybody else. and this is a theme that's been kind of coming up in our last few classes together. this this sort of crunchiness between the haves and the have-nots, you know economic opportunity for some but struggle and questions for many others and we saw this last class when we talked about how the impact of urban growth allowed young women to enter into a waged workforce in a significant way for the first time like when we talked about mary paul and the lowell mills and we saw this today when we talked about how urban property development and consolidation allowed some wealthy merchants to prosper while a lot of other people found themselves crowded and squeezed. and we can place this history that we've seen here today in a long arc of historical scholarship that looks at these questions from a lot of different angles architectural
historians social historians. material culture scholars, you name it? and they remind us that the city itself is a historical artifact. architectural historian dell upton writes in the embodied experience of urban life the abstractions of political ideology planning ideas and personal identities were tested and absorbed. the city shaped an annotated the urban experience and was shaped by it. so there's no one way to understand the growth of cities in the early republic their significance comes in many different forms from the stories of men and women who found ways to make a living in the new streets and new buildings of the early national period to the architectural and archaeological evidence that tells us about how these places grew and functioned. so we know that cities were places of social economic and
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