The Gilded Age
Before even starting this project on the Gilded Age I decided to look up the actual definition of the Gilded Age to get a better understanding of what it was. What I found was that the Gilded Age was basically an era in time in which there was a great increase in economic and population growth. A Gilded Age also represents something that is very appealing on the outside but less than desirable when you take a closer look. With this in mind, and after all the presentations in class, I came to the conclusion that The Gilded Age was a perfect title for the era of time we had researched. Based on the immense increase in immigration and the boom of big business of industrialization I think it is easy to see why the name fits the era so well.
Justin and I did our project on the immigration aspect of the Gilded Age. The research we did seemed to collaborate extremely well with the presentation Caroline and Ryan did on the urbanization aspect of the Gilded Age. Due to the extreme influx of people coming into America the living conditions were cramped and unsanitary. There were no longer large plots of land that could be cheaply bought, leaving many of the agricultural immigrants to have to find other means of work. They ended up working factory jobs along with other dangerous or undesirable jobs that no one else wanted to do. The living conditions of the immigrants were deplorable. The lived in tenements and slums which were very cramped and dirty. The sewer systems in the city were constantly overflowing because it couldn’t handle the amount of people using them. Even though the conditions for all the immigrants were less than desirable many people kept coming to America hoping for a better future. This influx of people represents a large growth in population which directly supports the definition of a Gilded Age.
Economic growth is also a major aspect in the definition of a Gilded Age. We see this when we look at Big Business during this era. This also brings us back to immigration and urbanization. Many of the larger businesses built big factories and those large factories needed workers to operate them. What better workers than immigrants who were desperate for jobs and willing to work for low wages? Industrialization was huge during this time. Ford started building some of the first cars which was an incredible technological advance at that time. However, because the immigrants were working for such low wages you often times found children working in the factories as well as the adults in order to support their families. This brings us back to urbanization because with the children working they weren’t going to school and getting an education. On top of that, these factory jobs were often times very dangerous and many factory works would get injured on the job, lost fingers, broken bones, etc. Despite all of these negatives the factories and big businesses not only employed many immigrants and immensely advanced America technologically but it also boosted the economy. Now that America was making more