Urbanization and Urban Problems

Five major population shifts that have affected urbanization and urban problems in the U.S.

1. Rural to Urban Migration: Industrialization of cities from the 1700s to the mid-1800s attracted young men and women from rural areas to urban centers in the Northeast.

2. European Immigration: The massive wave of immigrants from Europe from the mid-1800s to the 1920s contributed to explosive growth of urban areas in the U.S.
3. African Americans from the Rural South to the Urban North: The "Great Migration" of African Americans to cities in the Northeast and Midwest was spurred by racial oppression in the South during the Jim Crow era.
4. Suburbanization: Following World War II, the availability of affordable suburban housing and the construction of freeways and the interstate highway system led to a major shift of the white population to suburban areas.
5. Snowbelt to Sunbelt Migration: From the mid-20th Century onward, the Southern and Western regions of the U.S. have experienced rapid urban growth as jobs and people migrated from the Northeast and Midwest.
U.S. Population in Millions and Growth by Region, 1970-2000
Region of the U.S.
1970
1980

1970-80 Increase

1990
1980-90 Increase
2000
1990-00 Increase
Northeast
49.1
49.1
0.2%
50.8
3.4%
53.6
5.5%
Midwest
56.6
58.7
4.0%
59.7
1.4%
64.4
7.9%
South
62.8
75.4
20.0%
85.4
13.4%
100.2
17.3%
West
34.8
43.3
23.9%
52.8
22.3%
63.2
19.7%
Florida
6.8
9.7
43.5%
12.9
32.7%
16.0
23.5%
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