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People, Urbanization of America

The early United States was predominately rural. According to the 1790 census, 95 percent of the population lived in the countryside. The 5 percent of Americans living in urban areas (places with more than 2,500 persons) lived mostly in small villages. Only Philadelphia, New York, and Boston had more than 15,000 inhabitants. The South was almost completely rural. After 1830 the urban areas of the country grew more rapidly than the rural areas. By 1890 industrialization had produced substantial growth in cities, and 35 percent of Americans lived in urban areas, mostly in the northern half of the United States. The South remained rural, except for New Orleans and a few smaller cities. The number of Americans living in cities did not surpass the number in rural areas until 1920. By the 1990s three out of four Americans lived in an urban setting, and since World War II the southern half of the country has become increasingly urbanized, particularly in Texas, Arizona, and the states along the eastern seaboard.

 

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