The New Urban History: Quantitative Explorations by American Historians

The New Urban History: Quantitative Explorations by American Historians

Copyright Date: 1975
Pages: 291
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    The New Urban History: Quantitative Explorations by American Historians
    Book Description:

    As part of the new consciousness concerning the history of the American city, younger historians, economists, and geographers working with quantitative methods on urban-historical problems were brought together at a conference sponsored by the History Advisory Committee of the Mathematical Social Science Board. The papers in this volume, products of the conference, represent the pioneer stage of quantitative exploration in United States urban history.

    United by a common concern with the growth of cities in society and the effects of growth on the internal organization and related social order of cities, the papers deal with such topics as jobs, residences, neighborhoods, adjustment, status, accommodation, innovation, and location. The authors attempt to measure some of the attitudes and behavior of capitalists, workers, immigrants, and freedmen, and speculate on the ways in which households, firms, and assorted social groupings cope with changing physical and social environments.

    The essays demonstrate the productive use of quantitative research techniques, ranging from simple enumeration of data in tabular form to sophisticated types of statistical hypothesis- testing and mathematical modeling.

    Originally published in 1975.

    ThePrinceton Legacy Libraryuses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-7101-8
    Subjects: History
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Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter (pp. i-vi)
  2. Series Preface (pp. vii-x)
    Robert William Fogel
  3. Table of Contents (pp. xi-2)
  4. Further Reflections on the “New” Urban History: A Prefatory Note (pp. 3-11)

    The papers gathered in this volume are representative products of a three-day conference held in Madison, Wisconsin, in June 1970. The conference was entitled “The New Urban History: Quantitative Explorations” and was jointly supported by the Mathematical Social Science Board and the University of Wisconsin. It is appropriate at this time to take a retrospective view of the aims and actual products of the conference, especially with respect to the question of whether or not they constitute a “new” urban history.

    The original aims were quite simple: to bring together a group of younger American scholars who were using quantitative...

  5. Two Cheers for Quantitative History: An Agnostic Foreword (pp. 12-48)

    Urban history is currently among the most flourishing fields of historical study in the United States. Its popularity stems, in part, from the growth of professional historiographical interests and, in still larger part, from a heightened public interest in the character and quality of contemporary urban life. The increasing scale of the historiographical enterprise since the Second World War has been marked not only by the rise of exotic fields of foreign-area specialization but also by a disintegration of the older inherited structure of United States history itself. So-called urban history has become one of the principal beneficiaries of this...

  6. Part One: The Growth and Function of Cities
    • 1 Large-City Interdependence and the Pre-Electronic Diffusion of Innovations in the United States (pp. 51-74)

      Modelers of the diffusion of innovations over space, from Hägerstrand¹ to Hudson,² have focused on the processes by which relevant information spreads from person to person or place to place. When approaching such processes in an historical context, whether one is concerned with information merely relating to the existence of an innovation or with messages pertaining to the positive or negative experiences of those who have already adopted an innovation, it is important to realize that spatial biases in the availability of public and private information in pre-electronic environments were very pronounced by modern standards. Consequently, although a depiction of...

    • 2 Growth of the Central Districts in Large Cities (pp. 75-109)

      Since the publication of Murphy and Vance’s studies of the American Central Business District (CBD) in 1955¹ there has been a spate of descriptions of the present-day central business district.² These studies applied the methods of delimitation and analysis developed by Murphy and Vance, and answered their call for a testing and application of their methods in cities outside the United States and in the various regions of the United States. But in all this work there have been some notable omissions. First, the central district of the large city, particularly in America, has been neglected.³ Second, and more important,...

    • 3 Urban Deconcentration in the Nineteenth Century: A Statistical Inquiry (pp. 110-142)

      “Escape,” suggest the advertisements. “Escape from cities too big, too polluted, too strident to call home.” Find a new serenity in Druid Hills, or Scarborough Manor, or Houston Estates. Across the length and breadth of the land, the appeal is repeated every week, and with noticeable effectiveness. In 1970, the Census Bureau announced that suburbanites had become the largest single element in the American population, and predictions for the 1980s uniformly assert that the pattern will continue. Whether one regards low-density developments as “sloburbs” or as the hope of the future, there can be little doubt but that “spread city”...

  7. Part Two: Accommodations to the Urban Environment
    • 4 Patterns of Residence in Early Milwaukee (pp. 145-183)

      Long before “ecology” became a popular catchword, and well before human ecologists began charting the social space of the American urban environment, Americans of all classes could hardly escape an awareness of the varying social characters of city neighborhoods. An early settler recalled that in Milwaukee, “while the upper and eastern part of the [first] ward, known as Yankee Hill, was the residence district of the better conditioned the lower part … was the home of the mechanic, the laborer, the shopkeeper, and the small manufacturer … in the main German-born…. That portion lying to the south of the hill...

    • 5 Urban Blacks in the South, 1865–1920: An Analysis of Some Quantitative Data on Richmond, Savannah, New Orleans, Louisville, and Birmingham (pp. 184-204)

      For at least a century after 1820 a series of influential observers of Negro life in America contended that cities did not provide an environment congenial to blacks. Negroes who left the countryside, it was felt, would either stagnate, regress, or develop into a permanent and chronically tumultuous, undifferentiated, and criminally inclined mass. This attitude was explicit in the writings of Charles C. Jones and Daniel Drake, both of whom were close students of southern cities in the ante-bellum years, and the same idea forms a central theme in Professor Richard C. Wade’s study of urban slavery in the south.¹...

    • 6 Fundamentalism and Urbanization: A Quantitative Critique of Impressionistic Interpretations (pp. 205-228)

      “Heave an egg out of a Pullman window,” wrote H. L. Mencken during the 1920s, and you will hit a fundamentalist anywhere in the United States today.”¹ Social and religious historians have not quite accepted Mencken’s overstatement, but it does stand as a fair summary of the current state of scholarly understanding of the religious climate of the 1920s. Norman Furniss has shown the effects of the movement on leading denominational assemblies, and Louis Gasper has suggested that fundamentalism was strong enough to rise out of the ashes of the humiliation of Dayton, Tennessee, and form new national alliances in...

  8. Part Three: Economic Analysis of Urban-Historical Phenomena
    • 7 Urbanization and Slavery: The Issue of Compatibility (pp. 231-246)

      The American plantation slave population grew steadily from its inception until its forced demise with the close of the Civil War. But its urban counterpart reached a peak in its growth sometime between 1830 and 1850 and declined during its last decade. Some cities showed a weakening in their slave populations earlier, and a few declined throughout the forty-year period, 1820 to 1860. Many historians and students of the ante-bellum period have tried to discover the cause for this decline and, in general, their answers have been quite similar. It seemed obvious to them that slavery could flourish only in...

    • 8 Urbanization and Inventiveness in the United States, 1870–1920 (pp. 247-259)

      This chapter seeks to illuminate the causes of invention in the United States during the half century after 1870. In recent years economists have attempted to explain invention by reviving and elaborating upon the idea that inventive activity is essentially aneconomicendeavor which varies directly with its expected rate of return. The present analysis extends the expected-profitability model in a new direction by taking into account the costs of information and by relating those costs to the locational distribution of the population between the countryside and the cities. The major empirical finding is that urbanization and inventiveness (inventions per...

    • 9 Firm Location and Optimal City Size in American History (pp. 260-273)

      Our purpose in this section is to construct a theory of plant location which may be used to explain city growth patterns over long historical time periods. This interest stems from our earlier work on nineteenth-century urbanization in the American northeast.¹ The analytical framework developed here is meant to apply to economic systems which have already experienced extensive industrialization, where labor mobility is sufficient to satisfy the usual neoclassical assumptions of approximate real-wage equalization, and where urban systems are sufficiently large and complex to require firms to purchase significant inputs of energy, transport, warehousing, education, etc., services. Thus, the model...

  9. The Contributors (pp. 274-276)
  10. Index of Names and Places (pp. 277-284)
  11. Back Matter (pp. 285-285)


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