Images of The City

Industrialization made it possible s to produce enough food for larger portions of the population. In the United States, particularly, industrialization forced many small farmers out of business and compelled them to seek other jobs in the central city. To anthropologists cities are a fact of life for man. Men did not consciously form cities. cities grew out of man’s need for sharing food and other necessities and the need for communication and recreation. Cities were formed to serve those needs and in turn the cities molded men and women to serve their needs. Lewis Mumford in The Culture of Cities states, “Urban forms condition mind.” Cities cause men and women to behave in various patterns, not always to their betterment. For this reason people have long been suspicious of the city. This suspicion of the city is well represented in the poem “Chicago” by Carl Sandburg. The poet describes the city as “wicked” and “brutal,” full of “painted women under gas lamps luring the farm boys,” “gun men who kill” and are “free to kill again,” and hungry faces of women and children. Yet he defends the city. Inspite of the negative aspects, the city is proud of strong men building a future, “flinging majestic curses amid the toil of piling job on job,” a city laughing through the dust, “half naked, sweating/ proud to be a Hog Butcher, Tool Maker, Stacker of Wheat, Player with/ Railroads and Freight Handler to the Nation.” The tension between the destructive and generative powers of the city reverberates. …
In the United
States, particularly, industrialization forced many small farmers out of business and
compelled them to seek other jobs in the central city. To anthropologists cities are a fact
of life for man. Men did not consciously form cities. cities grew out of man’s need for
sharing food and other necessities and the need for communication and recreation. Cities
were formed to serve those needs and in turn the cities molded men and women to serve
their needs. Lewis Mumford in The Culture of Cities states, "Urban forms condition
mind." Cities cause men and women to behave in various patterns, not always to their
betterment. For this reason people have long been suspicious of the city. This suspicion
of the city is well represented in the poem "Chicago" by Carl Sandburg. The poet
describes the city as "wicked" and "brutal," full of "painted women under gas lamps
luring the farm boys," "gun men who kill" and are "free to kill again," and hungry faces
of women and children. Yet he defends the city. Inspite of the negative aspects, the city is
proud and brawling with strong men building a future, "flinging majestic curses amid the
toil of piling job on job," a city laughing through the dust, "half naked, sweating/ proud
to be a Hog Butcher, Tool Maker, Stacker of Wheat, Player with/ Railroads and Freight
Handler to the Nation." The tension between the destructive and generative powers of the
city in this poem reverberates throughout American Literature. Another major paradox of
the city is the fact that people may live in physical proximity, but be socially miles apart
due to class and racial distrinctions. In the book Two Blocks Apart edited by Charlotte
Leon Mayerson, Juan Gonzales and Peter Quinn, two urban

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