Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 78.djvu/390

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many fields, the busy whirl of commercial and social life—but after all, what is all this more than to say, "the fascination of city life"?

There is one condition, however, which has undoubtedly done much to intensify the situation and aggravate the difficulties. That is the immense immigration of the last quarter of a century, particularly of the last decade. The immigrants of an earlier generation—the Germans and the Scandinavians—went west in large numbers and took up farm lands, making an effective and valuable addition to the ranks of agricultural producers. Our modern immigrants settle in the most densely populated states, and in the largest and most congested cities. In 1890, 61.4 per cent, of the foreign-born population of the United States were living in cities of at least 2,500 population. In 1900 the percentage of foreign-born in cities of like size was 66.3, while of the 10,341,276 foreign-born residents of the United States in that year, 38.8 per cent, were huddled in the few great cities having a population of over 100,000. When we consider that only 15.5 per cent, of the native-born population were in cities of that size, it becomes evident how seriously the immigration movement affects the proportion between city and country dwellers—in other words, the cost of living. The census of 1910, after a decade of immigration unparalleled in the history of the nation, will undoubtedly show conditions even more striking and appalling.

The comparatively small increase in the proportion of city dwellers from 1890 to 1900 (from 29.2 per cent, to 33.1 per cent.) may be partially explained by the very slight gain in population through immigration during that decade, while the tremendous immigration of the last few years may largely account for the suddenness of the jump in prices.

To discuss possible remedies for the situation is apart from the purpose of the present paper. A few years ago, when the country telephone, rural free delivery, and the inter-urban trolley began to come into common use, great hopes were expressed that together they would help to solve the situation by promoting communication and fellowship among rural families, breaking up their isolation, and thus making country life more attractive. The results so far seem to have fallen far short of the anticipations. As for the immigrants, a few of the Italians are beginning to take up market gardening in the neighborhood of the great cities, but this movement is very slight as yet. All the efforts of colonization or removal societies, philanthropic organizations, and of the United States government, have produced almost inappreciable effects in securing a better distribution of the foreign-born.

What the future may bring forth in the way of increasing the attractiveness of the country for natives or aliens, time alone can tell. But as long as the rush to the cities continues with unabated or increasing force, it is vain to hope that the cost of food will fail to augment at a corresponding rate.