Order and Disorder in New York City in the 1800s

In 1825 there were just over 100,000 people living in New York City. Life for New Yorkers had been a steady, regular flow of every day life but the period between 1825 and 1860 was a time of truly unprecedented growth but a new era of modern lifestyle was about to emerge and take New York’s citizens by surprise. What used to be a very traditional way of life started becoming more modernised and by the end of the 1960s, the New York population had reason to that of one million people.

There were many contributing factors as to why this period of the 19th century was a time of order and disorder. Revolutionary innovations such as transportation brought an immense order to the city of New York. Transportation included the steamboat, the Grid system as well as the railroad. All types of transportation were a huge beneficial aspect of the city’s economy.

The railroads in the 1820s brought a new safe-feel to transportation and allowed passengers to travel to Chicago from New York without an effort of any sort. This was something that was widely recognized as a clear sign of technological progress. Economy flourished and this new way of transportation allowed for many to have jobs.

The railroads might have been considered a form of disorder because of the destructive activity that took place in order to set the tracks and also because it wasn’t a ‘traditional’ way of life and old-fashioned New Yorkers were worried about losing traditional values. Because of this new era, demand for steel was off the charts and it allowed for order in the City.

One huge factor of disorder related to the railroads was the fact that because of this new for of transportation, trading flourished with large trading companies and industries making hundreds of New Yorkers jobless. Traditional « mom and pop » stores dissapeared because no one thought to buy supplies from their stores anymore. These new factories started spreading throughout the city and the working conditions were very awkward for there was no personal Relationship between the bosses and workers whatsoever and workers were constantly being fired.

These factories did however lead to manufactured and economic growth and was beneficial to the nation in the long run. Media played a critical role in the contribution of order to New York’s City. Bythe mid 1800s, the city had expanded and grown as a whole significantly and was now to large a community for knowledge and news to be spread only by word of mouth so when the first newspaper was created, a completely different era of knowledge and awareness through media spread through the city.

The newspaper gave citizens a wide range of information varying from world news, to events taking place all over the city as well as new innovations and ideas. It was vital to be able and be aware of what was going on in Manhattan at the time considering the disorder it was filled with. This new media was a source of comfort to the city ‘s citizens. It gave them something to rely on for information while the city was so disorderly. From 1815 to 1830 was a period in New York history called ‘The age of Canals’. It was very important during this period of order and disorder because it basically innovated what was respectively called the Northwest passage.

This was something that Henry Hudson (British explorer sailing for the Dutch) had always hoped to do. The construction of these canals wasn’t stopped until the Railroad Era. These canals allowed New York city to import and export retailed goods and other profitable items at a very low cost. Like the railroads, these canals contributed to citizens losing their traditional stores and jobs but did help the economy to flourish and an incredibly fast rate. Last but not least, in 1811 the Grid plan was created. It was in fact innovated before the year 1825 but it provided complete and utter order throughout the years that followed the civil war and has been since then.

Most blocks uptown had very similar dimensions and every block was considered a unit to the grid. The Grid plan was a way of fashioning an extremely more modern and easier to understand street system. It was easier for people in the city to recognize where they were because simple directions and street names were assigned to every area of New York city through the Grid system. It had quite a significant impact on business because it allowed all transactions to go smoothly (without people getting lost and losing money over time).

The Grid system also left the perfect amount of space between each street so that everything did not feel like i twas just compressed. It did not seem as though the city was lacking any space, even with all its buildings. All in all, the Grid plan brought order and organization to New York city and most of its citizens are thankful that this idea was put into motion because it has made today’s life

much easier and more simple.