City Rising: America in the Early Twentieth Century

During the nineteenth century, when the majority of America’s population lived in rural communities, landscapes occupied the nation’s cultural imagination. As the country shifted from an agrarian to an industrial power at the turn of the century, however, the demands of a factory-driven economy resulted in the growth of urban centers. The arrival of fifteen million immigrants to the United States between 1890 and 1915 further contributed to the accelerated growth of an urban population that surpassed the rural population by 1920.

City Rising: America in the Early Twentieth Century presents prints, photographs, and drawings by artists who cultivated a new cultural imagination in response to the city’s centrality. The diversity of styles and subject matter on view attests to American artists’ mixed feelings toward the pervasive effects of industrial growth. What connects this heterogeneous collection of twenty-six works is their capacity to tell compelling stories about the rise of the city in America and its attendant birth of new social forms, new political orders, new everyday experiences, and, ultimately, a modern way of life.

Erica Cooke

Ph.D. Candidate, Department of Art & Archaeology