The Impact of Industry on Harrisburg

Though the Industrial Revolution began in late 18th century England, by the beginning of the 20th century, the United States became a leading industrial nation. This was especially true for the American Northeast, which was more industry-focused since the country's inception. The city of Harrisburg was no stranger to this process, for by the turn of the 20th century it was a booming industrial center (Barton 1998). While the population of the city grew and prospered, this economic progress had consequences. There was trash in the streets and waterways, bothersome posters plastered on brick walls, poles and wires strung along in jumbles across the city, and inadequate greenery for leisure. As a result, a group of Harrisburg elites united to found and support the City Beautiful movement, which William Wilson calls a comprehesive, patient, and careful popularly-approved study (1980). This campaign lasted from about 1900 to 1930, but the first half of this period was more vigorous due to the onset of World War I in 1914. Paul Beers states that this movement was like "a sudden awakening to how things should be" (2011). Of course, no single operation can result in an urban utopia, and even with the best intentions, the reforms could not benefit everyone.


Rachel Williams