Top 10 Largest Cities 100 Years Ago

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6. Chicago, Illinois

Population: 1,990,750

Life was vastly different in the early 1900s when you compare it to the conveniences we take for granted today – telephones, cell phones, cars, computers and the Internet.

Here are some examples that you might find hard to believe, but in reality, were the norm for our ancestors:
• 1 in 7 homes had a bathtub
• Dozen eggs cost .14 cents
• only 1 in 13 homes had a telephone
• one pound of sugar cost .4 cents
• one pound of butter cost .24 cents


7. Vienna, Austria


Population: 1,897,630

The significance of social mores and reputation on society in Vienna during the 1900’s is apparent in several different works of literature. This blooming artistic society emphasized the knowledge of arts and intellectual development. Families endeavored to make certain that at least one son was well educated in order to enter a professional field. It was felt that Vienna could thrive in the artistic field as it had been left in the dust by foreign rivals in political and scientific ventures. The Viennese absorbed the arts like a sponge.

In addition to a constant desire for knowledge, the Viennese culture contained within itself a rigid social structure. Reputation was of the utmost importance as it reflected one’s honor. Honor was incredibly of great value as the tradition of the duel, in which human life became as uncertain as a roll of the dice, was employed to test it. One wished to maintain the honor and reputation of any intelligent individual from a “good family.” A good family meaning, one that embodied the qualities valued in Viennese culture for many generations.


8. Osaka, Japan


Population: 1,760,000

Historically the commercial center of Japan, Osaka functioned and still functions as one of the command centers for the Japanese economy. The ratio between daytime and night time population is 141%, the highest in Japan, highlighting its status as an economic center. Its nighttime population is 2.6 million, the third in the country, but in daytime the population surges to 3.7 million, second only to Tokyo.

The modern municipality was built in 1889 with an initial area of 15 km², extending beyond today’s Chūō and Nishi wards. Later, the city went through three main expansions to reach its current size of 222 km²

Osaka was the industrial center most clearly defined in the development of capitalism in Japan. The rapid industrialization attracted many Korean immigrants, who set up a life apart for themselves. The political system was pluralistic, highlighting the promotion of industrialization and modernization. Literacy was high and the educational system expanded rapidly, producing a middle class with a taste for literature and a willingness to support the arts.

Like its European and American counterparts, Osaka displayed slums, unemployment, and poverty. In Japan it was here that municipal government first introduced a comprehensive system of poverty relief. Osaka policymakers stressed the significance of family formation and mutual assistance as the best way to battle poverty.


9. Philadelphia, USA

Population: 1, 438, 318

Philadelphia became “Workshop of the World” by the early 1900s. It was America’s industrial powerhouse. Whereas New York was the financial and commercial capital after outgrowing Philadelphia in the 1830s, and Boston was the academic center of the world with Harvard University, Philadelphia made things and lots of them. Name a product and Philadelphia made some version of it. In the fashion of its English roots, Philadelphia’s houses were row homes, connected both sides, on narrow streets.


10. St. Petersburg


Population: 1,391, 000

This period in the city’s history was both luminous and troublesome. It all started with the grand coronation of Nicholas II in Moscow, which resulted in the thousands of casualties of the Khodynka disaster, and ended with a horrific war – WWI. However, in the early 1900s St. Petersburg was obsessed with celebration.
In 1902 bureaucratic St. Petersburg celebrated 100 years of the government reforms of Alexander I and his establishment of the ministries.

In May 1903 St. Petersburg celebrated the city’s 200th anniversary. The new Troitski (Trinity) Bridge was finally opened, with the Czar and a church service took place in Senatskaya Square next to the Bronze Hrseman, to honor the founder of the city.

But trouble began to brew in January 1905, when a peaceful demonstration of workers was fired on by troops on Palace Square. This triggered public outrage and marked the start of the 1905-07 Revolution. The events of January 9 1905 rapidly became known as “Bloody Sunday”.


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