"Through to the Pacific"
The rise of the city stole populations and income from townships.
At the same time, railroads and electrified mass transit began
to connect the suburbs. Small, cosmopolitan cities grew around
the suburbs, along with industrial, satellite towns. By the
1880s, the number of rural towns had decreased by about forty
percent. As abandoned farmhouses and villages began to dot the
landscape, nostalgia blossomed. The small town became an icon
of lost virtue.
The land rush in the early 1880s saw the rise of many western
boom towns, which in the public's imagination were green, abundantly
fertile, peopled with middle-class citizens, and flourishing.
"...Currier and Ives added their voice to that chorus which
sang the praises of the West as a veritable garden, ignoring
the serpent of aridity in that garden...." (Cronin 321).
By the late eighties these towns were threatened as well, due
to a series of natural calamities and a worldwide recession
in farm prices (McDonald 588).
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