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The Darkening City, 1850–1920

The Darkening City, 1850–1920

(p.7) 1 The Darkening City, 1850–1920
American Sunshine
University of Chicago Press

This chapter describes the reformers in New York city. The perception that darkness was a problem in the maintenance of morals, health, and property values was growing. Blackened skies had begun capturing reformers' attention, but many still saw pollution as an indicator of progress, evidence that the nation was an industrial powerhouse. Tenement reformers utilized a new language in expressing compelling concerns about slum conditions. Sunlight was a clear concern for urban Americans. Businessmen had decided that sunshine was worth paying for, and natural light now came at a premium. In general, social reforms prevailed in the early sunlight thinking by undoing the slum, redesigning the school, and reshaping the city. By the 1930s, securing sunlight had become the responsibility of the individual, and scientists, not planners, were providing the necessary tools.

Keywords:   social reformers, New York city, darkness, slum, sunlight, sunshine, school

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