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Turns of the Centuries Exhibit > The Land 1880-1920
This theme in other eras: 1680-1720 | 1780-1820 | 1880-1920

The Land 1880-1920

1880-1920The Land

For the first time, more Americans lived in cities than on farms in the countryside. Urban landscapes and industries competed with the old agrarian lifestyle and culture. Even in rural areas, factories and their employees transformed the landscape and the local economy. A revolution in transportation technology enabled farmers in the Midwest to compete with their Northeastern counterparts. Farmers in New England responded by exploiting new markets to survive new competition. Social costs and tensions accompanied these economic and industrial developments. The home and the domestic circle became, for many Americans, a haven from the problems of public and working life. An increasing emphasis on privacy within the home itself provided individual family members more personal space and privacy. Meanwhile, new organizations and new public buildings fostered a sense of community. At the same time, their existence testified to the growing diversity of the communities they served. More and more Americans turned to the land to escape from the stresses of an increasingly complex society. Camping and other outdoor activities became a way for these people to renew their spiritual and physical health.

1871 Map, Deerfield, Massachusetts

See the Digital Collection for further information.

Explore these subthemes to better understand The Land at this time.


Agriculture : Survival and Revival

Farmers in the Northeast experimented with new crops and and exploited new markets to survive economically.


Industry : Transforming Rural Landscapes

Factories transformed the rural landscape and altered preexisting social and economic patterns.

Understanding Landscapes

Understanding Landscapes : Back to Nature

Thousands of Americans turned to camping and other outdoor activities to refresh themselves spiritually as well as physically.

Public Space

Public Space : Balancing Diversity with Community

The many new public buildings springing up in towns across the nation testified to the increasingly diversity of the communities they served.

Private Space

Private Space : Ensuring Privacy

How people arranged their homes reflected a growing desire to provide family members more personal space and privacy.


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