Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 40.djvu/477

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459
URBAN POPULATION.
URBAN POPULATION.

LESSONS FROM THE CENSUS. IV.

By CARROLL D. WRIGHT, A. M.,

UNITED STATES COMMISSIONER OF LABOR.

THE admirable work of Mr, William C. Hunt, special agent in charge of the Population Division of the Census Office, and of Dr. John S. Billings, U. S. A., expert special agent in charge of the Division of Vital Statistics of the Census, enables one to study the relations of urban to country population, and the social statistics of cities. Taking the work of these skillful statisticians and the information which has been collected from other sources, I am able to draw a distinctive lesson relative to congested districts in cities.

In the census of 1880 urban population was defined as that element living in cities or other closely aggregated bodies of population containing eight thousand inhabitants or more. The Superintendent of the Eleventh Census remarks that "this definition of the urban element, although a somewhat arbitrary one, is used in the present discussions of the results of the eleventh census in order that they may be compared directly with those of earlier censuses." He considers the limit of eight thousand inhabitants a high one, inasmuch as most of the distinctive features of urban life are found in smaller bodies of population. According to this definition, the urban population of the United States in 1890 constituted 29·12 per cent of the total population. The following brief table gives the proportion for the several censuses since and including that of 1790:

Census Years. Population of the
United States.
Population
of cities.
Inhabitants of cities
in each 100 of the
total population.
1790 3,929,214  131,172  3·35 
1800 5,308,483  210,873  3·97 
1810 7,239,881  356,920  4·93 
1820 9,633,822  475,135  4·93 
1830 12,866,020  864,509  6·72 
1840 17,069,453  1,453,994  8·52 
1850 23,191,876  2,897,586  12·49 
1860 31,443,321  5,072,256  16·13 
1870 38,558,371  8,071,875  20·93 
1880 50,155,783  11,318,547  22·57 
1890 62,622,250  18,235,670  29·12 

It will be seen that the proportion of urban population has gradually increased from 3·35 per cent in 1790 to 29·12 per cent, or nearly one third of the total population, in 1890. The number of cities having a population of more than eight thousand increased