Since urbanization began in European cities, there has always been segregation, either by class, socio-economic status, political affiliation, etc. In modern American cities stratification is most heavily linked to class or race. There are many reasons that segregation in cities take place, and we will explore the more prevalent ideas of social stratification.
When urban centers in America were beginning to take shape, people moved in droves to these industrial metropolises to find work and success. We studied earlier the effects of this mass immigration to cities and saw the horrid living conditions that people endured to find work. The overcrowding of cities made ghettos obvious and wealth was not directly associated with the masses of people moving in. Through the years, urban areas grew with new suburban towns encircling the city. Wealthier people inhabited these suburban areas with the ability to move in and out of cities at their own will. .
Cities became a melting pot of cultures in a small area. People of the same ethnic background often moved into neighborhoods in which their own culture was dominant as to fit in and feel more at home. These areas are obvious in places such as .
Chinatown, or "Little Italy". Southie, in Boston is dominated by the working class Irish people that came to the American cities as many others did: looking for work, and the American Dream. These social groupings are one way that cities become segregated. This segregation is not the discriminatory term that we usually attribute to the phrase, but the separation of social groups. "The city in the 1920's was often a battleground as various groups within the population struggled for social and cultural authority." .
New laws in urban centers gave way to a new cultural group as well: criminals. Organized crime in the 1920's was widespread; "In New York, Chicago, Detroit, and other cities, big-time criminals expanded in illegal activities into labor racketeering and control of small businesses- Considering the connotation the American Dream held, this criminal activity was almost certain.