Industrialization is a process of economic and social change which shifts the centres of economic activity onto the focus of work, wages and incomes. During the second half of the nineteenth century, the United States and Canada experienced an urban revolution incomparable in world history up to that point in time. Industrialization brought major changes among people in society, technology, and the North American economy.
The industrial revolution shaped the society of North America into what it is today, a land of diversity and multiculturalism. In the United States between 1860 and 1910, the urban population grew from 6 million to 44 million. The United States was changing from rural life to urbanized cities. By 1920, more than half of the population lived in urban areas. The rise of big cities during the nineteenth century created a unique urban culture. People from different ethnic and religious backgrounds came into the cities and settled down. They came in search of jobs, wealth, and new opportunities. Nineteenth century American industrialization relied upon poverty and immigration for its success. Industrialization grew due to an increase of workers and cheap labour. This is the reason why the industrial revolution brought huge numbers of new immigrants from every part of the world. Their arrival to America brought the labourers that the industries and factories needed. Their arrival also created unsightly racial and ethnic tensions. From 1820 to 1900, about 20 million immigrants entered American ports, more than half of them coming after the Civil War. Immigrants thought of America as a land of opportunity and felt that they only needed to make to trip across the ocean to become successful. The "roads paved with gold" theory led to the downfall of the vast majority of immigrants. They came with huge aspirations but ended up working for extremely low wages and living in awful living conditions.