Life in the Colonial Cities

The people of early colonial America settled mainly in rural areas and farms. Eventually, by the end of the 18th century, cities became dominant settlements over the rural regions. The cities of colonial America were heavily influences by British; the latest fashions of dress, social ideas, and furniture among other things were imported from Great Britain. As the size of cities grew, problems in health and sanitation began to arise. Throughout all of the major cities, taverns were the common places where everyone would meet.

The cities of colonial America helped spread the European Enlightenment across the Atlantic. This in turn helped create an American Enlightenment movement, which started primarily in the major cities. Cities helped develop the advancement of learning in science, literature, and the arts. They were also centers for manufacturing and commerce, where industry boomed.

The major cities of America included Boston, Philadelphia, New York, Newport, and Charleston. In these large cities, many problems began to surface. These difficulties involved health, sanitation, police protection, and fire prevention.

To decrease these problems meant that the city would have to work together and stop with individualistic ways.

Philadelphia was the most heavily populated, and most sophisticated of the major cities. They had brick roads and sidewalks including street lamps, which turned on every night. There was a regular night watch along with volunteers for fire protection and there were also many booksellers. Some people were unhappy with Philadelphia’s design while others thought the city to be a masterpiece.

Boston was another populous city, thanks to its elegance and in general the manners of its people.

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The people of Boston had many luxuries, such as coach rides where slaves served the customers. Also, the Mall was a very popular place among the people. The Mall was a beautiful Common with trees and paths, which was an imitation of St James’s Park. Although Boston was not as densely populated as Philadelphia, Boston offered a cleaner and more open society.

New York City preserved many of its native Dutch traditions and qualities. A lot of the buildings were built of brick, which was the common Dutch style. New York also had developed into the headquarters of the British North American Army. Many New Yorkers were influenced greatly by Britain, which meant that the people were considered to have excellent manners.

Taverns were the centers of social life in the cities, also called the “principal social institution of colonial America.” The taverns social class ranged greatly depending on its surrounding areas. Some taverns housed the low life’s and poor people while others only accepted gentleman. Most of the pubs were a place for common people to discuss any matters at hand. Some say the foundation of the Revolutionary War was planned in taverns.

Some people felt as if taverns were causing some problems in society. Benjamin Franklin was one of the major figures that tried to limit the number of taverns in cities. He argued that the number of taverns might cause poverty to many of the people and the surrounding neighborhood. However, taverns could be considered good to the cities because they were the closest form of business enterprise in colonial America to this point.

Although in the early years of colonial America, many people resided in the rural areas, the cities became more populated over time. Taverns were a main reason for people moving from farms to the cities. The conditions of the city weren’t excellent, as the water supply was not very sanitary and garbage disposal was a major issue. However, these factors made for the beginning of a new nation and helped form how America is today.

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Life in the Colonial Cities. (2016, Jun 28). Retrieved from

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