Immigration, Industrialization, and Urbanization

Immigration, Industrialization, and Urbanization
Ida Mckinley: Economics, Discovery and Daily Life

Skill: High School/College
Time Required: Two Weeks


During Ida McKinley’s life, the United States dramatically changed due to large waves of immigrants, a significance increase in industrialization, and a movement of the population from rural areas to urban areas.  Each of these changes touched the life of Ida McKinley at least to a small degree.  Her great grandparents were immigrants from Germany, England and Scotland; she witnessed her small village transform into a wealthy town; and after her tour of Europe she taught Sunday school for a short time.  At the turn of the century, Sunday schools served as primary schools for children who worked in industry throughout the week.


In this lesson, students will gain an understanding of the phenomenon of immigration, industrialization, and urbanization as well as a perspective of the significance of New York City in the history of the United States.

Materials Required:

Access to the Internet Classic Sim City On-line (optional).  


  1. For approximately two class periods, have students review the websites below to gain an understanding of the history of New York City .  Notify students that they will need to have knowledge of information on these pages for a future project.  Hence, they might want to keep notes regarding where different types of information can be found, such as demographics and significant historical events.  
  2. Prior to class make copies of blank maps of New York City .  In class, give each student five copies of the maps.  
  3. Have students examine population maps and thematic maps available through the U.S. Census Bureau.  Also have students examine maps from the Department of Homeland Security which demonstrate movement of the population.  
  4. Divide the class into seven groups and assign each group one of the following time periods: 1) 1600’s, 2) 1700’s, 3) 1800-1850, 4) 1851-1900, 5) 1901 – 1950,  6) 1951-1999, and 7) 2000 – present.   
  5. Assign each group the responsibility of designing thematic maps which depict the history of New York City .

Extending the Lesson:

Two options are available for extending this lesson:  

Option 1: Have students examine the historical interactive maps by William J. Duiker and Jackson J. Spielvogel authors of World History, 4th edition.  Then working with the IT teacher of the school, have students create interactive maps which depict the history of New York City.    

Option 2: Either in the original groups or in new groups, have students create thematic maps which represent the history of their state and/or community.

Sources & Resources:

Online Books     

   Riis, Jacob A.  How the Other Half Lives.  New York: Scribner’s sons, 1890.   


     Froner, Nancy.  From Ellis Island to JFK: New York’s Two Great Waves of Immigration.  New Haven: Yale University Press, 2002.      

   Rosenwaike, Ira. Population History of New York City.   Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 1972.      

   Waldinger, Roger.  Still the Promised City?: Afro-Americans and New Immigrants in Postindustrial New York.  Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1996.    


NYC History Resources on the Web

PBS: New York, A Documentary Film, Online

Gotham Center: New York City History 

Museum of New York City

New York City & its History

Demographic History of New York City   

Historical Maps of New York City

Population Maps

Thematic Maps

Department of Homeland Secutiry

This lesson was written by Debra L. Clark, Kent State University.