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Urban Growth in the Colonies. Introduction. The development of the early colonies was impacted by what was going on in England (Europe) at this time period (1600’s – 1700’s) The Reformation led to the challenge of the papal authority.

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  • The development of the early colonies was impacted by what was going on in England (Europe) at this time period (1600’s – 1700’s)
  • The Reformation led to the challenge of the papal authority.
  • There was political turmoil with the various and ongoing religious wars over authority.
  • There was additional economic turmoil between the class systems in England.
  • As such, the Americas and all it offered provided England with a means to maintain the wealth, to maintain the power and to remain the dominant world force. They controlled the money and they controlled the power.

The colonies provided a new and exciting era for England. They were on the cutting edge of technology with exploration, of expanding their kingdom with the physical land in America and they had the international respect as being in charge.

  • The America’s therefore, were an extension of England. They were the children (so to speak) sent out to represent their family. They were provided support and protection and the family was expecting them to make good in the return investment.
  • The colonist on the other hand did not believe the same as their long lost relatives in the “Old Country”. Time had passed by and many of the people now living in the Americas had been born in the colonies. They certainly still had connections in England and understood themselves as British citizens with full rights (protection).

However. These colonist also understood themselves as a new type of English citizen. They were adventuresome, hardworking, outspoken and brash about their accomplishments in the “New World”. They wanted to be heard and they wanted a say in their governing rules. They realized that communication and edicts from England were slow in coming. By the time the ruling power in England (King and Parliament) redacted to a situation and responded, many months had passed by and the situation was irrelevant.

  • With this new type of brash freedom instilled in the culture and daily lifestyle of the colonist. They begin to evolve into a new type of society.
  • As we understand, the thirteen colonies had a connection with each other through their English roots. However, even the thirteen colonies developed differently through their own personal beliefs, their surrounding environment and the opportunities where they lived.
  • We talked previously about the distinct economics of each region. We talked about the emergence of the slave industry in the South. We recognized the definite contrast between the North and the South.
  • In the middle lies the Middle colonies. A blend of the North and the South, economically, geographically and ethically. However, in the middle colonies we shift our focus to the large urban areas that developed called cities

Urban Growth v. Rural Areas

  • An urban area is characterized by higher population density where many people live and work together
  • As the population began to increase in the colonies then, where did the people go?
  • In the New England area, the religion dominates the landscape
  • In the South, people have different opportunities as far as the land goes.
  • The Middle though was different. Many people had left the harsh religious controls of New England. Many people could not afford to maintain the large field of the South.
  • However, they were intelligent, intuitive and were very skillful. the growth centered around New York, Philadelphia and Baltimore. Seaport, trade and artisans. These people ran the business side of the colonies.

Colonial Cities

of the Middle Colonies


The History of New York City

  • An Italian, Giovanni da Verrazano discovered New York Harbor in 1524. In 1609 an Englishman, Henry Hudson, sailed up the Hudson River. Then in 1624 the Dutch founded the first permanent trading post
  • The Dutch built a little town on the southern tip of Manhattan Island. It was called New Amsterdam and it flourished by selling skins.
  • In 1653 a wall was built across Manhattan Island to protect the little town of New Amsterdam. The street next to it was called Wall Street.
  • In 1639 a Swede called Jonas Bronck settled in the Bronx, which is named after him. A settlement was founded at Flushing in 1645.
  • In 1664 an English fleet arrived. Fearing the English would sack the colony the Dutch surrendered. It was renamed New York in honor of the Duke of York, brother of King Charles II. Meanwhile Stuyvesant retired to a farm.

By 1700 New York had a population of almost 5,000 and it continued to grow rapidly. By 1776 the population was about 25,000. In 1800 New York City had about 60,000 inhabitants.


The History of


  • The Philadelphia region was first settled by Swedes in the first half of the seventeenth century. It was not until 1682 that the Englishman William Penn, having received a land grant from King Charles II, founded his settlement between the Delaware and Schuylkill rivers, north of the existing Swedish settlement. Penn planned a town with the promise of religious freedom.
  • By the eighteenth century, thanks to its fine port and good agricultural land, Philadelphia had become the foremost city in the 13 British colonies.
  • Philadelphians actively participated in the debate that preceded the adoption of the Declaration of Independence and were heavily involved in the Revolutionary War (1775–1783), during which their city was occupied by British troops.
  • The members of the Continental Congress fled to Lancaster, Pennsylvania, taking the Liberty Bell with them. After the war, Philadelphia was the site of the Constitutional Convention, at which the U.S. Constitution was drafted in 1787, and the city served as the capital of the new country in the 1790s before the completion of Washington, D.C.

In 1632, England's King Charles I gave George Calvert (Lord Baltimore) a vast area in colonial America that became Baltimore County in 1659. During the 1660s the Maryland General Assembly appointed commissioners who granted land patents and development privileges to enterprising colonists. Although the Piscataway and Susquehannock tribes originally lived in neighboring regions, tribal competition and the onslaught of colonial diseases dissipated all but a few hundred of the Native Americans in Maryland by 1700.

  • The sandy plains bordering the Chesapeake Bay were ideal for growing tobacco, and a tobacco-based economy quickly developed in pre-Revolutionary Maryland. An area of 550 acres, formerly known as "Cole's Harbor," was sold to Baltimore landowners Daniel and Charles Carroll in 1696; they sold a parcel of this land in one-acre lots for development. These lots became Baltimore Town, which grew quickly in both size and trade. By 1742 regular tobacco shipments were leaving Baltimore harbor for Europe.

The History of