American Cities Just As American Term Paper

Excerpt from Term Paper :

The development of the American automobile industry is one of the best examples of this interplay: "Unlike European manufacturers, who concentrated on expensive motorcars for the rich, American entrepreneurs early turned to economical vehicles that could be mass-produced," (Jackson 159). The fact that so many Americans then became capable of purchasing a car both fed the notion of the American dream, and also served to expand American cities and suburbs; people who could afford to commute were not forced to live in the stifling and often impoverished inner-city. This trend tended to make inner cities in America decreasingly desirable places to live. Yet, in places like New York, with the creation of central park, wealthy neighborhoods came to crowd around such desirable locations and push the impoverished sects of society away: "By the time the park's founding generation passed away, the political, aesthetic, and cultural unity they valued had already fragmented," (Rosenzweig 374). Essentially, the profit-driven nature of the American economy served to bring about new inequalities in places where equality and opportunities for the masses had been the original purpose.

The most pervasive of these emergent ideologies shaping the landscape of America is the notion of the American dream. The American dream essentially signifies the notion that hard work and determination can eventually provide anyone with what they desire for survival -- through it, the United States is the land of opportunity. America is one of the first places in the history of civilization in which the concept that everyone can make something of themselves has been prevalent -- that an individual can start with nothing, and end up with everything through diligence and determination. In fact, the promises of equal opportunity and upward mobility are some of the most significant reasons why Europeans and Asians migrated to America in the first status quo, and lends credibility to the successes or failures of the individual: it makes the individual the only one responsible for their successes or failure. However, inherent restraints upon success are evident in America -- in the demographics of our jobs, the configuration of our government, and the nature of our educational system. These structural restraints tend to also support the status quo, and additionally, amplify its consequences. The perpetual survival of inequality in the United States makes the question of whether or not it has lived up to its expectations is an almost unquestionable "no." Nevertheless, undeniable strides have been made in the direction of equality.

To some extent, this blindness or indifference concerning the current trends of inequality can be attributed to the past two centuries of American history. Specifically, many people within the United States tend to look back at our most tangible achievements in the name of equality -- emancipation and the civil rights movement -- and make the erroneous conclusion that America is the land of opportunity, instead of the more reasonable belief that America can become the land of opportunity. In other words, the understanding of the American dream as a reality rather than a goal is the major ideological blinding factor in modern American society. Undeniably, the past two centuries have brought this nation closer to its philosophical dreams, but they remain just that -- dreams. They may never be reached, but we should never cease in out pursuit of them.

References

Cronon, William. 1991. Nature's metropolis: Chicago and the great West. New York: W.W. Norton and Company.

Kenneth M. Jackson. 1985. Crabgrass Frontier: The suburbanization of the United States. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Rosenzweig, Roy and Elizabeth Blackmar. 1992. The park and the people: A history of Central Park.…

Sources Used in Documents:

References

Cronon, William. 1991. Nature's metropolis: Chicago and the great West. New York: W.W. Norton and Company.

Kenneth M. Jackson. 1985. Crabgrass Frontier: The suburbanization of the United States. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Rosenzweig, Roy and Elizabeth Blackmar. 1992. The park and the people: A history of Central Park. Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press.

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