Some things change, but a lot of things stay the same. Chicago gets a lot of mentions in this article.
The early weeks of the Trump presidency have been dominated by discussions of the ethics and propriety of his immigration policies. But Americans in the late 19th and early 20th centuries faced a flood of immigration that makes today’s issues look modest in comparison. Between 1877 and 1890 alone, a total of 6.3 million new arrivals entered the United States. Even more would arrive before the coming of World War I. The total American population in 1900 was a little more than 72 million, so the new immigrants were visibly and suddenly changing the American landscape.
The influx particularly shifted the demographics of American cities. By 1890, some 15 percent of the national population had not been born in the United States. Cities like Chicago and New York were utterly transformed. By 1900, four-fifths of those cities’ populations were foreign born, or at least had parents who were not born in the United States. Many of the newcomers were Catholic or Jewish, and were coming from previously uncommon places of origin in southern and eastern Europe. (America also stood on the cusp of the first great wave of immigration from Mexico, which saw hundreds of thousands flee north during the Mexican Revolution of the 1910s.)