Monday, April 17, 2017

New York: Order & Disorder and Swill Milk by M. M.

The documentary New York: Order and Disorder, is about the events that led up to New York changing from a rural to an urban community. Problems that plagued New York during this period included moral depravity, too little space for too many people, and discrimination against the Irish immigrants escaping famine in their country. Discrimination against the Irish is said to come from their bushy eyebrow, tendency to drink, and the competition they offer to Native-born Americans. The producer of this documentary uses these facts as well as a brief look at New York while it was still rural, to support the idea that New York urbanized and grew faster than it could handle.
The various historians present in the documentary gave us a third-person perspective of the events that took place during New York's urbanization period. In addition, several excerpts from diaries of New Yorkers who lived through urbanization, were read by the documentary's narrator which did and didn't give a first-person perspective. I say didn't because as far as I watched, there wasn't an account from the Irish immigrants or the Native-born Americans who discriminated against them. How these two groups saw each other, their fellow New Yorkers, and the process of urbanization are what was missing from the picture of New York transforming.
Discussions about the documentary in class seemed to bring a few new facts about the newly urbanized New York to light. Our class conducted an analysis of a drawing of New York during during their transformation; we noticed that the artist used a lot of red and orange which are usually associated anger, painted a diverse crowd of New Yorkers in narrows roads, and the aforementioned crowd seemed to be in a frenzy. We concluded that with urbanization came hostility and chaos due to very large populations being compressed into a city that cannot accommodate such a huge increase in its population.
Another fact that my class and I learned is that unsanitary conditions and rise of diseases, often accompany rapid urbanization and population growth. When populations inflate in such a small area, the chances of diseases spreading to the rest of the population are very high. Not only that, but the chances of diseases starting are increased when you have a population produce more waste than a small city can hold or handle. We understand how disease can start and be recognized in large part, thanks to one of my fellow classmates whose name I am ashamed to say, I don't know, connected the smell of bad cow milk to popping a zit. An unusual comparison, but one that can help picture the disgusting conditions that New Yorkers became accustomed to living in.