Driven by regional turmoil, industrialization and the dawn of the global economy, over thirty million immigrants poured into America between 1815 and 1914.
Until the early 1890s, the bulk of America's new residents came from northern and western Europe, as scores of Irish and German citizens fled, respectively, from the ravages of famine and the failed revolutions that engulfed Central Germany.
Many immigrants were locally-based laborers whose businesses were felled by technology and globalization. Railroads and cargo steamers criss-crossed the world, enabling U.S. and Russian companies to usurp local farmer's toehold over Europe's agricultural markets. Local artisans likewise wilted in the face of competition from manufactured goods produced by industrializing nations.
Hoping to secure jobs in the factories and industrial businesses that now dotted Europe, scores of people left their homes in the country and headed to the city. Along the way, many migrants decided to cross the Atlantic and search for a better way of life or, at the very least some form of work, in America.
Technology made the journey to America all the more appealing. Until the Civil War, slow and often dangerous American ships handled the bulk of cross-Atlantic transit. During the war, however, German and British companies took hold of transportation to and from America, introducing steamships that facilitated immigration by dramatically reducing the length and danger of Atlantic passage.
After 1896 immigration patterns shifted; eastern and southern Europeans became the dominant groups making the passage across the Atlantic. However, this wave of the European exodus was soon stymied: during the early 1920s anti-immigration forces sparked the passage of restrictive legislation that shut America's "Golden Door" to immigrants until the passage of the Immigration Act of 1965.