Urbanization of Leisure
URBANIZATION OF LEISURE
The emergence of many, though not all, distinctive forms of urban leisure went hand in hand with the transition from the merchant and artisan society associated with preindustrial cities to an urban lifestyle revolving around offices and factories. In turn, demand for leisure activities drove the development of a landscape of leisure in the built environment. Although taverns, coffeehouses, and dance halls had long offered an alternative to leisure in the streets, cities increasingly offered affordable, first-class venues for a broad range of Americans. By the early twentieth century, institutions of the elite, such as art museums, opera houses, theaters, private clubs and gambling halls, and symphony halls, stood alongside sites of mass leisure like vaudeville houses, ballparks, department stores, picnic groves, billiard parlors, and various inexpensive amusements. Visionary entrepreneurs soon began to make such leisure sites more accessible, safe, clean, and attractive to render them respectable to the middle class. The Great Depression ushered in a time of troubles for many leisure venues in American cities, culminating with the decline of the central city as a social and cultural hub for leisure activities. Although downtown areas continued to draw patrons to a wide variety of leisure places in the middle years of the twentieth century, the perception of cities as run-down, unsafe, and undesirable only grew. White flight and disinvestment wracked large and small cities, especially those older industrial centers of the Northeast and Midwest. The animation of street life that so characterized the late nineteenth and early twentieth century city became confined to morning, lunch, and afternoon rush hours, leaving desolate streets and struggling businesses at other times. The surge of population to suburbia only worsened the situation, leaving many cities grasping for solutions by the 1950s and 1960s. Then, a remarkable thing happened: leisure, especially that for tourists and conventioneers, became entwined with urban revitalization, gentrification, and the growing search for heritage, and it fostered a spatial rearrangement of many American cities. The present-day urban landscape of retro ballparks, entertainment districts, waterfront developments, festival marketplaces, tree-studded brick sidewalks, and smart nightspots and cafés represents the efforts of public and private interests to rekindle the excitement of a trip to the city and thereby ensure its long-term viability.
Despite the longtime existence of a small upper class with the time and resources to pursue cultivated leisure activities in the colonial and early national periods, most Americans enjoyed no such clearly defined leisure time. Rather, their days consisted of a variety of work tasks punctuated by occasional moments of rest and leisure. Often leisure meant socializing while engaging in one's work, whether on dock or ship, in mill or shop, or on farm or plantation. Holidays, feast days, and civic festivals dotted the calendar, affording a rare opportunity to seek leisure apart from the workplace. In some lines of work, inclement weather also provided space for leisure. Until the rise of the industrial city in the nineteenth century, however, specialized forms of urban leisure were rare, in part because the United States had few sizable cities. Indeed, as late as 1840, only three American cities—New York, Baltimore, and New Orleans—counted more than 100,000 inhabitants. With the rise of the industrial city in the second half of the century, leisure became a more important and clearly discernable part of the pattern of daily life.
By the second half of the nineteenth century, the familiar rhythms of work were beginning to yield to the more regimented pace of the urban workplace, especially in mills, mines, and factories. Although workdays remained long, with many industrial workers enjoying only Sunday off, gradually workers won shorter work weeks that opened up larger blocks of time to pursue other interests and activities. For many, the workplace became a venue for planning one's leisure activities rather than simply the place where one tried to seize a moment of recreation here and there. In the midst of rapid urban and industrial expansion in the last few decades of the nineteenth century, leisure activities became important vehicles for coping with the problems of daily life in American cities. They offered escape from the noise, filth, and stress of factory and tenement alike. In the medical profession, physicians increasingly prescribed recreation and play to relieve the anxieties and problems associated with arduous labor. Promoters of seaside resorts in close proximity to major urban centers, especially those from Boston, Massachusetts, to Norfolk, Virginia, played to this concern by touting the salubrious climate. Whether they planned excursions outside the city or partook of the opportunities for recreation within, the inhabitants of American cities were, by the end of the nineteenth century, acutely aware of the possibility for separate realms of work and leisure.
The Social Spheres of Urban Leisure
The Saloon and Working-Class Male Leisure For reform-minded Americans, often drawn from the middle and upper-middle classes, leisure became by the closing years of the nineteenth century an important means of social control through sanctioned events and controlled spaces. Nevertheless, their efforts to promote Americanization of immigrants and a middle-class conception of personal comportment through public events, such as civic celebrations and commemorative events, often floundered when the working classes sought leisure in less-reputable locales outside their purview. Of these, the saloon posed perhaps the greatest consternation for reformers. The saloon emerged as one of the most important leisure institutions of the mid-nineteenth to early twentieth centuries in American cities. Germans, Poles, Czechs, and other immigrants brought beer garden traditions from their homelands, contributing to the popularity of the saloon, which was, until the early twentieth century, primarily a man's world. Married men often carried pails of beer home, where their wives could drink it in a more socially accepted place. Saloons represented a major improvement over congregating in crowded tenements or in the streets and became key meeting places in many immigrant neighborhoods, where they served a multiplicity of functions. In addition to leisure activities like singing, games of chance, and storytelling, one could also cash paychecks, learn the latest news, seek employment opportunities, and discuss politics and union efforts, all in a place that promised cheap food and drink. Saloon leisure provided an important sense of community in a rapidly changing urban environment, especially through the rituals of male bonding through treating and pooling money for drinks. The saloon also harbored both organized crime and an array of social pathologies. Those who frequented saloons squandered their earnings to indulge drinking problems, while bar operators, some of them mobsters, often used slot machines, prostitutes, and B-drinkers—barmaids who coaxed tipsy men to buy them drinks—to separate patrons from their money. Despite the problems associated with it, urban saloon culture remained a powerful draw until the onset of Prohibition in the 1920s, brought about in large part as the culmination of years of reform efforts.
Children's Leisure Much of the leisure that emerged in cities was also divided along lines of age, gender, class, and ethnicity, one of the most persistent obstacles to the advent of a mass culture with larger commercial potential. Children, of course, often spent time engaged in leisure activities with their parents, such as on picnics, excursions to amusement parks, and walks in urban parks, but they also developed a distinctive leisure culture of their own. Scavenging, petty street trade, street and alley games, and visits to penny arcades, candy stores, amusement parks, and nickelodeons separated children from their elders and ultimately made them more receptive to the emerging commercialized culture of leisure that marked the twentieth-century American city. Children played in between shining shoes, selling newspapers, gum, candy, and flowers, and other entrepreneurial activities. Most of these children were boys. Often there was a thin line between these activities and those of gangs. This form of youth culture extended into the twentieth century as well, although increasingly it characterized children born into lives of poverty. Throughout much of the twentieth century, for instance, African American children from impoverished neighborhoods poured into the New Orleans French Quarter to earn scarce money by entertaining or hustling tourists, often with tap-dance routines.
Working Women's Leisure Likewise, women partook in leisure-time activities both within and apart from their husbands or families. While well-to-do women continued to find leisure in the arts, cultural events, social clubs, and religious volunteer activities, working women sought some of the same activities as their wealthier counterparts, notably clubs and religious activities. This was particularly true in many immigrant communities in cities. Sometimes, especially in settlement houses such as Jane Addams's Hull House in Chicago, middle-class and low-income women learned from each other's leisure practices, especially arts and crafts. At least until the late nineteenth century, women shared a general separation from men in many of their leisure activities. As a result of the coalescence of a new urban industrial culture, however, working-class women increasingly found amusements in venues also frequented by men. Extending the boundaries of the socially acceptable, they joined young men of their class in dance halls, amusement parks, saloons, and other places where they could explore their sexuality away from the watchful eyes of their parents. In so doing, they helped pave the way for the rising respectability of urban amusements for women of the middle class as well.
Ethnic Leisure Ethnic neighborhoods, as noted, supported saloons as important meeting places, but they also revolved tightly around the leisure activities that surrounded Catholic parishes, Jewish synagogues, home and family life, and unions and fraternal lodges, not to mention the industrial workplace. Ethnic enclaves clustered around houses of worship and factories, and often, notably on the East Side of Cleveland, Ohio, only these former "anchors" remain as tangible reminders of the lively neighborhoods that once looked to them. As ethnic groups moved in successive waves out of inner-city districts and, importantly, as they gradually embraced a growing commercial culture built on movie houses and other amusements, many of these institutions lost their firm hold on immigrant life.
The Rise of Distinctive Forms of Urban Leisure
The Urban Park Movement A variety of distinctive urban forms of leisure appeared, generally in the second half of the nineteenth century. These included the urban park, the department store, the ballpark, the vaudeville house, the world's exposition, the amusement park, and the lighted commercial street. As American cities expanded, often with quality of life yielding to the relentless pursuit of profit, some Americans began to worry that cities lacked places where they could seek respite and recreation. Although early American cities had set aside public lands, pressure to develop them became so intense that many sold them to real estate speculators, merchants, and industrialists, leaving nothing to relieve the dense grid of streets and buildings. Some urban planners began to work in the nineteenth century to reclaim land in the city or buy land in advance of urban expansion into neighboring rural areas to create large urban parks. For inspiration, they turned to the rural cemeteries such as Mount Auburn near Boston, Massachusetts, and Greenwood Cemetery in Brooklyn, New York. Themselves modeled on romantic English and European pastoral preserves, these "gardens of graves" served both as burial sites and places for urban folk to seek fresh air and scenic overlooks above the city. New York's Central Park, designed in 1858 by Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux, sought to harmonize city and countryside in an effort to provide urban dwellers a place for refreshment and renewal. Olmsted's firm led the way in designing parks throughout the United States in the remainder of the nineteenth century, not only pointing the way for City Beautiful plans but also affording a place where city residents could relax, play sports, stroll, or take carriage rides.
Department Stores The department store, likewise, was widely viewed as having an important social function. Earlier in the nineteenth century, the city was considered unsafe and undesirable for women to pursue leisure alone. Through the development of various venues such as the department store, however, it became respectable and popular for women to spend time downtown, and department stores' all-under-one-roof display and impressive architecture made them major civic landmarks and even visitor destinations as urban tourism began its ascent. Indeed, department stores from Marshall Field's, on Chicago's State Street, to Maison Blanche, on New Orleans's Canal Street, converted these thoroughfares into elegant, woman-centered spaces. Reflective of women's often-acknowledged role as the facilitators of household consumption decisions, department stores promoted a national market for fashion and style. Their use of sidewalk display windows made window-shopping almost as important a leisure activity as shopping itself. They offered a means for women to flee the constraints of household work and socialize outside the home.
Ballparks If the department store was primarily aimed at female consumers, the ballpark pitched its attractions more squarely at men. While organized sporting events such as horse racing, cricket, and baseball had long attracted the well-to-do, the dramatic growth in the number of ballparks in the second half of the nineteenth century increasingly brought in laborers and middle-class spectators. Baseball became the most popular sport by the end of the century and often provided a sense of urban community that crossed class and ethnic lines. Sports coverage in newspapers, notably in Chicago, became highly entertaining through the liberal use of humor, making reading sports pages an important leisure activity.
Vaudeville Houses The vaudeville house, whose performances melded features of earlier entertainment forms like theater and variety shows, became another wildly popular leisure-time activity. Earlier burlesque and variety shows catered primarily to men and women of questionable social acceptability with their seedy, risqué fare, which often included lewd jokes and even nudity. Sometimes they also included minstrel performances with white actors wearing blackface makeup to depict African Americans in stereotypical ways. B. F. Keith's Boston vaudeville houses and Henry Davis's Pittsburgh-based vaudeville empire were among the forces that began to transform such entertainment into something more acceptable for broader audiences. The vaudeville format borrowed the variety and novelty of earlier attractions like circuses and dime museums, focusing the audience's attention on juggling, dancing, skits, songs, gymnastics, and comedy routines, while avoiding anything that could be considered morally debasing. As with spectator sports, the fast tempo became a hallmark of this leisure form. By 1900, every city of even middling rank had at least one vaudeville house, often with beautifully appointed interiors. These buildings were intended to provide affordable entertainment in a comfortable, plush setting that brought the refinement of the symphony hall, opera house, or hotel parlor within the reach of millions of urbanites. Gradually the vaudeville format lost ground as motion pictures gained popularity. Many of the theaters that housed vaudeville acts transformed into movie palaces by the 1920s and 1930s, which themselves ultimately gave way to the suburban phenomenon of drivein theaters.
World's Expositions Perhaps one of the most influential forms of urban leisure was one that aimed primarily to educate and attract business investment—the world's exposition. Patterned after the influential New York Crystal Palace Exposition of 1853, headed by entertainment mogul P. T. Barnum, a number of similar events were staged in dozens of American cities. The Philadelphia Centennial Exposition in 1876 featured a garden-like setting of boulevards, fountains, terraces, and vistas, as did the Venice-inspired White City and Midway Plaisance at Chicago's 1893 World's Columbian Exposition. While these extravaganzas, lasting for months, were primarily tools of economic development, they also offered a range of leisure activities. Fairgoers could marvel at new technological innovations, including inventive applications for steam power and electricity; measure American progress favorably against grossly stereotyped and racialized depictions of foreign lands and peoples; and even enjoy midway attractions, sideshows, and thrill rides like Chicago's Ferris wheel, which lent a carnival atmosphere. These attractions included lifelike simulations of famous events such as the eruption of Mount Vesuvius, to the delight of the crowds. Trainloads of exposition patrons filed into these attractions, making them one of the nation's most visible forms of leisure.
Urban Amusement Parks The features of the midways found their counterpart in the many amusement parks that dotted American cities. Between the 1890s and the 1940s, every large city had at least one amusement park. Traction companies operated many of the early parks as enticements to riders of their streetcar lines. Some were even called "trolley parks." Parks like Atlanta's Ponce de Leon Park, St. Louis's Forest Park Highlands, and Cleveland's Euclid Beach gave the masses a place to seek leisure, often prompting frowns from middle-class reformers who disapproved of the sensual possibilities of some rides and attractions. Indeed, rides often placed men and women in close quarters and then launched them into dark caves that invited intimacy or hurled them through twisting, lurching turns that threw them into each other or plunged them into soaking water. Switchback railways, modeled after coal mine trains, converted working-class drudgery into delightful thrills for all. Concession stands, sideshows, and other attractions lent a carnival feel to amusement parks.
Perhaps the most influential amusement park prior to Disneyland was Luna Park, which opened in 1903 at Coney Island in Brooklyn, New York. Luna Park's proprietor, Frederic Thompson, promised not to offend middle-class notions of morality and refused to allow sideshows and other questionable attractions inside the park. Yet he also cultivated a broad patronage by mimicking a variety of popular attractions such as dance and music halls, beer gardens, vaudeville, and tamer versions of sideshow spectacles. In addition to the typical thrill rides like "Shoot-the-Chutes" and tunnel rides like "Canal of Venice," Luna Park presaged Disney's fantastical journey rides with its "Journey to the Moon," "Trip to the North Pole," and "Eskimo Village." As was true of world's expositions, many amusement parks operated on a permanent basis a venue where the urban masses could sample foreign cultures without leaving the city, much less the country.
Electric Lighting and Nighttime Leisure The dramatic use of electric lighting, while particularly important in extending the workday, also added to the possibilities for nighttime leisure in American cities from the 1890s on. Torches and oil-fired "flambeaux" had long illuminated events such as the night parades of New Orleans's Carnival. Gaslight districts such as New York's Bowery also abounded long before electricity, but they were often associated with illicit pleasures such as prostitution and other vice. The appearance of electric lighting transformed the night sky into a warm glow in which purveyors of amusements and attractions could entice urbanites and visitors with the promise of safe enjoyment. Broadway in New York set the pattern by becoming nationally known as the "Great White Way," the city's first fully lighted street, which catapulted the Times Square area to into a three-decade golden age. Other cities scrambled to create their own Great White Ways. New Year's Eve celebrations began to use such lighting in the early 1900s, and, by 1920, New York's Times Square began its annual lowering of an electric "time ball." Christmas lighting celebrations, such as the lighting of the Rich's department store's Great Tree in Atlanta, appeared later, in the 1930s and 1940s.
The Rise of Urban Tourism
All of these leisure destinations attracted not only local residents but also increasingly tourists as well. The rise of affordable, reliably scheduled passenger train travel as well as first-class hotels in downtown areas facilitated the growth of tourism even in the second half of the nineteenth century. Railroad companies and travel services began to promote the attractions along rail lines, including many in cities. New Orleans's Mardi Gras festivities were featured in railroad brochures as early as the 1870s, and subsequent world's expositions in Philadelphia, New Orleans, Chicago, St. Louis, and elsewhere also owed a debt to railway promotions. Tourist guides also began to render cities into knowable places differentiated by their outstanding landmarks and attractions. The spread of public transit, including elevated rail, streetcar, and interurban lines, was a leading factor in creating a city through which the tourist could move quickly and freely, enabling him or her to focus more on the tourist sites along car stops than on the many often less appealing places between them. "Seeing-the-city cars" went a step further by ensuring that all tourists aboard them saw the same sights in a carefully controlled fashion that left little to chance. By the early twentieth century, whole neighborhoods of cities, including Greenwich Village in New York, Chinatown in San Francisco, and the Storyville red-light district in New Orleans, appeared more and more in tourist itineraries.
Urban Leisure in Decline
By the 1930s, with the Great Depression under way, American urban leisure began to go the way of downtown areas, suffering a period of gradual and then marked decline. The movement of more affluent families to tranquil suburbs like Cleveland's Shaker Heights and New York's Forest Hills Gardens was already well underway and was beginning to have an adverse impact on the inner city. Most urban amusement parks fell into decay and began to close, while many vaudeville houses yielded to "B" movie theaters and burlesque shows. World War II also worked a change in many cities as American servicemen and wartime workers flooded into cities in search of nightlife. New Orleans's Bourbon Street became a neon strip of burlesque clubs, many of which turned to more sexually explicit fare in the immediate postwar years. Likewise, Times Square in New York became a gritty, male-centered area that promised not glamour but both straight and gay prostitution, pornography, peep shows, and X-rated movie parlors. The growing popularity of television also contributed to the decline of older forms of urban amusements by the 1950s. As city leaders scrambled to turn downtown areas around amid growing white flight, crime, racial turmoil, traffic snarls, and enticements to suburbanization in the middle decades of the twentieth century, downtown leisure venues catering to a broad segment of the urban population became fewer and fewer. By the 1960s and 1970s, major sports franchises such as the Cleveland Cavaliers and Detroit Lions fled to suburban locations. Only a few cities like New York, Chicago, San Francisco, and New Orleans maintained vibrant downtown areas, largely on the strength of their business or tourist importance.
The spectacular growth of Las Vegas's fantastical, neon-decked strip of casino halls in the decades after the Great Depression and the development of Walt Disney's city of amusement in Anaheim, California, after 1955 only heightened the larger movement of urban leisure to suburban cinemas, malls, drive-in theaters and restaurants, and country clubs that characterized new American preferences. Malls, touted as new community centers by their developers in the 1950s and 1960s, attracted as anchors department stores whose executives saw the need to follow their customers to the suburbs. They quickly evolved into primarily, if not exclusively, sites of consumption but also provided a new place for youth to congregate on evenings and weekends. Perhaps the drive-in theater offered much of the same excitement that turn-of-the-century amusements did, for it offered yet another place for youths to explore their sexuality in an uncontrolled setting. More recently, the popular Cirque du Soleil, a Montreal-based new-age circus troupe, usually favored pitching its Grand Chapiteau in suburban parking lots or performing in special facilities like Downtown Disney and Las Vegas's Bellagio. Urban centers, meanwhile, seldom enjoyed much pedestrian traffic after six P.M. and became subject to devastating programs of slum clearance, urban renewal, and elevated freeway projects, all designed to stem the flow of life to suburbia.
The Rise of the Entertainment City
Few observers in the 1960s, then, could have predicted that in the ensuing decades, urban leisure would stage a remarkable comeback. While the earlier heyday of urban leisure aimed at a broad cross section of urban dwellers and only secondarily to tourists, new development initiatives focused increasingly on wooing suburbanites to large-scale events at stadiums and arenas and to gentrified historic neighborhoods or warehouse districts. They also devoted more effort to making the city appealing to tourists, adding history- or entertain-oriented attractions to make cities exciting and marketable.
Festival Marketplaces and Waterfront Destinations "Messiah mayors" such as Boston's Kevin White hoped to redevelop their downtown areas around leisure concepts in ways that would increase the tax base and stimulate economic investment. Such mayors often entered their municipalities into highly visible partnerships with major developers, notably James Rouse, who saw the potential of investing in the central city. In 1976, Rouse, working closely with Boston's mayor, completed a restoration of the city's old Quincy Market, once a lively public market, into a tourist-oriented venue called Faneuil Hall Marketplace. Rouse subsequently took his trademark design concepts to other cities, reviving New York's old South Street Seaport and creating a new tradition with the development of Harborplace along Baltimore's Inner Harbor in 1981. The festival marketplace concept often fit into larger waterfront redevelopment plans that city leaders hoped would reorient these areas from worn-out, abandoned industrial and shipping uses to magnets for leisure seekers. Such waterfront projects often included festival marketplaces, museums, parks, hotels, convention centers, aquariums, and sports stadiums or arenas.
By the 1990s, such developments were practically ubiquitous. The historic market concept even transferred to smaller cities that hoped to become noted leisure destinations. If one had no illustrious history or architecture, one could simply create it. In Scottsdale, Arizona, a suburb of Phoenix, developers created a reservoir in the desert lined with a European-influenced commercial center called the Scottsdale Waterfront. However, the abject failure of Auto World, an automobile industry museum, and the Rouse-developed Water Street Pavilion festival marketplace to create tourist appeal in ailing Flint, Michigan, pointed to the limits of leisure-based plans to remake cities.
Professional Sports and the City Just as ballparks offered an important space for urban recreation in the closing years of the nineteenth century, professional sports franchises did perhaps as much as any entity to anchor adrift downtown areas as leisure destinations in the latter years of the twentieth century. Even as some teams left behind crumbling cities for sparkling suburbs, notably the Lions football team's exodus from Detroit to Pontiac, other teams recommitted to playing downtown, and new expansion teams erected mammoth concrete stadiums in the heart of cities. Beginning with Baltimore's 1992 completion on its waterfront of Oriole Park at Camden Yards, new stadiums began to fuse with heritage-based, leisure-driven urban redevelopment plans in a number of cities. In city after city, older concrete multipurpose arenas met the wrecking ball and were replaced by new architecturally evocative and sport-specific stadiums such as Jacobs Field in Cleveland, Ohio, and Turner Field in Atlanta, Georgia. As the availability of a state-of-the-art facility increasingly drove professional sports, many cities faced the unwelcome prospect of having to scrape together funds to persuade franchises not to move to rival cities.
Urban Entertainment Districts Just as tourism promoters in late nineteenth and early twentieth century cities presented those cities as collections of leisure destinations, in the closing years of the twentieth century they divided their downtown areas into themed districts that could then be commodified for tourist enjoyment. Along with sports-complex-centered districts, arts, theater, museum, warehouse, and entertainment districts abounded in and after the 1970s. Entertainment districts such as Chicago's Gold Coast, Cleveland's Flats, Richmond, Virginia's Shockoe Bottom, and Tampa, Florida's Ybor City tried to recapture public excitement about going downtown. Although many urban entertainment districts focused on creating leisure opportunities in places that produced historic associations, many others increasingly attracted more placeless, themed attractions such as Hard Rock Cafe, a popular rock-and-roll–themed restaurant; House of Blues, a national chain of concert venues; in Atlanta, Georgia, the World of Coca-Cola, a museum operated by the soft-drink manufacturer near Underground Atlanta, a festival marketplace tucked beneath viaducts on the brick streets below. Walt Disney's direction of Manhattan's Forty-second Street redevelopment project in the late 1990s and its sponsoring of a new Frank Gehry–designed concert hall to anchor the emerging downtown Los Angeles in 2003 epitomized the corporate move to colonize downtown for leisure activities. The entertainment giant, which, aside from its ill-fated efforts in the 1960s to locate a theme park on St. Louis's riverfront, had never shown interest in urban leisure attractions, had by the end of the twentieth century demonstrated a profound turnabout from its founder's small-town Main Street centerpiece nestled in the heart of suburban southern California. Cleveland's Playhouse Square, a cluster of elaborate theaters constructed in the early 1920s and closed in the late 1960s, became the centerpiece of a revitalization effort that led to the designation of Theater District, even adding Times Square touches by the 1990s such as electronic ticker tapes and billboards and a glass-enclosed ticket kiosk in a triangular park on Euclid Avenue.
Although many city leaders learned the limits of leisure-oriented redevelopment schemes' ability to rescue their cities from decades of decline, Americans had rediscovered the city and once again romanticized its sophisticated appeal. Unlike in the nineteenth century, however, by the end of the twentieth century spheres of urban leisure were far more divided by class and race. New museums, aquariums, sports complexes, and other leisure attractions now carried admission prices that only the upwardly mobile could afford. Riverboat and land-based casinos proliferated in struggling cities such as Atlantic City, New Jersey; Peoria, Illinois; Detroit, Michigan; and New Orleans, Louisiana. These gambling places aimed at conventioneers but also attracted many low-income gamblers from nearby. Virtually gone were the days when one could visit a museum for free or spend a few dollars to watch a baseball game. Shiny new multimillion-dollar facilities afforded many of the luxuries of old movie palaces but often failed to make these amenities available to a large segment of the urban population. This left the poor and the working class to seek leisure in the crumbling storefronts that punctuated increasingly tidy, pastel-colored stretches of city streets "reclaimed" for the advantaged, or else retreat to the back streets, where corner bars, pool halls, neighborhood parks, community centers, and lodge halls offered spaces for leisure. Thus, by the end of the twentieth century, cities had seemingly moved a little closer to the socially segregated spheres of leisure that had also predated the rise of commercialized mass leisure that had marked their early twentieth-century counterparts.
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"Urbanization of Leisure." Encyclopedia of Recreation and Leisure in America. . Encyclopedia.com. (April 13, 2019). https://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/urbanization-leisure
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