| After the Civil War the country
witnessed a change in the makeup of the population. Before
the Civil War the country was mainly populated with people
of Northern European descent; English, Scottish, Irish and
German. After the War immigrants from southern and eastern
Europe began coming to America in large numbers. This new
wave of immigration is often referred to as "New Immigration,"
and it brought Scandinavian, Finn, Italian, Slavic and Jewish
immigrants. Most of these immigrants who came to Pennsylvania
came through New York first, but Philadelphia was an important
port of entry as well. In the 1870s an immigrant depot was
built by the Pennsylvania Railroad. At the depot the immigrants
passed through customs and boarded trains that took them
to jobs and homes throughout the state. Immigration was
an important factor in the economic and cultural history
of Pennsylvania, especially in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.
During the second half of the 19th century, immigrants made
up between thirteen and sixteen percent of Pennsylvania's
population, but in Philadelphia, Pittsburg and the anthracite
regions, immigrants comprised twenty-five to thirty percent
of the population.
Italian immigration is a great example of how the New Immigration
affected Philadelphia. Before 1890 the Italian population
in Philadelphia was very small, about 1,656 in the 1880s.
However, by 1890 the Italian immigrant population (including
their children) had increased to over 10,000. These numbers
continued to rise and by 1910 there were 76,734 Italians
living in Philadelphia. Prior to the 1880s most of the immigrants
from Italy were from the northern regions, but after 1890
the south of Italy contributed seventy percent of the immigrants
due to a collapse of the southern Italian economy. Italy
did not become a unified country until after World War I;
it existed of regional states and territorial acquisitions.
In turn this made the allegiance of the immigrants very
localized, which hindered the creation of an Italian national
identity among the immigrants. Regional dialects existed
within the Italian Kingdom, as well as a difference in religion.
Most Italians were Catholic, but there was a difference
in the practice of Catholicism depending on the region.
The northern Italians practiced a more orthodox Roman Catholicism,
where the southern Italians had a pagan influence and venerated
an array of Saints rather than God. This, in combination
with linguistic and geographical differences, created a
diverse Italian immigrant population. Most of the immigrants
belonged to the working class and found jobs within the
growing industrial economy of Philadelphia. Textiles, metal
products, railroad building and construction were the largest
employers of Philadelphia's new Italian immigrants.
Slovak immigration to Pennsylvania is another good example
of the New Immigration. Western Pennsylvania became a popular
destination for Slovak immigrants because of the industrial
growth and the cheap labor it demanded. Early Slovak immigrants
were in search of jobs, and once a Slovak population was
established in Pennsylvania, more immigrants came to meet
up with friends and family. Word of mouth created a chain
immigration of Slovaks, which was a common theme among the
University of California, Santa Barbara
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