Jeopardy question of the day

by on November 5, 2011 at 4:12 pm in History | Permalink

Watson, where are you?  This is a toughie:

This city, for a while in the 1920s, exceeded New York as the world’s #1 locale for absorbing immigrants.

Answer is here (do try to guess first), and I’ll mention my source soon.  A lot of the immigrants came from here.

1 John Payne November 5, 2011 at 4:47 pm

I can safely say I would not have gotten that.

2 Name Nomad November 5, 2011 at 4:48 pm

I guessed Sao Paulo or Rio de Janeiro. I can safely say that the correct one would not have been in my top ten… or hundred.

3 Rahul November 5, 2011 at 5:45 pm

Ha! I guessed Sao Paulo too.

4 DK November 5, 2011 at 10:03 pm

Funny, Sao Paolo was my guess too and I would have never ever guessed Rangoon.

5 Bill November 5, 2011 at 4:51 pm

This is a great example of why you should not use Google to find an answer because their algorithms are partially based on frequency.

6 Bill November 5, 2011 at 6:07 pm

It’s always good to look at how others gather the primary source data and its limitations:

“The primary immigration data sought was the percentage of foreign-born at the urban level. Collecting this data proved challenging because there is no centralized database for comparing global urban data. Most countries collect foreign-born data, but may report it only at the national level.4 First, we utilized the collections at the US Census International Program Center Library outside Washington DC, which houses official government census publications from countries around the world. We accessed United Nations Population Division immigration databases as well, although all of this data was at the country level.5 This has been a long-standing challenge to urban immigration work: most of the comparative data is at the country level, despite the fact that most immigrants migrate to cities. In the second phase of data collection, we sought data from official government websites.6 Increasingly, government agencies are making data available through the internet, and during 2003 we found more and more developing countries making data available in this format. In all cases, we used the most recent available data to rank cities, but the data do range from the mid-1990s to 2002. Once the data were collected, a table was constructed of the percentage of foreign-born per city”

Will be interested in seeing the sourcing for 1920’s statement given the above which is limited to the mid-90s.

7 Kevin November 5, 2011 at 5:06 pm

I guessed Shanghai. Rangoon was part of British India until 1937. Another piece of trivia: Bahadur Shah II, the last Mughal emperor, was exiled to Burma and died in Rangoon, while Thibaw, the last king of Burma, was exiled to and died in Ratnagiri (just south of Mumbai).

8 Rahul November 5, 2011 at 5:58 pm

India’s First Lady in the 1990’s was ethnically Burmeese. A born Burmeese citizen too. President K R Narayan’s wife. Close ties indeed.

9 Ted M November 5, 2011 at 6:06 pm

I guessed Hong Kong. I figured people would be fleeing instability, but would still want a degree of familiarity.

10 Roy November 5, 2011 at 7:02 pm

So that would mean that Rangoon isn’t the correct answer, as it was an internal migration. I bet top cities for internal migration in the twenties were Shanghai or Moscow.

So how many cristeros fled Mexico to SoCal in the twenties?

11 Rahul November 6, 2011 at 12:01 am

Yep. From Wikipedia:

Burma was administered as a province of British India until 1937 when it became a separate, self-governing colony.

12 mmk November 5, 2011 at 5:49 pm

I guessed Warsaw post Russian revolution. Tough question and surprising answer.

13 Roy November 5, 2011 at 6:55 pm

I guessed Harbin or Shanghai, but goes to show you how eurocentric my assumptions are

14 steve November 5, 2011 at 7:34 pm

I dunno. Rangoon was an order of magnitude smaller than NYC in the 20’s. Even if immigration to the US was very low then, I’m betting we can find some other city with more immigrants.

15 Bill November 5, 2011 at 7:57 pm

That’s why its important to see the source.

16 steve November 5, 2011 at 8:17 pm

Buenos Aries doubled from ~1 million to ~2 million during the 20’s. Rangoon’s population was only 500K by the end of the 20’s. At least half of the growth in BA must have been immigration–you don’t double in a decade based on no immigration!

17 steve November 5, 2011 at 9:10 pm

oops–I think i misread the BA population chart — it seems perhaps to have doubled from 1-2 million more like ~1910-30. I’m still looking into other cities, though–seems to have been a lot of immigration into Brazil in the 20’s. . . .

18 Rahul November 6, 2011 at 12:03 am

you don’t double in a decade based on no immigration!

It can be internal migration too…….

19 steve November 6, 2011 at 2:14 am

Definitely a possibility, thanks for bringing it up. Doesn’t appear that S. America was urbanizing rapidly in the 20’s, though I’ll check more carefully for this possibility.

20 Clifton Chadwick November 7, 2011 at 5:15 am

I agree with Steve.
I am astonished it was not BsAs

21 john haskell November 6, 2011 at 1:00 am

Post 1924 NYC absorbed virtually no immigrants. This is like the old trick of saying [Republican governed jurisdiction] has created more jobs than the entire US economy [during period when US economy shed jobs].

22 Andreas Moser November 6, 2011 at 9:32 am

I bet those that emigrated to Rangoon instead of New York incurred the wrath of their descendants.

23 Rahul November 6, 2011 at 10:04 am

It was a different cohort. For most of the crowd that emigrated to Rangoon, NYC was never an option.

24 buddyglass November 6, 2011 at 10:55 am

I actually guessed Mexico City, figuring maybe people emigrated from Central and South America. Doh.

25 Anthony November 6, 2011 at 2:43 pm

I sort of guessed Paris or London before looking it up, though I perhaps should have thought Berlin or a city on the Rhine.

However, the question is ill-formed.

Does “#1 for absorbing immigrants” mean in absolute numbers, or as a percentage of native population? There may have been small towns in British Mandatory Palestine which received multiples of their starting population in the 1920s.

Does “immigrant” mean from a “foreign” country, or from far away in the same country? In an era of colonialism, what does “foreign” mean? Would people from Assam moving to Burma be “immigrants”? How about people moving from Korea to Japan, or vice versa? How about Algeria to France?

26 Bill November 6, 2011 at 3:00 pm

So, when is Tyler going to publish the city and identify the source.

The only way you can get Tyler’s answer, as far as I could tell, is look in the properties bar of the image.

Come On, gimme the answer and the source!

27 Willitts November 7, 2011 at 1:50 am

Galveston. Just a guess, but the city had its own display at Ellis Island.

San Francisco also had a port of entry on Angel Island, but I think the great influx of Asians had stopped by 1920.

Oh, but I see others are thinking internationally. The question wasn’t clear. I thought this was about American cities.

28 IronyAbounds November 7, 2011 at 11:53 pm

Of course, any system where the Kardashians earn millions rather than having to eek out a living working at Denny’s is fatally flawed. I’m not kidding either. You have good kids who work hard, go to college, in many cases working while going to school to afford it, only to find little or no job market when they graduate. Not all of whom pick degrees that are goofy. Meanwhile, a woman without any genuine talent, or at least none that is apparent, parlays a sex tape into millions along with her conniving mother and equally vapid sisters. Add in the Paris Hiltons, Lindsay Lohans, and scores of moral reprobates who cash in on this society’s seemingly endless desire for mindless drivel and it’s enough to drive anyone crazy. And yet we’re supposed to accept that it’s hard work and personal responsibility that takes us all to the top. I’m all for hard work and personal responsibility. I put myself through college, my wife and I preach those qualities to our daughters with great success, they are both hard workers and the oldest is out of school now with a great nursing job. Just don’t say that those virtues are what this society values most.

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