Urban culture is the culture of towns and cities. The defining theme is the presence of a great number of very different people in a very limited space - most of them are strangers to each other. This makes it possible to build up a vast array of subcultures close to each other, exposed to each other's influence, but without necessarily intruding into people's private lives.
Globally, urban areas tend to also be home to concentrations of power, such as government capitals and corporate headquarters, and the wealthy and powerful people that are employed in them. Cities also organize people, create norms, beliefs, and values. As outlined by Max Weber in his book, The City, "there are five things that make a city: fortification, market, a law code, an association of urban citizenry creating a sense of municipal corporateness, and sufficient political autonomy for urban citizens to choose the city’s governors." In some countries, elites have built themselves enclaves outside of the central city (e.g. white flight in the United States).
In most of the Western world, urban areas tend to be politically to the left of suburban and rural areas, even if deindustrialization has reduced the influence of labour unions and the working class, the new urban left is supported by upper middle class white-collar workers, students and academics, and creative types (artists). Urbanites also tend to be less religious, more environmentalist, and more open to immigration than rural people.
In Canada, urban culture is also sometimes used as a euphemism for the culture of visible minorities (non-Whites). Sometimes this means Black Canadian culture, though since Blacks are a much smaller part of Canada's population than in the United States, the connection is less obvious. More generally, the phrase may be used to connote the multicultural, immigrant-friendly mosaic atmosphere cultivated by cities such as Toronto, Ontario and Vancouver, British Columbia, in contrast to the usually Whiter rural regions of those provinces.
Prior to the 20th century, the African American population was primarily rural. The Great Migration of African-Americans created the first large, urban black communities in the American North. It is conservatively estimated that 400,000 left the South during the two-year period of 1916-1918 to take advantage of a labor shortage created in the wake of the First World War. The 20th century cultures of many of the United States' modern cities were forged in this period.
In 1900 Chicago had a total population of 1,698,575. By 1920 the population had increased by more than 1 million residents. During the second wave of the Great Migration (from 1940–1960), the African American population in the city grew from 278,000 to 813,000. The South Side of Chicago was considered the black capital of America.
The massive number of African Americans to Ohio, in particularly to Cleveland, greatly changed the demographics of the state and Cleveland. Prior to the Great Migration, an estimated 1.1 - 1.6% of Cleveland’s population was African American. In 1920, 4.3% of Cleveland’s population was African American. The number of African Americans in Cleveland continued to rise over the next twenty years of the Great Migration. Other cities, such as St. Louis, Baltimore, Philadelphia and New York City, also experienced surges in their African-American populations.
In the South, the departure of hundreds of thousands of African Americans caused the black percentage of the population in most Southern states to decrease. For example, in Mississippi, blacks decreased from about 56% of the population in 1910 to about 37% by 1970 and in South Carolina, blacks decreased from about 55% of the population in 1910 to about 30% by 1970.
By the end of the Second Great Migration, African Americans had become an urbanized population. More than 80 percent lived in cities. Fifty-three percent remained in the Southern United States, while 40 percent lived in the Northeast and North Central states and 7 percent in the West.