New York and Chicago
336,985 first-generation Norwegians lived in America in 1900. Only a quarter of these were to be found in cities with more than 25,000 inhabitants. No other immigrant group had such a small urban population. But the number gradually increased. Most Norwegians lived in the big cities like Chicago, Minneapolis – St. Paul and New York. In 1900, 41,551 first- and second-generation Norwegians lived in Chicago. By 1920, the number had risen to 47,235. Chicago was then the third largest “Norwegian city” in the world, after Oslo and Bergen. New York had only 11,387 Norwegians in 1900, but the population increased rapidly, and in 1930 62,915 Norwegians lived there. Most of them – 23,090 – were in Brooklyn. There were more than in Chicago, which then had 55,948 Norwegians.
Still, it was Minneapolis in the state of Minnesota that eventually became
calculated for the Norwegian-American capital. Not because of the population, but because it was in the heart of the Norwegian environment in the Midwest.
Work Many Norwegians found work in the construction industry. Some became famous because they left behind monumental buildings, tunnels, bridges and subways such as Gunvald Aus from Haugesund and Kort Berle from Halden, who designed the Woolworth building in New York. Others became carpenters and tailors. In Chicago, Norwegians played an important role in shipping on the great lakes, both as sailors, captains and shipbuilders. Many women worked as seamstresses, but most worked as housekeepers in private homes.