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Fast Facts

POP Culture: 1870

ICONS: Yellowstone National Park, George Armstrong Custer, Phonograph
Yellowstone National Park George Armstrong Custer Thomas Edison's phonograph

  • John D. Rockefeller incorporates the Standard Oil Company. It would eventually become the largest oil company in the world before the U.S. Supreme Court declared it an "unreasonable monopoly" under the Sherman Antitrust Act in 1911.
  • The National Weather Service issues its first weather forecast on November 1, 1870. The forecast warns of a windy day in Chicago, IL.
  • "The Great Chicago Fire" begins October 8, 1871.
  • President Ulysses S. Grant signs legislation designating Yellowstone the first national park on March 1, 1872.
  • The Jesse James Gang conduct the first successful train robbery in the American West on July 21, 1873.
  • On August 2, 1873, Andrew Hallidie tests the first cable car system in San Francisco, CA.
  • The first Kentucky Derby is run at Churchill Downs in Louisville, KY, on May 17, 1875.
  • Mark Twain publishes The Adventures of Tom Sawyer in 1876.
  • Lt. Colonel George Custer and the 7th U.S. Cavalry battle the Sioux and Cheyenne Indians on the bluffs above the Little Big Horn River, on June 26, 1876.
  • Colorado becomes the 38th state on August 1, 1876.
  • Although Democrat Samuel J. Tilden wins the popular vote over Republican Rutherford B. Hayes (4,284,020 vs. 4,036,572) during the 1876 presidential election, Hayes wins the electoral vote by promising to loosen Reconstruction's restrictions on the southern states.
  • Brigham Young, leader of the Mormon Church, founder of Salt Lake City, UT, and first governor of the Utah Territory, dies August 29, 1877.
  • Thomas Edison demostrates the phonograph at the offices of the "Scientific American" on December 7, 1877.
  • The Yale News becomes the first daily college newspaper in the United States on January 28, 1878.
  • Gilbert and Sullivan's "Pirates of Penzance," premieres at the Fifth Avenue Theatre on December 31, 1879.

The 1870 Census


10 Largest Urban Places

U.S. Resident Population: 38,558,371 Rank Place Population
Population per square mile of land area: 11.2 1 New York City, NY 942,292
Percent increase of population from 1860 to 1870: 26.6 2 Philadelphia, PA 674,022
Official Enumeration Date: June 1 3 Brooklyn, NY 396,099
Number of States: 37 4 St. Louis, MO 310,864
Cost: $3,421,000 5 Chicago, IL 298,977
Cost per Capita (cents): 8.8 6 Baltimore, MD 267,354
Total Pages in Published Reports: 3,473 7 Boston, MA 250,526
Number of Enumerators: 6,530 8 Cincinnati, OH 216,239
Number of Office Staff: 438 9 New Orleans, LA 191,148
Census Bureau Director: Francis Amasa Walker 10 San Francisco, CA 149,473
Number of Questions Asked: 20

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Source: U.S. Census Bureau | Census History Staff | Last Revised: December 05, 2022