|The vast majority of Americans lived in the country: 19 out of 20 lived in places with populations of less than 2,500. (In fact, urban populations would not exceed rural populations until 1920.) At least 75 percent of Americans lived in rural areas. Since the nation was basically agricultural, the farm or plantation was the center of most American lives. Nevertheless, more Americans were moving to cities, where they were exposed to wide varieties of people and ideas. Many were attracted to the fast pace of urban life and the cultural and material resources available. Cities were dangerous places, however, with poor sanitation, disease and fires threatening the health and safety of their residents.