In the Cities
Only a quarter of the 336.985 Norwegian born persons in America lived in cities with more than 25.000 inhabitants in 1900. This was the lowest percentage for any Europeans immigrant group. However, some lived in cities, and the numbers increased over the years.
Clusters of Norwegians were found in Milwaukee, Superior and Madison in Wisconsin, in Duluth in Minnesota, in Grand Forks and Fargo in North Dakota and in Sioux Falls in South Dakota.
Chicago, New York and Minneapolis
However, most of the Norwegians resided in the big cities like Chicago, the Twin Cities and New York. By 1900 41,551 first and second generation Norwegians lived in Chicago, rising to 47,235 in 1920. Chicago then constituted the third largest "Norwegian city" in the world, after Oslo and Bergen.
Greater New York only counted 11,387 Norwegians in 1900, rising quickly to 62,915 in 1930. The majority of them - 23,090 - lived in Brooklyn. The metropolis had then surpassed Chicago, which had 55,948 Norwegians, and had then the most urban center of Norwegians outside Norway. Even if it had a smaller Norwegian population than Chicago and New York, Minneapolis eventually assumed a position as the new "Norwegian - American capital" because of its location at the center of the Norwegian population in the Upper Midwest.
Many Norwegians found work in the building trades and construction. Some became famous for their works on skyscrapers, bridges, tunnels and subways, like Gunvald Aus from Haugesund and Kort Berle from Halden, who designed the Woolworth building in New York. Some became carpenters and tailors. In Chicago Norwegians played a significant part in shipping in the Great Lakes as seamen, captains and shipbuilders. Many women worked as seamstresses and dressmakers, but most of them were engaged in domestic occupations.