The American Gilded Age provided economic opportunities and living wages substantially higher than Europe. The rise of industrialization meant a demand for cheap labor. New Orleans, by far the most populated southern city, was ripe with economic opportunities from hungry factories and emptying plantations. Since busy trade routes already existed from Sicily to New Orleans, Italian migration was convenient. Italians poured into the city. Increase in labor competition outraged impoverished whites and the increase in Catholicization in an already Catholic dominated city incensed white Protestants, who had been migrating into New Orleans since the Louisiana Purchase. Italians were also known for their labor organization, inevitably upsetting those who control the means of production. Italophobia was rampant in 19th century New Orleans.