Victorian Era London

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London: The Big Apple of the Victorian Era
“What strange phenomena we find in a great city, all we need do is stroll about with our eyes open. Life swarms with innocent monsters” (Charles Baudelaire). This quote by Charles Baudelaire is very representative of London in the Victorian Era. Culture and economy flourished, bringing livelihood and excitement. However, there were a few macabre results that can be seen as the “monsters” that Baudelaire was talking about. During the Victorian Era, London emerged as a prolific metropolis, characterized by an extreme period of urbanization, which resulted in major developments in jobs and housing, as well as causing side effects of industrialization and overpopulation.
The urbanization of London
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The expansion that made London prosperous also caused extreme pollution. London was nicknamed “the Great Smoke”, because of how smoke-blackened the streets were. Smog sometimes caused the rain to turn black. Approximately 1000 people died during an especially intense period of pollution; however, there was no prevention implemented until 1952 when the Clean Air Act was put into place (Sullivan). In addition, the rushed and unplanned development of London following the quick influx of people led to a number of problems. Due to the lack of planning, streets were often irregular, and there was no real division between different areas of the city (Venkateswaran). A factory or even a prison could be found beside a tenant house. The huge amount of poverty increased crime rates, especially in the slums. It was said that “poverty was so bad that many resorted to crime in the dark and dirty streets” to stay alive (Malheiro). The aforementioned rookeries were often provided shelter for groups of thieves, usually children (Ridenhour 404). Furthermore, prostitution also became a huge problem in Victorian London. Single women in poverty looking to earn money turned to this profession to stay alive (Venkateswaran). Lastly, the industrialization led to the development of child labor. Many manufacturing jobs didn’t require much strength, so children were a major source of labor in industry. Children worked up to twelve hours, and could sometimes have the burden of being the family’s main source of income

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