HS-102 Readings

Urbanization

WHEN, WHERE AND WHY DID URBANIZATION OCCUR IN EUROPE?

WHAT WERE ITS CONSEQUENCES?

    One of the most profound effects of the Industrial Revolution, which developed rapidly in England during 1750-1850 and spread to the continent after the Napoleonic Wars, was to stimulate the growth of cities. Throughout Europe, only 17% of the population lived in cities in 1801. By 1851, the percentage increased to 35%, and by 1891, it was 54%.

     Growth accelerated and was most remarkable in England in the first half of the nineteenth century. An industrial midlands involving the cities of Manchester, Birmingham and Leeds grew in an area which, in the mid-eighteenth century, was almost entirely rural.

     Meanwhile the great cities of London, Paris, Vienna, Berlin, Rome, Madrid, and New York grew dramatically.

    The rate of growth was so rapid that city services could not keep pace. Cities were places where lack of sanitation, accumulation of sewage, high rates of disease, high rates of crime, and desperate poverty all existed. Heavy use of coal led to accumulations of dirt and grime.

    In the decade of the 1840's, city reformers like Chadwick saw the connection between the lack of sanitation and the prevalence of disease. It was the beginning of a public health movement which involved installation of sewage lines to wash out the worst of the pollution. The increased production of iron made it possible to manufacture the iron piping that was needed.

    Urban planning, after mid-century became common-place. One of the forms it took was the provision for parks within and around cities to provide relief from the congested urban environment. It also involved razing old sections of the city and replacing them with public buildings, broad avenues, monuments, and impressive railroad stations.

    The pattern was established by the city of Paris in the 1850's under Napoleon III. Other major cities followed suit.

    Urban improvements continued throughout the 19th century as technology
offered new opportunities.

    The original city had, of necessity, been a walking city, where everyone living there had to be able to walk to work. This concentrated the workplaces and the homes of people of all classes in a small area. The industrial factories created a suffocating atmosphere for living. The wealthy might escape through the use of horse-drawn carriages, and major cities introduced horse-drawn buses for intra-city transportation.
For a few decades, the horse was the mainstay of city travel. But, by the 1890's major cities had electric generation plants which made the electric trolley car possible. Wealthy people could then live in the surrounding countryside and commute to their places of business. It also became possible for middle class people to find less congested living on
the outskirts. Only the poor continued to be forced to live in the midst of the dirt and grime in the central city.

    Probably the most important development affecting city life was the bacterial revolution.