Overcrowding and Urban Planning in Victorian London Essay

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Victorian London in Charles Dickens era was a city suffering under the weight of the masses of people that lived there. In Dickens' time, London was the largest city in the world, both due to its population increase and the urban sprawl caused by influx of so many people. There were nearly 4 million inhabitants of the 'Great City' at the height of the Victorian age. This number was an increase of nearly three million people over a period of approximately 30 years, there were many problems associated with such explosive growth, problems which were most recognizable during Charles Dickens lifetime. The migration from rural settings to an urban setting was common throughout the country but mainly in London, which was prompted by the lack…show more content…
H. J. Dyos writes in his book, Exploring the Urban Past: Essays in urban history, of the Select Committee of 1838: 'other public benefits might in some cases be derived simultaneously with that principal object',(1) in particular the partial clearance of the 'Rookery' of St. Giles' by means of an extension of Oxford Street to Hart Street. They based these conclusions on a mass of evidence they had taken on the desirability of improved both public health and morals, and they had been regaled by the first hand accounts of the brutish horrors of slum life in various parts of central London. It was hardly surprising, therefore, that they insisted that the most important improvements . . . are in direct proportion to the degree in which they embrace all the great purposes of amendment in respect of health and morals . . . by the removal of congregations of vice and misery, and the introduction of a better police.(2) (Dyos 86) As a result of overcrowding, the sanitation issue had to be contended with first and foremost. The expansion and improvement of the streets, and the expansion of the rail system (including the Underground) would in turn lead to implementation of the sewer system (which in London emptied into the Thames.) When new streets were being planned or tramways being laid (for the omnibuses), the main concern was not for aesthetics, but for sanitation. When questioned by the Royal Commission on Metropolitan

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