World History

c.1750 to c.1900



Edwin Chadwick: In 1842, Edwin Chadwick led a commission investigating the sanitary conditions of London in the hopes of improving them. He found that the crowded living conditions of the poor and working classes in London were hotbeds of disease and that the city should immediately look into improving drainage, ventilation, and sewage systems.

Electric trolley car: Invented in 1880 by Fyodor Pirotsky, the electric trolley car completely changed the ability of people to get around a city in a quick and efficient manner. The first trolley system ran in St. Petersburg in 1880, with more following in 1881 (Berlin), 1883 (Brighton, England and Vienna, Austria), and 1888 (the United States).

Illegitimacy explosion: The illegitimacy explosion of 1750-1850 was caused by sex in urban areas was less subject to village traditions and community control, earlier independence was allowing more people to court each other for love, not economics and the growth of the cottage industry. Better diet led to higher virility in European men during this time is not true and there is little evidence to suggest this. Between 1750 and 1850, the birthrate of illegitimate children climbed from 2% to 36%. One of the largest factors was the migration of young workers to urban areas where sexuality was less subject to village traditions and control. For example: In the face of an unexpected pregnancy, a young couple might have been forced to marry by their parents, village elders, or landlords. In big cities, this was not the case. Additionally, the closer quarters of cities led to a rise in sexual experimentation and the rapidly industrializing world had freed many people from being beholden to the land, thus allowing them to more often court and marry for love and desire, not economics.

Factory system: English families who moved to cities during the 18th and 19th century became fragmented due to the factory system. The organization of the factory system fragmented the structure of the family. Families no longer all worked in the same place (as women and men were often not permitted to work together), nor did they see each other all day long as they had when they had lived under an agrarian system.

Population growth: Population growth had been extremely cyclical prior to 1750, with any significant growth just as quickly curbed by famine, plague or war. After 1750, however, the population began to dramatically increase due to medical advancements, such as inoculation against smallpox, and improvements in public health, which helped reduce diseases like typhus and typhoid fever. During the Industrial Revolution, the amount of the population that lived in cities rose from 17% in 1801 to 54% in 1894.

Road-building: Road-building and other advances in transportation during the 18th century helped ease the impact of famine and crop failure, thus contributing to the rise in population that occurred during this period. Emergency food supplies could be more easily transported to areas affected by famine via road and canal than they could have been in the past.

Suburban sprawl in 19th century: While many upper class and middle class families kept houses, flats, and townhouses in cities, many established permanent residences in the countryside and commuted to work via the train. The poor, who were often not permitted to ride the train, were forced to live in the center of town where pollution and overcrowding were most endemic.