World History

c.1750 to c.1900

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Bridgewater Canal System: In 1761, the Bridgewater Canal System was opened in Northern England, allowing for British inland navigation and easing the transportation of British goods throughout the British Isles. The system was commissioned by Lord Francis Egerton, the Duke of Bridgewater.


Cholera outbreak in London: In 1831, a cholera outbreak in London contributed to the development of the germ theory of disease. Skeptical of the miasma theory, physician John Snow began investigating possible causes of an outbreak of cholera on Broad Street in London. Using a dot map, he was able to localize a common factor among a majority of the cholera cases – the use of a water pump only three feet from an old cesspit. Snow's hypothesis that the outbreak had been caused by fecal matter leaking into the water supply was dismissed by the British government for being "too depressing".


Cemeteries: In the late 18th and 19th century, burial of the dead in graveyards (churchyards) was discontinued with cemeteries established on the outskirts of cities. There were several reasons for this move, including the sharp rise in the population of cities during the Industrial Revolution, which created a lack of space in traditional graveyards, and the repeated outbreaks of highly infectious diseases. Belief in the miasma theory alarmed city residents who thought that having decaying bodies, even underground, within city limits was helping to spread disease. In Paris, many bodies were exhumed from graveyards and placed in catacombs below the city.


Factories: During the Industrial Revolution, factories were built both within city limits and on the outskirts of cities (though most were concentrated in the center). The opening of factories also led to the rapid construction of several cities, especially in the North of England.


Industrialized cities in Great Britain: The most industrialized cities in Great Britain arose in the North, primarily around the textile industry. These include Manchester, Leeds, Liverpool, Birmingham, and York.


Modern police force: One of the first modern police forces was established by King Louis XIV in 1667 The force was to police the city of Paris, then the largest and most dangerous city in Europe.


Potato: By the nineteenth century, one third of the Irish population was dependent on the potato for survival. This dependence would prove disastrous during the Irish Potato Famine (1845-1852) when blight wiped out most of the potato crop. During this famine, one million Irish people died and another million emigrated from Ireland, resulting Ireland's population to fall approximately 25%.


Sewage systems: In 1858, the Great Stink in London pushed for improved development of sewage systems. Prior to the mid-nineteenth century, the Thames River in London was an open sewer, contributing to the rampant spread of diseases like cholera throughout the city. In the summer of 1858, the smell of untreated human waste became so strong that it finally pushed Parliament to begin developing better sewer systems.


Underground railroad system: The first underground railroad system opened in 1863 in the city of London. The London underground, or "tube", has since expanded to 270 stations within London and its suburbs. During World War I and World War II, the system of tunnels was used for air raid shelters.


Women’s work: Single women and widows could find work in all of these places, but the work was low-wage and provided no protection from economic and sexual exploitation. Many married women also worked as the needs of their family dictated. Many unmarried women with few other options turned to prostitution to survive.