There are many things that shape a city such as culture, demand, and the vision of the city from the designer, but none are more instant and long lasting then disasters. London is one city that in this it is apparent and thus it is the topic for this essay. In order to demonstrate that the impact that disasters have on a city are the greatest shaping tools, I will focus of the Great London fire of 1666 and the Great Stink of 1858 and compare them to the Industrial revolution of 1760. I will give a short background history of the disasters combined with the direct effects that the disaster had on the city then continue to how the city then changed to combat that type of disaster.
The Great Fire of London
One can’t discuss the history of London without including the Great Fire of London. As many know, in September 1666 the city of London was devastated by a fire. The long hot summer joined with the largely timber construction of London left it only needing a spark which was provided at the house of Thomas Farynor, the king's baker in Pudding Lane, near London Bridge on Sunday the 2nd September.
The buildings at the time were only divided by narrow streets and therefore the fire spread rapidly. (See Figure 1) Luckily for Southwark and surrounding areas, London Bridge, which was burning by dawn, acted as a firebreak. Only a third of the bridge was burned confining the fire to the City of London. By the following dawn the fire spread north and west, consuming Grace Church Street, Lombard Street, the Royal Exchange, and continuing towards the wealthy area of Cheapside. That night the fire continued toward St Paul's Cathedral.
The following day saw the greatest destruction. With Both the King and the Duke of York were occupied in the battle against the fire in which they were able to contain until late afternoon, it jumped over the break at Mercers' Hall and began to consume Cheapside, London's widest and wealthiest street. During this, in the west to fire continued to spread by consuming Newgate and Ludgate prisons, and was travelling along Fleet Street towards Chancery Lane.
By the Wednesday the fire was finally halted at Middle Temple and at Fetter Lane due to the combined effort of the newly pulled down building creating fire break while the wind slackened and changed direction, turning south and blowing the fire onto itself and into the river. It wasn’t long until the fire was extinguished. After overwhelming 373 acres of the City, 100,000 people made homeless, one sixth of London’s population. In the end around 13,200 houses, 84 churches and 44 company halls. (See Figure 2) [green]
Prior to early 18th Century, most people lived an independent agricultural existence out in the fields and ruled by a small political and social elite. Around 1760 this all changed in an event later names the industrial revolution. [grey]
By 1851, half of the British population were living in towns. This...