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Transformation Of European Cities Essay

1392 words - 6 pages

Basic city structure in Europe towards the end of the nineteenth century was heavily influenced by the “second Industrial Revolution”(also known as the Technological Revolution), which brought along new materials, sources of energy, and goods for trading. Newly constructed factories and demand for industrial jobs led to mass urbanization. Many rural people flowed towards urban areas to find work. The creation of new industrial jobs contributed to a rising middle class, and the growing populations of economically powerful cities such as London and Paris encouraged the swapping of new ideas and scientific study.
One of the major effects of the Technological Revolution was the increased production of steel among the four European powers(Russia, France, Germany, and Britain). In 1911, for example, Russia was outputting nearly 600 times the amount of steel than they had in 1871. This surge in production was mainly caused by British metallurgist Henry Bessemer's method for obtaining the desired amount of carbon in the steel. The use of these Bessemer blast furnaces was widely adopted by industrial countries that needed to construct railroads, heavy artillery, and warships. Steel eventually replaced iron as the main metal used in housing, because it was stronger,cheaper to produce, and less corrosive. This allowed for more durable buildings, giving architects more freedom to design. (Hause, Maltby 756)
Massive amounts of iron and steel were required for a project that helped shape the future of London in 1863: The London Underground. First proposed as a radical solution to crowded London streets and long commute times, the Underground was viewed as “an insult to common sense” by the London Times. However, it proved to be an effective method of transportation starting in 1863, gathering 30,000 passengers willing to brave the heat and smoke from burning coal to arrive to their destinations faster.
With factories for iron and steel increasing in numbers all over Europe, and railroad tracks starting to pan out and cover more ground, new job opportunities attracted rural people who had previously only worked in agriculture. Among these middle class jobs were railroad conductors, railway traffic controllers, factory workers and metallurgists, and political jobs such as city planners and census commissioners. Major European cities became centers of manufacturing and industry, as well as for trade and commerce. The activity and prosperity that seemed to stem from the boom of industry was a main factor in European urbanization.
This urbanization caused a major shift in the European social system. Prior to the boom of urbanization, most of Europe could be divided into three main social classes: the elite aristocracy, the clergy, and the commoners. This social “ranking” system was reflected in the Estates General, in which there was an Estate for each of these groups. The aristocracy controlled most of any European state's wealth, while only being a...

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