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Urban Life During The Second Industrial Revolution

878 words - 4 pages

Urban Life During the Second Industrial Revolution

The trend towards densely populated urban centers begun in 1800's continued into the 1900's. Man's development of urban centers was a major step away from what seemed to be nature's way of living: on farms and sparsely placed homesteads. Industrial production required hundreds of thousands of workers and, especially in the second industrial revolution, scientists. The urban centers that emerged during this period, such as Paris, London, and Berlin, were quickly changing the ratios of population from rural to urban Berlin's population, for example, went from 66% rural in 1871 to almost 66% urban before the first World War (see "The Second Industrial Revolution").

With the influx of people to urban centers came the increasingly obvious problem of city layouts. The crowded streets which were, in some cases, the same paths as had been "naturally selected" by wandering cows in the past were barely passing for the streets of a quarter million commuters. In 1853, Napoleon III named Georges Haussmann "prefect of the Seine," and put him in charge of redeveloping Paris' woefully inadequate infrastructure (Kagan, The Western Heritage Vol. II, pp. 564-565). This was the first and biggest example of city planning to fulfill industrial needs that existed in Western Europe. Paris' narrow alleys and apparently random placement of intersections were transformed into wide streets and curving turnabouts that freed up congestion and aided in public transportation for the scientists and workers of the time. Man was no longer dependent on the natural layout of cities; form was beginning to follow function. Suburbs, for example, were springing up around major cities. This housing arrangement was necessary because of the massive amounts of reconstruction that took place in many cities. The constant threat of revolution and riots was another reason to redesign the city. The narrow alleys were often blockaded in times of revolt and kept troops from passing through to trouble spots in the city. Along with the safety factor, the massive reconstruction provided hundreds of government funded jobs. Manual labor was in high demand, and there were plenty of people to put to work.

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Along with the redesign of urban centers came changes in sanitation. Scientists had discovered bacteria, and it was becoming evident by the end of the 19th century that the open sewers and direct drainage of garbage into major rivers like the Themes and the Seine was far...

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