London's teeming streets: 1830-1914

TitleLondon's teeming streets: 1830-1914
Publication TypeBook
AuthorsWinter, JH
CityNew York;London;
City traffic, History

The streets of Victorian London became increasingly congested with vehicles, fast and furious drivers, pedestrians, costermongers, prostitutes, brass bands, homeless children and other obstacles to safe and rapid motion. Concerned citizens were alarmed by this unprecedented build-up of traffic and pollution. But how did this chaotic state come about - and why was more not done to prevent it? London's Teeming Streets 1830-1914 brings a historical perspective to present-day concerns about the effects of continued urban expansion and shows that many current problems date back to the Victorian era. James Winter reveals that the issue of street reform was fraught with political intrigue. Many reformers were liberals; yet the question of attempting to limit or prohibit activity on the King's highway which was, by definition, an open and democratic preserve, brought the purpose of liberal reform into sharp focus. Regulators, cleaners, conservationists, promoters of the municipal ideal, all struggled to balance a vision of an ordered, safer 'modern' London with a sense that the freedom of the streets disclosed what it meant to be English. The book sets street reform - a subject which we are still confronting today - in a social context. Based on solid documentary evidence, it shows how social groups defined street spaces, often in ways that planners and reformers failed to anticipate or appreciate.