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Why Were Towns and Cities so Unhealthy in the 19th Century?

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Michael Smith 9X1 Why Were Towns and Cities so Unhealthy in the 19th Century? "A Perfect Wilderness of Foulness" From the title of this essay, it is clear that during the 19th century towns and cities were very unhealthy places to be living in. Bad housing, stale and polluted water, poor irrigation, dirt and disease were just some of the factors that contributed to countless numbers of men, women and children dying, which in turn led to a dire epidemic of cholera. During the 19th century the industrial revolution was in full bloom, and so hundreds of and hundreds of people moved into the towns and cities in order to find work. The huge rise in population caused an enormous need for affordable housing, there just was no where near enough space for all those people and so overcrowding in tiny spaces got out of control. This was where the problems began. The houses were built incredibly close together, no room was spared, houses were built back to back, and much was the same for the space inside the houses. ...read more.


"Clean" water was no where near "clean" compared to the standards we are accustom to today, it was not filtered, nor was it full of minerals. Drinking water was very dangerous; it was full of disease and infections. People through their excrements in the river, people washed in the river, even dead bodies were buried next to rivers, and all the dirt and disease from these things lead to many deaths, and in 1831, 1832, 1848, 1853 and 1866 huge epidemics of cholera, which unknown to Britain's population was spread extremely quickly through dirty water. Water was either running through dirty pipes or came from an unclean source such as the Thames. In a yard there were water pumps, which were very unsanitary, and there were privies. A Privy is the modern day equivalent to a toilet. It consisted of a small hut with no door, a seat with a circular hole in the middle which led down into a cesspit to hold the excrement. One privy could be shared by a whole yard. ...read more.


The affects of this epidemic were dire and hundreds of lives could have been saved. If only councils accepted that the disease was not spread through miasma but through contagion. If only the builders had spent more time thinking about the welfare of others and not their back pocket. If only the streets had been clean and dry. If only bodies of the dead, with disease, had not been buried next to a water source what would of happened. What if the water had never been contaminated, what if the industrial revolution never happened leaving no rise in population so no disease. The problem is there are no what ifs or if only there is only the dead of those who got infected by a killer disease, in one of the worst times to be living in this country. The Disease should never have been able to spread that widely across the country, however the people during this period in time had no knowledge on the dangers on drinking dirty water or personal hygiene and so there is no-one to blame for the deaths of thousands upon thousands of people, it was a tragedy which unfortunately could not be prevented. ...read more.

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