Early 19th century London

Throughout the 1800s, London grew at an incredibly fast rate. People from all over the world flocked to this magnificent city of wealth and opportunity. By the mid- 1800s, London had become the single largest city in the world, with an astonishing population of 2,362,000 people. Lascar and Chinese communities began to appear near shipping ports and docks, and the Irish population continued to grow reaching hundreds of thousands. By 1841, less than two thirds of the cities inhabitants had actually been born there, and as the vast city became more and more populated, London developed some of the worst slums ever known. In St. Giles and Seven Dials, on Jacobs Island and in the Rookeries, enormous numbers of the poor were left to die.
As the nineteenth century progressed, the gap between classes became increasingly more evident. Through the eyes of the rich, the poor were seen nothing more than animals. However, when Charles Dickens wrote Oliver Twist, a world of literature unknown to most Londoners became available. As both the upper and lower classes began reading this book, the enormous chasm between the rich and the poor started to close. Soon after, seeing the world in a new light, the diverse classes began to refine themselves, and finally began respecting each other. Looking back over a long life, fellow writer Francis Place was amazed at the transformation of manners among London's population.
London was greatly affected by its continual flow of immigrants. What drew immigrants to London was the possibility of employment, and thanks to Charles Dickens inspiring and enlightening novels, what they found was a world of science, art, and opportunity.


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