During the 19th century, London was transformed into the world’s largest city and capital of the British Empire. Its population expanded from 1 million in 1800 to 6,9 million a century later (10,8% average annual growth). During this period, London became a global political, financial, and trading capital. In this position, it was largely unrivalled until the latter part of the century, when Paris and New York City began to threaten its dominance.
While the city grew wealthy as Britain’s holdings expanded, 19th century London was also a city of poverty, where millions lived in overcrowded and unsanitary slums. Life for the poor was immortalized by Charles Dickens in such novels as Oliver Twist.
As the capital of a massive empire, London became a magnet for immigrants from the colonies and poorer parts of Europe. A large Irish population settled in the city during the Victorian era, with many of the newcomers refugees from the Great Famine (1845-1849). At one point, Irish immigrants made up about 20% of London’s population. London also became home to a sizable Jewish community, and small communities of Chinese and South Asians settled in the city.
The Langbourne Club for women who work in the City of London
On the deck of a Thames Sailing Barge by Walter Benington
Piccadilly Circus in the eighteen-eighties
Leadenhall Poultry Market by Donald McLeish
London by Alfred Buckham, pioneer of aerial photography. Despite nine crashes he said, “If one’s right leg is tied to the seat with a scarf or a piece of rope, it is possible to work in perfect security.”