Intro Post

My name is Emily Zogbi, I’m a junior and an English major with a minor in WGS (with the intention of getting two other minors in Communications and Creative Writing, but that is TBD). The extent of my knowledge about Victorian London consists of Sherlock Holmes and smog. I found it interesting that London was (is?) considered a “Modern Babylon”, but no city is “perfect”,  no matter how much it resembles a Renaissance. Where there is capitalism there is poverty and where there is poverty, their are people who are benefiting from that poverty (rich, aristocrats, etc.).

I hadn’t realized how much of a barrier between the north and the south the Thames created until they built the Westminster and Blackfriars bridges that connected them and “turning up its nose at the south bank was a luxury London could no longer afford” (Robinson). Those bridges, I would say, were the real start of this Modern Babylon, and allowed for the inclusion of almost all the people to participate in the modernization of the city. The advancement of technology, like trains, made London and it’s improvements accessible to more than just the aristocrats. However, this did not mean that there was an eradication of class struggle. The migration of the working class to the “railroad suburbs”, “left only the poorest in the East End and, by 1880, it had become a hellish slum, notorious for its poverty, vice and violence” (Robinson).

Another thing that stuck out to me was the mention of “slum clearance”, when wider roads had to be built to make room for the literal expansion of London: “Wider roads were also required, prompting the first phase of slum clearance. Around 120,000 people ultimately lost their homes” (Robinson). While London still eventually became overpopulated, this means to me that within capitalism, “prosperity” can’t happen without the displacement of poor people (Gentrification, anyone?). While the industrial revolution, the age of invention, the cool fashion, etc., is all very glamorous, it doesn’t change the grim parts of Victorian London, and I didn’t really expect it to.

Robinson, Bruce. “London: ‘A Modern Babylon’” BBC News. BBC, 11 Feb. 2011. Web. 25 Aug. 2015.

3 thoughts on “Intro Post

  1. I am curious to learn more about “slum clearance” and whether or not the project actually cleaned and cleared up the accumulating pollution and waste or, without any benefits, ultimately left many homeless.

  2. I’m also curious about that slum clearance. When the article said that London swallowed up some neighborhoods, I wondered if people got displaced.

  3. Welcome to the class, Emily! Great work on mentioning the central themes in the class (poverty and class conflict, technology, industrialization, transportation) and their connections to geography! Good work also on bringing up the problems of gentrification! Also, if you’d like to learn more about the “slum clearances,” here’s a source to get you started:

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