Berkeley Square, West End of London

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Berkeley Square is located in the north of Piccadilly and was named after the first Lord of Berkeley of Stratton, John Berkeley. In 1696, the third Lord of Berkeley sold the Berkeley House and its property to the Duke of Devonshire under the circumstances that the grounds, spanning the width of the house and the length of the garden, could not be built on, with the purpose of preserving the view from the front of the house. This preserved space became the square (Berkeley Square, North Side).

In 1733, when the Berkeley House was demolished, the square was divided in half. The southern half of the square became the Grosvenor estate (what is now the Landsdowne House), and the northern half became what is now the present day public space (Berkeley Square). Two carpenters that invested in the creation of the Grosvenor estate, Edward Cook and Francis Hillard, developed the area around the square from the mid-to-late 1700s: creating new roadways, buildings, and commercial spaces. By 1790, the surrounding occupants of Berkeley Square included a hosier, a fruiterer, a shoemaker, a watchmaker, and a bookseller (Berkeley Square, North Side).

However, these buildings—which were all residences with shops on the bottom floor—were considered unacceptable by West-End standards. By 1817, new building plans were created to turn Berkeley Square into a more high-end area. The estate surveyor, who decided the value of the property, estimated the area immediately surrounding the square to be worth “ten guineas per foot frontage”—an extraordinarily high price. Because of this, there were no immediate offers. However, plans to create a high-end neighborhood still pursued: roadways were rearranged and the existing houses were demolished (Berkeley Square, North Side).

By 1820, the grounds were being advertised in newspapers. But, it wasn’t until 1821 when the area received its first accepted offer (the original surveyor, who was strict on his price, had to die before this could happen). John Bailey, the owner of a hotel already located on the square, bought another property on the west corner for 5 guineas per foot. After the sale, the reduced price became the standard for all properties surrounding the square to be sold; by October 1821, they were all taken up (Berkeley Square, North Side).

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As seen by the Charles Booth Poverty Map, the area surrounding Berkeley Square was occupied by the wealthy upper class. Berkeley Square was home not only to the Lord of Berkeley and the Duke of Devonshire, but also other wealthy elite and notable persons such as William Fullarton, the Sixth Earl of Stair, Edward Bouverie, Sir William Wolseley, and General Sir Banastre Tartleton (Berkeley Square, North Side).

Berkeley Square & Dorian Gray

Berkeley Square was mentioned once within the first five chapters of Dorian Gray: “Lord Henry passed up the low arcade into Burlington Street and turned his steps in the direction of Berkeley Square. […] Suddenly he stopped and glanced up at the houses. He found that he had passed his aunt’s some distance, and, smiling to himself, turned back.” Lord Henry’s Aunt Agatha is suggested to live near Berkeley Square. As Berkeley Square is a very rich neighborhood, it suggests that Aunt Agatha is a very wealthy upperclass woman with elite status. Unlike Lord Henry, who makes it clear that he does not sympathize with the poor, Aunt Agatha does charity work in the East End. The humor of her charity work, as mentioned in my post about Whitechapel, is that she doesn’t supply the poor with things they need—money, food, shelter—but instead, entertains them. Her recognition of the poor, as someone of high social status, sets her apart from other wealthy elite, who often disregarded and show no mercy toward the poor. However, her lack of understanding for their actual needs displays how disconnected the wealthy upperclass were from the realities of those living in poverty, as if putting on an entertaining show would help cure them of their plight. Even the most sympathetic of the wealthy elite couldn’t possibly understand what it was like to live in poverty.

Furthermore, Aunt Agatha’s desire to satisfy the needs of impoverished people with music (an art form) suggests how ridiculous it is to believe that a life can solely be lived off of absorbing art. It minimizes the importance of art in the presence of other human needs. It is also, perhaps, foreshadows Dorian’s demise after trying to live a life fueled by art and beauty. What is art when you don’t have the basic essentials to live a healthy life. Dorian’s unhealthy lifestyle—his lacking human compassion and kindness—ends in his hideous death.

Works Cited

“Berkeley Square.” Hidden London. Hidden London, n.d. Web. 24 Nov. 2015.

‘Berkeley Square, North Side.’ Survey of London: Volume 40, the Grosvenor Estate in Mayfair, Part 2 (The Buildings). Ed. F H W Sheppard. London: London County Council, 1980. 64-67. British History Online. Web. 25 November 2015.

“Booth Poverty Map & Modern Map (Charles Booth Online Archive).” Charles Booth Online Archive. London School of Economics & Political Science, n.d. Web. 23 Nov. 2015.

Whitechapel, East End of London

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During the Victorian era, the East End of London gained a reputation for crime and poverty, and was once described as “a terra incognito for respectable citizens.” Located directly outside the walls of the City of London rested the “hub” of the East End—Whitechapel. Famously known for the Jack the Ripper murders, Whitechapel easily became one of the most notorious slums in Victorian London (Diniejko).

Origins of Whitechapel’s Slums
Whitechapel wasn’t always a slum. Up until the end of the 16th century it was a “relatively prosperous district” (Diniejko). It wasn’t until the mid-18th century, when the less desirable industries (tanneries, breweries, foundries) began to grow in the East End, that areas within Whitechapel began to deteriorate. As the industries grew, they attracted more and more workers: immigrants (typically refugees) and Englishmen from the countryside (Whitechapel’s Sordid History). By the mid-to-late 19th century, Whitechapel became overcrowded and crime infested (Diniejko).

Slums, Poverty and Disease
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According to the Charles Booth Poverty Map of 1898-99, Whitechapel as a whole appears to be a fairly economically-sound district—with the majority of areas being “fairly comfortable.” Among these areas you will find multiple areas of light blue (“poor”), dark blue (“very poor”), and black (“lowest class [vicious, semi-criminal]”). These areas were the locations of slums.
What did these slums look like? As stated previously, Whitechapel was devastatingly poor. As Whitechapel became overcrowded, multiple impoverished families were forced to live together (often up to nine people), crammed into small single rooms. Poverty also created an increase in common lodging houses. In Whitechapel, over 200 common lodging houses were created to house the 8,000+ “homeless and destitute” people per night.  Apart from overcrowding, conditions in these shared houses were atrocious; one of the most predominant issues was the lack of proper ventilation and sanitation. Due to these dreadful environments, diseases like cholera spread (Diniejko).


Of all the recorded crimes in Whitechapel from 1837-1901, 2234 records were found with theft being the majority: 1376 cases of basic theft (extortion, embezzlement, pocketpicking, grand larceny, petty larceny, animal theft, etc) and 263 cases of violent theft (robbery, highway robbery, etc.) (Old Bailey).

Though Whitechapel is known for the infamous Jack the Ripper murders, only 95 cases of “killing” were recorded: 41 cases of murder, 51 cases of manslaughter and 3 cases of “infanticide,” “treason,” and “other” (Old Bailey). Though 95 is still relatively high, it in no way makes up the majority of crime in Whitechapel. With that being said, it can be suggested that the murders of Jack the Ripper created more hysteria surrounding the “murderous” conditions in Whitechapel than what existed in reality—though reality was still rather bleak.

Women and Prostitution

Prostitution, however, was a major problem. For many impoverished women living in the East End, prostitution was a primary source of income, “paying anywhere from a loaf of stale bread to three pence.” The estimated total of female prostitutes in Whitechapel in 1888 was 1,200. Prostitution was, of course, not a glamorous trade. By the time women reached the age of twenty, they often would look twice their age due to heavy drinking, as well as their rough lifestyle. Women would often seek comfort in alcohol to escape the reality of their life, often leading to brutality and violence as a result of drunken brawls—a commonplace in Whitechapel (Scanlon).

Slum Clearing

In 1875, the Artisans’ and Laborers’ Dwellings Improvement Act was passed by Parliament. It was an act designed by Richard Cross to buy up the slums, demolish them and then rebuild. Its purpose was “to purge the lawless population of the common lodging houses from the neighborhood” (Jenks)—a way of “demolishing” crime and rebuilding lawful residences and neighborhoods. The first two “test” areas for demolition were the slum areas of Holborn and Whitechapel because they were considered to be some of the most dangerous and immoral (Yelling). The houses targeted in Whitechapel were those on Flower and Dean Street. However, the plan to “remove the nests of disease and crime” backfired. The evicted occupants relocated to Dorset Street and White’s Row, and the cycle continued all over again (Gray).

Whitechapel & Dorian Gray

Whitechapel is mentioned twice within the first five chapters of The Picture of Dorian Gray: in chapter two and chapter three. In chapter two, Dorian realizes that he forgot about his promise to go to the club in Whitechapel with Lord Henry’s aunt: “”I am in Lady Agatha’s black books at present,” answered Dorian with a funny look of penitence. “I promised to go to a club in Whitechapel with her last Tuesday, and I really forgot all about it. We were to have played a duet together – three duets, I believe. I don’t know what she will say to me. I am far too frightened to call.”” In this chapter, Dorian, not yet touched by Lord Henry’s influence, acts with his innocent qualities and feels guilt; his incredibly poor qualities have not yet been unveiled. However, his guilt does not seem to stem from forgetting the people of Whitechapel, but from the fear that he has disappointed someone of higher privilege—Lord Henry’s aunt—and that he will reap the consequences of his negligence.

Furthermore, when he reveals that he “forgot all about” going to Whitechapel, the “hub” of the East End that represents those in poverty, it foreshadows the events to come—especially his treatment of Sibyl Vane and her fate to follow. His disregard for those he deems “beneath” him turns out to be the leading cause of his demise. Just like the government’s disregard for those living in Whitechapel’s slums during the clearings, Dorian’s lack of concern for others in the interest of his own personal gain backfires. He loses more than he gains. (May I also mention the irony of the fact that she works at a theatre in Holborn, the other disregarded location of slum clearings that displaced the lives of already trodden people.)

In chapter three, Lord Henry and Dorian are at Lady Agatha’s for lunch. When Lady Agatha calls Lord Henry out on trying to persuade Dorian to give up the East End, she remarks: “But they are so unhappy in Whitechapel.” In which Henry replies, “I can sympathise with everything except suffering […] I cannot sympathise with that. It is too ugly, too horrible, too distressing. There is something terribly morbid in the modern sympathy with pain. One should sympathise with the colour, the beauty, the joy of life. The less said about life’s sores, the better”  Because Henry is obsessed with art and aesthetic beauty, he chooses to ignore the problems the East End face simply because they are not aesthetically pleasing and therefore, not worthy of his time. His disregard for the problems East-Enders face is later exhibited when Sybil commits suicide and his reaction is not one of horror or pity, but of carelessness as he tries to explain her death in terms of art and beauty.

When Sir Thomas continues by saying, “Still, the East End is a very important problem,” Henry replies, “Quite so […] It is the problem of slavery, and we try to solve it by amusing the slaves.” Lord Henry’s point here is valid. Instead of donating money, clothes, or shelter—the simple life necessities the East-Enders are in dire need of—the wealthy travel to Whitechapel to “amuse” the poor (but mostly, themselves). Their actions do not help the poor, but instead, only gives gratification to the wealthy who want to feel as if they’ve done something “charitable” and “good”—as if the poor need their presence to remind themselves of, and to juxtapose, the impoverished state they find themselves in.

When we return to Whitechapel later in the novel, in chapter eleven, Dorian has ventured into Whitechapel but not for the purposes of charity. Instead, as Dorian becomes more and more corrupt, he begins venturing into the East End for the purpose of committing crimes and doing drugs. Interestingly, when he ventures into the East End, he does not disclose his location to friends and acquaintances. In fact, he goes to the East End in disguise, dressed in the clothes of a commoner. His double life of existing in juxtaposed worlds, the West End and East End, is a direct parallel to his physical and mental double life—the ugliness of his soul and the beauty he wears from the painting. I believe an interesting commentary is being made here about class and location. Dorian, who lives in the wealthy and aesthetically pleasing West End, has the outer aesthetic beauty associated with the West End, but the hideous personality and morals associated with the ugly, run-down East End. Does outer beauty mean you live free of corruption? How much can aesthetic beauty really say about a person, and how much can it really say about the wealthy West End? You can dress up a monster in sleek trousers and a velvet coat, but it’s still a monster. Wilde, I believe, is blurring the lines between what separates the East End from the West. They are two sides of the same corrupted coin.


“Booth Poverty Map & Modern Map (Charles Booth Online Archive).” Charles Booth Online Archive. London School of Economics & Political Science, n.d. Web. 23 Nov. 2015.
Diniejko, Andrzej. “Slums and Slumming in Late-Victorian London.” The Victorian Web. The Victorian Web, 3 Oct. 2013. Web. 23 Nov. 2015.
Gray, Drew D. London’s Shadows: The Dark Side of the Victorian City. New York: Bloomsbury, 2010. 122-23. Google Books. Google Books, 1 July 2010. Web. 23 Nov. 2015.
Jenks, Chris. Urban Culture: Critical Concepts in Literary and Cultural Studies. Vol. 4. London: Taylor & Francis, 2004. 197-98. Google Books. Google Books. Web. 23 Nov. 2015.
“The Proceedings of the Old Bailey.” Old Bailey Online. The University of Sheffield, n.d. Web. 23 Nov. 2015.
Scanlon, Gina. “Whitechapel.” BBC America. BBC, 13 Dec. 2012. Web. 23 Nov. 2015.
“Whitechapel’s Sordid History.” Peach Properties. Peach Properties (UK) Ltd., 13 May 2015. Web. 23 Nov. 2015.
Yelling, J. A. Slums and Slum Clearance in Victorian London. New York: Routledge, 2012. 24. Google Books. Google Books, 21 Dec. 2006. Web. 23 Nov. 2015.

The Romance of a Shop: Royal Academy

Screen Shot 2015-10-27 at 5.01.01 PMThe Royal Academy of Arts located in Picadilly was founded in 1768 with the intention of cultivating and improving the arts of painting, sculpting, and architecture. The two main objectives of forming the Academy were to create a “well-regulated” school of design and to host an annual exhibition “to all artists of distinguished merit.” The Royal Academy’s active members (which vary in number time-to-time) are split into Academicians, Associates, and Associate Engravers. The Academicians are painters, sculptors, architects, and engravers. There are also Honorary Members, Honorary Retired Members, and Honorary Foreign Academicians. All members “whose work shows sufficient merit are permitted to contribute to its exhibitions” (Victorian Art).

The Royal Academy chooses its members as so: Associates are chosen through election. Those eligible for election are exhibitors, who are chosen by Academicians at the annual meeting at the Academy. The Academicians are chosen from the associates when a spot opens. As the Royal Academy was established through a charter, as a memorial for George III, all elected individuals must be given the signature of the reigning sovereign. Therefore, no individual membership within the Royal Academy is valid unless approved by the monarch (Victorian Art).

Because the Academy is a Royal establishment, it is unsurprising that those who live in its surrounding neighborhoods are either middle or upper class. Unlike many other areas we’ve looked at, there is no lower middle class or poor inhabitants mixed in. This may be why the crime in the area is so low to nonexistant. While searching the Old Bailey, I found no records of crime related to the Royal Academy.

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How does this relate to the story?

In Chapter 9, the first paragraph mentions that Frank “had invited all the people he knew in London to inspect his pictures and Mr. Oakley’s before they were sent in to the Royal Academy” (111). It is the mentioned that Mr. Oakley isn’t necessarily all that talented or sought after, but that his pictures make it into exhibition and are sold. Because both Frank and Mr. Oakley are artists whose work is shown in the Royal Academy exhibition, it is implied that they are very wealthy.


Works Cited

“Victorian Art Institutions: Academies, Schools, Galleries.” The Victorian Web. N.p., 20 July 2015. Web. 27 Oct. 2015.

St. John’s Wood Road

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The location I received was St. John’s Wood Road located just west of Regent’s Park. According to the Charles Booth Online Archive, St. John’s Wood Road was an area inhabited by the rich. The road is lined with some red, but mostly yellow rectangles, signifying that the Upper middle and Upper class resided there. Upon searching the proceedings of Old Bailey, I found that crime was at a very minimum: only two crimes appeared in the search, both of which were theft. The Victorian map leaves much to the imagination as to what buildings existed here, but the two buildings that are labeled are homes for children: Hospital and Home for Incurable Children, and Home for Female Orphans. However, after researching further I found that St. John’s Wood was home to many artists that formed the St. John’s Wood Clique, as well as the St. John’s Wood Arts Club in 1895. The St. John’s Wood Clique was an “informal gathering of artists with a shared aesthetic outlook” (The Saint John’s Wood Art Club). In contrast, St. John’s Wood Arts Club was a formal meet-up of artists living around the St. John’s Wood area.
In addition to art clubs, there was also an art school, “St John’s Wood Art School,” founded in 1878. The school was meant for those who wanted to gain skills in “life drawing and painting; head and costume; drawing and painting from still life, antique, drapery, etc.; Anatomy; Observation and memory class; Composition class; Lettering, drawing for reproduction, poster painting, design, perspective and architectural drawing; and Mural decoration” (Scrapbook). The attendance of St. John’s Wood Art School was a prerequisite in order to attend the Royal Academy schools. Both female and male students were accepted (St. John’s Wood School of Art).
Female students at the St. John’s Wood Art School
Relating Information to the Text
After learning about St. John’s Wood Art School, I made the connection between the classes offered at the school and Ilene Adler’s artistic talents: acting and disguise. On page 14, Ilene Adler writes in her note, “But, you know, I have been trained as an actress myself. Male costume is nothing new to me.” When Holmes is walking home, Ilene follows him in the disguise of a man in order to make sure that the man disguised as an old clergyman is actually Holmes. When she is made certain of this, she leaves her home in St. John’s Wood and flees into Europe with her new husband. Because women were allowed to attend the art school, and because Ilene has studied acting and disguise, it would be reasonable to suppose that Ilene attended St. John’s Wood Art School. Her location in St. John’s Wood would tell the Victorian reader that Ilene was wealthy and artistically trained—making her capabilities to disguise herself plausible.  
I also found it interesting that in the story, the area which she lives is fictional Serpentine Avenue. Perhaps this name is given because Ilene is much like a snake: she has potential to be dangerous and she can sneak around without being noticed. Her danger comes from her ability to outwit men who are considered to be smarter than women; she outwits both Sherlock and the King of Bohemia. She also is still in possession of the photo, which she can use to “strike”  at the king if he ever tries to cause her harm. Second, she’s sneaky because, as mentioned previously, she is a master of disguise and can move around London without being noticed as herself. 
Works Cited
“Scrapbook of St. John’s Wood Art Schools.” Yale Center for British Art. The Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Ar, n.d. Web. 17 Oct. 2015.
“The St John’s Wood Arts Club, 1895.” National Portrait Gallery. National Portrait Gallery, n.d. Web. 17 Oct. 2015.
“St. John’s Wood School of Art.” Artist Biographies. Artist Biographies Ltd., n.d. Web. 17 Oct. 2015.

Chancery Lane, London

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Chancery Lane is mentioned once in George Egerton’s “A Lost Masterpiece” and is the location of the story’s climax: “It was near Chancery Lane that a foreign element cropped up and disturbed the rich flow of my fancy.” During my research, I found that Chancery Lane was a middle class area where the “well-to-do” lived. Along Chancery Lane one could find numerous banks and law houses. Two important law buildings that resided in the area were Lincoln’s Inn and Roll’s House. Lincoln’s Inn was home to England’s second most powerful court, the Court of Chancery. Lincoln’s Inn was a court of equity, meaning that it dealt with cases concerning money: wills, monetary fraud, tax raises etc. The atmosphere of Lincoln’s Inn is described as “the best locality for observing the physiology of legal life” (Jackson). The Roll’s House is where the rolls and records of the court are kept.
Outside of Lincoln’s Inn is Lincoln’s Inn Fields. Lincoln’s Inn Fields was considered the handsomest and largest square in London, but was also littered with crime: “beggars by day and of robbers at night” (Thornbury). In Lincoln’s Inn Fields it was not uncommon to find vagrants and cripples who begged for money and went to extremes to come off as pitiful beings.
Chancery Lane as a place of sneaky crime and prestigious court ties in with “A Lost Masterpiece.” In the story, the narrator is traveling through London after having returned from the countryside. After arriving in London, the narrator begins growing ideas in his head that he believes to be the start of a masterpiece. However, once he arrives to Chancery Lane, he sees a woman who “disturbed the rich flow of [his] fancy.” The woman was dressed professionally and was walking with haste. The sight and image of the woman disrupts the man’s thought process and he loses the idea he believed to be brilliant. He gets angry at the woman as if her very presence was a crime within itself: “What business had she, I ask, to come and thrust her white-handled umbrella into the delicate net work of my nerves and untune their harmony?” Although the woman’s presence is not actually a crime, it becomes ironic because of the location. 
Works Cited
“Booth Poverty Map & Modern Map (Charles Booth Online Archive).” Charles Booth Online Archive. London School of Economics & Political Science, n.d. Web. 10 Sept. 2015.
Egerton, George [Mary Chavelita Dunne Bright]. “A Lost Masterpiece.” The Yellow Book 1 (Apr. 1894): 189-96. The Yellow Nineties Online. Ed. Dennis Denisoff and Lorraine Janzen Kooistra. Ryerson Universty, 2010. 9 September 2015.
Jackson, Lee. “Victorian London – Legal System – Courts – Chancery.”Victorian London – Legal System – Courts – Chancery. The Victorian Dictionary, n.d. Web. 09 Sept. 2015.
Thornbury, Walter. ‘Lincoln’s Inn Fields.’ Old and New London: Volume 3. London: Cassell, Petter & Galpin, 1878. 44-50. British History Online. Web. 10 September 2015.

Researching the Victorians: Toy Shops

          Toyland, a toy shop in Victorian London, was a popular destination for Christmas shoppers looking to purchase their son, daughter, niece, or nephew the perfect toy for the winter holiday. The toy-shopper, in this case “Uncle Jonathan,” enters the store and immediately recognizes the “shelves piled up with boxes” containing a variety of toys such as dolls, teapots, lanterns, puzzles, bats and balls (Jackson). Just as parents and older family members experience upon entering toy stores today, the shopper recognizes that toys have improved since they were a child. There is an overwhelmingly large selection of new and unfamiliar toys available to Uncle Jonathan, and he spends his time looking through what Toyland has to offer, imagining himself as a child again and considering what toys would bring him joy (Jackson).
          Toyland offers a variety of toys, all of which are targeted toward different age groups and genders. There are toys for child boys, child girls, and infants. Girls toys are typically dolls, but also include “skipping-ropes, battledores, tennis rackets, and hoops” (Jackson). The dolls are presented wrapped in tissue paper inside boxes. They are made of “wax, china, or rag” with “flaxen hair, sparkling blue eyes that open [and] shut […], a charming face, and the very pinkest of pink toes” (Jackson). Dolls are typically found as baby dolls or brides, and clothing is often made to dress the doll up:  bridal, tennis, casual, and proper dresses. Toys available to boys are “lanterns with green and red lights,” “rocking-horses,” “Tally Ho!,” “trumpets and drums,” “puzzles,” “bats and balls,” and “bows and arrows” (Jackson). Infant toys consist of “elephants, Noah’s arks, Punch and Judy, and windmills” (Jackson). If an abundance of toys were bought and could not all be carried out, the shop would deliver the excess (Jackson).
Jackson, Lee. “Dictionary of Victorian London – Victorian History – ChildhoodToys –Toy Shops.” Dictionary of Victorian London. Yale University Press, 15 Nov. 2001. Web. 26 Aug. 2015. <>


Hello there Professor Swafford and fellow classmates! My name is Shianne (pronounced shy-ann). I am a senior, and an English major. I’m very excited to get to know all of you and learn about Victorian London. I have never been to London, or any part of Europe for that matter, but will be travelling there this winter for a couple weeks. I am very excited to get to visually compare what we will be learning in this course with my own experiences in London this coming winter.

I found the reading to be a really great overview of Victorian London; I know very little about the history and geography of London and found this article to be a helpful start. I (unsurprisingly) learned that London, like many large cities, was divided into “rich” and “poor” areas–the North and West being the wealthy, safe areas, and the South and East being the poor, and more dangerous living and working areas. However, I found interesting that the introduction of various forms of transportation, as well as Acts created to stabalize low costs of transportation (i.e The Cheap Trains Act of 1883), allowed for lower working class London residents to move into safer, surrounding areas such as West Ham and Walthamstow. The accessiblility of transportation to non-wealthy residents feels very progressive for its time. Furthermore, the growth and success of charity and city-funded public places (i.e. museums, parks, munipal housing) is also incredibly progressive, especially when London was just being built from the ground up less than two hundred years earlier. I found it admirable that municipal housing for the poor is not a new concept, and has been existant in large cities for nearly two centuries. I was also incredibly impressed to learn how quickly railways, both above ground and below, were assembled. In just 25 years, London revolutionized transportation and working life by the addition of the railway system.