Why were cities so unhealthy?


In the beginning of the 19th century thousands of people started top work in factories in towns and cities. For many people it was the beginning of a life of smoky, cramped and unhealthy streets. The question is why was it so smoky, cramped and unhealthy to live in the city. There are three main reasons. Housing and health, water and waste and dirt and disease.

††††††††††† The problem with housing was that the politicians and the rich did not worry or bother about the lives of the poor. The houses that people lived in were probably smaller than a living room today. The houses were all terraced and more often than not built back-to-back. There was a very high demand for houses during the 19th century. Houses were built so fast that they were not built to high standards. There was also no law that said that you had to build houses that were up to a certain standard, or have running water and sewerage. Some of the people were so poor that they could not even afford to rent a house. These people had to live in the basements of other peopleís houses. These basements were damp cold and more often than not flooded. The people did not have gardens or yards in which to keep their animals. This meant that they had to keep their animals in their houses. The animals were kept on a heap of hay in the corner of the room. This was not a nice place to live. This is very unhealthy and lead to more disease and death.

††††††††††† Another problem that would cause disease was the waste and water. Everything that we have today, like running water and sewerage pipes underground, the people in the beginning of the 19th century did not have. The council did not believe that it was their job to give people these things. Builders did not believe that it was their job ether. It took years before people started to solve the problem. The council knew that there was a problem, so did the politicians. They just did not think that they needed to solve it. Just because there was no running water in houses did not mean that people went around without water. They still needed it. People would queue for ages to fill up buckets and kettles with water that was piped up from under the ground. This water was dirty though. The water came from under the ground were all of the human waste was dumped. The waste then seeped into the water making it dirty.

Some people drank the rainwater that would be collected in buckets outside of houses. This water was also not clean. This is because the water would have come down from the sky were all of the smoke and smog is. Another thing they did was to bring water in from the rivers. This was also not clean because the water is mixed with all of the dirt. The people also through there waste into the river. This is very unhealthy.

Apart from the horrible thought of it there is the smell. It would have been unbearable if you were not used to it. The privies were not be cleaned for over half a year. The cesspits were not connected to sewers. The waste was just left there for ages.

These are all just little things that lead up to one big thing. Disease. There were many deadly diseases around during that time. All of which could be cured with a simple jab today. Tuberculosis, typhoid, typhus, scarlet fever, the measles and cholera were just a few of the deadly diseases. The cholera disease killed over 31 000 people in 1831 and 1832. The people during these times did not have the medical knowledge to prevent these things. The diseases them selves could have been prevented by sewerage and clean water.

The doctors knew that there was a connection between the dirty water and sewerage. They di dnot take action though. This is because the middle and upper classes in towns and cities did not want to see the money they were paying on taxes go to such things. The politians could have raised the taxes, but if they had then the middle and upper classes would not have voted for them. The working classes would have voted that they should pay money for sewerage and running clean water, but the working class could not vote. This left them with no power.

††††††††††† From all of this I think that it could have been prevented very easily. The council just didnít want to spend money on peopleís lives. They just watched as people died. They knew what the problem was and could have solved it, but they chose not to. Laws were the passed that said that houses had to be built with running clean water and sewerage pipes, the houses also had to be built to a certain standard. This action took ages to happen though.


By Kayleigh Hembrough