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Charles Booth's 'Descriptive Map of London Poverty'. Detail showing the City of London and the East End

Charles Booth's 'Descriptive Map of  London Poverty'. Detail showing the City of London and the East End

Surveyor: Booth, Charles

Medium: Engraving, coloured

Date: 1889

Shelfmark: Maps.182.C.1

Item number: detail

Genre: Map

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The East End of London is the hell of poverty. Like one enormous black, motionless giant kraken, the poverty of London lies there in lurking silence and encircles with its mighty tentacles the life and wealth of the City. So wrote J H Mackay in 1891. It was acknowledged that the blame lay with overcrowded housing and with a surplus of labour, which kept wages low for those lucky enough to find work. Statistics for 1888 showed that the East End had 8,465 official paupers - people 'living rough'. According to Charles Booth's survey in 1889, over a third of its inhabitants lived on or below the margin of poverty. His 17-volume survey included this coloured-coded map indicating London's poverty and prosperity street by street. The key to the colours used is as follows:

Gold: Upper-middle and Upper classes.Wealthy.

Red: Well-to-do. Middle-class.

Pink: Fairly comfortable. Good ordinary earning.

Purple: Mixed. Some comfortable, others poor.

Pale Blue: Poor. 18s. to 21s. a week for moderate family.

Dark blue: Very poor, casual. Chronic want.

Black: Lowest class. Vicious, semi-criminal.

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