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London: a Life in Google Maps

6. Victorian London: social problems and their solutions

London more than doubled in size and population between 1851 and 1901. Maps played a major role in Victorian London. As well as recording the face of the city, maps were used to identify and analyse the causes of many of its numerous social problems. These included poverty and unhealthy living conditions made worse by recurrent visitations of cholera.

Railways arrived on the fringes of London from 1836, bringing people and yet more problems. The need to improve living conditions in the East End lay behind the creation of Victoria Park in the 1840s. An impressive tally of parks, commons and elegant new cemeteries followed. Other proposals, like Kingsway (1900-05), saw grand avenues being created while networks of ancient, picturesque and insanitary lanes, with a few exceptions, were demolished.

Click the pins on the Google Map above or follow the links below to view some of the key maps from this period in our Online Gallery.

Survey of land belonging to the Foundling Hospital
Plan of Property in St John's Street, 1812
Scharf drawing of Bloomsbury Square, c.1830
Map of areas granted to the Electrical Light Supply Companies
George Biggs' Railway Map, 1842
Plan showing the sewers between Bloomsbury and the Thames, 1844
Photograph of houses in Wych Street before demolition, c.1880

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