Urban Life During the Second Industrial Revolution Essay

Urban Life During the Second Industrial Revolution Essay

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Urban Life During the Second Industrial Revolution

The trend towards densely populated urban centers begun in 1800's continued into the 1900's. Man's development of urban centers was a major step away from what seemed to be nature's way of living: on farms and sparsely placed homesteads. Industrial production required hundreds of thousands of workers and, especially in the second industrial revolution, scientists. The urban centers that emerged during this period, such as Paris, London, and Berlin, were quickly changing the ratios of population from rural to urban Berlin's population, for example, went from 66% rural in 1871 to almost 66% urban before the first World War (see "The Second Industrial Revolution").

With the influx of people to urban centers came the increasingly obvious problem of city layouts. The crowded streets which were, in some cases, the same paths as had been "naturally selected" by wandering cows in the past were barely passing for the streets of a quarter million commuters. In 1853, Napoleon III named Georges Haussmann "prefect of the Seine," and put him in charge of redeveloping Paris' woefully inadequate infrastructure (Kagan, The Western Heritage Vol. II, pp. 564-565). This was the first and biggest example of city planning to fulfill industrial needs that existed in Western Europe. Paris' narrow alleys and apparently random placement of intersections were transformed into wide streets and curving turnabouts that freed up congestion and aided in public transportation for the scientists and workers of the time. Man was no longer dependent on the natural layout of cities; form was beginning to follow function. Suburbs, for example, were springing up around major cities. This housing arrangem...


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...tion from their peers (Kagan, p. 564).

So the natural layout of large urban centers eventually gave way to a structured, logically designed cities near the turn of the century. With the help of industrial products such as steel and concrete, new forms were being used to maximize utility in crowded urban areas. Sanitation reform was underway to combat the natural forces of disease and other health hazards, and science was beginning to find the origins of disease and decay. All these developments show mankind taking a less natural approach to society, and bending nature to its will.

Other Sources:

Kagan, Ozment, & Turner. The Western Heritage Vol. II. Prentice Hall, 1996

Pacey, Arnold. Technology in World Civilization. MIT Press, 1991

Kranzberg, Arnold and Carroll W. Pursell Jr. Technology in Western Civilization. Oxford University Press, 1967

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