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During the Industrial Revolution in England, families streamed to urban areas for employment, & builders threw up substandard housing on any land close to factories.
Homes with 2-4 rooms frequently housed families with 4-5 children.
Houses in northern England were "back to backs" (built in double rows) crammed close together, with very narrow streets between them.
Many lived in ‘closed courts’ with a narrow alley providing entrance to a cluster of apartments for around 350.
Chimneys, bridges and factory smoke blocked out much of the light in the towns. Coal was used to generate steam in order to power machines for the factories, and coal generated huge quantities of smoke that covered towns like a blanket.
Burning of coal, generated smoke and soot that was dense enough to block sunlight. Hlumans generate vitamin D when their skin is exposed to sunlight, and vitamin D is essential to growth and development of healthy bones. The lack of sunlight was so severe that, some children developed rickets.
Household rubbish was thrown into the streets, and garbage removal was infrequent.
Outhouse toilets were shared. In Manchester there were 2 privies for every 250 people in the 1850s. Instead of privies, there was often a tub that required daily emptying. In Manchester 7,000 people were supplied with about 30 of these tubs.
Working class families generally had no running water or toilet. Water was obtained from community pumps, but these were sometimes contaminated with sewage.
In London private companies provided water to businesses & households that could afford to pay for the service. And, the companies that piped water drew it directly from the Thames River (which was also used for disposal of sewage, garbage & anything else that was unwanted).
An 1827 cartoon poking fun at "Monster Soup", water from the Thames River.
Outbreaks of cholera killed thousands of people on both sides of the Atlantic.
There were many occupational hazards. Mechanization involved dangerous equipment, & there were frequent injuries.
Children were often employed to perform dangerous work for long hours. Many of Charles Dickens’s books described the difficult times and especially the difficult lot of children.
Children were even employed in mines. Coal mines were subject to cave-ins, explosions, and many injuries, but there were few safety rules.
In 1842 The Mines Act was passed forbidding the employment of women and girls and all boys under the age of ten.
Woman and children worked in poorly ventilated textile factories using dangerous equipment.
New York's Lower East Side: The US also underwent rapid transition from a rural, agricultural society to an intensely urban and industrial one.
Lifespan in the mid 1800s was shockingly brief, and the heaviest toll was on working class families. NOTE: Also see John Graunt's life table for survival in London in Table 1-2 on page 11 of the textbook (Ashengrau & Seage, 2nd edition)

A series of drawings and photos depicting relevant public health problems from the 1800s to the early 1900s. Captions are included for each.

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