0
Characteristics of City: 


Ancient cities developed when food became surplus to support a wide range of non-food producers. Cities were the centres of political power, administrative network, trade and industry, religious institutions and intellectual activity. The cities supported various social groups.

Industrialization and the Rise of the Modern City of England
Many decades after the beginning of the industrial revolution, most Western countries were largely rural. In the early industrial cities of Britain, most of the people were migrants from rural areas.
By 1750, one out of every nine person of England and Wales lived in London. It was a big city with a population of about 675,000. Between 1810 and 1880, the population of London multiplied fourfold; increasing from 1 million to about 4 million.
The city of London was a powerful magnet for migrant populations; although there was no large factory in London. The London dockyard was among the major employer. Additionally, large numbers of people were employed in clothing and footwear, wood and furniture, metals and engineering, printing and stationary and precision products.
During the First World War (1914 – 1918), manufacturing of motor cars and electrical goods began in London and this marked the beginning of large factories in the city. Over due course of time, about one-third of all jobs in the city were created in these factories.

Marginal Groups
When the city of London grew in size, crime also flourished. As per estimates, about 20,000 criminals were living in London in the 1870s. Many people who failed to find gainful employment often resorted to petty crimes. Sometimes, the crime provided a better source of earning than doing some of the low paying jobs in the small factories.
Many women, who were employed in the factories during war years, lost their jobs and were forced to work within households. Many of them tried to earn by renting their homes or by other activities; like tailoring, washing or matchbox making.
Many poor children were forced into low-paid work, often by their parents. Compulsory Elementary Education Act was passed in 1870 and the factory acts were passed in 1902. These acts ensured that the children could be kept out of industrial work.

Housing: The flow of migrants to cities created problems of housing. Housing facilities were not provided by the employers. Private landowners provided cheap but unsafe tenements for the migrant workers. According to a survey done by Charles Booth (a Liverpool shipowner) in 1887, about 1 million Londoners were very poor. This comprised about 20% of the population of London at that time. The life expectancy of the poor was 29 years; compared to 55 years among the gentry and the middle class. Charles Booth concluded that London needed to rebuild at least 400,000 rooms to house its poorest citizens.
The large number of one-room houses occupied by the poor was seen as serious threat to public health. Those rooms were poorly ventilated and there was no arrangement for sanitation. They also posed fire hazard. People living in poor conditions were also potential hotspots for social disorder. To prevent the London poor, workers’ mass housing schemes were planned.

Cleaning London
Various steps were taken to clean up the city of London. Steps were taken to decongest localities, green the open spaces, reduce pollution and landscape the city. Large blocks of apartments were built. Rent control was introduced during the First World War, to reduce the burden on people.
Between the two World Wars, the British state accepted the responsibility for housing the working class. Local authorities built about one million houses. Most of them were single-family cottages.
During this period, the city expanded beyond the range where people could walk to work. This necessitated the development of new forms of mass transport.

Transport in the City
This was the period when the London underground railway was built. The first section of the Underground opened in 1863 between Paddington and Farrington. The train service was expanded by 1880 to carry 40 million passengers a year.
Initial public reaction towards the Underground was negative. Many people were critical of the way many houses were demolished to make way for construction of underground. Many people were not comfortable of the idea of travelling in smoke filled underground railway. But ultimately, the Underground proved to be a huge success.

Social Change in the City
The family became smaller and individualism increased. The institution of marriage tended to break down among the working class. Women of the upper middle classes in Britain faced increasing levels of isolation. Many social reformers felt a need to save the family by pushing the women back into the home.
Most of the political movements of this period were largely participated by male. It took some time before women could actively participate in political movements.
The positive aspect of these changes was that the family became the focus of the new market.

Leisure and Consumption
For wealthy British, there had been a tradition of ‘London Season’. For the elite families, many cultural events were organized.
People from the working classes met in pubs. The pub was the centre of exchanging news and views for them. Libraries, art galleries and museums were established in the nineteenth century to provide people with a sense of history and pride in the British achievements. Music halls were popular among the lower classes. By the early twentieth century, cinema became a popular entertainment across all classes.
The trend of spending holidays on beaches increased among the working classes.

Politics in the City
A large city population was both a threat and an opportunity from political perspective. This was a period when many mass strikes and protests erupted in the city. Some of them were brutally suppressed by the police. The State authorities worked towards reducing the possibility of rebellion and enhance urban aesthetics

The City in Colonial India
The situation in India was somewhat different from that in Western Europe. The pace of urbanization was slow during colonial rule. In the early twentieth century, no more than 11% of population was living in cities. A major chunk of the urban dwellers were living in the three Presidency cities, viz. Bombay, Madras and Calcutta.
The Presidential cities were multi-functional cities. These cities had major ports, warehouses, homes and offices, army camps, educational institutions, museums and libraries. Because of being the hubs of business and political activities, these cities grew in population.
Bombay expanded rapidly from the late 19th century. The population of Bombay grew from 644,000 in 1872 to 1,500,000 in 1941.

Bombay: The Prime City of India
In the seventeenth century, Bombay was under Portuguese control. It was a group of seven islands. In 1661; after the marriage of Britain’s King Charles II to the Portuguese princess; the control of Bombay passed into British hands. After that, the East India Company shifted its base from Surat to Bombay.
Initially, Bombay was the major outlet for cotton textiles from Gujarat. Later, in the nineteenth century, it became the transit hub for large quantities of raw materials; like cotton and opium.
Gradually, it became an important administrative centre. By the end of the nineteenth century, Bombay became a major industrial centre.

Work in The city
After the defeat of the Maratha in the Anglo-Maratha War, Bombay became the capital of Bombay Presidency in 1819. With the growth of trade in cotton and opium, large communities of traders, bankers, artisans and shopkeepers settled in the city. Opening of textile mills initiated a fresh round of migration to the city.
The first cotton textile mill in Bombay opened in 1854. By 1921, there were 85 cotton mills. About 146,000 workers worked in these mills. Between 1881 and 1931, only about one-fourth of the inhabitants of the city were born in this city.
Between 1919 and 1926, women formed about 23% of the mill workforce. After that their number dropped steadily to less than 10% of the total workforce.
The railways encouraged migration into the city at even larger scale. Famine in the dry regions of Kutch forced a large number of people to migrate to Bombay in 1888 – 89. In 1898, the district authorities were so much worried during the plague epidemic that they sent about 30,000 people back to their places of origin by 1901.

Housing and Neighbourhoods
Bombay was a much crowded city; compared to London. In the late 1840s, each Londoner enjoyed an average space of 155 sq yards. In Bombay, each person had to manage with just 9.5 sq yards. About 8 persons lived per house in London, while in Bombay this figure was 20 persons per house.
The Bombay Fort area formed the heart of the city in the early 1800s. It was divided between a ‘native’ town and a European of ‘white’ section. This racial pattern was similar in all three Presidency cities.
The city developed in an unplanned way; which led to huge crisis of water supply and housing by the mid 1850s.
The rich people lived in sprawling bungalows. But more than 70% of the working people lived in the thickly populated chawls of Bombay. About 90% of millworkers used to live in Girangaon. This was not more than 15 minutes’ walk from the mills.
A chawl was a multi-storeyed structure. These houses were usually owned by private landlords. Each chawl was divided into smaller one-room tenements. The tenements had no private toilets. The rent was so high that people were forced to share a tenement with relatives or caste fellows.
Since homes were small; so streets and neighbourhoods became the place for various activities; like cooking washing and sleeping. Liquor shops and akharas came up in any empty spot. Street entertainers and hawkers also used those empty spaces.
People from the lower castes found it difficult to find housing. These people were kept out of many chawls. They often had to live in shelters made of corrugated sheets, leaves or bamboo poles.
The City of Bombay Improvement Trust was established in 1898. Its focus was clearing poorer homes out of the city centre. In 1918, about 64,000 people were evicted from their homes but only 14,000 were rehabilitated. A Rent Act was passed in 1918, in an effort to keep the rents under control. But this led to a severe housing crisis because landlords withdrew houses from the market.

Land Reclamation in Bombay
Bombay had largely been built on the land which was reclaimed from the sea. The earliest reclamation project began in 1784. William Hornby; the governor of Bombay; approved the building of the great sea wall to prevent flooding of the low lying areas.
Many reclamation projects were taken up from time to time. By 1870s, the city had expanded to about 22 sq miles. Even the famous Marine Drive had been built on the reclaimed land.

The City of Dreams: Cinema and Culture
The first Hindi movie; Raja Harishchandra; was made by Dadasaheb Phalke in 1913. By 1925, Bombay had become the film capital of India. In 1947, about Rs. 756 million was invested in about 50 films which were produced in that year. By 1987, about 520,000 people were employed in the film industry.
Most of the people in the film industry were migrants from different places. In a way, they also contributed to the national character of the industry.

Cities and the challenge of the environment
The development of cities resulted in long lasting damage to the environment. Use of coal in homes and industries in the nineteenth century England raised serious problems. In most of the cities, black smoke from the chimneys gave a permanent gray tone to the sky. Many people suffered from bad tempers, smoke-related illnesses and dirty clothes. By the 1840s, some towns such as Derby, Leeds and Manchester made laws to control smoke in the city. But it was difficult to implement these laws because industrialists did not want to invest in cleaner technologies.
Similar problems were witnessed in the Presidential cities in India. Burning of biomass and coal by homemakers, industries and railways created lot of smoke and black soot in the cities. Much legislation was passed to control air pollution but they could not produce the desired results.

Post a Comment

 
Top