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  • Print publication year: 2001
  • Online publication date: March 2008

3 - Modern London

from Part I - Circulation
This chapter focuses on four interrelated aspects of London's history, such as government, social geography, economy and Empire. It discusses the city's economy, and the relationship of London with the rest of the world, especially its role as Heart of the Empire. Writing about New York City in the period 1890-1940, David Ward and Olivier Zunz discuss modernity as the combination of rational planning and cultural pluralism. The City Corporation was irrelevant as far as most of London was concerned, and the Municipal Corporations Act had passed London by, though it could be argued that some vestries were at least as efficient as some reformed corporations elsewhere in the country. All kinds of multi-family building also presented problems concerning the way in which space was actually used. The economy of Victorian London has often been characterised as technologically backward, effectively 'pre-industrial' in its manufacturing, typified by an absence of factories and a continuing preponderance of small-scale workshops.
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The Cambridge Urban History of Britain
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