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Physical Transformation of European Cities Essay (Critical Writing)

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Updated: Dec 13th, 2021

Introduction

The substantial growth experienced by European cities during the mid 19th Century is partly attributed to the emergence of new technologies and innovations at the time. A majority of the cities in Europe underwent a substantial physical transformation that impacted greatly on the social life of their occupants. However, by 1850, a number of these cities were already experiencing major problems as a result of poor urban planning. Consequently, the accumulation of sewage, disease outbreaks, poverty and crime now characterized a majority of these cities. It is important to note that these problems sought to influence the social life of people living in these urban cities, at the time. Therefore, it became necessary to institute quick interventions that when implemented would help to mitigate these problems that had been occasioned by the physical transformation of the cities in Europe.

The transformation

After1850, urban planning became very popular. Parks were built in cities to reduce congestion while the older sections of the cities were demolished to pave way for the construction of modern buildings, avenues, railroad stations, and memorials (“Local needs and the sanitized city” 1). As a result of the construction of these structures, the problems that had dogged the urban cities in Europe prior to 1850 were somewhat contained. Paris, under the leadership of Napoleon III, became the first city in Europe to implement the idea of urban planning during the 1950s. Following the success of this initiative, Paris became a yardstick with which other major cities as London, Berlin and Rome would assess their urban planning projects.

Social consequences of the transformation

This had a tremendous effect on European urbanization which, in turn, led to the establishment of industries in the urban areas. These events had a tremendous effect on the economic development that was witnessed in Europe in this period. Infrastructural structures that were set up during this time helped the European community in a variety of situations for a long time. For example, a large number of the population used to walk to work with the exception of those who used carriages drawn by horses. By the start of the 20th Century, however, electric cars were introduced as an additional form of transport (Bernhardt 26). As a result, passengers could commute to and fro cities conveniently.

The transformation of European cities had a huge impact on the lives of the people living there at the time. The most commendable impact was its contribution to the reduction of problems that were in the society. People who used to go to work on horsebacks and horse-drawn carts could use electric cars after the transformation. In addition, sewage disposal systems were constructed, reducing disease prevalence. Parks reduced city congestion and the transformation process provided jobs, in effect helping to alleviate poverty. Consequently, there was a marked reduction in crime levels among the urban population. Present-day urban architecture in Europe shares a lot of similarities with the architecture that was set up at the time. Generally, the transformation led to a better society (Butler 1).

Conclusion

The transformation of European cities in the second half of the 19th Century was very conspicuous and had tremendous effects on urbanization. The transformation gave a new face to European cities and influenced life in urban areas significantly. Accordingly, it could be argued that the transformation pioneered the implementation of worldwide urbanization.

Works Cited

Bernhardt, Christoph. Environmental problems in European cities in the 19th and 20th Century. Berlin: Waxmann Verlag, 2001.

Butler, Chris. “The speed of industrialization beyond Britain.” 2007. Web.

UC Press. “Local needs and the sanitized city.” 2000. Web.

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