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A period of industrialization is one that every modernized and progressive nation must undergo, and indeed, every power of the contemporary world and every country that participates in the modern system has done so after its own industrial revolution. Today we view this period as a necessary steppingstone to greater civilization and praise its ultimate outcomes, such as the global expansion of capitalism. However, periods of industrialization itself were not so glorious. Many problems first arose, especially in the first industrial nation, England, before the rapid progress and benefits to the general population came into effect. Overcrowding and severe sanitation problems, as well as the place of the new working class were both important issues.

As is evident from the maps of Manchester in 1750 and 1850, provided by W.H. Thomson and Ashley Baynton-Williams, respectively, the areas of development and the sheer volume of the city grew enormously—perhaps ten-fold—in a mere hundred years. With such phenomenal expansion, a mass exodus of some portion of the English population must have been taking place, and indeed, many rural youths and country families decided to relocate to emerging Manchester is search of a brighter future, excitement, and greater opportunities. One city cannot possible accommodate an overnight population explosion so smoothly, however. As Robert Southey, a Romantic poet offering a characteristically terse and emotional view, wrote, “A place more destitute than Manchester is not easy to conceive. In size and population it is the second city of the kingdom. Imagine this multitude crowded together in narrow streets, the houses all built of brick and blackened with smoke…” Overcrowding was severe, and with it came inevitable sanitary horrors. Filth, excrement, and garbage sat festering in streets, alleys, and basements, serving only to perpetuate disease. Who better to stres

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