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1. Cities of Chimneys. Author: Katarzyna Czekaj, 2010, Poland

Source Credits

Presentation – appendix - K. Czekaj, Cities of Chimneys.

Photograph used in the presentation:

  1. Liberty Square in Lodz (Plac Wolnosci) – postcard, source:
  2. Priest's Mill Residence (Ksiezy Mlyn) in Lodz – postcard, source:
  3. Izrael Poznanski Palace in Lodz – postcard, source:
  4. Karol Poznanski Palace in Lodz – postcard, source:
  5. Bird’s-eye-view of Manchester – postcard, source:
  6. Mechanical Plant Borman, Szwede and the company in Warsaw, Trade and Industry Guide to Warsaw for the year 1914/1915
  7. Wodny Rynek in Lodz (market place) – postcard, source:
  8. Children on the street of Bradford, source:
  9. Women working in a bucket factory, source:
  10. Women working in a wash-house, source:
  11. Piotrkowska Street in Lodz – postcard and Liberty Square in Lodz – postcard, sources:
  12. Liberty Square in Lodz – postcard, source:
  13. Tram on a street of Lodz – postcard, source:

Excerpts used in the presentation:

  1. Alexis de Tocqueville, translated by G. Lawrence and K. P. Mayer, edited by J. P. Mayer, Voyages en Angleterre et en Irlande (Journeys to England and Ireland), New Haven, CT, 1958, Yale University Press.
  2. Eugene Buret, free translation by K. Czekaj from Budnicki A.(1840), De la misere des classes laborieuses en Angleterre et en France (Ubostwo klas najniższych w Anglii i Francji), Paris after: Sobańska-Bondaruk M., Lenard, S.B. (1998). Wiek XIX w źrodlach. Wydawnictwo PWN, s. 137-138.
  3. 3. Prószyński K. Zeleznice konne i kanalizacja. (1881). „Gazeta Świąteczna”, nr 27, s. 3, za: Chomicki G., Śliwa L. (2001). Wiek XIX teksty źródłowe. Free translation by K. Czekaj.
  4. Smiskova A. (1896), free translation by K. Czekaj. Upominek dla matek i gospodyń. Warszawa 1896; source: http://www.polona.pl/dlibra/docmetadata?id=16884&dirids=1


Dynamic industrialization and development of relations based on private capital and freedom of trade led to the development of a new socio-economic system called capitalism. A group cumulating capital in its hands (merchants, factory owners, bankers, entrepreneurs) is called bourgeoisie. Workers employed in factories and other forms of business (coming from former common people and rural population) in the late nineteenth century, created a tight group known as proletariat. The intelligentsia is the third social group. It is constituted by people engaged in mental labour regardless of their social background. The citizens engaged in small trade and crafts is called petite bourgeoisie (or lower middle class). These four major groups reside in nineteenth-century industrial cities.


  1. What characteristic elements of the development of industrial cities in the nineteenth century can you specify?
  2. What are the biggest drawbacks related to the life of people in industrial cities?
  3. What inventions facilitated people’s life in the nineteenth century cities?
  4. How would you characterize the situation of women in societies of industrial cities? What changes was made comparing to earlier periods?

Display teacher's view to find the answers.

Description and Analysis

  1. The characteristic elements of the development of industrial cities are: factories (built in city centres and in the outskirts) with high chimneys as well as workers’ housing estates that create dense housing complexes, schools, hospitals, and shops exclusive for particular factory workers.
  2. Enormous pollution caused by factories, but also due to the lack of sewer system (in many cities and districts) were inconveniences in industrial cities. Poorer citizens struggle also with the lack of hygiene and resulting from it (as well from malnutrition) diseases. Starvation was also a frequent phenomenon. The consequence of all this, also affecting the quality of life in cities, was the increase in crime.
  3. Daily life of the inhabitants of the nineteenth-century cities was facilitated by introduction of sewer systems, gas lanterns, horse trams on a bigger scale, and at the end of the century, also first cars.
  4. Compared to previous centuries, women have become not only housewives, but also industrial workers. However, they did not get the same salary as men. Participation of women in the labour world made more independent and affected development of efforts to achieve full equality.

Geographical/Historical Context

The results of the industrial revolution started in the late eighteen century (that reached individual European countries with different pace), in conjunction with enfranchisement reforms done in many countries, resulted in intensification of the phenomenon of urbanization started in the early nineteenth century and on a scale unprecedented so far in the history. New inventions and technological advances allowed to increase and accelerate fabrication several times in almost all areas of production. Rapidly emerging industrial factories recruited its staff from the rural population freed from the bondage of serfdom. These people were, however, deprived of land ownership, and thus the possibility of making a living on a farm. This way from the beginning of the century, old urban centres were growing rapidly multiplying its number of inhabitants. In the close proximity of mines, deposits of natural resources, or simply in places convenient logistically (close proximity to large railway junctions), an entirely new cities of a typical industrial profile were formed. The architecture of these cities was dominated by industrial buildings, and the majority of the population constituted by workers. And so – whereas in 1880, in Europe there were 23 cities with over 100 thousands inhabitants, one year later this number was estimated to 135.

The intensive industrialization resulted in a series of changes in economy (concentration of production, capital accumulation, increased position of banking), but also in the social structure (especially within urban population), a major change in social customs, traditional system of values, and family patterns. These factors, in turn, proved to be a catalyst for profound ideological changes that led to the development of modern political movements such as liberalism, socialism, and nationalism.

The old social structure that divides the city's residents to patricians, common people, and plebs, had to give way to a new division, which was set by criterion of the production means. The top of the social ladder in that configuration was occupied by entrepreneurs-capitalists, known also as bourgeoisie – owners of factories, mines, shipyards, and large trades, as well as bankers.

In the nineteenth-century cities, bourgeoisie replaced the patricians by building residences which splendour embarrassed old aristocracy apartments. This phenomenon is also a base of the stereotype of lack of moderation and good taste of the newly-enriched, parvenus. The former group known as the common people, was replaced by petite bourguoisie (middle class) – which has, the same origin. Both groups derive from the ancient craftsmen, owners of small manufacturing or service businesses, that had the means of production, but did not employ manpower at a greater scale. Workers employed in mines, factories, shipyards, etc. were the group deprived of any production means. On the boundaries of all these social classes, there was intelligentsia – people of different origins, a social group distinguished by education and living off mental work.

A characteristic feature of the nineteenth century cities (especially industrial) was a deep economic differentiation between the coexisting groups mentioned above – which was also reflected in the development of these centres. Splendid city centres, dominated by luxury residences of capitalists, were surrounded by multi-hectare factory complexes. These complexes in turn triggered formation, in their proximity or outskirts of cities, purely working-class districts, or simply slums inhabited by the lowest class of the society. All these elements produce a portrait of a typical nineteenth-century industrial city – place full of contrasts, that create unimaginable opportunities, but also cumulate terrifying poverty.


http://www.oldukphotos.com – page that contains photos of the nineteenth-century Britain, including its industrial cities.

http://www.flickr.com/groups/polish-past – galleries devoted to old photographs (on the FLIKR portal) documenting daily life of people in past two centuries.

http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/index.html – collections of the U.S. Congress that allow to compare the image of the nineteenth century city in Europe and the United States.