Industrial Revolution: Advances and Challenges of the 18th-19th Century - Essay Sample

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  7
Wordcount:  1882 Words
Date:  2023-01-12


Everything that has an advantage also has a disadvantage. Therefore, the eighteenth to the nineteenth century Industrial Revolution came along with its problems with the immigrants being the most affected. The significant changes occurred in manufacturing, agriculture and technology had a profound impact on the cultural conditions and socioeconomic of the world. It began mainly in the United Kingdom as more significant deposits of iron and coal were found all through the land that brought the rise of machines and factories, the idea then, later on, spread all over the world. Thus, it is possibly one of the supreme instants in human history, as it brought rise to industrialization as well as the switch to machine power from the workforce. Though, the increase in the Immigrants population and industrialization expansion led to worsening of the immigrants working condition and also their living conditions were unlikable and against human rights hence causing a lot of suffering to them. "How the Other Half Lives" is a book by Jacob Riis that he visualizes as a document which explains the lower-class housing state in New York today and it also suggests several steps that can be taken toward favorable solutions. It uses the quotation on the way the "other half lives" which outlines the vast gulf in New York between the poor and the rich. Indeed, Jacob mainly directs his message through the book to those readers who have not at all ever been in the tenement and know nothing or little concerning the living condition experienced there and exposed such kind of ignorance as disingenuous. Therefore, it is essential to have a historical review on state of living of these Immigrants during the industrial revolution century as well as provide a summary of the book "How the Other Half Lives" by Jacob Riis.

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Historical Review

Living Conditions

Due to the movement of farmers and their families who were forced out of their lands to more populated areas in such jobs, the industrial town and cities grew dramatically. For instance, in 1750 approximately 80% of Britain population lived on farmers, though by 1850 the number declined to almost 50%. As a result of the significant number which was migrating, Britain started to experience a huge population boom during the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. One hundred years later, the large population had risen to approximately 9 million and 16 million by 1840. Therefore, the increased population and many working-class families' poverty led to large families living in relatively small rooms. Also, the population rise together with the great mass migration of individuals greatly affected the conditions of living of industrial Britain people.

Inexpensive and Poorly Constructed Row Housing

The common aspect of industrial towns and cities was the construction of poorly built and low-cost row housing that was intended to be seen with the working-class people. Thus, wealthy factory entrepreneurs and owners built their workers' homes though they also considered the houses as a means of generating more profit. The homes were usually referred to like back-to-back patios since they were constructed side-by-side as well as linked to one another. The front is the only part that was never attached to another house, and they built using the cheapest materials available. Though, the homes fall short of the primary feature of a properly built house such as lack proper ventilation and windows, thus making the house not conducive to live within them. Also, most of these homes were made without adequate sanitation or running water, thus making it difficult for many people to bathe correctly and this contribute mainly to them suffering from poor hygiene.1 Since, it is medically recommended that a person should wash adequately to be safe from any diseases that might arise due to the dirty body, thus indicating that the poorly constructed houses endangered the lives of these immigrants.

Lack of Sanitation

The other essential aspect of the poor living condition at the time of the Industrial Revolution was the lack of sanitation which led to a high rate of disease spread among the immigrants. It is because most homes lacked sanitation and running water; thus people decided to dump their waste and filth into the street.2 Therefore, making the industrial towns' streets incredibly very dirt places for any human being to reside which permitted communicable diseases to extend from one person to another very quickly. Pits were sometimes set up in societies to accommodate the waste of the building, and the property owners at various occasions would pay for the removal of the fifth. However, during emptying the fifth was usually spilled into the rivers which were used by the local people who resided in that community, thus horribly polluting them.


Pollution was the other aspect recognized during the Industrial Revolution within the industrial towns and cities, and not only the waterways and streets were heavily polluted with human garbage and waste, but also the air was heavily polluted. All through the eighteenth and nineteenth century, the wealthy businessmen erected many mines and factories throughout Britain. The factories contributed mostly to air pollution due to the high rate of coal burning. During the Industrial Revolution, coal was the most easily used form of fuel because it was required to power the steam engines that were newly developed. Also, coal is famous heavy common air pollutant because when it is burning it releases small particles in the air. Therefore, the many factories within the industrial towns and cities resulted in horrible air quality and gave them the feature "smog" which seemed to float over them. The immigrants' life in both cities and towns during the Industrial Revolution was therefore tough for working-class people. Since, they were forced to reside in cramped conditions which lacked necessary running water and sanitation. Consequently, this led to a widespread of diseases among these people and also worsened the rate of pollution which was already a significant issue in the city. Despite all these, the people had very little ability to solve the problems since they were paid very little to the extent of struggling to afford current lifestyles.

Short Review of the Book "How the Other Half Lives"

"How the Other Half Lives" that was published in1890 is the work of Jacob Riis, and he envisions like a document that illustrates the lower-class housing state in the contemporary New York and suggests several steps to be taken toward solutions. It uses a quotation on the way the "other half lives" which underlines vast gulf in New York between the rich and the poor and this work is directed to readers who have not been in a tenement and also knows very little about it. It provides a remarkably thorough study of the terrible living conditions in New York City by the poor people and had an extraordinary and immediate impact on the community, thus inspiring reforms which impacted the million people's lives.

Riis first provides some historical background of Immigrants who came from Europe and many running away from the famine that had befallen the revolution or Ireland in Germany, moved in large numbers in New York City from the mid to late nineteenth century and over 80, 000 tenements had already been constructed. They were able to house 2.3 millions of people, a number that was approximately two-thirds of the total population of the city. The tenements were mainly characterized by unsanitary and unsafe living conditions, high rates of crime, and severe overcrowding. In 1849, fire and disease epidemics such as cholera outbreak managed to kill 5000 people.3 Unsafe construction which was characterized by lack of ventilation, and contaminated squares and filthy signified the tenement living.

Riis continues to describe the modern tenements state that more and more are available all over the city, but most intense in lower New York and tenements are home of cosmopolitan population, but separated by national origin, race, and ethnicity, between the Irish, Germans, Italians, Jews, African-Americans, Bohemians, and Chinese. He asks the readers to move with him in places like the Blind Man's Alley, a specific squalid region home to fantastic corruption.3 Then he illustrates New York Italian population tenements and characterizing it as hard-working, sometimes corrupt and violent. He is specifically critical with the "Tramps" who use their time at that place with no effort to attempt working.

Riis describes Chinatown another neighborhood, but he is also highly prejudiced and suspicious about this place population, and he thinks that it is incapable of incorporating to "mainstream" the American society. He then changes to discussing the "Hebrew quarter," which is mostly the home of Jews and he describes them with the aid of ethnic prejudices and stereotypes. Also, the neighborhoods are places where much of cheap clothing of New York is made, and he explains the appropriate conditions which have made it possible for the city to turn to such center of manufacturing. As Jews work is making clothing, Riis says that Bohemians are concentrated around the factories of cigar and he defends Bohemians from the unfairness that is linked with them.3 Therefore, he thinks that education will make it possible for these group just others to learn English and be converted eventually to Christianity. Riis also argues that African-American have proven to have the ability of moral improvement as one group despite several decades from slavery.

Riis also argues that the lack of ventilation, green spaces, light, and any beauty is detrimental to those residing in a tenement of New York neighborhoods. Instead, these people live in precariousness and desperation until their life comes to an end via death, and when they are too many, and their families could not afford to arrange for their burial, they end being dumped in the field of Potter which means a common grave.3 Also, children have been identified to be in a particularly precarious position within these regions, though Riis acknowledges some of the houses and charities work such as the Foundling Asylum, exclusively directed to children. However, this is not adequate to mitigate the other dangers which are specifically for needy children and babies.

Riis is specifically concerned on the alcohol danger to young people because beer is so widespread in these neighborhoods thus accessible very quickly to children. Therefore, if they are not properly directed and cared for at their young age, they can easily be manipulated to gangs and become members, he argues. Riis also spends some time to illustrate the ethnographic sketch of the groups in New York, both criticizing their crimes as well as requesting the readers to comprehend how specific conditions have resulted in their behaviors. Using the same reasoning, he defends women who had turned to prostitution, arguing that the tenement neighborhoods economic realities leave them no other option besides becoming prostitutes. He also reserves several of his scorn for paupers and beggars who are not willing to work and makes charity from the state to be their preference.3 He argues that working is the only weapon to kill poverty, though the current city's institutions, from asylums to hospitals to workhouses to prisons, barely establish the proper work ethic.

He finalizes by providing a reason why transforming housing crisis within New York should be a concern of everyone. Riis argues that the significant distinction between the poor and wealthy will continue to raise discontent, and finally the weak will woke up usi...

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Industrial Revolution: Advances and Challenges of the 18th-19th Century - Essay Sample. (2023, Jan 12). Retrieved from

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