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Photographs of street life in 1870s Victorian London

In the late 1800s in London, as in most growing industrial and urban centers of the time, life was rough. Rural farm life is rough, but life in a growing urban area is difficult in a very different fashion. Poverty, disease, homelessness, swindles, lies, alcoholism, gambling and other vices, cramped quarters and trying to make a living present whole new challenges than milking the cows and plowing the fields.

In 1876, John Thompson used the new medium of photography to document the difficulties of urban life in Victorian London, showing a wide range of issues people of the time faced— issues that some people in modern day London face, and issues that people in growing urban areas around the world face today.

A group of travelers staying on a plot of vacant land in Battersea

A secondhand clothing shop in St. Giles

A dealer in “fancy wares”, or imitation precious gems

This man was once a clown, but after he burst a vein in his leg, he found employment mending chairs.

A “Temperance chimney sweep”, newly sober

Survivors of Street Floods in Lambeth: ‘As for myself, I have never felt right since that awful night when, with my little girl, I sat above the water on my bed until the tide went down’

A man and his water cart, making about 12 shillings a week

A photographer setting up shop on Clapham Common

An independent bootblack with his portable shoe shine box

"Flying dustmen", men who would go from town to town, removing dust and debris from homes

Public disinfectors, whose job it was to disinfect homes and remove clothing, furniture and fabric contaminated with disease

Selling fresh strawberries on the street

Fresh fish for sale

A man trying to sell his quack medicine, possibly to fix that one leg that’s longer than the other.

A couple selling freshly caught shellfish

Boatmen working the “silent highway” of the Thames

A public locksmith

Circus performer Cast-Iron Billy: ‘Forty-three years on the road and more, and but for my rheumatics, I feel almost as hale and hearty as any man could wish’

"Wall-workers", men who were paid to plaster walls in posters and placards

Boardmen, used to advertise, were often very poor and were thrown off the sidewalks by policemen, where they would then get caught up in the paths of carriages.

A home for recently released convicts

An Italian immigrant boy as a street musician

Via


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    These are simply amazing.
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