Cholera was created during the industrial revolution


The industrial age confronted the cities of Western and Central Europe with serious structural changes, which primarily affected the economic and thus also the social order and the cityscape. The country of origin of industrialization was England, where in the 18th century technical innovations such as the steam engine enabled the mechanical production of goods and thus a new form of economic growth. Most of the European countries were affected by the process of industrialization between the middle of the 19th century. and the outbreak of World War I in 1914. Germany went through an early industrial phase (approx. 1840–1870) and a highly industrial phase (1870–1914) and during this time it became a modern industrial state whose industrial production reached peak values ​​in Europe before England.

In Germany it was that Railway construction, which decisively advanced industrialization and gave many cities important economic impetus. The demand of the railroad accelerated the upswing of the Montan- and Engineering industry, at the same time, the improved transport infrastructure enabled better market integration. In England the first train connection existed between Manchester and Liverpool since 1830, in Germany in 1835 between Nuremberg and Fürth. The economic structural changes due to industrialization, the agricultural surplus production and since the end of the 18th century. The beginning of the population explosion led to rapid urbanization (urbanization) in the 19th century, i.e. the proportion of the urban population in the total population increased immensely. New, better paid jobs in the textile or mining industry and increasingly in the service sector, the falling labor market risks, personal development opportunities and cultural and entertainment offers in cities on the one hand (pull factors) and population pressure and rural poverty on the other (push Factors) caused a rural exodus to the cities in Western and Central Europe. In England, the migratory movements began as early as the first decades of the 19th century. one, in Germany especially during the high industrialization phase from 1871. It was predominantly young, male and unattached 'city hikers' who came from the north and north-east of Germany to the industrial areas of the Ruhr area and Upper Silesia as well as to the cities of Berlin, Hamburg, Munich and the Rhine Main area came. Internal migration and population growth - between 1871 and 1914, the German population grew by 58% from 41 million to 65 million people - caused disproportionate urban growth compared to rural regions, which was primarily focused on industrial and commercial centers. The proportion of Germans living in cities with fewer than 2,000 people fell from 64% to 40%, while the population of the larger towns grew. The proportion of the population living in cities with more than 10,000 inhabitants nearly tripled between 1871 and 1910, while the proportion of the population in cities with more than 100,000 inhabitants grew more than seven-fold. During this time, 48 German cities exceeded the city limits of 100,000 inhabitants (e.g. Frankfurt a. M., Dortmund, Düsseldorf, Danzig, Kiel, Kassel, Mannheim or Nuremberg).

The population shifts led since the middle of the 19th Jhs. in numerous cities to an enormous density. In Cologne, for example, the population growth between 1820 and 1880 concentrated exclusively on the city within the medieval city wall, which increased the population density of the city between 1820 and 1880 to 35,910 inhabitants / km². In London there were only 9,600 inhabitants / km² at the same time. Since industrial companies also settled within the urban area in the early phase of industrialization, the living space was overused. Green and other open spaces were converted into building land, and in some cases the cities grew vertically. In Liverpool, for example, one in seven residents lived in a basement apartment in 1840. The population pressure and the narrow spatial development of the cities led to hygienic and social grievances; Large parts of cities such as Manchester increasingly degenerated into slums. In the 1870s, too, disastrous hygienic conditions prevailed in less upscale neighborhoods in Berlin.

The Urban growth in spite of the opening of most of the cities, the walls and were opened and thrown down Fortificationssince the end of the 18th century. Only gradually did the cities grow beyond their clearly recognizable borders. Cities experienced the first expansion as more affluent ones Citizen gave up their apartments, which were now in the old town, and moved to the outskirts, creating new residential areas. Since the middle of the 19th century, companies have also increasingly settled on the outskirts of the city. Also outside the old city center, for reasons of space and costs, the train stations were built around which the station districts were formed, the economic basis of which was often wholesalers and retailers, restaurants and hotels as well as amusement facilities. The urban spaces on the other side of the railway lines, however, were in a "shadowy position" of urban development; problem areas were often created here.

In Germany, the external growth of cities was generally more planned than, for example, in England, since new cities were mostly designed on the drawing board. They comprised old towns in the form of circular rings (e.g. in Berlin), semicircles (e.g. in Cologne) or were placed as a new quarter on the edge of the old towns. The new working-class quarters were increasingly located near train stations and were in parts of Germany due to the construction of multi-storey buildings "Tenements" which reached its greatest dimensions in Berlin. The reasons for building tenements were, among other things, a lack of building land. In England, monotonous "back-to-back" terraced houses were initially built for the workers, offering the residents little space and no connection to the sewer system. The result was poor hygienic conditions and epidemics of typhoid and cholera in the 1830s and 40s. In the period between the 1870s and the First World War, the external growth of English cities continued with the so-called 'bye-law houses', which had a lower residential density and better sanitary facilities. This external growth of industrial cities led partly beyond the city district, creating suburbs. They withdrew wealthy taxpayers and businesses paying trade tax from the core cities, which is why there were frequent incorporations - in Germany especially between 1885 and 1918. Since the city centers increasingly lost their population to the periphery, their structure changed.

In the 19th century, English entrepreneurs developed new forms of settlement with factory settlements for their workers. These emerged outside of the actual city and were laid out more generously, not least because of the cheaper land prices, and offered clean and less compact houses.

Bourgeois social reformers reacted to the numerous abuses in the housing sector and their social and political implications. Also that of Ebenezer Howard (DNB) embossed Garden city movement stands in this context. It included more spacious apartments or houses with their own garden for self-sufficiency for a limited number of people who live in the immediate vicinity of the city - but separated by a green belt - and should be able to reach all central supply options by short distances. The first German garden cities emerged with the Krupp workers' housing estate Margarethenhöhe in Essen (founded in 1906) and in Dresden Hellerau around the "Dresden workshops for handicrafts" (founded in 1909), each of which offered space for small families. The change in family structure and size was a result of the living conditions in the cities, because the rapid expansion of mass production meant the end of home and manufacturing work, and the housing situation led to the long-term dissolution of the extended families in favor of the nuclear family. The often predominant unity of living and working was broken up by industrialization.

Industrialization and urbanization not only changed the architectural cityscape of Europe, they also demanded new concepts from the city administrations that took into account the rapid development in the cities. It was not until around 1850 to 1875 that municipal 'city technology' began in Germany in order to attempt to provide answers to the new infrastructural, hygienic and social challenges, which focused on the following areas:

1. Technical supplies: gas, electricity
2. Infrastructure: local transport
3. Hygiene and health care: garbage disposal, water supply, sewerage, supervision of precarious workplaces (e.g. slaughterhouses) and food, street cleaning
4. Social policy

The new municipal innovations gradually gained acceptance, initially primarily in large cities. Light gas brought light to the cities of Europe. The Street lightingwhich had previously been produced by vegetable oil lanterns, was now powered by gas. The first gasworks had existed in Berlin since 1825, then in Hanover, Dresden and Leipzig. As many cities followed suit, there was a boom in the establishment of gasworks up until the 1850s, which met the demand for lighting, heating and cooking purposes. Since the privately operated gas works used their monopoly position in favor of an often inconsiderate pricing policy, they were increasingly localized by the city administrations. In 1880, as in other industrialized countries, all large cities and many small towns in Germany had a gas supply network.

In Germany, the construction of drainage systems began in the 1850s - 20 years later than in England - in cities such as Hamburg, Berlin, Munich and Frankfurt, after cholera epidemics as a result of insufficient drainage and contamination, first in England and later on mainland Europe Drinking water had come. In England the "Public Health Act" was passed, which ordered the establishment of city health authorities. From 1875 onwards, more comfortable apartments were built in the working-class neighborhoods that had sewerage and water connections. The drainage systems in Germany were initially mostly inadequate and could only be modernized when the spread of modern water supply systems in Germany increased significantly from the 1870s. New municipal waterworks provided drinking water and replaced wells in their function as drinking water suppliers. With the new lines, drainage systems could also be modernized. Alluvial sewer systems were developed to put an end to the poor hygienic conditions on Europe's roads. They initially regulated the runoff of household and industrial wastewater and later also of faeces - wastewater that was previously simply disposed of on the streets. The last two decades of the 19th century and the first years after the turn of the century were the main times for the construction of alluvial sewers in German cities. With the establishment of cemeteries on the outskirts of the cities, street cleaning, the establishment of sewage treatment plants since around the turn of the century and the establishment of central slaughterhouses, the public sector took care of further health policy measures.

The spatial expansion of the cities during industrialization also required more efficient local means of transport than horse-drawn trams and horse-drawn carriages. Steam trams allowed higher speeds, but could not prevail in the cities. The future belonged to electrically powered local transport. The first electric subway ran in London in 1879, the The first electric tram went into operation in Berlin in 1881. Electric trolleybuses have operated in Europe since the early 20th century. Electricity was also an alternative to luminous gas and it made the invention of the telephone possible.

The social benefits also had to be adapted to the new circumstances. The ones still in the early modern age based on individual help Poor management could no longer satisfy the structural poverty of entire strata of the population (pauperism). Since the turn of the century, professional carers have increasingly replaced volunteer poor carers, and the urban poor have become more centralized. Since 1919 the term 'welfare' replaced 'poor relief'.

The described tendency of cities to localize businesses and expand services had an impact on local administrations. In the first two thirds of the 19th century, the area of ​​responsibility, especially in smaller towns, had primarily focused on sovereignty and asset management. This changed now, and slowly there was a quantitative increase in the number of city officials and employees, which was accompanied by a qualitative improvement in the form of bureaucratization, professionalization and increasing specialization. This transformation process into a “municipal service administration” took place in Germany between 1870 and 1930 - accelerated since the 1880s. This process and the self-image of a city bureaucracy that is supposedly exclusively oriented towards expertise and appropriateness must of course not obscure the fact that the measures always reflected the interests of the citizens sitting in the local parliaments.

Joel Behne / Thomas Tippach (September 1st, 2014)

URL for citation


  • Butschek, Felix: Industrialization. Causes, course, consequences, Vienna 2006.
  • Condrau, Flurin: Industrialization in Germany, Darmstadt 2005.
  • Krabbe, Wolfgang R .: The German city in the 19th and 20th centuries. An introduction, Göttingen 1989.
  • Reulecke, Jürgen: History of urbanization in Germany, Frankfurt am Main 1985.
  • Zehner, Klaus: Stadtgeographie, Gotha 2001.

These and other references can be found in the Media search.


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