After reading Judith Walkowitz’s City of Dreadful Delight I went in search of a visual to help get a better feel for urban life in late-Victorian London. I found a collection of photographs, on retronaut.co, taken in 1876 that is representative of the “gaslight era”: Among the photos, there exists an obvious juxtaposition between “high” and “low” life.
I was especially drawn to this image because it makes the contrast here so obvious; the two men’s physical placement mirrors their social status–it’s genius! I also found it ironic that one of “the Great Unwashed” (as Walkowitz calls the lower class Londoners) is actually washing/ shining the dirty shoe of a bourgeois male.
Even though I chose to highlight this particular photo, many of the others in this collection offer a better view of the overall disparity experienced by the poor city dwellers in contrast to their economic and social superiors, and they are definitely worth taking a look at.