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20th Century London

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London entered the 20th century at the height of its influence as the capital of the largest empire in history. London was experiencing great economic and cultural blooms. The population continued to grow rapidly in the early decades of the century, and public transport was greatly expanded. The first motorbus service began in the 1900s and improvements to London's overground and underground rail network were progressively carried out. However, the bad winter in 1902 caused great misery and degredation, and things became so desperate that it was felt that such a situation could not possibly go on for long.

In the first quarter of the century London was an imperial capital, a place of tradition, conscious of its greatness, not just for the nation but for the whole of humanity. London viewed itself as : 'the home of the world's markets; the centre of international finance; the capital city of a world-wide Empire; the meeting place of nearly every race and people.' LondonЃfs icons reflect its sense of continuity and its pride in its past. Trafalgar Square is still seen the Ѓeheart of the empireЃf.

During World War 1, London experienced its first bombing raids carried out by German zeppelin airships, which killed around 700 people.

After World War 1, London experienced its geographical extent growing more quickly than ever before. Lower density suburban housing was preferred, typically semi-detached, by people seeking a more rural lifestyle. This was facilitated not only by a continuing expansion of the rail network, including trams and the Underground, but also by a wideing of car ownership. The suburbs expanded outside the boundaries of the County of London, into the neighbouring countries of Essex, Hertfordshie, Kent, Middlesex and Surrey.

During the Great Depression of 1930, London sufferred severe unemployment, like the rest of the country. During the 1930Ѓfs, politically extreme parties of both right and left flourished. The Communist Party of Great Britian won a seat in the House of Commons, and far-right British Union of Fascists received extensive support. There continued to be clashes right and left in the Battle of Cable Street in 1936. The population of London reached an all time peak of 8.6 million in 1939.

London was also the home of many Jewish imigrants fleeing from Nazi Germany during the 1930Ѓfs, who settled mostly in the West End.

During World War 2, London suffered severe damage from the bombings by the Luftwaffe as a part of the blitz.

After the war came to an end, London held the 1948 Summer Olympics at Wembley Stadium,, at a time when the city had barely recovered from the war. LondonЃfs rebuilding began slowly, however, in 1951 the Festival of Britian was held, which marked an increasing mood of optimism and forward looking.

Housing was a major issue in the postwar years in London, due to the large amount of housing which had been destroyed in the war. Authoirities decided upon high-rise blocks of flats as the answer to housing shortages. During the 1950Ѓfs and 1960Ѓfs the skyline of London dramatically changed as tower blocks were built, although these later proved unpopular. In an attempt to reduce the number of people in overcrowded housing, a policy was introduced of encouraging people to move into newly built new towns surrounding London. Families relying on an income from casual work could only afford basic accomodation. Builders knew that they would never be able to charge the poor high rents. So, they built their houses quickly and cheaply, often without basic facilities such as toilets. Sometimes houses were divided in half to accommodate two families. This meant that each family would have access to some facilities but not to others.



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