Cities in India in the 19th century presented a variety of sights and sensations, including riches and poor, splendour and filth, chances and disappointments.

The growth of industrial capitalism, the formation of colonial power over broad parts of the globe, and the development of democratic principles have all affected contemporary cities in significant ways.

Characteristics of the City

Cities served as hubs for political authority, administrative networks, commerce and industry, religious institutions, and intellectual activity, as well as supporting numerous social groupings including craftsmen, merchants, and priests.

The city of London, the greatest metropolis in the world during the nineteenth century, and the city of Bombay, one of the most significant contemporary cities in the Indian subcontinent, are used to illustrate the process of urbanisation.

Industrialisation and the Rise of the Modern City in England

By 1750, London was home to one in every nine persons in England and Wales. It was a massive city with a sizable population. London continued to grow during the nineteenth century.

Clothing and footwear, wood and furniture, metals and engineering, wood and furniture, printing and stationery, and precision items such as surgical equipment, watches, and precious metal objects were the only five main sectors that employed huge numbers.

Only during World War I did the number of huge industries expand. It began producing automobiles and electrical items.

Marginal groups

As London increased in popularity, so did crime. We know a lot about criminal activity in the 1870s since crime was a hot topic at the time. As a result, the number of criminals was tallied, their actions were monitored, and their lifestyles were analysed.

Following a review of their case history, it was determined that these individuals were destitute and relied on illegal activities such as pick-pocketing and other forms of theft to support their families.

In order to keep crime under control, the government enforced harsh sanctions. They provided jobs to individuals who were deemed “deserving poor.”

In the late 18th and early 19th centuries, factories employed a huge number of women. Women’s industrial employment was increasingly lost as a result of technical advancements.

As a result, they began tailoring, cleaning, and creating matchboxes in order to supplement their family’s income. During World War II in the twentieth century, they were able to find work in the industrial sector once again. Parents forced a huge proportion of children to work in low-wage occupations.


Older cities, such as London, saw significant transformations following the Industrial Revolution. Better-off city residents asked that slums be demolished.

Eventually, a huge number of individuals started to see the necessity for affordable housing for the poor.

Cleaning London

To clean up London, apartment blocks were created, and efforts were undertaken to decongest neighbourhoods, green open areas, minimise pollution, and beautify the city. During the First World War, rent control was implemented in the United Kingdom to help alleviate the effects of a severe housing scarcity.

Architect and planner Ebenezer Howard devised the concept of the Garden City, a beautiful environment full of plants and trees where people might live and work. Raymond Unwin and Barry Parker created the garden city of New Earswick based on Howard’s concepts.

Between the two World Wars, the British state claimed responsibility for housing the working classes, and a million residences, the most of which were single-family cottages, were erected by local governments. 

Transport in the City

On 10 January 1863, the world’s first underground railway track opened between Paddington and Farrington Street in London, carrying around 10,000 people every ten minutes. The expanding railroad service carried roughly 40 million people per year by 1880.

However, the development of railroads resulted in immense devastation. In his novel Dombey and Son, Charles Dickens also noted this (1848).

Despite this, the underground train was a major success. Most significant cities, such as New York, Tokyo, and Chicago, had well-functioning transportation systems by the twentieth century.

Social Change in the City

The changing socioeconomic structure reduced links between family members, and the institution of marriage tended to break down among the working class.

Men, Women and Family in the City

The city fostered a new sense of individuality among men and women, as well as a break from the communal ideals that characterised smaller rural towns. However, access to this new urban environment was not equal for men and women.

Women were compelled to return to their homes as their industrial employment was gone and conservative individuals objected to their appearance in public settings. Women were constrained to conduct solely household chores as public settings grew more male-dominated.

Beginning in the 1870s, women began to join political suffrage campaigns, demanding the ability to vote for women and married women’s property rights.

Leisure and Consumption

Working-class people congregated in pubs to drink, gossip, and plan political action. In the nineteenth century, art galleries, libraries and museums were founded.

In 1833, over 1 million British tourists visited Blackpool; by 1939, the number of visitors had risen to 7 million.

Politics in the City

London’s underprivileged employees wanted relief from their dreadful living circumstances. In 1887, they erupted in a riot that was ruthlessly subdued by the authorities. The Bloody Sunday of November 1887 was named after this incident.

Thousands of London dock workers went on strike and marched across the city two years later. As a result, vast crowds of people may be pulled into the city’s political causes.

The City in Colonial India

In the nineteenth century, Indian cities did not expand. During colonial control, the rate of urbanisation was gradual. In the early twentieth century, just 11% of Indians lived in cities.

Residents of the three Presidency cities made up a major share of this urban population.

Bombay, Madras, and Calcutta are three cities in India. Major ports, warehouses, residences and offices, army barracks, educational institutions, museums, and libraries were all located in these cities. Bombay was India’s most important city.

Bombay: The Prime City of India

In 1661, the British took possession of a group of seven islands that had been under Portuguese rule. It grew from a little administrative centre in western India to a significant industrial centre by the end of the nineteenth century. It was a key market for Gujarati cotton textiles.

Work in the City

After the Maratha loss in the Anglo-Maratha War in 1819, Bombay became the capital of the Bombay Presidency. With the rise of the cotton and opium trades, Bombay attracted vast groups of merchants, bankers, craftsmen, and retailers.

A big number of people flocked to the Bombay mills from the surrounding Ratnagiri area. In 1854, Bombay developed its first cotton textile plant.

Until long into the twentieth century, Bombay controlled India’s marine commerce. It was also located at the intersection of two main railroads. The railroads prompted more people to move into the city on a larger scale. In 1888-89, a famine in the arid Kutch area pushed a huge number of people to Bombay.

Housing and Neighbourhoods

Bombay was a bustling metropolis. By the mid-1850s, the city’s fast and uncontrolled development had created a significant housing and water supply issue.

The wealthy resided in luxurious bungalows. The working class, on the other hand, resided in Bombay’s densely inhabited Chawls.

Fears of a plague outbreak led to the development of planning in Bombay. The City of Bombay Improvement Trust was founded in 1898. A Rent Act was created in 1918 to keep rents affordable, but it had the unintended consequence of causing a major housing crisis.

Land Reclamation in Bombay

In 1784, the first endeavour to unite Bombay’s seven islands into a single continent. The Governor of Bombay, William Hornby, gave his approval for the construction of the massive sea wall.

The Bombay Port Trust completed a successful reclamation project by building a dry dock between 1914 and 1918, resulting in the development of Bombay’s iconic Marine Drive.

Bombay as the City of Dreams: The World of Cinema and Culture

Bombay is referred to as the “City of Dreams.” By 1925, Bombay had established itself as India’s first cinema metropolis, making pictures for the domestic market. The majority of individuals in the film business were migrants from places like Lahore, Calcutta, and Madras, contributing to the industry’s national flavour.

Bombay films have played a significant role in shaping the image of the city as a mix of fantasy and reality, of slums and celebrity homes.

Cities and the Challenge of the Environment

Everywhere, city growth has come at the price of nature and the environment.

Excessive noise became a hallmark of city life as large amounts of garbage and waste products contaminated the air and water. Because of the widespread use of coal in homes and industry, pollution levels have risen.

Hundreds of manufacturing chimneys blasted black smoke into the air in industrial areas like Leeds, Bradford, and Manchester.

The Smoke Abatement Acts of 1847 and 1853 were enacted in an attempt to regulate it, but they were ineffective. Calcutta, like many other cities, has a long history of air pollution.

The large population that relied on dung and wood for fuel in their everyday lives resulted in high levels of pollution. Calcutta was the first Indian city to pass smoke nuisance regulations in 1863.

Colonial officials attempted to manage pollution, but the introduction of the railway line in 1855 added a deadly new pollutant: coal from Raniganj. Tollygunge’s rice mills started using rice husk instead of coal around 1920. Despite its problems, the city has long been a magnet for visitors.

NCERT Solved Question Answer CBSE Class 10 History Chapter 06 – Work, Life and Leisure

Question. 1

Give two reasons why the population of London expanded from the middle of the eighteenth century.


  1. The most important thing that brought people to London was industrialization.
  2. The London textile industry attracted a lot of immigrants who were good at their jobs. Clerks, traders, soldiers, servants, labourers, beggars, and other people from all walks of life flocked to London.

Question. 2

What were the changes in the kind of work available to women in London between the nineteenth and the twentieth centuries?

Answer: In the late 18th and early 19th centuries, women worked in factories. But as technology improved, women lost their factory jobs and had to work in the following fields:

  1. They did their jobs in private homes. According to the 1861 census, there were about a quarter of a million women working as housekeepers in London. Many of them had only recently moved to the U.S.
  2. Many women used their homes to make extra money for their families by taking in boarders or doing things like sewing, washing, or making matchboxes.
  3. Another change happened in the 20th century. During the war, women worked in factories and offices. They stopped doing things around the house.

Question. 3

How does the existence of a large urban population affect each of the following? Illustrate with historical examples.

(a) A private landlord

(b) A Police Superintendent in charge of law and order

(c) A leader of a political party.


  1. How a city with a lot of people affects a private landlord: Because of industrialization, a lot of people from the countryside moved to London, which caused a huge rise in the city’s population. A situation like this caused a lot of trouble for most Londoners. But some parts of society, like private landlords, stood to gain from it. They charged poor people a lot of money for their land. They built cheap apartments on their land and rented them out to poor people. This made them a lot of money.
  2. Effects of a large urban population on a police superintendent: The Police Superintendent in London, who was in charge of keeping the peace, had to deal with a lot of problems because London has such a large urban population.
  3. Crime has gone up because of how crowded London is. One estimate says that there were about 20,000 criminals in London in the 1870s. Because there were so many criminals in London, the Police Superintendent had to deal with a serious law and order problem.
  4. When a fire in the slums destroyed a lot of small apartments and killed several people, it was hard for the police to keep things under control.
  5. A lot of trouble was caused by worker protests for better pay, better housing, and equal voting rights.
  6. Effects of a Huge Urban Population on a Political Party Leader: A large city population posed a big threat to the city’s law and order. Political parties can easily get this many people to take part in any anti-government protests. Most of the political movements of the 19th century, such as the Chartist movement for the right to vote for all adults and the 10 hours movement, were directly influenced by London’s overpopulation.

Question. 4(a)

Give explanations for the following :

(а) Why well-off Londoners supported the need to build housing for the poor in the nineteenth century?


  1. Living in slums was very dangerous for the workers. They lived an average of 29 years, while the average life expectancy for the upper and middle classes was 55 years.
  2. Not only were these kinds of slums bad for the people who lived there, but they were also bad for public health and could quickly start epidemics.
  3. Poor housing could be a major fire hazard that spreads to nearby places.
  4. Poor housing was seen as a potential source of social disaster, especially after the Russian Revolution of 1917, and as a possible cause of slum dweller rebellions.
  5. Pollution was also getting worse because there wasn’t enough decent housing.

Question. 4(b)

Why a number of Bombay films were about the lives of migrants?

Answer: Most people in the film business came from places like Lahore, Calcutta, and Madras, and they gave the industry a national flavour. Those from Lahore, which was then in Punjab, were especially important to the growth of the Hindi film industry. Ismat Chughtai and Saadat Hasan Manto, for example, were both linked to Hindi cinema.

Question. 4(c)

What led to the major expansion of Bombay’s population in the mid-nineteenth century?


  1. In 1819, Bombay became the capital of the Bombay Presidency. As a result, it brought more and more people to the city.
  2. As the cotton and opium trade grew, a lot of traders, bankers, artists, and store owners moved to Bombay or Mumbai.
  3. As a result of the opening of new businesses and the growth of the cotton industry, more and more people from the surrounding areas, especially the Ratnagiri district, moved to Bombay.
  4. Bombay was in charge of India’s maritime trade with European countries.
  5. The railroads also made it easier for people to move to this city.
  6. A lot of people had to move to Bombay or Mumbai because they were starving in the dry Kutch region.
  7. Even though Bombay has a huge population problem, many artists, dramatists, playwrights, poets, singers, and story writers moved there when it became the centre of Indian filmmaking.
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