Mapping 19th Century London: A Place of Extreme Inequality

Authored by Christina Boyle

A map of London from 1815.

A map of 1815 London, England, published by “G. Jones.” The map is part of the digital collections of The New York Public Library.

This map of London, published in 1815, represents the large, bustling capital of England. Today, London is the metropolitan cultural center of Britain,1 but in the early 19th century, it was a city of the poor working class.2 During this time, renowned authors such as Jane Austen, Elizabeth Gaskell, and Charlotte Bronte were writing, setting their works in the London depicted in this map. The London that they knew was far different from that of today. This map depicts a city rich in history, with still-relevant main streets, docks, and landmarks that currently remain. It also captures the London that has been portrayed by these and other Napoleonic and Victorian writers: a smoggy and sooty city rife with poverty and distress. Continue reading