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February 15, 1908


JAMA. 1908;L(7):493-498. doi:10.1001/jama.1908.25310330001001

Twenty-five years ago Mr. Frederic Harrison, writing of the nineteenth century, gave us this picture of London, the largest city of the modern world, and, indeed, of all time.

To bury Middlesex and Surrey under miles of flimsy houses, crowd into them millions and millions of over-worked, underfed, half-taught, and often squalid men and women, to turn the silver Thames into the biggest sewer recorded in history; to leave us all to drink the sewerage water, to breathe the carbonized air, to be closed up in a labyrinth of dull, sooty, unwholesome streets; to leave hundreds and thousands confined there, with gin, and bad air, and hard work, and low wages, breeding contagious diseases, and sinking into despair of soul and feebler conditions of body; and then to sing pæans and shcut, because the ground shakes and the air is shrill with the roar of infinite engines and machines, because