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Check out this groundbreaking poverty map of Victorian London

James Manning

When a socialist politician stated in 1885 that a quarter of Londoners lived in extreme poverty, the shipping tycoon Charles Booth was sceptical. Nowadays he probably would have just sent a rude tweet and moved on, but instead he set out to map every street in the rapidly expanding capital and find out for himself.

Booth's poverty maps - Clerkenwell

Places like Clerkenwell (magnified here) and Shoreditch (below) have changed a bit since, but unequal housing still affects Londoners’ wellbeing. See for yourself at the Wellcome Collection’s free exhibition ‘Living with Buildings’, which starts with Booth’s famous maps and ends, with shocking inevitability, at Grenfell Tower.

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Take a look at Victorian Shoreditch, before the Boundary Estate transformed the area:

In Westminster, huge wealth and poverty sit side by side (and the Millbank prison looms):

 Oxford Street, Soho and Seven Dials are a place of mixed fortunes:

See the original maps at ‘Living With Buildings’ at the Wellcome Collection until March 3 2019. Entry is free.

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