chapter  2
36 Pages

Runaway Urbanization and the Rediscovery of Filth

Before the sanitary revolution, cities and towns represented epicentres notonly of power, wealth and civilization but also of dirt and pestilence.Faced with a life-threatening epidemic, townspeople who could afford to flocked to the countryside. In 1665, for example, the English diarist Samuel Pepys records as a matter of course the removal from London of King, court and gentry on the arrival of the plague from Amsterdam. Good air was country air, and people of means who ‘ailed’ or were actually sick went away to hills, dales, mountains, lakes or seaside to recover. The early tourist industry, with its mountain resort and coastal spa destinations, similarly responded to the quest among an expanding middle class for a healthy complexion and robust constitution.