This is a picture showing the heart of Victorian London as it was in 1890, when the city was the center of a vast colonial empire and the British people enjoyed the confidence and pride of imperial power and increasing prosperity. The long reign of Queen Victoria would soon be coming to an end and with it drastic changes in British society. The horrors of World War 1 were still over 20 years in the future, and for now the men and women in this photograph can go on their business blissfully unaware that the world they know will soon disappear, and we will look back at their Victorian Era, their golden age, as a quaint and repressed period of human history.
The photograph is from a book called . The original caption says that the photograp shows Cheapside, London which the book says is the very heart of the city and that it lives up to its name by being the home of many “cheap shops” were you can find everything on discount, from toothpicks to train locomotives.
The book goes on to say that the street is so busy with vehicles that it sometimes takes pedestrians up to 20 minutes to cross from one side of the street to another. That sounds like a bit of an exaggeration but it is clear from the picture that Victorian carriage traffic was pretty bad.
CHEAPSIDE, London, England.—This street is in the very heart of the “city” and is especially noted for its so-called “cheap shops,” where is offered for sale every variety of articles, from a locomotive to a toothpick. The street is constantly so crowded with vehicles, that pedestrians are often delayed from fifteen to twenty minutes in crossing from one side to the other. It affords much pleasure to stroll along Cheapside and watch the crowds of pedestrians and vehicles pass up and down the avenue. The buildings lining Cheapside have an imposing appearance, and are of uniform architecture.