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The Most Haunting Photos Of The Industrial Revolution

Updated September 3, 2019 47.8k votes 5.4k voters 260.0k views23 items

List RulesVote up the most unnerving photographs.

In the mid-19th century, great change spread throughout Europe and the US in the form of the Industrial Revolution. New technologies simplified labor and automated production, most notably through the steam engine, the locomotive, and the Bessemer steel-production process. Manufacturing moved en masse from skilled, countryside artisans to factories in urban centers. These production and manufacturing changes transformed consumer habits of industrialized nations: large industries began supplying the growing middle class with goods, and individuals outside the established nobility - as well as the countries hosting them - were becoming wealthy.

Furthermore, democracies were replacing old monarchies, and early modern socioeconomic class systems were replaced with egality, fraternity, and liberty - or so you the Enlightenment's political revolutions would suggest. Technology, prosperity, and even intimacy were all changing rapidly, and the 19th century seemed to be the greatest century to date.

Photos of the Industrial Revolution prove otherwise. Nineteenth-century society was plagued with economic inequality, overcrowded cities, and unfit conditions for laborers. Though industrialized nations siezed power from an archaic aristocracy, these nations utilized their power to establish monopolies and alienate the urban proliteriat. Villages and towns outside urban centers dwindled; mass manufacturing made artisan work obsolete, forcing many artisons to join the ultimately disposable and unskilled working class. No longer were they individuals, but cogs of a new industrial machine. Haunting photos from this era show us humanity's indifference to the others' suffering when faced with potential profit.