Workers in the East, Management in the West?

Flickr: Laura Padgett

Restaurant in D.C.'s West End

From “Why are the East of Cities usually Poorer?”, this is interesting:

Many older cities rapidly expanded during the Industrial Revolution, as workers flocked to the urban centers. As the towns and cities expanded, the residential areas for the workers tended to be in the east, with the middle and upper-classes in the west.

The reason for this is that in much of the northern hemisphere, the prevailing winds are westerlies – blowing from west to east. The massive, unchecked pollution from these early industries would therefore drift eastward, making the air quality much lower in the east end of cities, lowering the desirability (and price) of the housing. Middle classes preferred the cleaner west ends.

The issue was probably even pre-Industrial Revolution, as smoke from personal chimneys would still have caused problems to the east.

  • Molly W.

    Huh. I had a history professor who said it was because cities on the East Coast of the US are almost always built on the fall line — where the coastal plain ends and there are waterfalls and things that impede upstream traffic on rivers.

    In a city built on the fall line, the NW areas tend to be on higher, drier ground, while the SE areas are lower and boggier.

    But I don’t know how that would account for London or Sydney …