Top 10 Largest Cities 100 Years Ago

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This is a list of the Top 10 most heavily populated cities in Europe. This list was compiled using 1913 census and include all those who lived within the ‘city limits’ or ‘city boundary’ at the time.


1. London, U.K.



Population: 4,684,794

London started of the 20th century as the capital of the world’s largest Empire and Britain’s dominant city. One third of the entire trade of Great Britain went through London’s docks.

Royal junctures such as the coronation of King Edward VII emphasized London’s role as the national capital of the largest empire of the world. But London was also a source for change. The decade saw rising political unrest in the capital as women and working men protested their demands to be given the right to vote. London’s local government also dawned a new era as 28 new metropolitan boroughs took over the administration of districts in inner London.


2. New York, USA

New York
Population: 4,024, 780

In many ways the streets of New York in the early 1900s would look familiar to those who live and walk the streets today. Traffic was muddled with early cars, streetcars, bicycles, pedestrians and horses all fighting to find space in this vibrant city. Inhabitants were a mix of people from a myriad of different cultures. Central Park was a favorite gathering spot for the city’s poor who wanted to escape the packed tenements. Wall Street was still one of the country’s great financial centers. Broadway plays and professional baseball games were also present for those who could afford the tickets. The city, however, has gotten taller. In 1913 the Woolworth Building opened. At 55 stories, it was the tallest building in the world at that time.


3. Paris, France

Population: 2,750,000.

Paris is a city along the Seine River in France that has many famous landmarks. It is very rich in art and culture. I wrote this report about twenty five years ago. It’s about how this famous city grew and changed over the last few thousand years, since 1900, and through both World Wars.

In the early 1900s, artists from across the world migrated to the Left Bank of Paris. This tour featured the cafés, apartments, and streets where these artists lived and worked during the prime season of Modernism.

Few locations and time periods have seen as much artistic production as Paris during the early 1900s. The American writers Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote some of their best works in the city of love; Irish writer James Joyce wrote and published Ulysses, widely considered to be one of the most important novels of the 20th century. Painters such as Pablo Picasso created works that drastically altered the definition of art.


4. Tokyo, Japan


Population: 2,433,000

Southwest Tokyo, now known as the “burbs” of Tokyo, began to slowly enlarge in the early 1900s as the idea of developer Eichi Shibusawa. He purchased and named the area Denenchofu with a plan to create a “garden suburb” designed after some of the suburban developments in other major cities. His idea gained more than enough success, but the garden suburb truly began to boom after the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923. Central Tokyo was leveled but Denenchofu remained virtually unharmed. Soon after many broad-minded Tokyoites bought into the idea, giving birth to what is now often called the “Beverley Hills” of Tokyo.


5. Berlin, Germany

Population: 2,006,850

The primordial conditions were unbearable for a world national capital, and the Imperial government brought in its scientists, engineers and urban planners to not only solve the scarcity but to forge the world’s model city. With those changes a British expert concluded that Berlin represented “the most complete application of science, order and method of public life,” adding “it is a marvel of civic administration, the most modern and most perfectly organized city that there is.”

In the meantime, Berlin had become an industrial city. Improvements to the infrastructure were needed; in 1896 the construction of the subway (U-Bahn) began and was completed in 1902. The neighborhoods around the city center were filled with tenement blocks.

The surroundings saw extensive development of industrial areas East of Berlin and wealthy residential areas in the South-West.
In terms of high culture, museums were being built an enlarged, and Berlin was on the verge of becoming a major musical city. Berlin dominated the German theater scene, with the government-supported Opernhaus and Schauspielhaus, as well as numerous private playhouses included the Lessing and the Deutsches theatres.


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