May 19, 2024

Hankering for History

Hanker: To have a strong, often restless desire, in this case for–you guessed it–history!

Did Civilization Peak in the 19th Century?

3 min read

In the 1800s, the world was just entering an industrial revolution and the first real technological advances were made, so where did it all go wrong?

The 19th century was a much simpler time; after all, it was the last century before the term ‘World War’ referred to the most tragic events in human history. The Wright brothers were yet to invent the aeroplane, meaning that tourists and diplomats would rely on boats to travel abroad, which could take days and weeks to reach their destination.

In American history, the turn of the 19th century was the country’s first as an independent state, following the declaration of independence on July 4, 1776. In 1886, the United States would accept what has now become a highly significant monument, the Statue of Liberty, as a mark of the alliance with France during American Revolution.

statue of liberty


It is this century that we have to thank for so many historical points of interest across the globe. This is why we consider the renovation of such heritage sites highly important, in order to preserve their history for future generations to learn from.

Other historical buildings that were erected in the 19th century included the Palace of Westminster, otherwise known as the Houses of Parliament, is where the British government still convenes to this day. This is a mark of the democratic process that the civilised world enjoys, and also a mark of perseverance after the original building burned down in 1834 before it was rebuilt between 1840 and 1870.

Standing at the north end of Westminster Palace is Big Ben, or to give it is proper name Elizabeth Tower (renamed in honour of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in 2012) which was completed in 1859. These two buildings make up a central role of the iconic London skyline.


The 19th century saw the introduction of factories, as part of the industrial revolution, which brought about millions of jobs. Before this, it was not out of the ordinary for families to work from home – which is ironic when you consider today’s changing trends.

Not only were factories a blessing for the job market, but this reduced the prices of home essentials such as furniture as the consumer was no longer paying for the hand craftsmanship. Products could now be mass-produced, which meant that working class families could now afford nicer things for their homes.

No Internet

In the 19th century, if you had uttered the word ‘internet’ someone would have thought you were asking for a fishing net. This technology was still a long way off, meaning that teenagers did not waste their days posting selfies on Instagram, or tweeting.

Cameras were invented in the 19th century, with the first recorded picture having been taken in 1816, but these were reserved purely for the middle to upper classes who could afford such luxuries.

Instead, entertainment came in the form of literature and family activities which, arguably, large parts of today’s society fail to make full use of.

Where Progress Has Been Made

If you were asked as to whether you wanted to live in the 19th or 21st century, you would, of course, opt for the latter. Living standards are far more comfortable today than they were 200 years ago, while technological and medical advancements have been nothing short of extraordinary.

The 19th century wins the battle for simplicity hands down but was undeniably lacking in basic human rights, particularly if you were not a white male. Nevertheless, lessons can be learned from this bygone era, that laid the foundation for today.