Monday, July 01, 2019

Jewish London

We Were There Too has created an interactive version of the Jewish East London map. This map was commissioned by the Toynbee Trust in 1899, to visualize where the Jewish community lived in East London.

The Jewish East London map was made by George Arkell, a statistician and social geographer, who had worked on Charles Booth's survey of London poverty. The English philanthropist Charles Booth had systematically plotted the levels of poverty and wealth in every street in London in the last two decades of the 19th century. Booth published the results of his research in 'Life and Labour of the People in London'. You can explore Booth's maps for yourself on the LSE's Charles Booth's London website.

Booth's publication included detailed 'Maps Descriptive of London Poverty' in which the levels of poverty and wealth in London were mapped out street by street. On Booth's maps the buildings in each street were colored to indicate the occupants' social class.

Geroge Arkell's Jewish East London map uses exactly the same visualization technique as Charles Booth's maps of London poverty. Individual streets are colored on the map to show the proportion of each street's occupants who are Jewish. The legend is cut off from the We Were There interactive map, this legend includes an indication of what the individual colors mean (We Were There have reproduced this under the map) and a note to the effect that "In all streets coloured blue the Jews form a majority of the inhabitants; in those coloured red, the Gentiles predominate."

You can view a version of the Jewish East London map, with the legend still present, at the Cornell University Digital Collections. Cornell attach a lot of significance to the fact that the Jewish East London map uses the same dark blue color as used in the Charles Booth maps "to represent 'vicious, semi criminal' areas". However this isn't true. Black was used on the Booth maps to indicate 'vicious, semi-criminal' streets. Dark blue was used to represent 'very poor, casual, chronic want'.

The Jewish East London map reveals that the Jewish population in East London was most concentrated in Whitechapel and Spitalfields. In the later half of the Nineteenth Century the Jewish population in England had nearly doubled as a result of large scale immigration from Eastern Europe. For much of the Twentieth Century this area of East London had a large Jewish population. However over the course of the Twentieth Century the Jewish population drifted away from the East End.

The latest UK census data reveals that the percentage who are Jewish in these areas is now below 1% of the total population. This UK Census Explorer map shows the percentage of the Jewish population in each London ward. It reveals that areas of north London, such as Golders Green and Edgware, now have the largest Jewish populations.

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