Healthy or Unhealthy Cities? Urban environments, cultures and economies of public and private health, 1600 to the present

Event Details

  • Event date: 05/04/2018 – 06/04/2018
  • Venue: Keele University

Urban History Group Conference 2018


By their very nature towns and cities were and still are potentially unhealthy spaces, beset by problems of disease, pollution and inadequate housing. Yet cities have also been centres for reform and significantly improved ‘health’ provision: the great leaps forward in sanitation, environmental and industrial regulation, provision of hospitals and other medical services were themselves driven by the pressures of urbanisation. Although this ‘progress’ was neither linear nor without significant resistance, the impetus to promote change and to extend provision could and did bind city communities together. Indeed, as recent assessments have shown, cities became the increasingly healthy option as services and environments improved.

The health of urban populations and healthiness of urban environments and experience, therefore, remain central to our understanding of how towns and cities do or do not function. The 2018 UHG conference will explore how we interpret and historicise the highs and lows of urban health and environment alongside the responses and experiences these produce.


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