ISLINGTON HOUSING NEWS SUPPLEMENT
HISTORY OF CITY HOUSING NO.3

 

1. ANOTHER CITY, ANOTHER ROME

As the life ebbed from Rome, another great city was born.

Constantine, the first emperor to adopt Christianity, founded a new Rome on the shores of the Bosporus. It took its name, Constantinople, from him.

2. CONSTANTINOPLE

The city, now called Istanbul in modern Turkey, became the capital of the first Christian civilisation - the Byzantine Empire. It lasted for over 1,000 years, from 330 to 1453 AD.

It was known as the Jewel of Byzantium, and has kept its allure into this century. In the First World War, British and Australian troops landed at Gallipoli in a vain attempt to capture it.

 

3. JEWEL OF THE EAST

Constantinople developed into an immense city of over a million people with splendid churches, palaces and libraries.

The skyscrapers of Ancient Rome were repeated here -and so were the frightening slums. Avast shanty town grew in the hot sun behind the magnificent buildings.

4. THE POOR

The poor were not as brutalised as in Rome. They could go to church; they could watch the races in the great Hippodrome.

Efforts were made to keep them employed on municipal works. Like many other societies, but unlike our own, the Ancient Byzantines accepted that public expenditure created employment.

5. PUBLIC HEALTH

There were regulations about the width of the streets. All drainage led to the sea.

No one, except the Imperial family, could be buried inside the city limits. In London, the dead were still being packed into the city's churchyards until late in the 19th century.

6. CISTERNS AND WATER

Most remarkable were the fine aqueducts and 30 huge cisterns built for the storage of water.

One, constructed over 1400 years ago, with huge stone pillars supporting the roof, looked like an underground cathedral. It is still in use today.

7. IN SUNNY SPAIN

Constantinople was to be conquered by the Moslems. But in the preceeding centuries - the Arab warriors of the prophet Mahomet, were to overrun the Middle East and flow into Europe.

They created a refined urban civilisation in Spain. Even now you can see the splendid mosques and palaces they built in Granada and Cordoba.

Cordoba was the capital of Moslem Spain 100 years ago. With a population of over a million, it was said to cover an area 24 miles by 6 miles. There were 260,000 buildings - shops, baths, palaces and libraries.

8. IN OLD CHINA

Across the world, Chinese society has been developing for thousands of years - producing great religious teachers and fine cities.

This society invented gunpowder, printing, silk weaving and paper.

It also created a great bureaucracy - the most powerful army of officials and clerks the world was ever to experience.


 

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