Wednesday, June 6, 2012

"The Victorian Era" by Laura Rodera

Queen Victoria: Britain's Monarch
from 1837 to 1901

The origin of the term “Victorian” is found in England on the 19th century. It
is the name of an era of British history, The Victorian Era. The word “era” refers
to a long period of history and it usually takes its name from the reigning
monarch at the time the period belongs. Queen Victoria was the monarch
reigning England for more than half of the 19th century, which is the reason why
that period was named Victorian. The era was preceded by the Georgian period
and succeeded by the Edwardian period.

Queen Victoria’s reign was the longest in British history until now, and it was
a long period of peace and prosperity. She inherited the throne of Great Britain
at the age of eighteen from her uncle William IV. Her reign lasted 63 years, from
June 20th, 1837 until her death on January 22nd, 1901. Since it was a long reign,
the Victorian age compromised several periods.

The Victorian Era was characterized as a paradoxical age, and it was a
period of industrial, cultural, political, scientific, and military changes. The
Victorians invented the modern idea of invention; that man can create solutions
to problems. They felt that they could improve society in the same way they
were improving technology. Rapid changes and developments in medicine,
sciences, and technology came with the Industrial Revolution.

Culturally there was a transition from the rationalism of the Georgian period
towards the romanticism of the Belle Époque. The Victorians attempted to
combine Romantic emphases, emotion, and imagination, with The Neoclassical
public role of art and the responsibility of the artist. This age saw the birth of
political movements like socialism, liberalism, and feminism. But more than
anything else what makes Victorians Victorian is their sense of social
responsibility, their regard for religion and sexual restraint.

The Victorian Era was a time of unprecedented demographic increase in
England. The population almost doubled form 16 million in 1851 to 30 million in
1901. The main reason was the positive impact on living standards of the
Industrial Revolution. At the same time, about 15 million emigrants left the
United Kingdom in the Victoria Era and settled in the United States, Canada
and Australia.

American Victorianism was a branch of the lifestyle that was being lived
in Europe which reflected the heavy British cultural influence on the nation
during the time. The Victorian Era in America was a time of massive
immigration. The wealthy people were not yet sure what it was to be an
American, and they showed their uncertainty by borrowing from European
culture. Immigrants from Europe fled the poverty and politics of their homelands
for the New World.

The American West, an enormous territory, attracted settlers from all
over the world. People from Europe, Asia and the east coast of North America
came to this new land which was full of opportunities. Laws, such as the
Homestead Acts, helped Europeans and their descendants take lands used by
Native Americans.

San Francisco’s Victorian Era started in 1848 with the announcement
that gold had been discovered. The Gold Rush was the cause of one history’s
greatest boomtown. The population increased from 500 residents in 1847 to
100.000 in 1865. Since most people and supplies arrived by sea, San
Francisco’s action was the waterfront. The harbor was the root system for the
developing of urban land. The modern city of San Francisco raised from the
coast line overlooking the bay.

A Victorian home near Alamo Square,
San Francisco
The city started being built as ramshackle architecture. Wooden shanties,
lean-tos and canvas tents were the first houses of the new population.
Abandoned ships were recycled for building. Gradually people started to settle
into this new city as permanent residence. Solid frame buildings, copies of
architecture back east, were erected. The Victorian Houses started being built.
Many of them are still standing, and you can see them across the city.
The Victorian style was the main architectural style at the time the city of
San Francisco started becoming in the great city it is nowadays.

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