Jack the Ripper’s London

An interesting feature of the Jack the Ripper murders is that they focussed attention on the East End of London in general, and the quarters of Whitechapel and Spitalfields in particular, with the result that. to many people, these were the slum parts of the Victorian Metropolis.

However, this is not really the case.

Indeed, Victorian London had areas that were just as bad, if not worse, when it came to slums, as the district where the Jack the Ripper murders occurred.

Southwark, on the south side of the River Thames, Marylebone over to the north, Notting Hill, Chelsea, and even parts of Westminster, all boasted, if that is the right word to use, slums that were as atrocious as the slums that came to the fore with the press reportage into the ripper killings.

However, because of the Whitechapel Murders, a huge amount of coverage was given to the streets in which the murders occurred with the result that, today, many people think that only the East End was slum land London.

The social reformers who were, at the time of the murders, trying to get the middle and upper class citizens of the Metropolis to sit up and take notice of the dire social conditions that were being allowed to flourish in some parts of England’s capital, came to see the Jack the Ripper Murders as the perfect opportunity to expose the horrors under which many people, – and not just in London but also in other major cities throughout the United Kingdom – were forced to dwell day in and day out.

Obviously to have tried to focus attention on all the centres of poverty throughout the country would have been to have no particular focus.

But, with the horrors that were being reported in the press about the murders in Whitechapel, those social reformers found that some unknown miscreant had provided them with a focal point, and as they started to increase their activities into bringing about social change, these reformers brought the East End of London to a far wider audience than they could hope to have done had it not been for the Jack the Ripper murders.