It’s an intriguing part of our nightly walking tour to see just what people know about the Jack the Ripper crimes and the history of the East End of London in general.
The Whitechapel Murders could easily be described as being a lesson from history as they really do provide us with a window by which we can look back on the streets of Spitalfields and Whitechapel in the latter half of the 19th century.
Many people are, no doubt attracted to the crimes by their sheer gruesomeness and horror. Others are intrigued by the fact that the Whitechapel Murders present us with one of the greatest unsolved mysteries in history.
But, a lot of people who discover the Jack the Ripper crimes for the aforementioned reasons, soon discover that there is a lot more to this particular murder spree than at first meets the eye.
So, what does Jack the Ripper teach us?
Well, for a start the crimes themselves teach us an awful lot about policing in Victorian London. Thanks to the newspapers being on the ground reporting on the crimes on an almost daily basis we are able to, more or less, follow the police investigation and view, and judge, the effectiveness of the hunt for the murderer as it unfolded.
Secondly, the crimes enable us to look at the everyday lives of those who lived in the area, since they exposed the dreadful social conditions that were prevalent in the area in 1888. Many newspapers, and philanthropists, used the murders to shine a light on the grinding poverty in the districts of Spitalfields and Whitechapel and so the ripper murders became the stick with which the radical press beat the authorities for allowing people to literally fall through the net and end up living a hand to mouth existence in two of London’s most densely populated and crime-ridden quarters.
So, we can learn an awful about about the London’s social history from studying the Whitechapel Murders and, in addition, we can look closely how the Victorian police groped their way through an investigation into a type of crime that they had had little experience of.