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Monochromatic Photographs of Foggy London, 1907-1959

The thick fog makes these old black and white photos feel just a little more eerie, don’t you think so?

25 October 1938: Hyde Park Corner. Photo and caption by Fox Photos/Getty Images via Shooting Film

The London that we know today is one of the most highly-urbanized and beautiful metropolises in the world. But as late as a little over fifty years ago fog regularly hovered over the city, often rendering its citizens almost immobile and thereby unable to accomplish their daily tasks. Fog has even become synonymous with London, so much so that it was even christened with names like “pea-soupers” and “London particular.”

1 July 1907: St Pancras Railway Station. Photo and caption by Topical Press Agency/Getty Images via Shooting Film
24 January 1934: Lincoln’s Inn Fields. Photo and caption by Fred Morley/Fox Photos/Getty Images via Shooting Film
January 1936: Central London. Photo and caption by Lacey/General Photographic Agency/Getty Images via Shooting Film
29January 1959: Liverpool St. Station. Photo and caption by Edward Miller/Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images via Shooting Film

But between December 5 and 9, 1952, London suffered a major air pollution disaster called The Great Smog of London. It was said to have been caused by the cold and windless weather worsened by emissions from burning coals by people trying to keep warm and the operation of many coal-fired power stations, as well as pollution and smoke emitted by vehicles, among other factors. The conditions then were so bad that thousands of people died while hundreds of thousands more became sick due to lung infection. Due to almost zero visibility, public transportation was brought to a standstill and both outdoor and indoor events were canceled.

5 December 1952: Blackfriars, in the morning. Photo and caption by Don Price/Fox Photos/Getty Images via Shooting Film
6 December 1952: Fleet Street. Photo and caption by Edward Miller/Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images via Shooting Film
6 December 1952: Piccadilly Circus. Photo and caption by Central Press/Hulton Archive/Getty Images via Shooting Film
9 December 1952: A bus conductor walks in front of his vehicle. (Keystone/Hulton Archive / Getty Images via Shooting Film

The implementation of the Clean Air Act of 1956 was a direct result of this unfortunate event. A number of other environment-related laws have been passed, too, in the aftermath of the Great Smog.

All information in this article were sourced from Wikipedia.

Further reading: The Great Smog of 1952, How the Guardian reported on London’s Great Smog of 1952, and The Great Smog of London: the air was thick with apathy. See more black and white photos of old London covered in smog here

written by chooolss

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