One of my favorite sources of historical information is the tourist guidebook. The following excerpt is from the 1827 edition of Leigh's new picture of London: or A view of the political, religious, medical, literary, municipal, commercial, and moral state of the British metropolis.
All the streets of London are paved with great regularity, and have a foot-path, laid with flags, divided from the carriage-way: the latter is formed by small square blocks of Scotch granite. The foot-path has a regular curb stone, raised some inches above the carriage-way; of course the accommodation to the foot passenger must depend upon the breadth of the avenue: but as every alteration for many years past, has tended to widen the streets and lanes of the metropolis, the narrow avenues which admit carriages are gradually increasing in convenience to the pedestrian. In 1823, a new method of forming the carriage-ways of London was commenced in St. James's Square, under the superintendence of Mr. McAdam. By this process, which consists of breaking the stones into small pieces of the same size, it is hoped that a more level road will be obtained than the old pavement. Nearly all the streets are lighted by gas, an improvement which has only been introduced within a few years.
The Climate of London is temperate, but variable and inclined to moisture. The average temperature is 51° 9', although it varies from 20° to 81° the greatest cold usually occurring in January, and the greatest heat in July. Particular instances, however, of extreme cold and heat have been observed. In January 1795, the mercury in Fahrenheit's thermometer sunk to 38 degrees below the freezing point, and in July 1808, rose to 94 degrees in the shade.
There’s a big difference in how we use history. But we’re equally nuts about it. To us, the everyday details of life in the past are things to talk about, ponder, make fun of -- much in the way normal people talk about their favorite reality show.
We talk about who’s wearing what and who’s sleeping with whom. We try to sort out rumor or myth from fact. We thought there must be at least three other people out there who think history’s fascinating and fun, too. This blog is for them.