The streets of Victorian London were a mass of obstacles to rapid motion: pedestrians, street walkers, muggers, homeless children, costermongers, and brass bands swarmed along the roads of the capital, preventing the free-flow of circulation and causing an unprecedented build-up of traffic and pollution. But how did this chaotic state come about, and why was more not done to prevent it? "Congested Capital" brings a historical perspective to present-day concerns about the effects of continued urban expansion and shows that many current problems date back to the Victorian era. James Winter reveals that the issue of street reform was fraught with political intrigue. Many reformers were liberals; yet the very question of attempting to limit or prohibit activity on the King's Highway which was, by definition, an open and democratic preserve, brought the very purpose of liberal reform into sharp focus. Based on solid documentary evidence, the book's main concern is how street planning shaped people's lives.