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Urbanization of Village Life near Lübeck after 1870

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about the progress of the age. They began thinking about whether they could not make better use of their property, which had increased considerably in value, and whether they should tear down their single-story town house and replace it with a tenement containing many apartments in multiple stories. The spirit of speculation was awakened. New roads had to be constructed to access these workers’ tenements. Obviously they could only be built on the meadows and fields belonging to the farmers, just as the factories had already been erected on old pastures. Therefore, the land had to be bought from the farmers. And they understood the dawning era; they knew their math well enough to drive up prices. Since they also had influence in the community, they supported a policy promoting the settlement of new urban populations; wherever they saw any gain for themselves, they did everything in their power to convert their rural property into building land for houses and roads. Their really big harvest came in when they did not even have to grow grain anymore, namely, when the government drew up and then enacted the plan to build a central hospital in the vicinity of the village, an extensive complex of buildings and barracks, roads, housing for civil servants, gardens, and parks. The government actually bought numerous meadows and fields from the farmers for this purpose. The farmers had been relatively well-to-do before this point; now they became rich and did not really find anything appropriate to do with their riches. First they lost their occupation. Soon their stables only accommodated a few coach horses; the cattle were sold, because there were no pastures left; the granary remained empty, because there was nothing left to harvest. The farms lay idle and dead, all but a few farmhands had been dismissed, and the farm servants had been forced to look for work elsewhere, with the municipality or in the factories. The farmers themselves walked about their extensive estates, without knowing what to do with their time. But just as indolence gives birth to capriciousness, it now occurred to the newly affluent farmers that they could and should act like fine gentlemen. They began feeling embarrassed about their peasant nature. It started out with them constructing residential buildings made of stone right beside their big thatched farmhouses. This was not a rural dwelling anymore but a villa, designed according to the latest architectural fashion by an urban architect who had just graduated from the polytechnic. Occasionally, this new house was put exactly where the living quarters in the old farm building had stood. The hall would remain, together with the barns, but the thatched roof was continued as a slate roof; beneath that all the comforts of modern living were spread out as much as possible. Of course, the separate villa was most popular of all, featuring palace windows, a flight of stairs, a loggia, columns, ornaments, a slate roof, and a tower. Around it the landscaper laid out an ornamental garden with winding gravel paths, tulip beds, and plenty of shrubbery. The fashionable green area displaced the old vegetable garden. If, after that, any piece of gardening space was left, it was parceled out and sold as building plots for new tenements. As a result of all this activity, tarred fireproof gables rose up steeply beside the villa of the suddenly prosperous farmer, and the old roofs thatched with straw appeared rather out of place. [ . . . ]

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