The lighting of cities by gas brought about the idea of 'night life'. Policemen and prostitutes, missionaries and flâneurs
, nightwatchmen and the destitute 'colonised the nocturnal landscape.' The author, a cultural historian, has produced a startlingly evocative portrait, and this was hailed in the German press as a milestone in the cultural history of the city.
The European city was transformed when public lighting was introduced in the last century and "night life" was made possible for the first time. This is an investigation of the various aspects of Paris, Berlin, London and their inhabitants at night between 1840 and 1930. It deals with topical issues such as crime in the city, urban improvement and the predicament of women. By day the author sifted through countless police and church archives, city records and first-hand accounts; by night he explored the highways and byways of the three great cities.