Dublin once a small Norse trading centre is one of the fastest growing cities in Europe and faces the challenges of expansion.
Dublin provides a good example of the kinds of economic and social problems facing big cities in the twentieth century. As the population has grown, so too has demand for amenities and services presenting new socio-economic challenges.
Dublin began as a tiny Norse trading centre but has become a sprawling city covering a quarter of a million acres of land. The first map of the city made by John Speed in 1610 shows how tightly confined Dublin was centering around Christ Church, St Patrick's Cathedral and Dublin Castle.
High Street and Castle Street formed the central spire of the city.
The problems are part of the price paid for regional inequality, and the role of planning in influencing the development of cities.
After the Tudor conquest in the early seventeenth century, the first major expansion of the city took place. Land was reclaimed and new bridges were built across the Liffey and the port gradually moved down river. New streets were laid out while other areas were left behind housing the poor of the city. Districts like The Liberties became centres for industries like weaving and spinning and for markets.
Dublin like all other cities was dependent on outside supplies for its food.
In 1714, Moll's map of the city shows the contrast between the spacious plans of the new streets and the narrow winding streets of the medieval part of the city.
Another phase of urban expansion took place in the eighteenth century when the city was defined by buildings such as the Customs House, the Four Courts and the Georgian townhouses of the aristocratic land owners. By 1800, the population of Dublin had grown to around 200,000. However, prosperity did not last long. When the parliament ended with the Act of Union, many of the Georgian houses became disease ridden tenements housing the city's poor.
Poverty had always been present in the traditional working class districts but now the once fashionable north side of the city symbolised the economic decay of the country and its capital in the nineteenth century.
With the introduction of railways and trams, many of the city's wealthy now moved out to the suburbs such as Kingstown, Rathgar and Clontarf.
The city continued to be poor with the population either falling or remaining static, unlike British cities that experienced the industrial revolution.
It is only in the last forty years that Dublin has regained its status and prosperity with industry and offices attracted by the location of the city.
During the early days of the state, the population of Dublin grew as a result of migration from other counties. Massive housing programmes were rolled out to cope with the influx of people and to rehouse people out of the inner city tenements. At the foundation of the state, the population of Dublin was around 330,000. By 1971, this figure had more than doubled. Dublin's population is now one of the fastest growing of any city in the European Economic Community (EEC). It is estimated that by 1991 the population in the Dublin region will have increased to 1.3 million.
This massive growth in population presents economic and social challenges and the first of these is housing.
About 150,000 new houses will have to be provided for the increased population and perhaps another fifty thousand will be needed to replace houses which are at or near the end of their usefulness.
With the growing population comes a growing demand for schools, shops, playgrounds, hospitals and other services.
'Telefís Scoile: Resources of Man, The Big Smoke' was broadcast on 17 February 1975.