The London of 200 years ago was a compact city where most people got around on foot. Streets were often crowded with pedestrians, with only a wealthy few able to travel by horse. The River Thames provided a faster way of getting around. Watermen carried people in small rowing boats called wherries. These were eventually displaced by paddle steamers which, by the 1850s, were carrying several million passengers a year.
Two Parisian imports changed the nature of vehicle traffic on London streets: the cabriolet and the omnibus. Light horse-drawn cabs, which could be manoeuvred down London's maze of streets, became fashionable among rich Londoners. English coachbuilder George Shillibeer launched London's first 'hail and ride' bus service in 1829. From 1870, horse-drawn trams on rails challenged the supremacy of the horse bus. Trams ran earlier in the morning and were cheaper than buses, giving working-class Londoners their first access to affordable public transport.
Railways too played their part in shaping London's development. The railway boom of the 1830s and 1840s saw routes to London created from every direction. Soon railway stations and depots were a presence right round the heart of London.