JUST AS LINES on a summer wheat field reveal ancient walls below, so the architecture of an old city can be glimpsed in the new. The west ends of British cities tend to be swankier than the east, in part because prevailing British winds blew Victorian pollution eastward. Factory owners, preferring not to sit in their own smog, moved upwind.

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London lends itself to such analyses because it has long had good maps of bad things. After the Great Fire of 1666, engravers produced an “AN EXACT SVRVEIGH”

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