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Birmingham was not picturesque, but a rapidly expanding city of 73,000 in the early years of the Industrial Revolution thanks to nearby coal fields and the newly opened Oxford Canal, which Turner featured in the foreground.
"The city is extremely populous and is daily increasing in size and wealth. The inhabitants of both sexes, from infancy to old age are all employed in some branch of the various manufacturies carried on here." -The Itinerant, 1798