The 1783 Statistical Survey of Dublin’s Street Network

Finnian O’Cionnaith


Founded in 1774, the Dublin Paving Board was responsible for maintaining and improving the quality of the city’s street network. By 1783, the organisation had amounted substantial debts resulting in significant political fallout concerning its governance. An interim committee, tasked with alleviating the situation, commissioned a statistical survey to better understand the state of Dublin’s transport network, which at the time consisted of nearly four hundred streets, lanes and alleys. The survey was important for several reasons. In immediate terms, it was central to operational and financial planning of the Paving Board whose work affected the entire populace of Dublin. By categorising and assessing every street in Dublin, the survey empowered decision makers within the Board to determine the future of the organisation and how the city’s streets should be managed. The survey was also of historical significance as it documented an important element of urban life in eighteenth-century Dublin free of bias or opinion that frequently shadowed the often-controversial work of the Paving Board in period publications.

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