‘A Shifting Population: Town and Country’ outlines the effects of urbanization on Britain. Great urban centres, unmatched in the rest of Europe, grew up in manufacturing areas. Towns, dominated by the railways, exhibited only slow improvements in conditions. Despite improved farming machinery, poor harvests and American imports led to an agricultural depression. This had a more limited effect than in the past, however, as agriculture was relatively less important than other economic sectors than ever before. Despite the rural decay, many looked back on a happy rural past, and middle classes enjoyed the countryside as a playground.