One fundamental difference between then and now, and also one reason why these places can be like they are, is that a century ago people lived much more local lives. In general, you didn’t have a car and there was no fast public transport. People lived in small, crowded apartments, and entertainment meant to go to the pub around the corner. No TV, not much reason to stay at home, not many means to quickly go to shopping or entertainment centers. Local shops and cafés were there, because they were needed.