"Past continuous" VS "Past simple"

Good morning, all.

A) Could we use the "present progressive" in such contexts;

"In the nineteenth century, cities like London and Manchester were growing very quickly."?

B) Or I must use the "simple past", as the sentence talks about longer, more permanent situations. (Took a long time in the past)?

C) Does "very quickly" affect the meaning here?

Every word is appreciated.
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