West End of London

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Piccadilly Circus, the heart of the West End, in September 2012 Open Happiness Piccadilly Circus Blue-Pink Hour 120917-1126-jikatu.jpg
Piccadilly Circus, the heart of the West End, in September 2012

The West End of London (commonly referred to as the West End) is a district of Central London, west of the City of London and north of the River Thames, in which many of the city's major tourist attractions, shops, businesses, government buildings and entertainment venues, including West End theatres, are concentrated.

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The term was first used in the early 19th century to describe fashionable areas to the west of Charing Cross. [1] The West End covers parts of the boroughs of Westminster and Camden. [2]

While the City of London is the main business and financial district in London, the West End is the main commercial and entertainment centre of the city. It is the largest central business district in the United Kingdom, comparable to Midtown Manhattan in New York City, the 8th arrondissement in Paris, Orchard Road in Singapore, or Shibuya in Tokyo. It is one of the most expensive locations in the world in which to rent commercial and office space.

History

Shaftesbury Avenue from Piccadilly Circus in 1949 London , Kodachrome by Chalmers Butterfield.jpg
Shaftesbury Avenue from Piccadilly Circus in 1949

Medieval London comprised two adjacent cities – the City of London in the east, and the City of Westminster in the west.

Dragon statue on the Temple Bar monument, which marks the boundary between the City of Westminster and City of London Temple-bar-griffin.jpg
Dragon statue on the Temple Bar monument, which marks the boundary between the City of Westminster and City of London

Over time they came to form the centre of modern London, although each kept its own distinct character and its separate legal identity (for example, the City of London has its own police force and is a distinct county). The City of London became a centre for the banking, financial, legal and professional sectors, while Westminster became associated with the leisure, shopping, commerce, and entertainment sectors, the government, and home to universities and embassies. The modern West End is closely associated with this area of central London.

Lying to the west of the historic Roman and medieval City of London, the West End was long favoured by the rich elite as a place of residence because it was usually upwind of the smoke drifting from the crowded City. [3] It was close to the royal seat of power at the Palace of Westminster (now home to Parliament), and is largely contained within the City of Westminster (one of the 32 London boroughs).

Developed in the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries, it was built as a series of palaces, expensive town houses, fashionable shops and places of entertainment. The areas closest to the City around Holborn, Seven Dials, and Covent Garden contained poorer communities that were cleared and redeveloped in the 19th century.

Boundaries

As the West End is a term used colloquially by Londoners and is not an official geographical or municipal definition, its exact constituent parts are up for debate. Westminster City Council's 2005 report Vision for the West End included the following areas in its definition: Covent Garden, Soho, Chinatown, Leicester Square, the shopping streets of Oxford Street, Regent Street and Bond Street, the area encompassing Trafalgar Square, the Strand and Aldwych, and the district known as Theatreland. The Edgware Road to the north-west and the Victoria Embankment to the south-east were also covered by the document but were treated as "adjacent areas" to the West End. [4]

According to Ed Glinert's West End Chronicles (2006) the districts falling within the West End are Mayfair, Soho, Covent Garden, Fitzrovia and Marylebone. [5] By this definition, the West End borders Temple, Holborn and Bloomsbury to the east, Regent's Park to the north, Paddington, Hyde Park and Knightsbridge to the west, and Victoria and Westminster to the south. Other definitions include Bloomsbury within the West End. [6] [7]

One of the City of Westminster wards is called "West End". This electoral unit includes some of the most prosperous areas of the borough, including Soho, Mayfair and parts of southern Marylebone. [8] The population of this ward at the 2011 Census was 10,575. [9]

Activities

Her Majesty's Theatre in Haymarket, home to Andrew Lloyd Webber's The Phantom of the Opera Her.majestys.theatre.london.arp.jpg
Her Majesty's Theatre in Haymarket, home to Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Phantom of the Opera

Taking a fairly broad definition of the West End, the area contains the main concentrations of most of London's metropolitan activities apart from financial and many types of legal services, which are concentrated primarily in the City of London. There are major concentrations of the following buildings and activities in the West End:

The annual New Year's Day Parade takes place on the streets of the West End.

Notable streets

Notable squares and circuses

Marble Arch Marble.arch.london.arp.jpg
Marble Arch

The West End is laid out with many notable public squares and circuses.

Transport

London Underground stations in the West End include:

Related Research Articles

Charing Cross Road

Charing Cross Road is a street in central London running immediately north of St Martin-in-the-Fields to St Giles Circus and then becomes Tottenham Court Road. It is so called because it leads from the north in the direction of Charing Cross at the south side of Trafalgar Square, which it connects via St Martin's Place and the motorised east side of the square.

City of Westminster City and borough in London

City of Westminster is an inner London city and borough. It has been the capital city, de facto, of multiple British governments. Historically in Middlesex, it is immediately to the west of the older City of London.

Holborn Human settlement in England

Holborn is a district in central London, which covers the south-eastern part of the London Borough of Camden and a part, of the Ward of Farringdon Without in the City of London.

Aldwych tube station Closed London Underground station

Aldwych is a closed station on the London Underground, located in the City of Westminster in Central London. It was opened in 1907 with the name Strand, after the street on which it is located, and was the terminus of the short Piccadilly line branch from Holborn that was a relic of the merger of two railway schemes. The station building is close to the Strand's junction with Surrey Street, near Aldwych. During its lifetime, the branch was the subject of a number of unrealised extension proposals that would have seen the tunnels through the station extended southwards, usually to Waterloo.

Piccadilly Circus Road junction and public place in London, England, UK

Piccadilly Circus is a road junction and public space of London's West End in the City of Westminster. It was built in 1819 to connect Regent Street with Piccadilly. In this context, a circus, from the Latin word meaning "circle", is a round open space at a street junction.

Regent Street Shopping street in London

Regent Street is a major shopping street in the West End of London. It is named after George, the Prince Regent and was laid out under the direction of the architect John Nash and James Burton. It runs from Waterloo Place in St James's at the southern end, through Piccadilly Circus and Oxford Circus, to All Souls Church. From there Langham Place and Portland Place continue the route to Regent's Park.

Shaftesbury Avenue

Shaftesbury Avenue is a major street in the West End of London, named after Anthony Ashley Cooper, 7th Earl of Shaftesbury. It runs north-easterly from Piccadilly Circus to New Oxford Street, crossing Charing Cross Road at Cambridge Circus. From Piccadilly Circus to Cambridge Circus, it is in the City of Westminster, and from Cambridge Circus to New Oxford Street, it is in the London Borough of Camden.

Covent Garden tube station London Underground station

Covent Garden is a London Underground station serving Covent Garden and the surrounding area in the West End of London. It is on the Piccadilly line between Leicester Square and Holborn stations and is in Travelcard Zone 1. The station is at the corner of Long Acre and James Street and the street-level concourse is a Grade II listed building.

Metropolitan Borough of Westminster

The Metropolitan Borough of Westminster was a metropolitan borough in the County of London, England, from 1900 to 1965.

St Jamess Human settlement in England

St James's is a central district in the City of Westminster, London, forming part of the West End. In the 17th century the area developed as a residential location for the British aristocracy, and around the 19th century was the focus of the development of gentlemen's clubs. Once part of the parish of St Martin in the Fields, much of it formed the parish of St James from 1685 to 1922. Since the Second World War the area has transitioned from residential to commercial use.

Cities of London and Westminster (UK Parliament constituency)

Cities of London and Westminster is a constituency returning a single Member of Parliament (MP) to the House of Commons in the United Kingdom Parliament. It is a borough constituency for the purposes of election expenses and type of returning officer. As with all constituencies, the election is decided using the first past the post system of election. Since its creation at the 1950 general election, the constituency has, thus far, always elected the candidate nominated by the Conservative Party.

Coventry Street

Coventry Street is a short street in the West End of London, connecting Piccadilly Circus to Leicester Square. Part of the street is a section of the A4, a major road through London. It is named after the politician Henry Coventry, secretary of state to Charles II.

A40 road in London

The A40 is a major trunk road connecting London to Fishguard, Wales. The A40 in London passes through seven London Boroughs: the City of London, Camden, Westminster, Kensington & Chelsea, Hammersmith & Fulham, Ealing and Hillingdon, to meet the M40 motorway junction 1 at Denham, Buckinghamshire.

Night buses in London Series of night bus routes that serve Greater London

The London Night Bus network is a series of night bus routes that serve Greater London. Services broadly operate between the hours of 23:00 and 06:00.

West End is a ward of the London borough of the City of Westminster, in the United Kingdom. The ward has existed since elections to Westminster City Council that took place on 4 May 1978. It is named after the West End of London, which covers a wider area. While it has a resident population of about 10,000, its daytime population is around 250,000 due to the high number of businesses in the area.

References

  1. Mills, A., Oxford Dictionary of London Place Names, (2001)
  2. Greater London Authority, The London Plan: The Sub Regions Archived 4 June 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  3. Robert O. Bucholz and Joseph P. Ward: London: A Social and Cultural History, 1550–1750. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 2012, p. 333
  4. Vision for the West End (PDF), Westminster City Council, October 2005, retrieved 14 December 2016
  5. E. Gilnert, West End Chronicles (Penguin, 2006)
  6. Atkins, Peter J. "How the West End was won: the struggle to remove street barriers in Victorian London." Journal of Historical Geography 19.3 (1993): 265.
  7. How the West End was won: the struggle to remove street barriers in Victorian London. Atkins, P J. Journal of Historical Geography; London Vol. 19, Iss. 3, (Jul 1, 1993): 265.
  8. Westminster City Council ward boundary information
  9. "City of Westminstee ward population 2011". Neighbourhood Statistics. Office for National Statistics. Retrieved 15 October 2016.

Coordinates: 51°30′48″N0°07′43″W / 51.51333°N 0.12861°W / 51.51333; -0.12861