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London, England, United Kingdom, Europe

Founded: 1st century a.d.
Location: Southeastern England on the Thames River
Motto: "God save the Queen."
Time Zone: Greenwich Mean Time (GMT); 1 pm British Summer Time (late Marchlate October) = noon GMT
Elevation: 5 m (16 ft)
Latitude and Longitude: 40°45'N, 73°59'W
Climate : Mild winters and temperate summers
Annual Mean Temperature: 11°C (52.0°F); January 5.5°C (42°F); July 18°C (65°F)
Seasonal Average Snowfall: 20 days of snow, no accumulation;
Average Annual Precipitation (total of rainfall and melted snow): 101.6 cm (40 in)
Government: Mayor-council
Weights and Measures: Metric system
Monetary Units: Decimal system based on the pound sterling, a paper currency of 100 pence
Telephone Area Codes: 20, followed by 7 or 8 depending on location; (UK Code, 44)
Postal Codes: Letter for general area (E = East; EC = East Central; N = North; NW = Northwest; SE = Southeast; SW = Southwest; W = West; WC = West Central); numbers for specific district

1. Introduction

London, the capital of Great Britain, is also one of the world's capitals of finance, fashion, arts and entertainment. The city has a recorded history dating back to Roman times and encompassing the lives of such illustrious political figures as William the Conqueror, Thomas à Becket, and Queen Elizabeth I, as well as those of William Shakespeare, John Milton, and the other authors who created one of the world's great bodies of literature. Formerly the heart of a vast empire, London was also a center of the Industrial Revolution (c. 1750) and a showcase for both the material progress and the dire social ills it created. In the twentieth century, the city has rebuilt and renewed itself following the devastating bombing attacks of World War II (19391945) and discovered a new identity as a post-imperial, multi-ethnic metropolis. It enters a new century (and the third millennium of its history) reinvigorated by a booming economy, as well as the inauguration of a new form of local government.

2. Getting There

Located in southeastern England, London is approximately 80 kilometers (50 miles) upstream from the Thames River's estuary on the North Sea.


Various highways lead into London from all directions, like the spokes of a wheel, intersecting with highway M25, which rings the Greater London area, and, farther in, with highways A205 and 406, which circle the central part of the city.

Bus and Railroad Service

Eurostar trains provide service between London and six destinations in France and Belgium. London's train stations provide direct connections to the city's buses and Underground. The Chunnel train runs between Paris and London's Waterloo station.


Located 24 kilometers (15 miles) from the center of London, Heathrow Airport is one of the busiest in the world. Gatwick, which is about 40 kilometers (25 miles) south of the city, is less heavily used, but traffic there is growing steadily. Smaller airports are Stansted, used primarily for travel to and from the European continent, and London City Airport, which is popular with business travelers from elsewhere in Britain and from northern Europe.


Historically, London's location on the Thames and its proximity to both the English Channel and the North Seaas well as its position as the center of an international empiremade it one of the world's great trading centers. Until World War II the Port of London was the busiest in the world. Since the late 1960s, however, London's shipping traffic has declined dramatically due to competition, labor problems, and changes in the shipping industry itself. In 2000, the Port of London accounted for only eight percent of Britain's total shipping traffic.

London Population Profile

City Proper

Population: 3,900
Area: 2.7 sq km (1 sq mi)
Nicknames: The Square Mile, The City

Metropolitan Area

Population: 7,640,000
Description: Consists of 33 boroughs
Area: 1,579 sq km (610 sq mi)
World population rank 1: 25
Percentage of national population 2: 13.1%
Average yearly growth rate: 0%

  1. The London metropolitan area's rank among the world's urban areas.
  2. The percent of England's total population living in the London metropolitan area.

London's port is administered by the Port of London Authority (PLA), which handles environmental and navigation issues for the part of the Thames that falls under its jurisdiction. Through its 86 terminals, the port handles a full range of cargo, which is shipped to destinations all over the world.

3. Getting Around

London can be divided into three concentric districts that reflect the city's growth over time. At the core is the historic City of London, which covers only 2.6 square kilometers (one square mile). It forms part of a larger surrounding area known as Inner London, which was developed between the late eighteenth and early twentieth centuries. Inner London is surrounded by the remaining outer boroughs, consisting of residential suburbs built in the first half of the twentieth century, which complete the greater metropolitan area.

The major means of orientation in Inner London is the Thames River, which divides the city into north and south. (Most important points in the city are on the northern bank.) Another major point of reference is the contrast between east and west: the wealthier and more prestigious parts of the city lie toward the west while the East End is a working-class manufacturing and shipping district.

Bus and Commuter Rail Service

Bus and rail services are operated by London Transport throughout the Greater London area. A fleet of about 5,400 buses covers 700 routes which encompass 140 bus stations and stands and some 10,000 bus shelters. The city's underground trains (known simply as the Underground or "the Tube") service over 260 stations; 500 trains make over 2.5 million passenger journeys daily. The £3.2 billion Jubilee Line Extension, opened in November 1999, runs between Green Park and Waterloo. It is the single largest expansion of the underground system in 25 years.


A number of bus tours are available, including the hour-and-a-half Original London Sightseeing Tour aboard an old-fashioned double-decker bus. Harrods department store operates its own double-decker bus tours, and Big Bus Company, Ltd. runs two-hour tours in the summertime, covering 18 popular tourist attractions.

Companies offering walking tours include the Original London Walks, Discovery Walks, Guided Walks in London, and John Wittich.

The Port of London, an increasingly popular cruise ship destination, has four cruise ship moorings, at Tower Bridge, Greenwich, West India Dock, and Tilbury. Tours are also offered on London's canals.

4. People

In 1992, the population of the City of London, the central downtown part of the city, was estimated at 3,900. The surrounding area of Inner London, consisting of the City of London and 13 boroughs of Greater London, had an estimated population of 2,632,100. Altogether, the population of the 33 boroughs of the Greater London metropolitan area was estimated at 6,904,600.

In the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, London's immigrant communities were mostly small and self-contained, giving it a less cosmopolitan flavor than other comparable cities. Nineteenth-century immigrant groups included Italians, French, Chinese, Germans, Scandinavians, Irish, and, in the last decades of the century, Polish and Russian Jews. (More Jewish immigrants from both Eastern and Western Europe followed in the years before and after World War II.)

City Fact Comparison
Indicator London Cairo Rome Beijing
(England) (Egypt) (Italy) (China)
Population of urban area1 7,640,000 10,772,000 2,688,000 12,033,000
Date the city was founded 1st centuary AD AD 969 753 BC 723 BC
Daily costs to visit the city2
Hotel (single occupancy) $219 $193 $172 $129
Meals (breakfast, lunch, dinner) $79 $56 $59 $62
Incidentals (laundry, dry cleaning, etc.) $20 $14 $15 $16
Total daily costs $318 $173 $246 $207
Major Newspapers3
Number of newspapers serving the city 21 13 20 11
Largest newspaper News of the World Akhbar El Yom/Al Akhbar La Repubblica Renmin Ribao
Circulation of largest newspaper 4,316,825 1,159,339 754,930 3,000,000
Date largest newspaper was established 1843 1944 1976 1948
1United Nations population estimates for the year 2000.
2The maximum amount the U.S. Government reimburses its employees for business travel. The lodging portion of the allowance is based on the cost for a single room at a moderately-priced hotel. The meal portion is based on the costs of an average breakfast, lunch, and dinner including taxes, service charges, and customary tips. Incidental travel expenses include such things as laundry and dry cleaning.
3David Maddux, ed. Editor&Publisher International Year Book. New York: The Editor&Publisher Company, 1999.

Since the influx of immigrants from Britain's former colonies that began in the 1950s, London's population has steadily grown even more diverse. The new immigrants include West Indians, East Indians, Bangladeshis, and people from a variety of African nations. When the 1991 census was taken, one child of every three born in London was born to an immigrant mother. In 2000, nearly one-quarter of the city's population was born overseas. However, much of the ethnic diversity of Greater London is concentrated in its western boroughs while those to the east are home primarily to British-born whites.

5. Neighborhoods

Because London developed in a random fashion rather than according to a plan, it is actually a cluster of distinct neighborhoods rather than a unified metropolis. Outside the older, original part of the city, London's various neighborhoods retain some features of the individual villages they once were before they were incorporated into the expanding capital. Each has its own character, with its own distinct combination of residents, building styles, and local businesses, and each inspires a strong feeling of attachment among its residents. However, there also tends to be diversity within these neighborhoods, thanks to London's multi-ethnic population and the presence of public rental housing in most parts of the city, assuring some diversity in income level in most areas.

London's oldest district is "the City," the part that corresponds to the original walled city (Londinium) built by the Romans in the first century A. D. and still occupies its original area of roughly 2.6 square kilometers (one square mile). Today it is home to London's major financial institutions, including the Bank of England and the London Stock Exchange, and is full of hustle and bustle during weekdays. However, only a fraction of the City's busy work force actually lives there, so it is all but deserted on weekends.

Located along the Thames in the western part of London, and to the east of St. James's Park, Westminster is the political heart of London, home of the British parliament and the prime minister's residence at Number 10 Downing Street. It is also the location of one of the world's great religious structures, Westminster Abbey. Westminster has more historic buildings and fewer commercial sites than any other part of London and also encompasses the area known as Victoria, which gets its name from the Victoria Station stop on the Underground.

Located in the fashionable West End, St. James' and Mayfair are the wealthiest and most aristocratic parts of central London. The elite Mayfair district is the site of fashionable homes, luxury hotels, and exclusive shops while St. James' is the home of Buckingham Palace and the last bastion of that traditional hallmark of British privilege, the all-male gentleman's club. To the north is Marylebone, home of the famous Madame Toussaud's waxworks. To the west, south of Hyde Park, is Knightsbridge, where the popular Harrod's department store is located; it is one of London's most fashionable residential and shopping districts. Further south lie aristocratic Belgravia and stylish Chelsea.

To the north, the cosmopolitan neighborhood of Soho has been rescued from its one-time decline into a red-light district, although the famed Carnaby Street has never recaptured the glory of the 1960s when it was the heart of swinging London. With its great cultural diversity, this district boasts a large number and variety of ethnic eateries. Bloomsbury, a great literary and artistic center in the early twentieth century, is still the academic heart of London, as the location of the University of London and other colleges. Holborn, home to the Royal Courts of Justice, was historicallyand still isthe city's primary legal center.

East of the City of London lie the neighborhoods of the East End, including Bow, Poplar, West Ham, Stepney, Canning Town, and others. This has traditionally been the poorest part of the city. Heavily bombed during World War II, the East End has undergone large-scale urban renewal, but the large immigrant populations attracted to the area's low rents over the generations have left it a multicultural melting pot.

6. History

The Romans, who invaded Britain in A. D. 43, first founded London (which they called Londinium) at the site of the present-day City of London (the oldest, walled part or the "square mile") on the northern bank of the Thames River. Although burned down in a rebellion a scant 17 years later, the city was soon rebuilt and had become a flourishing trading center by A. D. 100. By the middle of the third century, Londinium was the largest city in Britain, with a population of as many as 50,000 inhabitants, and its boundaries corresponded to those of today's historic central core. In the fifth century, the Romans, under siege by Germanic invaders, vacated Londinium, and the city entered a long period of decay and neglect.

Following a Danish invasion in 878, King Alfred of Wessex (849899) retook and began rebuilding the city, which expanded northward and became known as Londontown. South-wark, on the south bank of the Thames, also grew and prospered, and Westminster, upstream from London and at that time an island surrounded by marsh-land, underwent development when King Edward the Confessor (c. 10031066) built a royal palace there following his accession in 1042. This was the beginning of Westminster's history as home to royalty and center of government. It was in Westminster Abbey that William, Duke of Normandy (10271087), was crowned king of England following the Norman Conquest in 1066. To win the cooperation of London's political leaders and wealthy merchants, he granted the city special powers through a charter.

By the end of the twelfth century, London had a population of around 40,000 and had elected its first mayor. In the fourteenth century, disaster struck, in the form of the Black Death, which spread to London via ships traveling from Europe and ultimately killed about one-third of England's population. Over the next three centuries, London was to undergo several recurrences of the epidemic.

The inception of the Tudor dynasty in 1485 brought the city further growth and prosperity, peaking with the reign of Elizabeth I in the sixteenth century, by which time London was the center of a global empire and one of the foremost cities of Europe. In the meantime, the population outside the city walls had grown dramatically, reaching 200,000 by the year 1600. Decrees were issued to slow further growth, limiting London to a "Green Belt" surrounding the outer city. The restrictions caused overcrowding in the central city, contributing to a new outbreak of plague in 1665. The following year, roughly two-thirds of the city (by now the world's largest) was burned down in the Great Fire.

A massive rebuilding effort restored the city, with brick and stone replacing its original wooden buildings. A new grid-based plan for the city by architect Sir Christopher Wren was not adopted, however, and London's layout essentially retained its original patterns. London grew rapidly in the eighteenth century, with a steadily expanding population and new streets and neighborhoods. Its first squares, including Covent Garden and Leicester Square, added new elegance to the fashionable parts of town. However, many in the oldest districts lived in dire poverty, and crime and rioting were commonplace.

In the nineteenth century, the Industrial Revolution caused further deterioration in living conditions for many Londoners, polluting their air and worsening the already existing pollution of the Thames. Yet, London remained the largest and wealthiest city in the world and the center of a vast empire, and the Great Exhibition of 1851, held in the Crystal Palace constructed in Hyde Park, celebrated the city's achievements.

The two world wars of the twentieth century brought air raids to London; those of World War II left the city decimated and necessitated large-scale rebuilding. A major postwar development was the exodus of many Londoners to the suburbs. The drive to attract immigrant labor from Britain's former Third World colonies turned London into a multi-ethnic city but also led to racial tensions.

Recent decades brought the "Swinging 60s," when London became the world's capital of popular culture; the economic crises of the 1970s; and the Thatcher Era of the 1980s, when the Greater London Council (GLC) was abolished, leaving the city with no metropolitan government. As the twentieth century drew to a close, London was on the eve of a new era in local government as its citizens prepared to elect a mayor and council.

7. Government

The City of London has had its own local governmentone of the world's oldestsince the Middle Ages. Even though it is now part of a much larger urban entity, the city has remained an autonomous jurisdiction with a Lord Mayor, a City Corporation, and, among other powers, jurisdiction over its own police force. The surrounding area of Greater London has been politically fragmented for most of its history. In 1965 more than 100 local councils were merged into 33 boroughs (one of which was the City of London), and the Greater London Council (GLC) was established to serve as the elected government of the greater metropolitan area. In 1986 the conservative national government led by Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher (b. 1925) abolished the left-leaning (and, by many accounts, ineffective) GLC, leaving the individual borough councils as virtually the sole governing authority for Greater London.

In a May 1998 referendum sponsored by the British labor government elected in 1997, London's citizens voted for a restoration of government at the metropolitan level with the establishment of a mayor-council government to consist of a strong mayor directly elected by the voters and a 25-member assembly. With the new government slated to take office in the autumn of 2000, mayoral elections scheduled for 1999 drew a colorful roster of contenders, including actress Glenda Jackson and novelist and political conservative Jeffrey Archer.

8. Public Safety

London's Metropolitan Police District, first established in 1829, is responsible for an area of 2,035 square kilometers (786 square miles), which includes the entire metropolitan area and some of its environs. The City of London, however, has always retained its own police force in addition to the Metropolitan Police, and the two law enforcement organizations operate in tandem in the "square mile" at the center of London. Separate forces are also maintained by the Royal Parks Constabulary and the British Transport Police. Violent crime remains relatively rare in London, which is safer than many major cities in Europe and the United States. Although the regular police forces still do not carry guns, special "armed response units" now patrol the streets around the clock.

9. Economy

London was historically a shipping and manufacturing city. However, both of these sectors have declined sharply since the 1960s. Over a million manufacturing jobs were lost between 1960 and 1990 as traditional craft-based manufacturing waned and newer growth industries relocated to areas outside both London and other major cities, aided by government incentives to attract industry to high-unemployment regions. Manufacturing has been eclipsed by financial services, in which London has become both a national and a world leader. In 1990, business and financial services accounted for one in six jobs. London laid claim to one-third of all British employment in this sectorreportedly the world's largest concentration of such jobs in one metropolitan center. International banking, commodities, securities trading, and reinsurance services have crowded into modern office towers in the historic "square mile" of the City of London, providing new opportunities for commercial development, subject to the space limitations of the district. By the end of the 1990s, the recession of the early part of the decade was over; tourism was booming; and major public works projects were under way, spurred by the approach of a new millennium.

10. Environment

The industrial revolution brought both air and water pollution to London as early as the nineteenth century. The term "smog" was coined at the turn of the twentieth century to describe the mix of smoke from coal fires with London's characteristic fog. The heavily industrialized East End suffered the worst pollution of all. In the mid-twentieth century, the British government began to take action, passing the Clean Air Acts of 1956 and 1968, which outlawed coal burning. However, London's air is still polluted by carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, benzines, and other chemicals, and motor vehicle fumes remain a problem, endangering the health of London's residents and even causing deterioration of the city's buildings. Heavy smog was responsible for the deaths of over 160 people in 1992.

Industrialization and unregulated sewage disposal also compromised the condition of London's lifeline, the Thames River, which was so polluted by the mid-nineteenth century that its smell wafted through the halls of Parliament. Tighter pollution controls since the 1960s have improved the water quality of the river, and there has been an upsurge in the river's stock of fish and other forms of aquatic life. Another danger associated with the Thames is the likelihood of flooding, which posed serious threats to the population in 1928 and 1953. Authorized in the 1970s, the Thames Barrier, consisting of ten steel gates, was completed in 1982 at a cost of £500 million.

11. Shopping

Shopping is one of the favorite activities in London for residents and visitors alike. Besides Harrod's, well-known department stores in London include Marks & Spencer, Selfridges, and Liberty.

The West End is home to the greatest number of high-profile shops and department stores, many found in such key venues as Oxford Street and Bond Street. Another popular shopping spot there is the glass-roofed Burlington Arcade, which features a wide selection of shops and boutiques. Soho and Covent Garden both provide ample shopping opportunities, as does Knightsbridge, home of the famous Harrod's department store. Kensington High Street is popular with devotees of youth culture while Kensington Church Street is known for its selection of antique shops.

London's open markets are legendary. The most famous is Covent Garden Market has crafts, antiques, and other specialty shops. The suburb of Greenwich is known for its flea and craft markets, which brim with customers every Sunday. Portobello Market in Notting Hill is another well-known venue for antiques.

Charing Cross Road (made famous by 84 Charing Cross Road, a well-known book by Helene Hanff) is the city's major booksellers' district and includes a number of antiquarian book dealers.

Other areas where London presents special shopping opportunities include designer clothing, china, and glass collectibles.

12. Education

The 33 boroughs of Greater London are responsible for operating their own school systems, which are attended by nine out of ten children in London. The rest are enrolled in private schools. Among the most prestigious (with dates of founding) are St. Paul's School (1509), Harrow School (1572), Dulwich College (1618), and the City of London School (1834).

London's 12 universities enroll more than 110,000 full-time and 50,000 part-time students. The University of London consists of some three dozen separate institutions located throughout the metropolitan area, including Goldsmiths' College, Imperial College, King's College, and the famous London School of Economics. Among London's other universities are City University, Guildhall University, South Bank University, University of East London, and University of Westminster.

13. Health Care

In London, as elsewhere in Britain, both British residents and nationals of other EU countries receive free medical treatment under the National Health Service (NHS). Other visitors are covered for emergency care only. London's oldest hospital, St. Bartholomew's, was founded in 1123; other historic hospitals are St. Thomas's (1213), Guy's (1725), St. George's (1733), and the London Hospital (1740). Among the city's other health-care facilities are Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, Middlesex Hospital, Royal Free Hospital, St. Bartholomew's Hospital, St. Mary's Hospital, University College Hospital, Great Ormond Street Children's Hospital, and Moorfields Eye Hospital.

14. Media

The newspapers available in London are mostly national publications. At the upper end of the respectability spectrum are the daily "broadsheets" (with circulation figures from 1998): the Daily Telegraph (1,047,861) , the Times of London (766,999) , the Independent (223,110) , and the Guardian (393,856) . All have Sunday editions except the Guardian, whose publishers put out the Observer on Sundays. The "middle-brow" publications are the Daily Mail, the market leader (2,387,867), and the Daily Express (1,118,981) . At the bottom rung are the infamous tabloids, which cater to the universal taste for celebrity gossip, photographs by the paparazzi, and sensationalism of all kinds. Britain's leading tabloid is The Sun, which sells some seven million copies daily. Its major competitors are the Daily Star and the Mirror. London's only local daily paper is the Evening Standard, which resembles a local counterpart, the Daily Mail.

More than 6,500 professional and popular magazines are available in London, one of the world's publishing capitals. Women's magazines are the biggest sellers. Fashion magazines, men's magazines, and sports magazines are popular as well. International politics and business are covered by The Economist. Other serious publications include The Spectator, the New Statesman, and Prospect.

BBC-operated BBC1 and BBC2 provide London's most-watched television programming. BBC2 is the more creative and offbeat of the two. Independent channels include ITV, Channel 4, and Channel 5. A wide gamut of FM stations broadcasts radio programming of all kinds.

15. Sports

In London, as elsewhere throughout Britain, soccer (called football) tops the list of popular sports for both spectators and participants. Amateur games can be found in parks and other green spaces throughout the city. The game is played professionally from August until May. The sport is organized within individual boroughs rather than citywide, giving London 13 teams, each of which is closely associated with a particular locality rather than the city itself. It is common for crowds of up to 15,000 to attend regular-season games, rising to between 30,000 and 40,000 for playoffs.

In summertime, cricket is popular. There are almost 1,000 clubs, and amateur games abound. Spring brings the annual boat race between the rival universities of Oxford and Cambridge. London draws the international attention of the sports world every June when the Wimbledon matches are held, and horse racing remains a popular spectator sport although Londoners must travel to such venues as Epsom Downs and Ascot as the city's last race-course closed in 1970. Other spectator sports include greyhound racing, hockey, and auto racing. Both forms of rugbyrugby league and rugby unionare played in London, whose rugby league team is the London Broncos. The American games of basketball and baseball are growing in popularity.

16. Parks and Recreation

London is famed for the network of parks, squares, and commons found throughout the city. Two of the best known are Grosvenors Square and Trafalgar Square, the latter a major landmark and popular venue for street performers. London's most famous city parks, all located in the West End, are St. James's Park (the oldest one); Buckingham Palace Gardens, adjacent to the royal residence; Green Park; Hyde Park, the largest at 248 hectares (615 acres), and famed for its "soapbox" for public speakers; Kensington Gardens; and Regent's Park, site of the Zoological Gardens and Regent's Canal. Other green spaces include Chelsea Physic Garden, where medicinal herbs and other plants have been grown since the seventeenth century; Kew Gardens, famous for its trees and hothouses; the Hill Gardens; Kenwood; and Battersea Park on the south bank of the Thames.

17. Performing Arts

London, where the plays of William Shakespeare were written and staged, is still the undisputed theater capital of the world. It is home to both venerable traditional companies and cutting-edge experimental troupes. The major established theaters are the Barbican Theatre, home of the Royal Shakespeare Company; the Royal Court Theatre, which produced the plays of London's "angry young men" in the 1950s; the Royal National Theatre, which stages productions in three theaters; the historic Drury Lane Theater, which has stood since 1812; and, since 1997, the Globe Theatre, a replica of the Elizabethan theatre where William Shakespeare's plays were performed that stands at the exact site of the original. "Fringe" theater groups present first-rate productions of alternative theater, revivals, musicals, and other contemporary works at the ICA Theatre, the Almeida Theatre (also the site of an annual festival of contemporary music), the Young Vic, and the King's Head.

London is also one of the world's foremost centers for classical music, supporting no fewer than five major symphony orchestras: the London Symphony, the Royal Philharmonic, the Philharmonic Orchestra, the BBC Symphony, and the BBC Philharmonic. In addition, the city is home to distinguished choral groups, early music ensembles, and chamber groups. These include the English Chamber Orchestra, the London Sinfonietta, and the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields. One of the world's most famous concert halls is located in Royal Albert Hall, which hosts concerts by a variety of famous figures in the worlds of both classical and popular music, as well as a century-old London musical tradition known as "the Proms," a series of orchestra concerts presented every summer.

Two of London's most famous theaters have undergone major improvements in the 1990s. The Sadler's Wells Theatre, a hundred-year-old-building that is home to opera and dance concerts, was demolished (except for its original facade) and reopened as a redesigned modern facility in 1998. During the same period, the world-famous Royal Opera House in Covent Garden closed for 30 months for a $360 million renovation, reopening in late 1999 with a new foyer, as well as new backstage facilities, new rehearsal rooms, and a studio theater. Royal Opera and Royal Ballet both perform at the facility, whose new rehearsal studios will now make it the permanent home of the Ballet, which formerly rehearsed in other quarters.

18. Libraries and Museums

London's premier library is the British Library, whose collection encompasses some 12 million items, including books, manuscripts, and other materials. Formerly housed in the British Museum, it moved to a newly designed building in St. Pancras in 1996. Among the treasured artifacts contained in the library are two copies of the 1215 Magna Carta, a Gutenberg Bible, an early-fifteenth-century copy of The Canterbury Tales, and letters, journals, and early editions of famous British literary figures including William Shakespeare.

With over six million visitors a year, the British Museum is London's most popular tourist attraction. From ancient Egyptian statues to the Elgin Marbles to an extensive collection of Japanese prints, the breadth of the museum's collection, begun in 1753, is virtually unrivaled. Its present building was designed in 1847. London's other major museums include the National Gallery, containing Western art from the Middle Ages to the present; the Tate Gallery, specializing in British art; and the Victoria and Albert Museum, devoted to the decorative arts. The Saatchi Gallery is known for its outstanding collection of contemporary (and sometimes controversial) art. The Museum of London traces the city's history; William Hogarth's satirical series The Rake's Progress is housed in Sir John Sloane's Museum; and the National Portrait Gallery features portraits of famous people in British history.

Among London's multitude of other museums are the Design Museum, which focuses on modern design; the Imperial War Museum; the Institute of Contemporary Arts; the Jewish Museum; the London Transport Museum; the popular Museum of the Moving Image, which chronicles the history of movies and television; the Natural History Museum; the Royal Academy of Arts; the Science Museum; and the Theatre Museum.

19. Tourism

London's historic and cultural attractions have made it one of the world's great tourist centers. Over ten million people visit the city annually. Collectively, visitors to London spend over 100 million nights annually in the city's hotels, and more than 200,000 people are directly employed by the tourist industry while tourism indirectly creates employment for many more.

20. Holidays and Festivals

January London Parade
London International Boat Show
London Contemporary Art Fair
Charles I Commemoration

Chinese New Year
Great Spitalfields Pancake Race

St. David's Day
Chelsea Antiques Fair

Easter Parade
Harness Horse Parade
Boat Race, Putney to Mortlake
London Marathon
The Queen's Birthday

National Gardens Scheme

Shakespeare Under the Stars
May Fayre and Puppet Festival
FA Cup Final
Royal Windsor Horse Show
Chelsea Flower Show

Glyndebourne Festival Opera Season

Vodafone Derby Stakes
Grosvenor House Art and Antique Fair
Royal Academy's Summer Exhibition
Royal Ascot Week
Trooping the Colour
Lawn Tennis Championships (Wimbledon)

City of London Festival
Hampton Court Palace Flower Show
Royal Tournament

Kenwood Lakeside Concerts
Henry Wood Promenade Concerts at Royal
Albert Hall ("the Proms")

Notting Hill Carnival

Chelsea Antiques Fair
Horse of the Year Show

Opening of Parliament

Guy Fawkes Night
Lord Mayor's Procession and Show

Caroling Under the Norwegian Christmas Tree
Watch Night

21. Famous Citizens

Thomas à Becket (11181170), saint and martyr, archbishop of Canterbury.

Poet Geoffrey Chaucer (13431400), author of The Canterbury Tales.

Thomas More (14771535), statesman and author of Utopia.

King Henry VIII (14911547), Tudor king and founder of the Church of England.

Queen Elizabeth I (15331603).

Francis Bacon (15611626), writer and philosopher.

William Shakespeare (15641616), playwright and poet.

Oliver Cromwell (15991658), soldier and statesman, lord protector of England.

Poet John Milton (16081674), author of Paradise Lost.

John Dryden (16311700), poet and literary critic.

Samuel Pepys (16331703), diarist.

Henry Purcell (16591695), composer.

Sir Christopher Wren (16321723), architect.

Alexander Pope (16881744), poet and satirist.

William Hogarth (16971764), painter and engraver.

Samuel Johnson (170984), essayist, critic, and lexicographer.

Sir Joshua Reynolds (172392), portrait painter.

James Boswell (174095), diarist and biographer of Johnson.

William Blake (17571827), poet.

Joseph Turner (17751851), painter, master of landscape art and water-colour.

William Makepeace Thackeray (18111863), novelist.

Charles Dickens (18121870), novelist.

Poets Robert Browning (18121889) and Elizabeth Barrett Browning (18061861).

Queen Victoria (18191901).

William Gilbert (18361911), librettist.

Arthur Sullivan (18421900), composer.

Winston Churchill (18741965), prime minister during World War II.

Virginia Woolf (18821941), novelist.

T. S. Eliot (b. United States, 18881965), American-born British poet, critic, and dramatist.

Charlie Chaplin (18891977), screen actor.

Alfred Hitchcock (18891980), movie director.

Margaret Thatcher (b. 1925), prime minister.

Queen Elizabeth II (b. 1926), ascended to the throne in 1952.

22. For Further Study


Digital City: London. [Online] Available (accessed December 20, 1999).

London official internet site. [Online] Available (accessed December 20, 1999).

This is London. [Online] Available

Time Out London. [Online] Available (accessed December 20, 1999).

UK for Visitors. [Online] Available (accessed December 20, 1999).

Government Offices

Prime Minister's Office
10 Downing St.
London SW1A 2AA

Home Office
50 Queen Anne's Gate
London SW1H 9AT

Lord Chancellor's Department
House of Lords
London SW1A 0PW

Tourist and Convention Bureaus

British Tourist Authority
Thames Tower
Black's Rd.
London W6 9EL
United Kingdom

British Visitor Centre
1 Regent St.
Piccadilly Circus
London SW1Y 4PQ


The Daily Telegraph
1 Canada Sq., Canary Wharf
London, E14 5DT

The Guardian
119 Farrington Rd.
London, EC1R 3ER

The Sun
Virginia St.
London E1 9XJ

The Times
Virginia St.
London, E1 9XT


Bradley, Simon and Nikolaus Pevsner. London: The City Churches. London: Penguin Books, 1998.

Butler, Brian. London for Free: Hundreds of Free Things to Do in London. 3rd rev. ed. Memphis, TN: Mustang Publishing, 1997.

Clout, Hugh, ed. The Times London History Atlas. New York: HarperCollins, 1991.

Collin, Francesca. The Arts & Entertainment in London. New York: Sterling Publishing, 1997.

Davies, Andrew. Literary London. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1988.

Duncan, Andrew. Walking London: Thirty Original Walks in and around London. Lincolnwood, IL: Passport Books, 1994.

Edel, Leon. Bloomsbury: A House of Lions. 1st ed. Philadelphia: Lippincott, 1979.

Hall, Peter. London 2001. Boston: Unwin Hyman, 1989.

Hendershott, Barbara Sloan, and Alzina Stone Dale. Mystery Reader's Walking Guide, London. 2nd ed. Lincolnwood, IL: Passport Books, 1996.

Howes, Karen. Living in London. Photographs by Simon Upton. London: Thames & Hudson, 1999.

Kureishi, Hanif. London Kills Me: Three Screenplays and Four Essays. New York: Penguin Books, 1992.

Lain, Larry, and Michael Lain. London for Families. New York: Interlink Books, 1997.

Parnell, Geoffrey. Book of the Tower of London. London: B.T. Batsford, 1993.

Porter, Roy. London: A Social History. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1994.

Weinreb, Ben, and Christopher Hibbert. London Encyclopaedia. Rev. ed. London: MacMillan, 1993.

Young, Ken, and Patricia L. Garside. Metropolitan London, Politics and Urban Change, 18371981. New York: Holmes & Meier, 1982.

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LONDON. The most salient feature of London's experience in the early modern period was the enormous growth of its population. From approximately 70,000 inhabitants in 1500, it grew to 200,000 by 1600, to 400,000 by 1650, to 575,000 by 1700, and had reached 900,000 by 1800. Its position in the tables of European urban centers rose from sixth place in 1500 to third in 1600 (after Naples and Paris), and it outstripped Paris to reach the top position soon after 1650. Whereas it contained about 2 percent of the English population in 1500, by 1700 it had reached around 10 percent, and this level was sustained through the eighteenth century. Mortality levels were extremely high in London: indeed they deteriorated after the disappearance of plague in the later seventeenth century because the capital acted as a reservoir of infections. For much of the eighteenth century tuberculosis, typhus, and smallpox were major killers. It was only from the 1760s that mortality conditions began to improve. This meant that the city's growth could only be sustained by a constant flow of migrants who came from every corner of England and Wales (and increasingly from Scotland and Ireland and the European mainland, too). By 1700 London needed probably about 8,000 newcomers a year. Only something between 20 and 30 percent of Londoners had been born in the city. And because London acted as a revolving door, not only receiving people, but sending them back to the provinces, as many as one in six of the national population had experience of London life by 1700.


The cities that grew most rapidly in early modern Europe were capitals or ports. London was both. In the early sixteenth century London already accounted for 75 percent of the country's international trade, but it was dangerously dependent on the export of the key staple of woolen cloth to the Antwerp entrepôt in return for luxury goods. By 1600 the pattern of trade was already diversifying, as the disruptions to trade with the Low Countries encouraged London merchants to seek direct access to goods they had previously obtained there. The merchants of London returned to the Mediterranean in the 1570s, began voyaging to the East Indies in 1600, and began to develop trade with the Americas in the early seventeenth century. London entered a new phase of import-led growth, and reexports, particularly of colonial products like tobacco, became increasingly important. By 1700 London handled 80 percent of the nation's imports, 65 percent of its exports, and 85 percent of its reexports.

As a capital city London benefited from the increasing centralization of government. As the royal court became more sedentary and also asserted its monopoly of patronage, the landed elites came to see a London residence as essential to the maintenance of their power and influence, contributing to the beginning of the London winter season from 1600 onward. Likewise, the huge increase in the volume of litigation in the central law courts brought more people to the capital on legal business. This in turn contributed to the concentration of the professions in the capital: by 1730 London contained at least a quarter of the country's solicitors and attorneys. The development of the fiscal military state from the 1690s onward brought about both an increase in the size of the government apparatus (as well as annual Parliaments) and a huge expansion in the financial services sector as London acquired the key banking and insurance institutions.

London's role as capital city and port contributed to its role as center of manufacturing and shopping. The residence of the elites brought an immense demand for luxury goods in its wake, while the import trades spawned spin-off industries like sugar refining and silk weaving. Whereas in 1500 the economy had been dangerously dependent on the state of the cloth trade, the broadening of the manufacturing base contributed to the long-term resilience of the city economy. London's manufactures became increasingly heavily capitalized, entailing a diminution in the role of the self-employed artisan and a growth in larger enterprises. London was not, however, to be the cradle of the industrial revolution, and in the later eighteenth century the proving ground of industrial innovation lay in the provinces. The high labor costs associated with the capital meant that London came to concentrate on the finishing of industrial goods and on the luxury trades, but it remained the largest manufacturing center in Europe at the end of the eighteenth century. Likewise, the enormous demand represented by the concentration of people in London encouraged the precocious development of specialist retailing facilities. Already in the 1490s foreign travelers marveled at the wealth of the goldsmiths' shops in Cheapside; in the early sixteenth century moralists bemoaned the proliferation of haberdashers' shops selling fripperies; in 1568 London acquired its first shopping mall in the galleried arcades of Sir Thomas Gresham's Royal Exchange, a model for other purpose-built retailing emporia in the West End in the seventeenth century.

The concentration of the social elites in the capital for the London season contributed to the proliferation of entertainments and the increasing commercialization of leisure. One of the earliest manifestations of this was the amphitheater playhouses (three were built in 15761577) with capacities of upwards of 1,500. Although subject to the constant strictures of the moralists and the fitful regulation of a nervous government, the theaters became an established feature of the London social scene. Commercial concerts began in the 1670s; although aristocratic patronage was critical in attracting high-class composers and vocal and instrumental performers, there was enormous public interest in the performances, the rehearsal for Handel's Music for the Royal Fireworks (1749) having an audience of twelve thousand. Citizens had long found recreation in the fields about the city, but physical expansion meant that it was necessary to create designated recreational promenades, beginning with Moorfields in 1608, but soon supplemented by the more fashionable Lincoln's Inn Fields and St. James' Park. By the eighteenth century the metropolitan area was studded with a variety of pleasure gardens, their differential pricing ensuring that the classes would not have to mingle too much. Much cultural and social exchange, of course, continued to take place in the city's drinking establishments: by the 1730s London boasted at least 200 inns, 500 taverns, 6,000 alehouses, and 550 coffeehouses.


The two foci of court and port affected the social geography of the city. The City proper, the area under the jurisdiction of the Lord Mayor and aldermen covering what is now known as the "square mile," was, although not socially uniform in character, increasingly dominated by the commercial elites. This process was reinforced after the Great Fire of 1666, which destroyed 87 parish churches, 13,200 houses, and many public buildings. Although it proved impossible to realize the ambitions for a comprehensive redesign of the city's layout, the post-Fire rebuilding changed its face, as brick replaced timber and lath, and many overcrowded tenements were not rebuilt. Meanwhile the landed elites, many of whom had maintained residences in the City in the later Middle Ages, migrated westward toward Westminster, which constituted a separate focus for growth. The West End was characterized by a large number of speculative housing developments, usually regular terrace rows in wide streets and squares, many of them sponsored by the aristocracy themselves. By contrast, the eastern suburbs were dominated by the port, the miles of dockyards generating a huge demand for casual (and often seasonally unemployed) labor, and a variety of industrial activity, including shipbuilding, as well as the processing of imported raw materials. The northern and eastern suburbs were markedly poorer (with large numbers of subdivided properties and a high level of multiple occupancy) than the City and the West End, though it would be wrong to draw the distinctions too strongly. The presence of the elites in the West End generated an enormous demand for services and manufactures, meaning that within a few yards of the fashionable squares dominated by the aristocracy and gentry were alleys teeming with the poor. In the City the commercial core was centered on the key shopping thoroughfares like Cheapside and places of mercantile association like the Royal Exchange, but there were areas of marked poverty, particularly in the insalubrious riverside parishes.

The scale of growth meant that the traditional City was soon engulfed by the expanding suburbs. By the later seventeenth century three-quarters of the capital's population resided in areas beyond the control of the Lord Mayor and aldermen. Unlike Paris, where there was a much stronger match between topographical and administrative boundaries, there was no attempt to integrate the suburbs with the governmental structures of the City. The suburbs, all of which experienced in various degrees the social problems of poverty and petty crime attendant on population growth, were governed by overlapping manorial and parochial authorities. Nevertheless the breakdown in order was by no means as great as one might think. London was a relatively well policed capital. From Recorder William Fleetwood in the Elizabethan period to Henry Fielding in the 1750s, chosen magistrates worked closely with the central government to coordinate suburban policing. Parish vestries, particularly in the western suburbs, elaborated the poor law into a bureaucratic mechanism for controlling the poor. Local communities increasingly turned to Parliament for the powers they needed to address local problems. From 1700 there was a proliferation of improvement commissions responsible for street improvement, lighting, and sewerage. A host of voluntary organizations supplemented the work of parish vestries in the relief and schooling of the poor.

Throughout the period London evoked contrasting responses from contemporaries. Protestants might celebrate it as a model godly commonwealth when contrasting the piety of its citizens with the state of rural religion, but they would alternately condemn it as a model of Babylonian depravity when considering its social problems and the greed of its leading citizens. Economic commentators might marvel at the wealth of the City and its increasing dominance over its Continental rivals, but they might also claim that it was strangling the provincial centers. The reality, however, seems to have been that London handled the problems of urban growth more successfully than comparable centers and developed a positive economic and cultural relationship with its hinterland.

See also Britain, Architecture in ; Cities and Urban Life ; England ; English Literature and Language ; Jones, Inigo ; Shops and Shopkeeping ; Wren, Christopher .


Archer, Ian W. The Pursuit of Stability: Social Relations in Elizabethan London. Cambridge, U.K., and New York, 1991.

Clark, Peter, and Raymond Gillespie, eds. Two Capitals: London and Dublin, 15001840. Oxford and New York, 2001.

George, M. Dorothy. London Life in the Eighteenth Century. Harmondsworth, U.K., 1966.

Griffiths, Paul, and Mark S. R. Jenner, eds. Londinopolis: Essays in the Cultural and Social History of Early Modern London. Manchester, U.K., and New York, 2000.

Inwood, Stephen. A History of London. London, 1998.

Merritt, J. F., ed. Imagining Early Modern London: Perceptions and Portrayals of the City from Stow to Strype, 15981720. Cambridge, U.K., and New York, 2001.

Porter, Roy. London: A Social History. London, 1994.

Rappaport, Steve. Worlds within Worlds: The Structures of Life in Sixteenth Century London. Cambridge, U.K., and New York, 1988.

Spence, Craig. London in the 1690s: A Social Atlas. London, 2000.

Thrupp, Sylvia. The Merchant Class of Medieval London, 13001500. Chicago, 1948.

Ian W. Archer

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London (city, England)

London, capital of Great Britain, SE England, on both sides of the Thames River. Greater London (1991 pop. 6,378,600), c.620 sq mi (1,610 sq km), consists of the Corporation of the City of London (1991 pop. 4,000), usually called the City, plus 32 boroughs. The City is the old city of London and is the modern city's commercial center; it is also referred to as the "Square Mile" because of its area. The 12 inner boroughs that surround the City are Westminster, Camden, Islington, Hackney, Tower Hamlets, Greenwich, Lewisham, Southwark, Lambeth, Wandsworth, Hammersmith and Fulham, Kensington and Chelsea. The 20 outer boroughs are Waltham Forest, Redbridge, Havering, Barking and Dagenham, Newham, Bexley, Bromley, Croydon, Sutton, Merton, Kingston upon Thames, Richmond upon Thames, Hounslow, Hillingdon, Ealing, Brent, Harrow, Barnet, Haringey, and Enfield. Greater London includes the area of the former county of London, most of the former county of Middlesex, and areas that were formerly in Surrey, Kent, Essex, and Hertfordshire. Each of the boroughs of Greater London elects a council. The City elects a lord mayor (whose residence is the Mansion House), aldermen, and councilmen. Both the City of London and Greater London (not including the City) are ceremonial counties under the Lieutenancies Act.

The Greater London Council administered the larger London area until 1986, when it was abolished by the Thatcher government, making London unique as a world metropolis without a central governing unit. In 1999 the Greater London Authority Act reestablished a single local governing body for the Greater London area, consisting of an elected mayor and the London Assembly. Elections were held in 2000, and Ken Livingstone became Greater London's first elected mayor.


London is one of the world's foremost financial, commercial, industrial, and cultural centers. The Bank of England, Lloyd's, the stock exchange, and numerous other banks and investment companies have their headquarters there, primarily in the City, but increasingly at Canary Wharf. The financial services sector is a major source of overall employment in London.

London still remains one of the world's greatest ports. It exports manufactured goods and imports petroleum, tea, wool, raw sugar, timber, butter, metals, and meat. Consumer goods, clothing, precision instruments, jewelry, and stationery are produced, but manufacturing has lost a number of jobs in the once-dominant textile, furniture, printing, and chemical-processing industries as firms have moved outside the area. Engineering and scientific research are also important to the economy, as is tourism. The city is a hub for road, rail, and air (its airports include Heathrow and Gatwick), and it is now linked to the Continent by a high-speed rail line under the English Channel.

Points of Interest

The best-known streets of London are Fleet Street, the Strand, Piccadilly, Whitehall, Pall Mall, Downing Street, and Lombard Street. Bond and Regent streets and Covent Garden are noted for their shops. Buckingham Palace is the royal family's London residence. Municipal parks include Hyde Park, Kensington Gardens, Regent's Park (which houses the London Zoo), and St. James's and Green parks. Museums include the British Museum, the Victoria and Albert Museum, the National Gallery, the Tate Gallery, the Wallace Collection, the Institute of Contemporary Art, and the Saachi Gallery. London also has numerous commercial art galleries and plays a major role in the international art market.

The British Library, one of the world's great reference resources, is located in London. The city is rich in other artistic and cultural activities. Its many theater companies reflect the importance of drama, and it has several world-class orchestras, a well-known opera house, performance halls, and clubs. A working replica of Shakespeare's Globe Theatre opened in 1997. The Univ. of London is the largest in Great Britain, and there are other universities and colleges in the city. The state-owned BBC (British Broadcasting Company) is headquartered in London, and most of the country's national newspapers are published there. The New Scotland Yard, synonymous with criminal investigation, is located in the city. The Shard, an elongated pyramidal skyscraper that is one of Europe's tallest buildings (1,016 ft/309.6 m), is in Southwark. Also on the south bank of the Thames is the London Eye (2000), an enormous ferris wheel and one of the city's most popular tourist attractions. Sporting events draw large support from Londoners who follow cricket, soccer (at Wembley Stadium), and tennis (including the Wimbledon championship). Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in Stratford, E London, home of the 2012 Summer Olympic Games, is also the site of the AcelorMittal Orbit, a bright-red 35-story-high steel tower.


Little is known of London prior to AD 61, when, as recorded by the Roman historian Tacitus, the followers of Queen Boadicea rebelled and slaughtered the inhabitants of the Roman fort Londinium. Roman authority was soon restored, and the first city walls were built, remnants of which still exist. After the final withdrawal of the Roman legions in the 5th cent., London was lost in obscurity. Celts, Saxons, and Danes contested the general area, and it was not until 886 that London again emerged as an important town under King Alfred, who rebuilt the defenses against the Danes and gave the city a government.

London put up some resistance to William I in 1066, but he subsequently treated the city well. During his reign the White Tower, the nucleus of the Tower of London, was built just east of the city wall. Under the Normans and Plantagenets (see Great Britain), the city grew commercially and politically and during the reign of Richard I (1189–99) obtained a form of municipal government from which the modern City Corporation developed. In 1215, King John granted the city the right to elect a mayor annually.

The guilds of the Middle Ages gained control of civic affairs and grew sufficiently strong to restrict trade to freemen of the city. The guilds survive today in 80 livery companies, of which members were once the voters in London's municipal elections. Medieval London saw the foundation of the Inns of Court and the construction of Westminster Abbey. By the 14th cent. London had become the political capital of England. It played no active role in the Wars of the Roses (15th cent.).

The reign of Elizabeth I brought London to a level of great wealth, power, and influence as the undisputed center of England's Renaissance culture. This was the time of Shakespeare (and the Globe Theatre) and the beginnings of overseas trading companies such as the Muscovy Company. With the advent (1603) of the Stuarts to the throne, the city became involved in struggles with the crown on behalf of its democratic privileges, culminating in the English civil war.

In 1665, the great plague took some 75,000 lives. A great fire in Sept., 1666, lasted five days and virtually destroyed the city. Sir Christopher Wren played a large role in rebuilding the city. He designed more than 51 churches, notably the rebuilt St. Paul's Cathedral. Other notable churches include the gothic Southwark Cathedral, St. Paul's Church (1633; designed by Inigo Jones), St. Martin-in-the-Fields (18th cent.), and Westminster Cathedral. Much of the business of London as well as literary and political discussion was transacted in coffeehouses, forerunners of the modern club. Until 1750, when Westminster Bridge was opened, London Bridge, first built in the 10th cent., was the only bridge to span the Thames. Since the 18th cent., several other bridges have been constructed; the Tower Bridge was completed in 1894.

In the 19th cent., London began a period of extraordinary growth. The area of present-day Greater London had about 1.1 million people in 1801; by 1851, the population had increased to 2.7 million, and by 1901 to 6.6 million. During the Victorian era, London acquired tremendous prestige as the capital of the British Empire and as a cultural and intellectual center. Britain's free political institutions and intellectual atmosphere made London a haven for persons unsafe in their own countries. The Italian Giuseppe Mazzini, the Russian Aleksandr Herzen, and the German Karl Marx were among many politically controversial figures who lived for long periods in London.

Many buildings of central London were destroyed or damaged in air raids during World War II. These include the Guildhall (scene of the lord mayor's banquets and other public functions); No. 10 Downing Street, the prime minister's residence; the Inns of Court; Westminster Hall and the Houses of Parliament; St. George's Cathedral; and many of the great halls of the ancient livery companies. Today there are numerous blocks of new office buildings and districts of apartment dwellings constructed by government authorities. The growth of London in the 20th cent. has been extensively planned. One notable feature has been the concept of a "Green Belt" to save certain areas from intensive urban development. In 1982, a tax-free zone in the Docklands in the East End's Tower Hamlets borough was created to stimulate development. Although the Canary Wharf financial center (with Lloyd's futuristic building, opened in 1986) was initially slow to fill, it now rivals the City.

London has an ethnically and culturally diverse population, with large groups of immigrants from Commonwealth nations. South Asian, West Indian, African, and Middle Eastern peoples account for much of the immigrant population. The city is the site of one of the largest Hindu temple complexes and the largest Sikh temple outside India; there also are many mosques, including one of the largest in Europe. With the reestablishment of the city's central government (2000), London built its egg-shaped City Hall (2002), on the south bank of the Thames opposite the Tower of London. The city was the site of the 1908, 1948, and 2012 summer Olympic games.


See R. Porter, London: A Social History (1998); S. Inwood, A History of London (1999); P. Ackroyd, London: The Biography (2001); B. Weinreb et al., ed., The London Encyclopedia (3d ed., 2008); P. Barber, London: A History in Maps (2012); R. O. Bucholz and J. P. Ward, London: A Social and Cultural History, 1550–1750 (2012).

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London. Eng. city, capital of Great Britain. One of main musical centres of the world, with rich and varied activities in all branches of the art. From 18th cent. has enjoyed visits from leading performers and composers. Among the latter, Handel, J. C. Bach, Mozart, Haydn, Chopin, Weber, Mendelssohn, Liszt, Berlioz, Wagner, Bruckner, Mahler, Strauss, Hindemith, Ligeti, Berio, and Stockhausen are prominent. This summary of London music will be divided into sections, for ease of reference.


. The first real operatic perf. in London was at Rutland House, 1656, when Davenant's The Siege of Rhodes (mus. by 5 composers) was given. Purcell's Dido and Aeneas was perf. at a Chelsea school in 1689. Drury Lane Th. was used for opera in the 1690s. Handel's first operatic perfs. in London after 1711 were mainly at the King's Th., Haymarket. Rival perfs. were given at Lincoln's Inn Fields and Covent Garden. From the 1830s the Lyceum and Drury Lane staged important opera seasons. The King's (re-named Her Majesty's in 1837) was the home of It. opera, but the first London Ring cycle was given there in 1882. After being rebuilt smaller in 1897, Her Majesty's was used less frequently for opera, although Beecham cond. Strauss's Feuersnot there in 1910 and the first version of Ariadne auf Naxos in 1913. The BNOC gave seasons there after 1924. The first th. on the Covent Garden site opened in 1732. Several Handel operas and oratorios were perf. there. The th. was rebuilt in 1782 and enlarged in 1792. It burned down in 1808 and was re-opened in 1809, Bishop being dir. 1810–24. Weber's Oberon had its f.p. there in 1826. Fire destroyed this building in 1856, the present th. opening in 1858. Mainly It. operas were perf., but the first Ring cycle, cond. by Mahler, was given in 1892. From 1896 to 1924, CG was run by a syndicate. In 1908 and 1909, Richter cond. the Ring in English. Between 1910 and 1914 Beecham introduced Elektra, Salome, and Der Rosenkavalier to London and held the lease of the th. 1919–20. Many famous singers and conductors appeared there up to 1939. During the Second World War, CG was a dance hall, but re-opened in 1946 with Purcell's The Fairy Queen and David Webster as admin. of the CG Opera Company. This became the Royal Opera in 1969. From 1931 London's second opera house was Sadler's Wells in Rosebery Avenue which housed the Vic-Wells Opera (SW Opera from 1934) until 1939 and from 1945 to 1968 (it re-opened on 7 June 1945 with f.p. of Peter Grimes). The company moved to the Coliseum in 1968 and changed its name in 1974 to English National Opera. Smaller companies and visiting companies continue to use Sadler's Wells. The forerunner of Sadler's Wells was the Old Vic where Lilian Baylis had first staged opera in 1900. Until 1935 Vic-Wells Opera and Vic-Wells Ballet used both the Old Vic and Sadler's Wells.


Public concerts in London date from 1672. Thomas Britton's weekly gathering at Clerkenwell lasted from 1678 to 1714. Subscription concerts were held at Hickford's Rooms, James Street, from 1729 to c.1752. Geminiani ran rival concerts from 1731 to 1738. The J. C. Bach–C. F. Abel concerts began in 1765 at Carlisle House, Soho Square, and moved to Hanover Square Rooms in 1775. They ceased in 1782. Concerts organized by Cramer, Clementi, and Salomon ran from 1783 to 1793, but Salomon left to launch his own series in 1783 (it was to this series that Haydn came). In the 19th cent. concerts were given first in the Argyll Rooms, at the corner of Oxford and Argyll Streets, and it was there that the Philharmonic Society gave its first concert on 8 March 1813. The building was demolished in 1818 and the New Argyll Rooms opened in 1820 (they burned down in 1830). The Philharmonic moved to the King's Th. in 1830, to Hanover Square Rooms 1833–68, St James's Hall 1869–93, Queen's Hall 1894–1941, Royal Albert Hall 1941–51, Festival Hall from 1951. Important orch. concerts were given at the Crystal Palace, Sydenham, cond. by August Manns 1855–1901, where the members of the orch. played continually together and were London's first permanent orch. The opening of the Royal Albert Hall in 1871 added a hall with a capacity of 6,500 to London's musical life. It was used mainly for large-scale events until 1941 when the destruction of Queen's Hall meant that nearly all symphony concerts were given there. It has remained the home since 1941 of the Promenade Concerts, founded in 1895 by Robert Newman and Henry J. Wood. The Queen's Hall, Langham Place, had opened in 1893 and was renowned for its acoustics. It replaced the St James's Hall, Piccadilly, built in 1858. The Richter concerts were given there from 1877 and, even though the Queen's Hall by then existed, Elgar's Enigma Variations had their f.p. at a Richter concert in St James's Hall in 1899. It was demolished in 1905. London's principal concert hall since 1951 has been the Royal Festival Hall on the South Bank, with the Queen Elizabeth Hall and Purcell Room as smaller adjuncts since 1967 but not entirely replacing for recitals the usefulness since 1901 of the Wigmore Hall (Bechstein Hall until 1917) in Wigmore Street. The latest addition is the Barbican Concert Hall.

No other city in the world supports as many orchestras as London. The BBC SO (founded 1930) and the orchestras of the Royal Opera House and ENO are independent bodies and do not, as they once would have done, share players with others. The four principal symphony orchs. are London Symphony (founded 1904), London Philharmonic (founded 1932), Philharmonia (founded 1945), and Royal Philharmonic (founded 1946). In addition there are the English Chamber Orchestra (founded 1948, renamed 1960), Academy of St Martin-in-the-Fields (founded 1958), London Mozart Players (founded 1949), London Sinfonietta (founded 1968), and Orchestra of St John's, Smith Square (founded 1973). Among the choirs are the Bach Choir (founded 1876), Royal Choral Society (founded 1871), John Alldis Choir (founded 1962), London Choral Society (founded 1903), Monteverdi Choir (founded 1964), London Philharmonic Choir (founded 1947), London Symphony Chorus (founded 1966), and Philharmonia Chorus (founded 1957).


. The Royal Academy of Music was founded in 1822, the Royal College of Music in 1882, Trinity College of Music in 1872, the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in 1880, and the London College of Music in 1887. In addition the Univ. of London has a thriving musical wing.


. In festivals, libraries, publishing firms, and not least the churches, from Westminster Abbey, Westminster Cathedral, St Paul's Cathedral, the Temple Church, and much besides, London's music is blessed by abundance. The capital is fortunate in having and holding so much; the only cavil is that some Londoners sometimes assume that nowhere else (in Britain) has anything.

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LONDON A city on the River Thames in southern England, the ancient capital of England and the capital and seat of government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. The city has experienced many languages: CELTIC, the LATIN of Roman Britain, OLD ENGLISH, NORMAN FRENCH, MIDDLE and MODERN ENGLISH, and the languages of immigrants, diplomats, merchants, and visitors. It is, in the late 20c, one of the world's great cosmopolitan and polyglot cities, identified in particular with four varieties of English: KING'S/Queen's ENGLISH, BBC ENGLISH, COCKNEY and more recently, ESTUARY ENGLISH. The primacy of London (in England, in the United Kingdom, and in the British Empire) has in the past given a certain status to the language used there. However, the city did not play a major part in Old English culture until the reign of Edward the Confessor (1042–66). Prior to that period, Winchester to the south-west was the seat of the Saxon kings and West Saxon was the literary dialect. Through the medieval period, London grew in importance, and the triumph of Middle English over Norman French in the 14c gave preference to the variety of the East Midland dialect that was becoming current in London. The poet Geoffrey CHAUCER, a Londoner of the time, generally used slightly older and more southern forms, with traces of Kentish.

Capital and provinces

The comparative stability of the Tudor period, with London as the seat of the royal court and major litigation, brought still greater regard for its superiority in language. In 1589, Puttenham advised the use of ‘the vsual speach of the Court, and that of London and the shires lying about London with lx [sixty] myles, and not much aboue’ (The Arte of English Poesie, 1589). The introduction of dialect speakers in drama, like Shakespeare's Welsh captain Fluellen and Scots captain Jamy in Henry V, and the use of ‘stage southern’ as affected by Edgar in King Lear, showed that Londoners were aware of their distinctive speech and amused by other varieties. The tendency is even more marked in later 17c comedy, in which country characters are differentiated by their speech: the restored Stuart court and the London location of groups like the new Royal Society made the city seem ever more significant than ‘the provinces’. Discussions about the correct forms of English and the possibility of an ACADEMY to regulate the language were carried on mainly by London speakers.

Perhaps because London usage was taken for granted by so many of the influential, there is not an extensive record of its nature before the 19c. When dialogue was written for plays or novels, only speakers of other dialects were marked by deviant spelling, the established ORTHOGRAPHY being used for the rest. The hymnographer Isaac Watts, in his Art of Reading and Writing English (1721), dismisses the ‘dialect or corrupt speech that obtains in the several counties of England’ and lists words that are written differently from ‘their common and frequent pronunciation in the City of London’. He adds that ‘there are some other corruptions in the pronouncing of several words by many of the citizens themselves’ and cites among others yourn for ‘yours’, squeedge for ‘squeeze’, yerb for ‘herb’. However, Samuel Pegge notes, in Anecdotes of the English Language (1803), words whose pronunciation ‘is a little deformed by the natives of London’; as well as Cockney features like the confusion of /v/ and /w/, he mentions some that ‘savour rather of an affected refinement’ like daater for ‘daughter’ and saace for ‘sauce’.

London English

True Cockney is relatively limited, though some of its features are shared by Londoners who are not themselves Cockneys. Some vowel and diphthong sounds, notably the nasalization of the diphthong /au/ as in now and the changing of /ei/ to /ai/ which makes paper sound like piper, are frequently heard, as is the dropping of initial h (We're 'appy to 'elp you). Characteristics of neighbouring counties are heard in London, particularly in the outer suburbs, which have penetrated into what were once rural areas of Surrey, Kent, and Essex. It would be an acute or very bold observer who could guarantee to analyse all the features of speech among a random selection of Londoners

The speech of educated Londoners is not necessarily to be equated with RECEIVED PRONUNCIATION, but this is the model which has traditionally been followed by the upwardly mobile. In many instances, however, there appears in the later 20c to be a levelling-out in the speech patterns of younger, educated Londoners of many backgrounds, including RP, into a distinctive ‘Estuary’ accent and voice quality. Currently, however, the situation is complex, and London speech ranges from ‘core’ Cockney usage through a wide variety of intermediate forms to RP and forms of RP that some may regard as prestigious and others as affected or ‘posh’.


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London Capital of the United Kingdom, and (after Moscow) the second-largest city in Europe, located on both banks of the River Thames, 65km (40mi) from its mouth in the North Sea, se England. Since 1965, it has been officially called Greater London, comprising the square mile of the City of London and 13 inner and 19 outer boroughs, covering a total of 1580sq km (610sq mi). Little is known of London before the Romans set up camp in the 1st century ad. Called Londinium, it was their most important town in Britain. By the 3rd century, the population numbered c.40,000 and the town covered an area of 120ha (300 acres). After the Romans left Britain, London declined until the 9th century, when Alfred the Great made it the seat of government. The settlement of Westminster, to the w of the city walls, grew in the 10th century. Edward the Confessor built Westminster Abbey and made Westminster his capital in 1042. The prosperity of England during the Tudor period firmly established London's wealth and importance. In the reign of Elizabeth I, the population increased from fewer than 100,000 to almost 250,000. During the 17th century, the area between Westminster and the City was built up. The Plague of 1665 killed 75,000 Londoners, and the following year the Fire of London destroyed many buildings. Sir Christopher Wren played an important role in the reconstruction of the city, designing many churches, including St Paul's. During the 19th century, the population reached 4 million. By the end of the 19th century, London was the world's biggest city. Further growth between the World Wars was accompanied by extensions to the transport system. Much of e London was rebuilt after bomb damage during World War II, and the largely derelict docklands rengenerated in the late 1980s. Despite the problems of inner-city decay, experienced by most large Western cities since the 1960s, London remains one of the world's most important administrative, financial, commercial, and industrial cities. Industries: tourism, entertainment, engineering, chemicals, paper, printing and publishing, clothing, brewing. Pop. (1994) 6,966,800.

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Londinium was the provincial capital of Roman Britain from c. ad 60 onwards. Roman remains have been located at the confluence of the rivers Thames and Fleet. The precise legal status of Roman London is much debated. It was probably a colonia, though it appears to have been something of a special case; the main impetus for its development probably came from the existence of a trading association of Roman citizens (the conventus civium Romanorum) taking advantage of London's superb geographical location at the hub of the network of Roman roads and on the banks of the navigable Thames. London's status appears to have been enhanced after Colchester (the original provincial capital of Roman Britain) was destroyed during the Boudiccan revolt of ad 60. A tombstone of the new procurator, Gaius Julius Classicianus, dating to the aftermath of the revolt, suggests that London had now become the seat of administration. Possibly London had been less severely damaged than Colchester. This would explain London's rapid development in the later 1st cent., when building projects included the first forum and basilica, the governor's palace, the public baths at Cheapside, and, dating to c. ad 100, a fort and adjacent amphitheatre.

Eleanor Scott

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London (city, Canada)

London, city (1991 pop. 303,165), SE Ont., Canada, on the Thames River. The site was chosen in 1792 by Governor Simcoe to be the capital of Upper Canada, but York was made capital instead. London was settled in 1826. Its streets and bridges are named for those of old London in England. Surrounded by one of Canada's richest agricultural districts, it has become a notable industrial, commercial, service, and financial center. Electrical goods and locomotive and automobile parts are among the products made. The Univ. of Western Ontario (coeducational; 1878) and the affiliated Ursuline and Huron colleges are in the city.

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London London Eye name given to the Millennium Wheel, an observation wheel erected on the banks of the Thames in London between County Hall and Jubilee Gardens and opened to the public in February 2000; its passenger-carrying capsules are designed to give a 25-mile view across the London skyline.
London particular a dense fog of a kind formerly affecting London; London fog had been used by Maria Edgeworth in a letter of 1830, but London particular is first recorded in Dickens's Bleak House (1853).

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LondonAbaddon, gladden, gladdon, Ibadan, madden, sadden •abandon, Brandon, Rwandan, Ugandan •Baden, Baden-Baden, Coloradan, garden, harden, lardon, Nevadan, pardon •Wiesbaden • bear garden •tea garden •Armageddon, deaden, leaden, redden •Eldon, Sheldon •Brendan, tendon •Dresden •Aden, Aidan, Haydn, laden, maiden •handmaiden •cedarn, cotyledon, dicotyledon, Eden, monocotyledon, Sweden •wealden •bestridden, forbidden, hidden, midden, outridden, ridden, stridden, unbidden •Wimbledon •linden, Lindon, Swindon •Wisden • Mohammedan • Myrmidon •harridan • hagridden • Sheridan •bedridden • Macedon • Huntingdon •Dryden, guidon, Leiden, Poseidon, Sidon, widen •Culloden, hodden, modern, sodden, trodden •Cobden • downtrodden •Auden, broaden, cordon, Gordon, Hordern, Jordan, warden •churchwarden • louden • bounden •loden, Snowdon •beholden, embolden, golden, olden •hoyden • Bermudan • wooden •Mukden • gulden • sudden •Blunden, London •Riordan • bourdon • bombardon •celadon • Clarendon •burden, guerdon

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