London Then and Now


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How much has London actually changed? These melded photographs form part of a larger set on Yahoo! and forwarded to me by Andrea Yang, which you can see here. I suspect they were created by the team responsible for the cover of ‘Vanishing London’ by Paul Joseph, which mixed old and new Fleet Street together.

We often fail to appreciate just how much London has changed, because it does so incrementally. In this way, I suspect that New York has retained more of its early 20th century style because it was designed of a piece and wasn’t bombed. Is it wrong to hanker after past buildings? I see the city as having been radically transformed, but new arrivals are surprised at how much survives.

Christopher Booker’s volume ‘Goodbye London’ offered a snapshot of London in 1974, and was an illustrated guide to buildings under threat of demolition. While it’s heart-wrenching to see some of the things we’ve lost in recent times, there are also examples of buildings that we now know were saved. Was there really still an ornate Turkish baths in Jermyn Street in 1974? I remember the arches that used to exist on Wardour Street, but had entirely forgotten them until I found the photographs. And the much-hated GLC had planned to devastate my neighbourhood, King’s Cross, with a vast ring-road and roundabout.

Much of the destruction was carried out in the name of the all-powerful car, but now the thinking has reversed, returning large parts of central London to pedestrians, who massively outnumber the vehicles which are just passing through. Jeremy Clarkson must be weeping. I hope.

I’d love to see a further development of this mixing style that drops characters from the past into surviving buildings.

4 comments on “London Then and Now”

  1. pheeny says:

    Nice work – I like the kind where there is no attempt at PS integration

  2. admin says:

    Mind you, it’s a lot easier to do that when the country hasn’t been half-bombed to oblivion…none of those buildings look like they’ve ever been touched by history.

  3. Helen Martin says:

    It all depends on what you call history, admin. Most of those American buildings, those that weren’t government or university ones, were no older than 1900 so that makes it easier, too. I’d like to know about Helen Gibson “The Wolverine”. Did you notice the long line of men waiting outside the theater?

  4. snowy says:

    Wolverine would put the picture around 1921. Helen Gibson was a remarkable person, stuntwoman, actress, producer.

    Her last screen outing was in ‘The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance’

    [There are a few bits on YouTube for the very keen.]

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