- West End of London
The West End of London is an area of
Central London, England, containing many of the city's major tourist attractions, businesses, headquarters and the commercial West End theatres. Use of the term began in the early 19th century to describe fashionable areas to the west of Charing Cross.Mills, A., "Oxford Dictionary of London Place Names", (2001)] For strategic planning the area is identified as one of two "international centres" in the London Plan.Greater London Authority, " [http://www.london.gov.uk/mayor/strategies/sds/london_plan/lon_plan_5.pdf The London Plan: The Sub Regions] "]
Located to the west of the historic Roman and
Mediaeval City of London, the West End was long favored by the rich elite as a place of residence because it was usually upwind of the smoke drifting from the crowded City. It was also located close to the royal seat of power at Westminster, and is largely contained within the City of Westminster(one of the 32 London boroughs). Developed in the seventeenth, eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, it was originally built as a series of palaces, expensive town houses, fashionable shops and places of entertainment. The areas closest to the City around Holborn, Seven Dialsand Covent Gardenhistorically contained poorer communities that were cleared and redeveloped in the nineteenth century.
The name "West End" is a flexible term with different meanings in different contexts. It may refer to the entertainment district around
Leicester Squareand Covent Garden; to the shopping district centred on Oxford Street, Regent Street, and Bond Street(but the geographically distinct shopping district around Knightsbridgewould also be counted as "West End Shopping" by some); or, less commonly, to the whole of that part of Central London(itself an area with no generally agreed boundaries) which lies to the west of the City of London.
One of the local government wards within the
City of Westminsteris called "West End". It is bounded by the City of Londonto the east, the Thamesto the south east, Horseferry Roadand Victoria Street to the south, Grosvenor Placeto the west and Piccadillyand Long Acreto the north. [http://www.westminster.gov.uk/gis/index.cfm?LayerID=55&LGSL=361,362,346] This is quite a narrow boundary. However, in the United Kingdom, ward boundaries are generally only familiar to people involved in local politics and administration, and this ward carries little weight as an "official" definition of the West End, and is not intended to do so.
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 services, which are concentrated primarily in the City of London. There are major concentrations of the following buildings and activities in the West End:
*Art galleries and museums
*Company headquarters outside the financial services sector (although London's many
hedge funds are based mainly in the West End)
*Government buildings (mainly around
learned societiesand think tanks
*Places of entertainment: theatres; cinemas; nightclubs; bars and restaurants
The annual New Year’s Day Parade takes place on the streets of the West End.
West End Live, a showcase of musical theater, takes place in Leicester Squarein June.
Districts in the West End
Using the broadest definition, these are the inner districts of the West End, which were all developed by about 1815:
The districts to the south, north and west of Hyde Park and
Kensington Gardenswere developed between the end of the Napoleonic Warsin 1815 and the late 19th century, in some cases based on existing villages. The more fashionable of them were generally regarded as being in the West End at that time, but the extension of the term to these areas west of Park Lane is less common nowadays. The last two listed especially are fringe cases:
Knightsbridge(listed as a distinct 'international center' in the London Plan)
Famous streets in the West End
Charing Cross Road
Great Marlborough Street
Great Portland Street
Old Compton Street
Tottenham Court Road
Notable squares and circuses in the West End
The West End is laid out with many notable public squares and circuses, the later being the original name for roundabouts in London.
Hyde Park Corner
St Giles' Circus
London UndergroundStations in the West End
*Great Portland Street
*Hyde Park Corner
*Tottenham Court Road
National RailStation in the West End
Charing Cross station.
West End theatre
* [http://www.newwestend.com/corporate New West End] New West End Company is a business led partnership working to create a more profitable trading environment for the West End’s three famous shopping Streets – Bond Street, Oxford Street and Regent Street. The Company was formally established as a Business Improvement District (BID) on 4 April 2005 for an initial three-year period.
* [http://www.arthurlloyd.co.uk/LondonWestEndTheatres.htm London's West End Theatres] Information and archive material on London's historic West End Theatres.
* [http://www.oldstratforduponavon.com/londonwestend Some Old Postcards of London's West End]
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