Piccadilly Circus is a plaza right at the junction of Regent, Piccadilly, Covent and Shaftesbury Streets. This destination was created by John Nash and laid out in the early 1800’s to connect Regent Street to the Carlton House in the north where the Prince Regent lived. This was a part of King George IV’s grand plan to have the Regent’s Park to the Carlton House.
The Circus has long since become an iconic location in Westminster and is visited by millions of tourists who visit London each year. A famous landmark, the Circus marks the entrance to London’s West End, the capitals bustling entertainment district where tourists will find the country’s most famous theaters, clubs, cinemas, restaurants and pubs.
The name Piccadilly originated from the frilled collar popular in the 17th century called the “piccadil”. The name became popularly connected to the area because of Roger Baker, a resident of the area who became famous for making piccadils. The entire area was then named Piccadilly Circus because of the roundabout way in which the traffic circulates the junction.
One of the biggest crowd drawers at the Piccadilly Circus is the humungous neon and video displays on the northern side building. When Shaftesbury Avenue was created in 1885, the entire plaza became a busy junction, which made the Circus very attractive to advertisers. The first illuminated signs and billboards were installed in 1895. The plaza became London’s own Times Square for many years, with the entire plaza being surrounded by billboards of all sizes. Presently, however, only one building in the northern part of the plaza carries huge displays that are mostly electronic.
The Shaftesbury Memorial Fountain with its famous statue of Eros is at the Circus center. Built in 1893, it was meant to commemorate the loved philanthropist, Lord Shaftesbury. The statue previously depicted the Angel of Christian Charity in honor of Lord Shaftesbury’s support for the destitute. However, the statue was later called Eros, named after the Greek god of beauty and love. The statue is made of aluminum but the fountain is made of bronze. The Piccadilly Circus is surrounded by several notable buildings, such as the Criterion Theater and the London Pavilion.
Piccadilly Circus Today
Today, Piccadilly Circus is one of the most photographed places in London, and also a favorite congregating place for people who will go shopping and have fun in the nearby areas. Chinatown, Soho, Trafalgar Square and Leicester Square are all just a short distance away. At night, the whole area becomes alive with the huge illuminated billboards lit up, calling all partygoers and clubbers for an unforgettable night out.
Piccadilly Circus was built by John Nash as part of the master plan to connect Regent Street to Carlton House. It was named after the stiff and frilly collars made by Roger Baker who became famous in the 17th century for making them. The Circus is one of London’s most visited and most photographed areas, being the entrance to the entertainment hub of the city. Millions of tourists flock the Piccadilly Circus each year.
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