|Piccadilly, looking towards Hyde Park Corner|
Piccadilly runs east to west from Piccadilly Circus to Hyde Park Corner and is one of London's widest and straightest thoroughfares. It was once full of great mansions and houses and was formerly known as Portugal Street. A wealthy merchant named Robert Baker had a business there from the late 1500s making the lace collars called Piccadills which were fashionable at that time. It is reasonable to suppose that is the origin of the name it acquired in the 17th century although there are several competing theories.
At one time Piccadilly was known as "the most famous street in the world". It is now mostly famous for being the location of the Ritz Hotel and Fortnum & Mason the very posh grocery store and restaurant complex.
|Piccadilly Circus with the statue of Eros|
Situated at the epicentre of London's West End, Piccadilly Circus was always regarded as being at the very centre of the British Empire. As well as being a major crossroad it is also the metaphorical crossover point of the arts and of popular culture. It is surrounded by theatres and high-end architecture. It is an area that is always packed with tourists and students from around the world.
The statue of Eros is also known as the Shaftesbury Memorial as it was erected in 1893 in memory of the philanthropist Lord Shaftesbury. The base is made of cast bronze but, somewhat surprisingly, the statue itself is made of aluminium - a rare and precious metal at that time.
Next in this series: Regent Street.
I will not be going to Jail. Probably.