Above Ground on the London Underground—Day32: Seven Things to Know about Piccadilly Circus
Photo by Kevin Yiu for Londonist.com
I’m taking a virtual walking tour ‘above ground’ on the London Underground. Using my Tube guide & my fitbit® device, my goal is to walk 10,000 steps a day roughly following along the Underground route, reporting back here on Fridays with my findings. Here are the days that came before. We're still following the Piccadilly Line. This is Day 32
Matt Gedge, a tour guide with FunLondonTours.com shared some facts I certainly didn't know about Piccadilly Circus:
One ... Where?
Image by Martin Kraft/ Creative Commons license
While the circus was built in 1819 to connect Regent Street with the major shopping street of Piccadilly (the "circus" refers to "circular open space at a street junction"), Piccadilly Circus now links directly to the theatres on Shaftesbury Avenue as well as the Haymarket, Coventry Street (onwards to Leicester Square) and Glasshouse Street.
Two ... Why is it called Piccadilly?
Piccadilly comes from the house that Robert Baker built. Baker was a wealthy tailor who made big bucks making piccadils—stiff shirt collars worn by the upper-crusties in court. When he built a mansion just north of what is now Piccadilly Circus in 1612, the locals called his manse Picadil Hall and the name took. If you've heard something else—like that the name Piccadilly has something to do with prostitutes—don't buy it. It's just an urban legend. Which isn't to say there aren't pros working the area, on the border of Soho with its strip clubs and adult book shops as it is. It's changed now—I'm sure—but did you ever see the film Touch of Class? It's one of my fave Brit movies starring Glenda Jackson and George Segal from the 1970's? The couple rent a pied a terre on Macclesfield Street—just a few blocks from the circus—and the working girls in the building mistake Glenda Jackson for one of their own.
Three ... What's love got to do with it?
Image by Diego Delso/Wikipedia/Creative Commons
Four ... the fountain was actually a drinking fountain.When the fountain was unveiled in 1893, there were cups you could dip into the water to quench your thirst. Somewhere along the line the cups were stolen and with them their germ carrying potential. Good riddance! It reminds me of all those westerns when outsiders would mosey on up to the well at a dusty village and dunk the same cup everyone else used, into the water with their bare and grimy hands. No thank you! We don't need no stinking cups! Thank you Perrier, Fiji, Arrowhead, Poland Springs and all the other water companies for bringing us cool, clean water.
Five ... Signs, signs, everywhere a sign.
Six ... Turn out the lights
Seven ... The Nose has it
Image via Fun London Tours
For more fun Piccadilly Circus facts check out the rest of what Matt Gedge has to say.
For a bit more 'in the middle of things vibe' take a look at these short videos filmed by David Holt and shared on his youtube channel. Then meet me at Leicester Square.
+44 7956 601697London Walking Tours +020 85 308443
Lyric Theater (1881) Thriller
Palace Theater (1891)
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Parts One & Two
The Apollo Theater (1901)
The Go Between
The Gielgud (1906) The Curious Case of the Dog in the Nighttime
Queens Theater (1907)
Counting the Fitbit steps
Day 1-31: 226,690 steps / 102 miles
Day 32: Piccadilly, Regent St, Shaftsbury Ave 2,500 steps /1.1 miles
Total Imaginary Miles to Date 229,190 steps/103.1 miles
Days 1 —31
Every Friday I link up with Joy Weese Moll for
British Isles Fridays