Archi-London

In thinking of London, one must always bear in mind the constant changes. It may assume a thousand different aspects and expressions, but to the Londoner, whatever the changes however great and starling, it always appears to him very soon the same familiar London. Of course the continuance of the old place names helps to sustain the illusion for, though we know that certain trades and industries are no longer earned on exclusively in such and such streets, that tall stone buildings have taken the place of the old brick, houses, as those took the place of the older timber ones, the streets are still called the same, and so we fancy them familiar when we see the familiar names marked on the old maps. Every now and again there is an outcry in the press about the proposed removal of some venerable landmark, some historic building, that stands in the way of the modern “improvement” necessities, or some Queen Anne or Early Georgian house, associated more or less intimately with the life of some famous Londoner, the valuable site of which is required for new palatial buildings, government offices, residential flats, a bank, an hotel, a club, a theatre, trading, insurance, or shipping offices, whatever it maybe.

The new buildings rise in all their pride and magnificence of Portland stone, and Palladian, English Renaissance, Greek, Composite, Nondescript. Many of these new buildings, of course, show nobility and appropriateness of design, beauty of proportion, with a sense of local harmony, and an aspiration towards a revival in London architecture of true principles and ideals of building. Many, on the other hand, merely about to the skies their costliness and imposing size. Thus whole streets, entire districts, which seemed in their familiarity almost immemorial, which one never passed through without the affectionate sense of the true old London atmosphere, gradually disappear. In exchange, we get a Kingsway to a transmogrified Strand, a big, bold, broad street of large, high buildings and no expressiveness, meaning little or nothing to the Londoner of fond memories.

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