Grosvenor Square

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Image:Grosvenor Square.JPG
The north side of Grosvenor Square in the 18th or early 19th century. The three houses at the far left form a unified group, but the others on this side are individually designed. Most later London squares would be more uniform.

Grosvenor Square (pronounced "Grove-nuh Square") is a large garden square in the exclusive Mayfair district of London. It is the centrepiece of the Mayfair property of the Dukes of Westminster, and takes its name from their surname, "Grosvenor". Duke Street forms the east side of the square.

Sir Richard Grosvenor obtained a licence to develop Grosvenor Square and the surrounding streets in 1710, and development is believed to have commenced in around 1721. Grosvenor Square was one of the three or four most fashionable residential addresses in London from its construction until the Second World War, with numerous leading members of the aristocracy in residence. The early houses were generally of five or seven bays, with basement, three main stories and an attic. Some attempt was made to produce impressive groupings of houses, and Colen Campbell produced a design for a palatial east side to the square featuring thirty corinthian columns but this was not carried out and in the end most of the houses were built to individual designs. There were mews behind all four sides.

Many of the houses were rebuilt later in the 18th century or during the 19th century, generally acquiring an extra storey when this happened. Number 26 was rebuilt in 1773-74 for the 11th Earl of Derby by Robert Adam, and is regarded as one of the architect's finest works and as a seminal example of how grandeur of effect and sophisticated planning might be achieved on a confined site. It was demolished and rebuilt again in the 1860s.

The central garden, which was originally reserved for the use of the occupants of the houses as was standard in a London square, is now a public park managed by The Royal Parks. Nearly all of the houses were demolished during the 20th century and replaced with blocks of flats in a neo-Georgian style, hotels and embassies. Access to the western side of the square is severely restricted by the very obvious security measures around the U.S. Embassy.

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[edit] American presence

The western side of Grosvenor Square is now occupied by the American Embassy, a large and architecturally significant modern design by Eero Saarinen, completed in 1960. It is, however, a controversial insertion into a mainly Georgian and neo-Georgian district of London.

Grosvenor Square has been the traditional home of the official American presence in London since John Adams established the first American mission to the Court of St. James's in 1785. During the Second World War, Dwight D. Eisenhower established a military headquarters at 20 Grosvenor Square, and during this time the square was nicknamed "Eisenhower Platz". The United States Navy continues to use this same building as its headquarters for Europe and West Africa.

A statue of Franklin D. Roosevelt, sculpted by Sir William Reid Dick, stands in the square, as does a later statue of Eisenhower, sculpted by Robert Lee Dean and unveiled on 23 January 1989. [1]

The Ambassador's official residence, Winfield House, is a couple of miles away in Regent's Park.

[edit] Pop Culture References

  • In the Oscar Wilde play, The Importance of Being Earnest, the character Lady Bracknell makes mention Grosvenor Sqaure, "The whole theory of modern education is radically unsound. Fortunately in England, at any rate, education produces no effect whatsoever. If it did it would prove a serious threat to the upper classes, and probably lead ot acts of violence in Grosvenor Square."

Rolling Stones - Jagger & Richard wrote Street Fighting Man after seeing the riot that ensued from an anti-Vietnam War rally in the square near the US Emabassy in 1968[Joe Gorman] In March 1968, Grosvenor Square in London became, for a few hours, a battleground as 80,000 protestors against the Vietnam war besieged the American Embassy [BBC]

[edit] Reference

Georgian London by John Summerson.

[edit] External links

no:Grosvenor Square

Grosvenor Square

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