West End of London

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Image:Covent Garden Interior May 2006.jpg
The interior of Covent Garden Market in the West End

The West End of London is an area of central London, containing many of the city's major tourist attractions, businesses, and administrative headquarters. It also includes most of its major theatres, and indeed the term "West End" has become synonymous with London's commercial theatre (see West End theatre). Colloquially and symbolically, the West End can be seen as one of three poles in central London: the City for finance (and to a lesser extent business in general), Westminster for government (Whitehall and Parliament), and the West End for entertainment and retail.


[edit] Location

Located to the west of the historic Roman and Mediaeval City of London, the West End was long favoured by the rich elite as a place of residence because it was usually upwind of the smoke drifting from the crowded City. It was also located close to the royal seat of power at Westminster, and is largely contained within the City of Westminster (one of the 32 London boroughs). Developed in the seventeenth, eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, it was originally built as a series of palaces, expensive town houses, fashionable shops and places of entertainment. The areas closest to the City around Holborn, Seven Dials and Covent Garden historically contained poorer communities that were cleared and redeveloped in the nineteenth century.

The name "West End" is a flexible term with different meanings in different contexts. It may refer to the entertainment district around Leicester Square and Covent Garden; to the shopping district centred on Oxford Street, Regent Street, and Bond Street (but the geographically distinct shopping district around Knightsbridge would also be counted as "West End Shopping" by some); or, less commonly, to the whole of that part of Central London (itself an area with no generally agreed boundaries) which lies to the west of the City of London. It is one of two international centres identified in the London Plan; the other is the Knightsbridge.

One of the local government wards within the City of Westminster is called "West End". It is bounded by the City of London to the east, the Thames to the south east, Horseferry Road and Victoria Street to the south, Grosvenor Place to the west and Piccadilly and Long Acre to the north. [1] This is quite a narrow boundary. However, in the United Kingdom, ward boundaries are generally only familiar to people involved in local politics and administration, and this ward carries little weight as an "official" definition of the West End, and is not intended to do so.

[edit] Activities

Her Majesty's Theatre in the Haymarket, home to Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Phantom of the Opera.

Taking a fairly broad definition of the West End, the district contains the main concentrations of most of London's metropolitan activities apart from financial services, which are concentrated primarily in the City of London. There are major concentrations of the following buildings and activities in the West End:

  • Art galleries and museums
  • Company headquarters outside the financial services sector (although London's many hedge funds are based mainly in the West End)
  • Educational institutions
  • Embassies
  • Government buildings (mainly around Whitehall)
  • Hotels
  • Institutes, learned societies and think tanks
  • Legal institutions
  • Media establishments
  • Places of entertainment: theatres; cinemas; nightclubs; bars and restaurants
  • Shops

The annual New Year’s Day Parade takes place on the streets of the West End.

[edit] Districts in the West End

Using the broadest definition, these are the inner districts of the West End, which were all developed by about 1815:

The districts to the south, north and west of Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens were developed between the end of the Napoleonic Wars in 1815 and the late 19th century, in some cases based on existing villages. The more fashionable of them were generally regarded as being in the West End at that time, but the extension of the term to these areas west of Park Lane is less common nowadays. The last two listed especially are fringe cases:

[edit] Famous streets in the West End

[edit] Famous squares and circuses in the West End

[edit] See also

[edit] External links

Wikimedia Commons has media related to:

Informal divisions of London

North West | North | North East

West | West End | Central | East End | East

South West | South | South East

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West End of London

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