An Historical Tour of London via the British Version of the Monopoly Board Game- A 21st Century View

Updated on July 11, 2018
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I am an actor, comedian, writer, teacher, historian and businessman. I'm currently studying at the Open University.

The London version of the Monopoly board shows the values of properties in London in the mid-30's when the game was put together. Since then, the Luftwaffe, the local government and gentrification have all played their parts in adding to or decreasing the value of these places. Let's explore the locations on the board from a 21st century perspective.

Old Kent Road

Panorama of the Old Kent Road from outside Tesco.
Panorama of the Old Kent Road from outside Tesco.

Formerly the cheapest property on the board (now second after Whitechapel Road) and the only one south of the river, the Old Kent Road runs from Bricklayers Arms at the Tower Bridge Road junction to the edge of Deptford where it becomes New Cross Road. Also the beginning of the A2 running from London to Dover, the Old Kent Road is still shabby in many places, but with the current regeneration of nearby Elephant and Castle at the northern end, gentrification is likely to spread over the next few years. Like everywhere in London, it is still not a cheap place to live, even though a lot of it looks it.

The road itself dates back to before Roman times and was part of the route taken by the pilgrims in Chaucer's Canterbury Tales. Large areas around it were owned by the Rolls family, whose last descendent was Charles Rolls of Rolls Royce. Part of the road still has an industrial feel about it and is overlooked by the skeleton of the gasholder frame halfway down, which was the largest gasholder in the world when it was built. Retail parks are numerous along the road too. Burgess Park is an oasis where the street meets Albany Road, and has a barbeque area and a beautiful garden that is quiet and almost a separate entity from the rest of the park.

Whitechapel Road

Whitechapel Road market
Whitechapel Road market

In the 14th Century, a church of white stone was built and dedicated to St Mary on what is now Whitechapel High Street, which becomes Whitechapel Road as it runs east, giving the area its name. During the Blitz, the church was bombed to smithereens, the floor still visible in what is now Altab Ali park, named after a Bangladeshi murdered in a racist attack in 1978.

The oldest manufacturing company in Britain, the Whitechapel Bell Foundry stands on Whitechapel Road. The foundry cast the now cracked Liberty Bell which is in Philadelphia, as well as "Great Tom" which hangs in Lincoln Cathedral, the bells of St Pauls, Westminster Abbey, Liverpool's Anglican cathedral and the most famous of all, Big Ben.

Whitechapel Road runs eastwards becoming Mile End Road. It is the first part of the A11 running from London to Colchester. Whitechapel is synonymous with immigration, first with the Huguenots in the 17th century, the Irish and the Eastern European Jewish refugees in the 19th and the Bangladeshi community in the 20th. Whitechapel Road is famous for London's largest mosque. The rather unaesthetic looking market stretches along the main road up to the Blind Beggar pub, where Ronnie Kray shot George Cornell. Whitechapel is infamous for the Jack the Ripper murders, and morbid tours of the area are popular with ghoulish sightseers, while nearby Brick Lane is famous for its curry houses, most of which are Bangladeshi.

As a main route into London, and due to partial gentrification, house prices are going up. There are some beautiful Georgian squares in the area. The Royal London Hospital serves the area. Its old building is now closed down and looks like Arkham Asylum from Batman, but Dr Barnardo studied medicine here and Joseph Merrick, the Elephant Man lived here until his death after being rescued from a shop window where he was displayed on Whitechapel Road. His bones are still kept in the hospital pathology department. The area, due to its close proximity to the city, is now worth considerably more than its Monopoly price would suggest.

Kings Cross Station

Redeveloped into a tourist trap.
Redeveloped into a tourist trap.

Many tourists visiting London for the first time are disappointed to discover that Kings Cross station is not the grand looking one with the hotel built in. That one is St Pancras, whose beauty highlights the ugliness of its neighbour. After closing as a hotel in the 1930's, the Midland Grand as it was known was used as offices before closing in the 80's and standing empty for years. Sadly, its biggest champion, the former poet laureate Sir John Betjeman never lived to see it restored and reopened as the St Pancras Renaissance in 2011, in time for the London Olympics the following year.

Despite Kings Cross's redevelopment during the early 21st century in the wake of the Harry Potter books and films, as well as the Olympics, it is still a brutal looking building, hence its use in numerous dystopian films of the post-war 20th century. However, it is still probably the most famous station in Britain. The area was notorious for prostitution and homelessness until it was gentrified. In 1987, a fire in Kings Cross underground station killed 31 people, leading to smoking being banned across the tube network. Now of course, smoking is banned nearly everywhere. Having all four stations in a game of Monopoly is more likely to win the game than having Mayfair and Park Lane as players stop on them more often and the more you have, the higher the rent.

The Angel, Islington

The original Angel building.
The original Angel building.

The only site on the Monopoly board named after a building rather than a street or square, (other than the stations and jail), and currently the site of the Cooperative Bank, the Angel, Islington was not the name of the area in the 1930's, but in fact a hotel that stood on the corner of New Road (now City Road), Upper Street and Pentonville Road. While there is an Angel pub next door, the original hotel building still occupies the site as grade II listed building and has given its name to the area.

After the hotel closed, the building became the flagship branch of the J. Lyons chain. An executive of Waddingtons, the company that makes Monopoly, found himself taking lunch there one afternoon as locations were being compiled for the game, hence its inclusion. The third cheapest location on the monopoly board, this reflects how much Islington has changed since the game was invented as the gentrification of the area began as far back as the late 60's and is worth considerably more than its 21st century equivalent value. Angel underground station, redeveloped in the 1990's, has the longest escalator in London.



Euston Road

The Wellcome Collection art gallery
The Wellcome Collection art gallery

As part of London's inner ring-road, the Euston Road is an utter nightmare during rush-hour. Euston Road runs from Kings Cross to Great Portland Street where it becomes Marylebone Road, the street with the worst air quality in London. The British Library is on Euston Road after moving from its former home within the British Museum early in the 21st century, as is the headquarters of the Quakers, The Wellcome Collection art gallery, Kings Cross, St Pancras, and Euston stations and St Pancras New Church.

Being a main road and in such close proximity to three of London's main stations, hotels abound along the road, along with less salubrious b&b's in the backstreets full of the hopelessly addicted. When Monopoly was invented, Euston Road was narrower but probably was just as congested. Although not the most aesthetic street to live on in places, it is likely that prices are disproportionately high compared with those when Monopoly was created.


Pentonville Road

Flats and student accommodation, Pentonville Road.
Flats and student accommodation, Pentonville Road.

Running uphill from Kings Cross Station to the Angel, Islington, Pentonville Road becomes City Road, continuing east to the Old Street roundabout. Part of the inner London ring-road, it is joined by Euston Road at Kings Cross.

A former industrial neighbourhood, this street was full of factories until the late 20th century, but is now largely residential. There is a bizarre looking building at its junction with Gray's Inn Road with a lighthouse on top and the former Scala cinema, which is now a nightclub. A shot of Iggy Pop onstage here is on the cover of the Stooges Raw Power album.

The original Angel, Islington stood at the corner at the top of the hill, the building still visible and housing the Cooperative Bank. The square next to it on the Monopoly board is the jail, although Pentonville Prison is not on Pentonville Road, but further north on Caledonian Road.

Pall Mall

Numerous Regency buildings on Pall Mall
Numerous Regency buildings on Pall Mall

Often mistaken for the far grander thoroughfare known as The Mall, Pall Mall is named after a game, similar to croquet, (also called "pell mell" and "pelle maille") that used to be played in the area. As the street became congested, Charles II had The Mall purpose-built to play it. This runs from Admiralty Arch by Trafalgar Square down to Buckingham Palace. Pall Mall runs from St James' Street to Haymarket in the heart of central London where it continues as Pall Mall East to Trafalgar Square.

Pall Mall features probably the ugliest facade of all the royal palaces, St James' Palace, the London residence of Princess Anne, Princess Beatrice and Princess Alexandra. Until recently, Princess Eugenie was its main resident. The palace was built on the site of a former leper hospital.

Pall Mall is famous for its gentlemens' clubs, including the Athenaeum, the Oxford and Cambridge Club and the Reform Club, where Phineas Fogg sets off from in the Jules Verne novel to go Around the World in 80 Days. The RAC was founded on Pall Mall and it was where Burgess and Maclean met for lunch before defecting to the Soviet Union. The RAC is the only club with its own post office. Despite its relative cheapness on the Monopoly board, it would be impossible to live there today without a few million in the bank.

Whitehall

The Cenotaph
The Cenotaph

Connecting Trafalgar Square to Parliament Square, Whitehall is synonymous with the British government. Just off the main street is the gated community of Downing Street, the gates installed by Margaret Thatcher in the 1980's due to IRA threats. Until then it was possible to walk up to the front door and have one's photo taken in front of number 10. The first person to live in a house on this site was Sir Thomas Knyvet, the man who arrested Guy Fawkes. The street is named after 17th century property developer George Downing, the second man to graduate from Harvard University. Originally built of yellow brick, two centuries worth of pollution caused them to be blackened and after restoration work in the 1960s, the brickwork was painted black.

Numerous war memorials stand along Whitehall, most famously the Cenotaph (pictured above), where wreaths of poppies are laid every November on Remembrance Sunday. Originally a temporary monument stood here, but the public demanded a permanent structure and Edwyn Lutyens designed the portland stone monument.

The street is named after the palace that stood here until the 17th century, of which only the Banqueting House still remains, the earliest renaissance building in Britain. It was in the grounds of the Banqueting House that Charles I was executed. Whitehall features the Horse Guards Parade, and tourists are often seen cooing over the horses. Only members of the royal family are allowed to ride through the arch into the parade. The Ministry of Defence is based in Whitehall, and the old Whitehall Theatre (now Trafalgar Studios) was famous for its comedies over the 20th century. As far as the Monopoly board goes, it is probably impossible to buy property on Whitehall nowadays, if it ever was in the first place.


Northumberland Avenue

Northumberland Avenue towards the river with Hungerford Bridge in view
Northumberland Avenue towards the river with Hungerford Bridge in view

Named after the Earl of Northumberland in the 17th century, Northumberland Avenue runs from the embankment to Trafalgar Square and features the Playhouse Theatre, where the Goons were broadcast from in the 1950's.

Thomas Edison's London headquarters were on Northumberland Avenue, which is now full of hotels and government buildings, and is mentioned in Arthur Conan-Doyle's Hound of the Baskervilles, hence a pub along this street called the Sherlock Holmes. Though not too expensive on the Monopoly board, its central location and close proximity to the river have sent prices through the roof. This is multi-millionaire territory if one is looking to buy.


Marylebone Station

The newest one in the game
The newest one in the game

The newest of the stations on the board and the one most people pronounce wrongly when they are children or from abroad, Marylebone, (marr e lee bone) also the name of the area, is a corruption of Mary of the Bourne, a bourne being a small river (think Holborn, Westbourne Park and Kilburn), and French being the language of the medieval ruling class. St Mary's was a church somewhere in the vicinity. The current one in the area was built in the 19th century.

Relatively quiet for a main London terminus, Marylebone is in close proximity to Baker Street station and was where the railway station scenes in the Beatles first film, "A Hard Day's Night" were filmed.The whole area is rich in history and has included residents such as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the historian Edward Gibbon and Charles Dickens.

When Monopoly was created, Marylebone was a considerably more important terminus than it is today, but it has resisted closure and continues to operate as a mainline and underground station.

Bow Street

The former Bow Street Magistrates Court
The former Bow Street Magistrates Court

Today it is known for its now closed down magistrate's court, (pictured above), but Bow Street's association with law and order goes back to 1750 when the author and magistrate Henry Fielding set up the Bow Street Runners, the forerunners of the Metropolitan Police. In fact the first ever police station in Britain stood on Bow Street which was the only police station in the country to have a white light outside instead of a blue light. When Queen Victoria attended the Royal Opera House, the blue light reminded her of the blue room her husband Albert died in and insisted on it being changed.

The Royal Opera House is on Bow Street, and as it runs through Covent Garden, theatres abound in the area. Once again, the price on the Monopoly board is no reflection of the 21st century value of property in the area. Slap bang in the centre of a tourist trap, property on Bow Street, or anywhere in the area is indeed a valuable asset.

(Great) Marlborough Street

Liberty of London department store, corner of Great Marlborough Street and Regent Street
Liberty of London department store, corner of Great Marlborough Street and Regent Street

Like the other orange squares on the Monopoly board, Great Marlborough Street has a connection with the law, being the home of Marlborough Street Magistrates Court, after which the Monopoly square was misnamed. This is where Oscar Wilde lost his libel case against the Marquis of Queensbury in 1895 and was subsequently tried and convicted himself at the Old Bailey. It is now the Courthouse Hotel. The street was named after John Churchill, Duke of Marlborough, hero of the Battle of Blenheim and ancestor of Winston.

The most striking building on this street is the Liberty department store, with its distinctive black and white mock- Tudor facade, though its official address is Regent Street, with which it shares the corner. Just round a different corner opposite on Argyll Street is the London Palladium, probably the most famous theatre in the world. Great Marlborough Street was the home of Philip Morris's cigarette factory. When the franchise opened in the USA, he named them Marlboro, after the street, with the spelling corrupted American-style. With hotels and landmarks like Liberty and the Palladium, Great Marlborough Street is unlikely to be worth anything like the equivalent of its 1930's value today. Despite being home to a handful of people, we are so distanced today from how cheap it was in the past to live in the West End, it is difficult to imagine it being a residential neighbourhood.


Vine Street

Vine Street from Swallow Street
Vine Street from Swallow Street

Like the other two orange squares on the Monopoly board, a courthouse also stood on Vine Street in the 18th and 19th centuries. Vine Street was also home to one of the main police stations in London, mentioned in the Pogues song, "The Old Main Drag". The Marquis of Queensbury, who gave us the rules of boxing, was brought here after his arrest for libel against Oscar Wilde, which subsequently led to Wilde's own arrest and conviction for homosexuality. Vine Street is an obscure and tiny street with nothing particularly remarkable there, but as a West End address, again it is likely to be worth more than it was in the 1930's. Now the pubs have gone from the street, people on the Monopoly pub crawl have to drink round the corner.


Strand

Halfway down the Strand looking towards Aldwych
Halfway down the Strand looking towards Aldwych

For many years, the Strand was the only link between Westminster and the City. Twinings tea company have occupied premises on the Strand since 1717. Running from Temple Bar, where the dragon marks the edge of the City to Trafalgar Square, the street is lined with theatres. One of the most famous is the Lyceum, actually on Wellington Street just off the Strand, where the famous live version of Bob Marley's "No Woman No Cry" was recorded.

There are two islands on the Strand occupied by churches. One is St Clement Danes, designed by Wren, whose bells say "Oranges and Lemons" in the children's nursery rhyme. The other one is St Mary-Le-Strand, which had London's first taxi rank outside. Though it isn't a Wren church, it is the mother church of the WRENS- the Women's Royal Naval Service. The Strand, or Aldwych closed down station is a prime location for filming underground station scenes and features in many films.

The Savoy Hotel and Theatre are internationally famous. The approach to the hotel is the only street in Britain where you have to drive on the right. Somerset House is a remarkable building on the corner of Waterloo Bridge. It hosted the first ever Italian opera in Britain during the 17th century. Strand magazine featured many of the first Sherlock Holmes stories, and No. 1 was the first house in London to be numbered. With all this and more, rents on the Strand are not cheap and if you're looking to buy, the Monopoly values are well below current rates.

Fleet Street

Fleet Street looking towards the City, the cheese-grater and St Paul's clearly in the foreground
Fleet Street looking towards the City, the cheese-grater and St Paul's clearly in the foreground

Named after the covered over river that runs beneath it, Wynkyn De Worde (who was apprentice to William Caxton, the pioneer of the printing press in Britain), set up a printing press here in 1500, as bookbinders and other related services were already established in the area. Famous for its lawlessness, the government, attempting to clean the area up in the 19th century, sold off areas of land to newspaper companies, and over the years Fleet Street became a byword (or words) for the industry until the 1980's when most papers moved to the newly redeveloped Docklands, though the name Fleet Street is still synonymous with the industry.

Prince Henry's Room sits on the first floor of a former tavern above the Temple gateway. This is decorated with the feathers of Prince Henry, son of James I. Had he lived, there probably wouldn't have been a Civil War as Charles wouldn't have become king. This building survived the Great Fire of 1666, one of the few in Fleet Street that did. Across the road is allegedly the shop of Sweeney Todd, the demon barber of Fleet Street.

The Cheshire Cheese pub was the first building to open in the area after the fire, and is unchanged since. Famous patrons included Samuel Johnson and Charles Dickens. Other famous buildings include St Brides Church, whose steeple inspired pastry cook William Rich to model a multi-tiered wedding cake on it, thus beginning a tradition that endures to this day.

Louis Rothman sold his cigarettes in Fleet Street, also inventing menthol ones, while Britain's first bank (though now a branch of the RBS) stood on Fleet Street, portrayed as Tellson's Bank in Dickens's "A Tale of Two Cities". Thomas Paine's "Rights of Man" was first printed in Fleet Street.

The area is full of interesting alleyways and on a Monopoly pub crawl there is plenty of choice. However, once again, properties on this road do not come cheap.


Trafalgar Square

Pigeon's eye view of Trafalgar Square
Pigeon's eye view of Trafalgar Square

No longer full of pigeons and home to the National Gallery, St Martins In the Fields church and a very famous monument of a very famous sailor, Trafalgar Square sits right in the very centre of London. Contrary to what people claim they've seen, Nelson does not wear an eye patch on his monument, nor did he ever wear one in real life. The lions were sculpted by Edwin Landseer, who painted the Monarch of the Glen, and were erected 25 years after the column. Landseer also gave rise to the myth that St Bernard dogs carry brandy barrels around their necks after painting one in his "Alpine Mastiffs Reanimating a Distressed Traveller" painting. Brandy would kill someone who had hypothermia. There are still scorch marks on the base of the column from celebratory fires lit at the end of the First World War.

Up until the millennium, Trafalgar Square was the main gathering place of a New Years Eve, where drunken revellers would leap into the fountains. Now, with the fireworks every year, Waterloo has become the place to be if you enjoy being jammed in a crowd for hours unable to move.

The christmas tree in the square is sent every year from Norway, as a thanks for Britain's help during World War II (probably ironically). The fourth plinth in the square was originally intended for a statue of William IV but the money ran out. It is now the temporary home of some contemporary sculpture or other. The statue of Charles I is the oldest bronze statue in Britain and was hidden by a brazier who had been ordered to melt it down during the interregnum. All distances in London are measured from it.

Despite its Monopoly price, it is unlikely that it is possible to buy or rent residential property here, despite an old music hall song that states "I Live in Trafalgar Square".

Fenchurch Street Station

Fenchurch Street. The oldest and most aesthetic on the board
Fenchurch Street. The oldest and most aesthetic on the board

Fenchurch Street is the oldest of the stations on the Monopoly board, but unless you have to pass through it, it's one of those places you've heard of and never been to. It is the only mainline terminal in London that has no underground, which is why nobody knows where it is.

It is actually marked in very tiny writing on a tube map next to Tower Hill underground station in the bottom right-hand corner of the circle line. This is the station for the Tower of London, and the north side of the bridge. Fenchurch Street is tucked away on the edge of the city nearby. The Walkie Talkie building is at number 20, but unless you are working in the area or really looking for the station, it is probably the one place on the Monopoly board you are unlikely to visit. A shame, as architecturally it is more attractive than the other stations on the board.


Leicester Square

The clock from the old Swiss Centre, now an enormous Lego store. Leicester Square
The clock from the old Swiss Centre, now an enormous Lego store. Leicester Square

Long having been a cheap laugh for Londoners hearing tourists pronouncing it wrongly, Leicester (pronounced Lester) Square is the heart of London's cinemaland and many red carpets have appeared over the years for premieres. The Odeon is the largest cinema in the UK, and at the time of writing this is undergoing redevelopments. It was the first cinema in Europe to have a digital projector.

William Hogarth lived in Leicester Square and produced Gin Lane and the Rake's Progress there. During a phone call in a box in the square, one Maurice Micklewhite saw a poster for "The Caine Mutiny" and changed his name to Michael Caine.

During the late 70's, Leicester Square became the face of Britain's Winter of Discontent as the dustmen went on strike and enormous piles of rubbish in the square were on the front of every newspaper with huge rats running amock amongst them. However, it seems property prices have recovered from those days, though like Trafalgar Square, it is mainly non-residential, unless you count the rough sleepers.

Coventry Street

Coventry Street from Piccadilly Circus with the edge of the statue of Eros's fountain on the right.
Coventry Street from Piccadilly Circus with the edge of the statue of Eros's fountain on the right.

Not the place that Lady Godiva rode naked, but actually the short street between Piccadilly Circus and Leicester Square. Coventry Street was originally famous for its gambling clubs after the Restoration and named after Charles II's secretary of state, Henry Coventry. During the 1920's there were rumours of a vampire stalking the street after two people were attacked with puncture wounds to their necks. The story circulated that it had been killed and removed to Highgate Cemetery in North London (where Karl Marx is buried) and supposedly rose again in the 70's leading to a wave of ghoulish sightseers and would-be Van Helsings causing untold damage to the cemetery.

A retail and entertainment thoroughfare rather than a residential street, it was famous for its clubs at the time Monopoly was created. The Trocadero, which at the time of writing is being redeveloped into a hotel, stands on Coventry Street. It has undergone numerous incarnations as a restaurant, nightclub, amusement arcade and more. Right at the heart of tourist London, Coventry Street is always busy and many pickpockets operate in the area.

Piccadilly

Perhaps the most famous hotel in the world. The Ritz, Piccadilly
Perhaps the most famous hotel in the world. The Ritz, Piccadilly

Taking its name from a type of collar called a "piccadil" that was sold in the area, Piccadilly is the thoroughfare that runs from Piccadilly Circus to Hyde Park Corner as part of the A4 west out of London. In the circus are the famous advertising hoardes, and the world's first aluminium statue, that of Eros. There are many controversial claims about this statue. Originally supposed to be Anteros, Eros's brother, it was assumed to be Eros due to most people's lack of classical knowledge. It has also been called the Angel of Christian Charity. There is an urban myth that it is facing the wrong way, having been taken down for safekeeping during World War II then replaced facing the opposite direction. This is untrue, as it always pointed down Lower Regent Street towards the home of the Earl of Shaftesbury, whom it was built as a monument to.

Lord Byron, Aldous Huxley, William Gladstone and Terence Stamp have all lived in the Albany apartments, just off the main road. In 1707, the Queen's grocers, Fortnum and Mason was founded, which became the first store in Britain to sell both Henry J Heinz's canned food ("I think, Mr Heinz, we'll take the lot!"), and soft toilet paper, which was sold euphemistically as "curling paper". The clock at the front features Mr Fortnum and Mr Mason who turn and bow to each other on the hour.

The Royal Academy of Arts, the Society of Antiquaries, the Chemical Society, the Geological Society, the Royal Astronomical Society and the Lineal Society all have their headquarters in Burlington House, the latter being the place Charles Darwin and Alfred Russell Wallace presented their paper on evolution in 1858.

Hatchards Book Store on Piccadilly was used by Wilberforce's Clapham Sect for many abolitionist meetings. It still hosts book signings and has books on just about anything.

Probably the most famous hotel in the world, The Ritz stands just by Green Park Station on Piccadilly. It was the first hotel in London to have all en-suite rooms and gave us the word "ritzy", meaning luxurious. It was the first steel framed building in England.

Hyde Park Corner at the western end of the street is known as the "busiest corner in the world". A main thoroughfare in several directions, Apsley House, former home of the Duke of Wellington stands at the north side while various monuments, statues and the imposing Wellington Arch stand in the middle of the roundabout, leaving it looking peculiar but still impressive. Wellington was known as the Iron Duke, not because of his personality but because he had iron shutters put up to protect his windows as crowds gathered to protest at his opposition to universal suffrage and parliamentary reform in 1830.

Piccadilly is the most expensive of the yellow set in Monopoly, but if one can afford to pay that sort of money, why would one choose to live on a busy main road?

Regent Street

The sweeping Georgian Crescents of Regent Street
The sweeping Georgian Crescents of Regent Street

Laid out in elegant Georgian crescents, the name gives the onlooker a clue as to the origins of this street that runs from Charles II Street as a continuation of Waterloo Place, bisecting Oxford Street at Oxford Circus, then down to Piccadilly Circus. The street was actually completed after the death of George IV (former Prince Regent) and has various architectural involvement, the original being John Nash who laid out the street. In the 19th century, Regent Street became the first street to have late night opening for stores.

Broadcasting House, the headquarters of the BBC are on the north side of Regent Street. On the other is the main campus of the University of Westminster which houses the Regent Street Cinema, which screened the first ever motion picture in Britain, a short by the Lumiere Brothers. The first daguerreotype photographs in Britain were processed on Regent Street.

In 1927, the first Indian restaurant in Britain opened on Regent Street and was patronised by Mahatma Gandhi. Other notable institutions include Hamleys, spread over six floors and complete with demonstrators. Enchanting to children of all ages, it is the largest toy shop in the world.

Regent Street is famous for its Christmas lights, which are more elegant than the ones in Oxford Street round the corner. Generally more chic than the latter, Regent Street was a fashionable place to live in the 19th century, though since Monopoly's creation, the street has given way to commerce and there are few people living there today.

Oxford Street

Shopping "Up-West". The run up to Christmas in Oxford Street
Shopping "Up-West". The run up to Christmas in Oxford Street

The UK's busiest shopping street runs from Tottenham Court Road's junction with Charing Cross Road at one end and Marble Arch at the other. Marble Arch is close to the site of the Tyburn Tree, a large triangular gallows, and was the main spot for public executions. An engraved plaque on the pavement marks the site where the gallows stood.

Famous for its department stores, the first in the UK was John Lewis, which opened in 1864 as a haberdashery.

Oxford Street's largest store is Selfridges, Gordon Selfridge coining the phrase "the customer is always right." In 1925, John Logie Baird gave the first public demonstration of television at Selfridges.

The first HMV store was opened on Oxford Street by Edward Elgar. The Beatles made their first demo here in 1961. The building has a blue plaque outside. Another musical connection is the 100 Club, famous for both its jazz and for its punk festivals in the 1970's.

The first motor museum in the world stood on Oxford Street and featured the first British petrol driven car. The building is now the Lush Cosmetics store.

Oxford Street is a mish-mash of tacky tourist outlets, elegant department stores and coffee shops. It is nearly always packed with shoppers, beggars, charity collectors and pickpockets. People often have a tendency to stop dead for no reason in the middle of the pavement causing much irritation.

Like Regent Street, though possibly a handful of residents live here, many sleep on the street. Oxford Street is a byword for the West End retail world and was the same when Monopoly was created.

Bond Street

Designer shops and top auction rooms in Bond Street, Old and New
Designer shops and top auction rooms in Bond Street, Old and New

Far more exclusive than Oxford Street, Bond Street is the more expensive card in the green set on the Monopoly board. Bond Street is actually Old and New Bond Street joined together, but as the underground station is simply Bond Street, despite it not being on the street in question, the whole road is referred to as this.

Bond Street is the home of the London branch of the New York jewellers Tiffany's, as well as both Sotherbys and Bonhams auction houses. The Ancient Egyptian sculture above the door of Sotherbys dates back to 1600 BC. It is the oldest man-made object in London. Another famous sculpture is "Allies", of Winston Churchill and Franklin D Roosevelt sitting on a park bench together.

As well as luxury shopping, there is also a centre for Kabbalism on Bond street. Once famous for its antique shops and galleries, only a handful remain. Its value in relation to its Monopoly price is probably similar today. Both Bond Streets are known more for expensive retail rather than being residential, though a number of people still live here.


Liverpool Street Station

The main concourse in Liverpool Street Station
The main concourse in Liverpool Street Station

Redeveloped in the late 1980's, then subsequently damaged and rebuilt again after an IRA bomb in Bishopsgate, the main street it stands on, Liverpool Street Station was named after the early 19th century prime minister Lord Liverpool and was built on the site of the first Bethlehem (Bedlam) hospital for the insane which moved to what is now the Imperial War Museum.

During the First World War, the station was hit by three bombs during an air raid and 162 people were killed. During the run-up to World War II, Liverpool Street was the arrival point for the Jewish Kindertransport children rescued from Nazi Germany, Austria and Sudetenland after Kristallnacht, after embarking at Harwich. A statue commemorating this stands outside the station. During the war, part of the station was damaged from a nearby bomb, though the station itself was not directly hit. Its tube station was a main air-raid shelter for the area during the Blitz.

The Great Eastern Hotel next to the station was the first hotel in the City of London (the square mile as opposed to the entire London). Liverpool Street is being incorporated into the new Crossrail development for London. During excavations for this, a 17th century mass burial pit was discovered.

Standing on the edge of the City, Liverpool Street station is surrounded by trendy bars and is the main station for shoppers for nearby Spitalfields Market.

Park Lane

Hyde Park on the left, posh hotels on the right on Park Lane
Hyde Park on the left, posh hotels on the right on Park Lane

Running up alongside the eastern side of Hyde Park from Hyde Park Corner to Marble Arch, Park Lane is one of the busiest and most expensive roads in London. Despite being a very busy road, it is a highly desirable address to have. Benjamin Disraeli, Louis Mountbatten and Fred Astaire all lived on Park Lane. Current residents include the former Harrods boss Mohammed Al-Fayed, which gives you an idea of the sort of money you need to live here.

Famous hotels on Park Lane include the London Hilton, The Dorchester, The Intercontinental and the Sheraton Grand. During World War II, Eisenhower stayed at the Dorchester and made it his headquarters.

Several car dealerships stand on Park Lane as well as a more recent addition, a monument to Animals in War. Its exclusivity is reflected in it being the second most expensive property on the Monopoly board and it is just as expensive today as it ever was.

Mayfair

Claridges, Mayfair
Claridges, Mayfair

This area was known for its May fair that took place in what is now Shepherd Market until the late 18th century. It was acquired by the Grosvenor family whose eponymous square is the second largest in London and houses the American Embassy. Established by John Adams, it is the largest embassy in the UK. Mayfair is home to three squares, Grosvenor, Hanover and Berkeley, the third of which is immortalised in the song "A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square". Queen Elizabeth II was born nearby.

William Claridge opened his hotel on Brook Street in 1855. It was subsequently bought by Richard D'Oyly Carte, owner of the Savoy, who had it demolished and rebuilt to his specifications. During World War II, many European royals in exile stayed at Claridges. On state visits it is customary to invite the monarch to dine at Claridges in return for hospitality at Buckingham Palace.

On the same street can be found blue plaques next door to each other on the house of Handel and the first floor flat of Jimi Hendrix, who became the first rock star to have one dedicated to him. Another sadder musical connection on Curzon Street is the flat where Mama Cass in 1974 and four years later, Keith Moon both died. On Albermarle Street, Michael Faraday invented the electric generator and the principles that led to the invention of the telegraph. Bell made the first long distance phone call from the same street. Savile Row is famous for its tailors, and the Beatles gave their last performance on the roof of their Savile Row Apple studios in 1969. In 1886, James Potter of Tuxedo Park, New York was a guest of the Prince of Wales and liked the prince's jacket so much he asked if he could have one made for himself by the prince's tailor in Savile Row. On his return to the US, Potter wore it at the Tuxedo Park club, starting a trend. Hence dinner jackets in the US became known as tuxedos.

As eyewateringly pricey as it always has been since the 18th century, Mayfair is the most expensive property on the Monopoly board and probably the most expensive part of London itself.

Sources

British Newspaper Archives (Local London History)

Open University Library

Britannica.com

BBC archives

London, The Biography-Peter Ackroyd

I Never Knew That About London-Christopher Winn

Hutchinson Encyclopedia

History of London-Helen Irvine-Douglas

Questions & Answers

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      • Mamsa profile imageAUTHOR

        DJ Hurst 

        2 months ago from London

        Cheers Alan. Isn't the Freemason place round the corner though on Great Queen Street? You're right about ye olde Cheshire Cheese. I'd forgotten about the other one. I remember the Bomber Harris statue was always getting grafittied when it was first unveiled so they put cctv there. Interesting stuff about the stations. I didn't know that about Kings Cross. It's still ugly though. Mind you, not as much as Euston. The original one was really pretty from what I've seen. There were some architectural vandals about in the 50s and 60s.

      • alancaster149 profile image

        Alan R Lancaster 

        2 months ago from Forest Gate, London E7, U K (ex-pat Yorkshire)

        Well DJ, made it (puff-puff!). A singular task, following the Monopoly Board around London, but at least you don't need to tramp it unless you take the photographs yourself. I'd say you put a lot of work into this, with some exhaustive research and it shows.

        One or two pointers though. Kings Cross Station, designed by Thomas and joseph Cubitt, opened in 1852 was the most modern station design of its time, the others being mostly mock Gothic except for classically influenced Euston and simpler Marylebone. London stock brick was used throughout on supporting walls, and the first station where concrete was used extensively. (The Great Northern Railway wanted their London terminus in a hurry). Marylebone Station was the Great Central's London terminus, obliged to build on the outskirts on 19th Century London because the other main line railways blocked their direct route from Leicester. 'Overground' services now only from Amersham (Bucks.) Bow Street also has the main HQ of the Freemasons society; Near the main door to St Clement Danes is the statue to Sir Arthur 'Bomber' Harris; and the watering hole in Fleet Street frequented by Dr Johnson (who said, "When you're tired of London you're tired of life", or words to that effect). is 'Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese', as there's another Cheshire Cheese elsewhere in the City, 'The Bell', near Ludgate Circus dates back to around the same time; and is as good as Dr Johnson's haunt - one of Wren's finest churches - 'the wedding cake' - St Bride's is behind 'The Bell'; and lastly there's another Kindertransport statue next to the main Underground entrance in Liverpool Street.

        I'll pop round and visit your profile page, see what else is on offer. Keep up the good work.

      • Eurofile profile image

        Liz Westwood 

        2 months ago from UK

        I used to love playing Monopoly as a kid and remember occasionally finishing a game, but most times we gave up, as it went on so long. I was always interested to recognise the occasional street name from the game when visiting relatives in London. With my own children I used to enjoy the Junior Monopoly, based on a fairground theme, because we usually managed to finish it.

      • Mamsa profile imageAUTHOR

        DJ Hurst 

        2 months ago from London

        Thanks Liz. When I moved to London many moons ago I made a point of finding out about these places I'd heard of as a kid from playing the game. Strange choices some of them. Incidentally, has anyone ever finished a game of Monopoly ever?

      • Eurofile profile image

        Liz Westwood 

        2 months ago from UK

        This is a great article, a very original take on London. I was expecting a review of the game, but I got so much more out of this.

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