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The Evolution of London, mapped through its roadways
May 10, 2014 2:02 PM   Subscribe

In seven minutes, you can see the evolution of London, as seen in its road network, from the Roman port city of Londonium through the Anglo-Saxon, Tudor, Stuart, Early Georgian and Late Georgian, Early Victorian and Late Victorian, Early 20th Century and Postwar London, set to the scale of the 600 square miles of modern London, though the original city core is a very dense square mile.

If you missed the narration and can't read the subtitles, this appears to be script, with an embedded QuickTime version of the video.

The video also highlights the distribution of listed buildings and scheduled monuments in greater London. For more of that type of mapping, here is a video of England's protected buildings and areas, focusing on the types of protection instead of the timeline individual locations, also

Bonus links:
* Richard Horwood, an extraordinary map-maker, whose map of London, Westminster & Southwark (First edition) 1792-9 is the "Late Georgian" map example linked above the fold.
* the University of Chicago's collection of Late 19th- and Early 20th-Century Urban Rail Transit Maps, including London, New York, Chicago, Calcutta & Howrah, and more.

Previously: John Strype's Survey of London (1720)
posted by filthy light thief (15 comments total) 37 users marked this as a favorite

 
Dirty Old River, must you keep rolling…..
posted by C.A.S. at 2:17 PM on May 10 [1 favorite]


I'm used to the roads here now, but as an American, it was a big shock coming from "mapped out by an urban planner" roads to "the habitual route Uther the pig farmer took down to the river in the tenth century" ones.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 2:55 PM on May 10 [10 favorites]


Nice post. It's the long continuity and growth of London through many eras - still apparently ongoing - which is so remarkable and helps make it such an interesting place. Having lived in London on and off for a while I'm still occasionally surprised by how modern business is just the grown version of what was happening hundreds or a thousand years ago.
posted by Segundus at 3:59 PM on May 10 [1 favorite]


Mr. Bad Example, the main roads in Boston were laid out by cows. All the main roads which radiate out from the Commons were cow tracks; the Commons was a common grazing area.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 4:52 PM on May 10 [4 favorites]


Mr Bad Example: try a Chelsea game, then you can follow the habitual route Uther the pig fucker took down to the river in the tenth century"
posted by biffa at 5:26 PM on May 10


Uther got around!
posted by Celsius1414 at 5:29 PM on May 10 [1 favorite]


One of the interesting things to me was that the river never moved. I assume that's the modern river, which I know is fairly strictly channeled (and most of its tributaries are underground), but I assume that in the Roman and early medieval periods, it may have meandered a bit more.

Also: we move straight from the Anglo-Saxons to the Tudors. My inner (high) medievalist is sad.
posted by immlass at 5:42 PM on May 10 [4 favorites]


For example, the map shows ‘Wemba Lea’, the land belonging to a local chieftain by the name of Wemba. We know nothing about Mr Wemba, yet his name is familiar to millions, perhaps billions, through its continuation into our own times as Wembley.

I couldn't help but giggle when I saw "Mr Wemba".

"Æthelwulf! Come here and witness. All right, then. Now, Mr .... let me see... Wemba? So all this is your lea, is it? And a very nice lea it is. So peaceful out here, not like the 'Wic! ... I know, and I am sorry, but Beornwulf insists I take this survey, and we can't upset him, now, can we? You know what they say, the only certainties in life... ahahaha. So if you'd just put your X right here on this parchment, sir? Thank you. Æthelwulf! Stop staring at that cow and sign! Not there, you dolt, here! Here! On this side! Now, we'll send a copy over to you by messenger in a few months, Mr Wemba, and a very good day to you, sir!"
posted by droplet at 6:07 PM on May 10 [3 favorites]


Also: we move straight from the Anglo-Saxons to the Tudors. My inner (high) medievalist is sad.

Sorry, they put Anglo-Saxon together with the Medieval era, with the note that "medieval villages developed on Saxon sites, connected by a network of winding roads" (about 2 minutes into the video). Here's a page on Medieval London, not with any maps, but a general write-up on the history of the period, part of Britain Express's series on the history of London.
posted by filthy light thief at 6:55 PM on May 10


Chocolate Pickle: Mr. Bad Example, the main roads in Boston were laid out by cows. All the main roads which radiate out from the Commons were cow tracks; the Commons was a common grazing area.

Cow Paths in Boston, a Famous Myth
Looking at the original peninsula, one can infer the streets were laid out for the following reasons: forests; topography; natural obstacles; native american, pirate or French attacks; commerce; land speculation
Much of downtown's street pattern dates from the 17th century. Contrary to legend, cows did not lay out Boston streets, although many of the streets between Washington and Tremont were once cow paths leading to the Common. Today's Washington Street was the main road in colonial Boston and was lined with buildings at an early date.
posted by filthy light thief at 8:02 PM on May 10 [3 favorites]


Wonderful London in 1924 & 2014

London in 1927 & 2013
posted by homunculus at 8:08 PM on May 10 [3 favorites]


FLT, you're no fun. (heh)
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 9:53 PM on May 10 [1 favorite]


Sorry, I went searching for some effort to map such cow paths-turned-roads, but found the dull reality behind the catchy rhyme: "In Boston town, of old renown, the gentle cows the pathways made, which grew the streets that keep the stranger quite dismayed."
posted by filthy light thief at 10:15 PM on May 10


I love these sorts of animations.

Here is one of a much younger city: Los Angeles and the Greater LA area prepared by the Getty.
posted by linux at 11:08 PM on May 10 [2 favorites]


Sorry, they put Anglo-Saxon together with the Medieval era, with the note that "medieval villages developed on Saxon sites, connected by a network of winding roads" (about 2 minutes into the video).

Yeah, I caught that, and I assume it's a deficiency of data sources. But there are some key dates in there after which there should have been some significant changes in the size, population, nd compsoition of London. I'm thinking less of 1066 (though given the points of history they chose to split at, it is a bit of an odd duck to miss) and more about 1348, given the economic and labor changes that should have had an effect on population and potentially on transit (roads).
posted by immlass at 8:15 AM on May 11 [1 favorite]


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