Everyone wants to see St Paul's Cathedral
November 10, 2020 3:40 AM   Subscribe

 
If you go all the way out to Richmond Park, which is about 10 miles away from St. Pauls there is a hill you can stand on and a notch cut out of the forest, so you can still see St. Pauls.

You can see it here
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 4:02 AM on November 10 [11 favorites]


Bonus post from the same blogger: London Free Toilet Map Finally- news you can use!
posted by I_Love_Bananas at 4:14 AM on November 10 [6 favorites]


PS: I love this blog! Thanks for posting.
posted by I_Love_Bananas at 4:17 AM on November 10 [2 favorites]


I only recently learned about this, but via this Cheddar video on YouTube.
posted by terrapin at 4:31 AM on November 10 [2 favorites]


Really interesting, thanks!
posted by ellieBOA at 4:42 AM on November 10


terrapin, I just watched that same video yesterday!
posted by DoctorFedora at 4:44 AM on November 10 [1 favorite]


Nice! Definitely something I need to know.
posted by mumimor at 5:15 AM on November 10


A bit of local history :-

I worked in Baynard House in the mid-80s. Apparently when it was first designed it was two floors higher; they may (though I can't corroborate this) have started constructing these two upper floors before being ordered to remove them by the government.

It sat right next to Blackfriars station and was directly accessible from it by escalator, which made for a slightly better commute. Externally it was indeed an extremely ugly building; internally it was fairly well-appointed. Part of it housed mainframes running videotext services for British Telecom (as it was known then); these had a paper teletype console and enormous floor-mounted removable hard disk drives.

I also did a bit of work in the Faraday Building. It's considerably higher than the surrounding buildings - by about two floors, funnily enough; the reason the government didn't have a problem with that may be because the government built it themselves.

Now, the Faraday Building looks architecturally very nice on the outside. On the inside it was dingy, neglected and depressing; walls were yellowing, carpets mouldering. The building had several toilets on every floor, but for some insane reason they were all cleaned simultaneously at the same time each day. The caretaker, meanwhile, was such a jobsworth that he would refuse vehicles on company business entry to the car park.
posted by Cardinal Fang at 5:17 AM on November 10 [6 favorites]


Forgive me for expressing some cynicism about this. In recent years the 'protected view' policy has become a sort of heritage figleaf, allowing politicians and planners to make soothing noises about preserving the 'iconic' views of St Paul's while, at the same time, putting up unprecedented numbers of tall buildings.

The chief culprit is, predictably, Boris Johnson, who announced in 2008 that he was going to widen the city's viewing corridors to protect historic views of St Paul's and Westminster. This was presented with typical Boris rhetoric about the need to safeguard our historic buildings from 'salami-slicing', and greeted with typical sycophancy by Boris's friends in the press. Like most of Boris's promises it proved to be completely meaningless, as over the next few years plans for over 200 high-rise towers were waved through with minimal consultation and against the opposition of heritage and conservation bodies. It was on Boris's watch that the hideous Manhattan Loft Gardens development was approved, with complete disregard for the supposedly 'protected view' of St Paul's from Richmond Park.
posted by verstegan at 5:35 AM on November 10 [9 favorites]


I live next to Richmond Park and it infuriates me that the supposed protected view from the telescope on King Henry's Mound didn't account for the overall look, which is why you can see St Paul's, and the skyscrapers right behind its dome from that angle.

The view looks worse than this.
posted by bookbook at 5:42 AM on November 10 [3 favorites]


Montreal has a very similar rule, in that no building is allowed to be taller than Mount Royal which sits somewhat at the center of the island. This keeps buildings below 233 m above sea level. The tallest building in the city is only 205 m as measured from its foundations (with several taller as measured from sea level).

Sounds like a weird distinction when comparing one building's height to another? A lot of what affects Montreal building heights, because of this law, has to do with ground level where they are built. There are currently three 200 meter-plus buildings under construction, each at vary topographical points to allow for more stories without violating the rule, and different neighborhoods in Montreal have different height limits for buildings in order to preserve sightlines.

The city has been experimenting with allowing some builders to push past 233 m, depending on where they are building, but it's not the most popular program.
posted by jordantwodelta at 5:58 AM on November 10 [3 favorites]


Bonus post from the same blogger: London Free Toilet Map Finally- news you can use!

cf The Good Loo Guide (based on the 1965 classic book of the same name.)

But we digress.
posted by BWA at 6:17 AM on November 10


Then of course there is the Tour Montparnasse in Paris which was considered to be such an eyesore, buildings over 7 stories were banned shortly after its completion.

It's mentioned in the Wikipedia article, but it's generally considered to have the best view of Paris, as it is the only place from which the Tour Montparnasse is not visible...
posted by jontyjago at 6:46 AM on November 10 [10 favorites]


This is great. Toronto has something similar: the Cathedral Church of St. James was the tallest point in the city for most of a century until a bank tower passed it on the cusp of the Great Depression. (Traditionally, sailors in the harbour used the illuminated clock face of the steeple as a navigational fix by night.) Buildings in the downtown area are often constructed so that the steeple is visible from street level and if you follow the street grid, you will find on the campus of Ryerson University some six or eight blocks north the Rogers Communications Centre built with a section of glass walls so you can see the cathedral through the building.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 6:59 AM on November 10 [2 favorites]


It's mentioned in the Wikipedia article, but it's generally considered to have the best view of Paris, as it is the only place from which the Tour Montparnasse is not visible...

"This gag... has a long history in Paris."
posted by ricochet biscuit at 7:04 AM on November 10 [7 favorites]


Washington DC has similar restrictions that limit heights to 130 feet, aimed at protecting the vistas of the monumental core. Being DC, it's a federal law rather than a local regulation, the Height of Buildings Act 1910.
posted by tavella at 7:11 AM on November 10


Tom Scott 2015 on the view from Richmond 2:30mins
posted by BobTheScientist at 7:13 AM on November 10


Washington DC has similar restrictions that limit heights to 130 feet, aimed at protecting the vistas of the monumental core. Being DC, it's a federal law rather than a local regulation, the Height of Buildings Act 1910.

It’s been pressed into service for that by some parties the building height act limits the height of a building to no more than 20’ more than the width of the street for fire safety reasons, not view preservation. Also like Montreal, most of DC and all of the L’Enfant plan sits on loose river infill meaning that large buildings aren’t really feasible due to the lack of easily accessible bedrock (unlike across the river in VA which has bedrock more easily available.)
posted by jmauro at 7:29 AM on November 10


From Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA: The Curse of Billy Penn
posted by tonycpsu at 7:44 AM on November 10 [3 favorites]


For some perspective, here's the change in Shanghai's skyline.
posted by Klipspringer at 8:56 AM on November 10 [4 favorites]


It’s said that the Tour Montparnasse has the best views in Paris because it’s the only place where you can’t see the Tour Montparnasse.
posted by sjswitzer at 10:26 AM on November 10 [1 favorite]


It's mentioned in the Wikipedia article, but it's generally considered to have the best view of Paris, as it is the only place from which the Tour Montparnasse is not visible...

I heard the same thing about the Palace of Culture and Science in Warsaw. There's probably a good magazine column to be had in tracking down the origins of this joke.
posted by Johnny Assay at 10:27 AM on November 10


This isn't uncommon. Two placed I've lived have had this. Guelph, Ontario has a bylaw to protect the view of the Basilica of Our Lady Immaculate, and Ottawa has protected views of the Peace Tower on the Parliament building.
posted by fimbulvetr at 10:53 AM on November 10


I seem to remember Kyoto having pretty strict restrictions to preserve views/sightlines. I know there was a big uproar when the new Kyoto Station was constructed in the 90s but it easily one of my favourite places in the city.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 11:22 AM on November 10


Auckland has something like 87 protected viewshafts protecting views of volcanic cones. Must have been an absolute nightmare to define.
posted by Jobst at 11:41 AM on November 10


Came here to say exactly what verstegan said, but they did it better than I could have.
posted by The River Ivel at 12:43 PM on November 10 [1 favorite]


Before lockdown, I worked in an office building that is extremely close to St. Paul's. Unfortunately for the view, it is separated by another listed building. So I had a funny moment eating with out-of-town co-workers at the canteen upstairs: I grumbled at how unfortunate it was that the view was spoiled by that gorgeous historic structure, and had to stop myself and explain the weird space that "a clear view of St. Pauls" occupies in London's psyche.

And at the level the canteen was on, it was only a tiny spire that got in the way, and it was close enough you could just walk to either corner of the building to shift which part it obstructed.

I hope I have a chance to go back there next year...
posted by rum-soaked space hobo at 2:36 AM on November 11


This blog used to be one of the many I followed on Google Reader back in the day. Hadn't read it in a good few years, so thoroughly enjoyed the couple of hours spent reacquainting myself with it. Now to find that list of blogs I used to follow and see which of them are still going
posted by lloyder at 8:52 AM on November 11


Philadelphia had a height restriction until the end of the 1980s You couldn't build taller than billy penn on city hall. So when you see the skyline in Philly in the Rocky movies, it isn't impressive in the least. But today it's lot different.
posted by andryeevna at 6:13 AM on November 12


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