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city (1991 pop. 303,165), SE Ont., Canada, on the Thames River. The site was chosen in 1792 by Gov. Simcoe to be the capital of Upper Canada, but York was made capital instead. London was settled in 1826. Its streets and bridges are named for those of old London in England. Surrounded by one of Canada's richest agricultural districts, it has become a notable industrial, commercial, service, and financial center. Electrical goods and locomotive and automobile parts are among the products made. The Univ. of Western Ontario (coeducational; 1878) and the affiliated Ursuline and Huron colleges are in the city.


capital of Great Britain, SE England, on both sides of the Thames River. Greater London (1991 pop. 6,378,600), c.620 sq mi (1,610 sq km), consists of the Corporation of the City of London (1991 pop. 4,000), usually called the City, plus 32 boroughs. The City is the old city of London and is the modern city's commercial center; it is also referred to as the "Square Mile" because of its area. The 12 inner boroughs that surround the City are WestminsterWestminster, City of,
inner borough (1991 pop. 181,500) of Greater London, SE England, on the Thames River. Westminster is the location of the principal offices and residences of Great Britain's national government.
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, CamdenCamden,
inner borough (1991 pop. 170,500) of Greater London, SE England. Within the borough, residential Hampstead is popular with writers and artists. John Keats, John Constable, George Du Maurier, H. G. Wells, Kate Greenaway, and Karl Marx lived there.
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, IslingtonIslington
, inner borough (1991 pop. 155,200) of Greater London, SE England. Islington, in the north, is mostly residential, while Finsbury, in the south, is highly industrialized. Industries include special and electrical engineering, printing, food processing, and brewing.
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, HackneyHackney,
inner borough (1991 pop. 164,200) of Greater London, SE England, on the Lea River. Clothing manufacture (in Hackney) and printing and furniture making (in Shoreditch) are the borough's chief industries. London's first theater was built in Shoreditch (c.1575).
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, Tower HamletsTower Hamlets,
inner borough (1991 pop. 153,500), of Greater London, SE England. Tower Hamlets was formed in 1965 by the merger of the metropolitan boroughs of Bethnal Green, Poplar, and Stepney.
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, GreenwichGreenwich
, inner borough (1991 pop. 200,800) of Greater London, SE England, on the Thames River. The borough, which is treated as an outer borough for statistical purposes, includes most of Woolwich, which was merged with Greenwich in 1965; North Woolwich, on the north side of
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, LewishamLewisham
, inner borough (1991 pop. 215,300) of Greater London, SE England, on the Thames. It is mainly residential with a large shopping center, but there is some light engineering.
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, SouthwarkSouthwark
, inner borough (1991 pop. 196,500) of Greater London, SE England, on the Thames River. Printing, engineering, and furniture manufacture are the main industries. The Camberwell dist. of Southwark is mainly residential.
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, LambethLambeth
, inner borough (1991 pop. 220,100) of Greater London, SE England, on the Thames River. It is largely residential but is important as an area of governmental and commercial offices.
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, WandsworthWandsworth,
inner borough (1991 pop. 237,500) of Greater London, SE London, on the Thames River. An area along the Thames is industrialized, with gasworks, breweries, and candle and paint manufacture. Wandsworth is a railroad junction with five bridges extending over the Thames.
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, Hammersmith and FulhamHammersmith and Fulham,
inner borough (1991 pop. 136,500) of Greater London, SE England, on the Thames River. It has various industries (such as wharves and pottery kilns) and is the principal television center of the British Broadcasting Corp.
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, Kensington and ChelseaKensington and Chelsea,
inner borough (1991 pop. 127,600) of Greater London, SE England. Kensington is largely residential with fashionable shopping streets and several luxurious hotels. Portobello Road is a well-known street market.
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. The 20 outer boroughs are Waltham ForestWaltham Forest
, outer borough (1991 pop. 203,400) of Greater London, SE England. The borough, covering 15 sq mi (40 sq km), is primarily residential. William Morris lived in Water House. The hunting lodge of Queen Elizabeth I is a museum.
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, RedbridgeRedbridge,
outer borough (1991 pop. 220,600) of Greater London, SE England. Primarily residential, Redbridge is also an important shopping and commercial center. Its industries include light engineering and the manufacture of electrical components, photographic materials, and
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, HaveringHavering
, outer borough (1991 pop. 117,400) of Greater London, SE England. The borough is largely residential and has expanded greatly with the creation of electrified suburban railways and added housing.
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, Barking and DagenhamBarking and Dagenham
, outer borough (1991 pop. 139,900) of Greater London, SE England. The borough has a power plant and an automobile manufacturing plant as well as engineering, chemical, paint, wood, and other industries. The remains of a Benedictine abbey (c.670) are there.
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, NewhamNewham
, outer borough (1991 pop. 200,200) of Greater London, SE England, on the Thames River. Newham is residential in the northeast. The Royal Docks, which are no longer used commercially, are in the south; the London City Airport is there.
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, BexleyBexley,
outer borough (1991 pop. 211,200) of Greater London, SE England. Bexley has many parks and open areas. Within the borough, Erith and Crayford are industrial centers.
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, BromleyBromley
, outer borough (1991 pop. 281,700) of Greater London, SE England. It is the largest of the 32 Greater London boroughs with an area of 59 sq mi (153 sq km). Bromley is mainly residential.
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, CroydonCroydon,
outer borough (1991 pop. 299,600) of Greater London, SE England. It is London's second largest shopping and cultural center after West End. London's first airport, the Croydon Aerodrome, was constructed there in 1915 but closed in 1959 after Heathrow was built.
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, SuttonSutton,
outer borough (1991 pop. 164,300) of Greater London, SE England. It is mainly residential, but plastics, chemicals, radio components, and paper goods are produced. The areas of Sutton were mentioned in the Domesday Book.
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, MertonMerton,
outer borough (1991 pop. 161,800) of Greater London, SE England. The area is largely residential with some industry, including tanning and the manufacture of silk and calico prints, varnish and paint, and toys.
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, Kingston upon ThamesKingston upon Thames,
outer borough (1991 pop. 130,300) of Greater London, SE England. Mainly residential, it has light engineering works and manufactures electronic equipment. It also contains one of the largest shopping centers in outer London. In the 10th cent.
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, Richmond upon ThamesRichmond upon Thames,
outer borough (1991 pop. 154,600) of Greater London, SE England. The borough was created in 1965 by the merger of the municipal boroughs of Barnes, Richmond, and Twickenham.
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, HounslowHounslow
, outer borough (1991 pop. 194,100) of Greater London, SE England, on the Thames River. Hounslow's manufactures include razor blades, soap, tires, biscuits, precision instruments, pharmaceuticals, and heating equipment.
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, HillingdonHillingdon,
outer borough (1991 pop. 225,800) of Greater London, SE England. Industries include printing, motion-picture production, and the manufacture of aircraft, food products, and electrical and musical instruments.
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, EalingEaling
, outer borough (1991 pop. 263,600) of Greater London, SE England. It is highly industrialized: motor vehicles, scientific instruments, glass, plastics, and engineering products are manufactured. Thames Valley Univ.
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, BrentBrent,
outer borough (1991 pop. 226,100) of Greater London, SE England. The area is a rail and industrial center. Its manufactures include automobile parts, clocks and watches, and electrical equipment.
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, HarrowHarrow,
outer borough (1991 pop. 194,300) of Greater London, SE England. For centuries Harrow grew foodstuffs for London. It is mainly residential and contains parts of the Green Belt, areas set aside as parkland. Optical and photographic goods and glass are manufactured.
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, BarnetBarnet
, outer borough (1991 pop. 283,000) of Greater London, SE England. Although mainly residential, manufactures there include automobile and aircraft parts, electrical components, and beverages.
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, HaringeyHaringey
, outer borough (1991 pop. 187,300) of Greater London, SE England. Although defined as an outer borough by statute, Haringey is treated as an inner borough statistically. It is primarily residential.
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, and EnfieldEnfield,
outer borough (1991 pop. 249,100) of Greater London, SE England. It is residential, with important concentrations of industry. Rifles, electrical products, boilers, chemicals, cables, textiles, and cement are the leading manufactures.
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. Greater London includes the area of the former county of London, most of the former county of Middlesex, and areas that were formerly in Surrey, Kent, Essex, and Hertfordshire. Each of the boroughs of Greater London elects a council. The City elects a lord mayor (whose residence is the Mansion House), aldermen, and councilmen. Both the City of London and Greater London (not including the City) are ceremonial counties under the Lieutenancies Act.

The Greater London Council administered the larger London area until 1986, when it was abolished by the Thatcher government, making London unique as a world metropolis without a central governing unit. In 1999 the Greater London Authority Act reestablished a single local governing body for the Greater London area, consisting of an elected mayor and the London Assembly. Elections were held in 2000, and Ken LivingstoneLivingstone, Ken,
1945–, British politician. Elected to the Greater London Council (GLC) in 1973 as a Labour member, he became GLC leader in 1981. His use of the local office to promote leftist policies earned him the nickname "Red Ken" and was a major factor in Prime
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 became Greater London's first elected mayor.


London is one of the world's foremost financial, commercial, industrial, and cultural centers. The Bank of EnglandBank of England,
central bank and note-issuing institution of Great Britain. Popularly known as the Old Lady of Threadneedle Street, its main office stands on the street of that name in London. The bank has eight branches, all of which are located in the British Isles.
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, Lloyd'sLloyd's,
London insurance underwriting corporation of many separate syndicates; often called Lloyd's of London. Founded in the late 17th cent. by a group of merchants, shipowners, and insurance brokers at the coffeehouse of Edward Lloyd, the association is now international in
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, the stock exchange, and numerous other banks and investment companies have their headquarters there, primarily in the City, but increasingly at Canary Wharf. The financial services sector is a major source of overall employment in London.

London still remains one of the world's greatest ports. It exports manufactured goods and imports petroleum, tea, wool, raw sugar, timber, butter, metals, and meat. Consumer goods, clothing, precision instruments, jewelry, and stationery are produced, but manufacturing has lost a number of jobs in the once-dominant textile, furniture, printing, and chemical-processing industries as firms have moved outside the area. Engineering and scientific research are also important to the economy, as is tourism. The city is a hub for road, rail, and air (its airports include Heathrow and Gatwick), and it is now linked to the Continent by a high-speed rail line under the English Channel.

Points of Interest

The best-known streets of London are Fleet StreetFleet Street,
street in the City of London, England. It was formerly the center of English journalism.
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, the StrandStrand,
street in London, England, roughly parallel with the Thames River, running from the Temple to Trafalgar Square. It is a street of law courts, hotels, theaters, and office buildings and is the main artery between the City and the West End.
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, PiccadillyPiccadilly
, street of the City of Westminster borough, London, England. Starting at Piccadilly Circus (London's center of traffic and amusement), it runs to Hyde Park Corner. The street is lined with shops, hotels, and clubs. The Albany, a club, was the residence of T. B.
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, WhitehallWhitehall,
street in Westminster borough, London, England. Because of the many British government offices on the street, Whitehall has become a synonym for the government. The name derives from Whitehall Palace, first built for Hubert de Burgh in the 13th cent.
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, Pall MallPall Mall
, street in the City of Westminster borough, London, England. It is the main thoroughfare of St. James's district. St. James's Palace, Marlborough House, and a number of private clubs are on Pall Mall.
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, Downing Street, and Lombard StreetLombard Street,
in London, England. It is a street of banks and financial houses that takes its name from the Lombard merchants and moneylenders who settled there in the 13th cent.
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. Bond and Regent streets and Covent Garden are noted for their shops. Buckingham PalaceBuckingham Palace
, residence of British sovereigns from 1837, in Westminster metropolitan borough, London, England, adjacent to St. James's Park. Built (1703) by the duke of Buckingham, it was purchased (1761) by George III and was remodeled (1825) by John Nash; the eastern
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 is the royal family's London residence. Municipal parks include Hyde ParkHyde Park,
615 acres (249 hectares) in Westminster borough, London, England. Once the manor of Hyde, a part of the old Westminster Abbey property, it became a deer park under Henry VIII. Races were held there in the 17th cent.
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, Kensington Gardens, Regent's Park (which houses the London Zoo), and St. James's and Green parks. Museums include the British MuseumBritish Museum,
the national repository in London for treasures in science and art. Located in the Bloomsbury section of the city, it has departments of antiquities, prints and drawings, coins and medals, and ethnography.
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, the Victoria and Albert MuseumVictoria and Albert Museum,
South Kensington, London, opened in 1852 as the Museum of Manufacturers at Marlborough House. It originally contained a nucleus of contemporary objects of applied art bought from the Great Exhibition of 1851 at the instigation of Prince Albert, and
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, the National GalleryNational Gallery,
London, one of the permanent national art collections of Great Britain, est. 1824. The nucleus of museum was the 38-picture collection of the late English banker John Julius Angerstein, which was purchased by the House of Commons; it was initially displayed at
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, the Tate GalleryTate Gallery,
London, originally the National Gallery of British Art. The original building (in Millbank on the former site of Millbank Prison), with a collection of 65 modern British paintings, was given by Sir Henry Tate and was opened in 1897.
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, the Wallace Collection, the Institute of Contemporary Art, the Saachi Gallery, and the Design Museum. London also has numerous commercial art galleries and plays a major role in the international art market.

The British Library, one of the world's great reference resources, is located in London. The city is rich in other artistic and cultural activities. Its many theater companies reflect the importance of drama, and it has several world-class orchestras, a well-known opera house, performance halls, and clubs. A working replica of Shakespeare's Globe TheatreGlobe Theatre,
London playhouse, built in 1598, where most of Shakespeare's plays were first presented. It burned in 1613, was rebuilt in 1614, and was destroyed by the Puritans in 1644. A working replica opened in 1997. Bibliography

See J. C.
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 opened in 1997. The Univ. of London is the largest in Great Britain, and there are other universities and colleges in the city. The state-owned BBC (British Broadcasting Company) is headquartered in London, and most of the country's national newspapers are published there. The New Scotland Yard, synonymous with criminal investigation, is located in the city. The Shard, an elongated pyramidal skyscraper that is one of Europe's tallest buildings (1,016 ft/309.6 m), is in Southwark. Also on the south bank of the Thames is the London Eye (2000), an enormous ferris wheel and one of the city's most popular tourist attractions. Sporting events draw large support from Londoners who follow cricket, soccer (at Wembley Stadium), and tennis (including the Wimbledon championship). Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in Stratford, E London, home of the 2012 Summer Olympic Games, is also the site of the AcelorMittal Orbit, a bright-red 35-story-high steel tower.


Little is known of London prior to A.D. 61, when, as recorded by the Roman historian TacitusTacitus
(Cornelius Tacitus), c.A.D. 55–c.A.D. 117, Roman historian. Little is known for certain of his life. He was a friend of Pliny the Younger and married the daughter of Agricola. In A.D.
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, the followers of Queen BoadiceaBoadicea
, d. A.D. 61, British queen of the Iceni (of Norfolk), properly called Boudicca. Her husband, King Prasutagus, died in A.D. 59 or 60, leaving half his property to the Roman emperor and half to his daughters.
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 rebelled and slaughtered the inhabitants of the Roman fort Londinium. Roman authority was soon restored, and the first city walls were built, remnants of which still exist. After the final withdrawal of the Roman legions in the 5th cent., London was lost in obscurity. Celts, Saxons, and Danes contested the general area, and it was not until 886 that London again emerged as an important town under King AlfredAlfred,
849–99, king of Wessex (871–99), sometimes called Alfred the Great, b. Wantage, Berkshire. Early Life

The youngest son of King Æthelwulf, he was sent in 853 to Rome, where the pope gave him the title of Roman consul.
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, who rebuilt the defenses against the Danes and gave the city a government.

London put up some resistance to William IWilliam I
or William the Conqueror,
1027?–1087, king of England (1066–87). Earnest and resourceful, William was not only one of the greatest of English monarchs but a pivotal figure in European history as well.
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 in 1066, but he subsequently treated the city well. During his reign the White Tower, the nucleus of the Tower of LondonTower of London,
ancient fortress in London, England, just east of the City and on the north bank of the Thames, covering about 13 acres (5.3 hectares). Now used mainly as a museum, it was a royal residence in the Middle Ages. Later it was a jail for illustrious prisoners.
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, was built just east of the city wall. Under the Normans and Plantagenets (see Great BritainGreat Britain,
officially United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, constitutional monarchy (2015 est. pop. 65,397,000), 94,226 sq mi (244,044 sq km), on the British Isles, off W Europe. The country is often referred to simply as Britain.
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), the city grew commercially and politically and during the reign of Richard I (1189–99) obtained a form of municipal government from which the modern City Corporation developed. In 1215, King John granted the city the right to elect a mayor annually.

The guildsguilds
or gilds,
economic and social associations of persons engaging in the same business or craft, typical of Western Europe in the Middle Ages. Membership was by profession or craft, and the primary function was to establish local control over that profession or
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 of the Middle Ages gained control of civic affairs and grew sufficiently strong to restrict trade to freemen of the city. The guilds survive today in 80 livery companieslivery companies,
London trade guilds incorporated by royal charter, deriving their name from the assumption of distinctive dress (livery) by their members. Edward III granted the first charters in the 14th cent.
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, of which members were once the voters in London's municipal elections. Medieval London saw the foundation of the Inns of CourtInns of Court,
collective name of the four legal societies in London that have the exclusive right of admission to the bar. These societies—Lincoln's Inn, Gray's Inn, the Inner Temple, and the Middle Temple (see also Temple, the)—date from before the 14th cent.
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 and the construction of Westminster AbbeyWestminster Abbey,
originally the abbey church of a Benedictine monastery (closed in 1539) in London. One of England's most important Gothic structures, it is also a national shrine. The first church on the site is believed to date from early in the 7th cent.
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. By the 14th cent. London had become the political capital of England. It played no active role in the Wars of the Roses (15th cent.).

The reign of Elizabeth I brought London to a level of great wealth, power, and influence as the undisputed center of England's Renaissance culture. This was the time of Shakespeare (and the Globe Theatre) and the beginnings of overseas trading companies such as the Muscovy CompanyMuscovy Company
or Russia Company,
first major English joint-stock trading company. It began in 1553 as a group supporting exploration of a possible northeast passage to Asia.
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. With the advent (1603) of the Stuarts to the throne, the city became involved in struggles with the crown on behalf of its democratic privileges, culminating in the English civil war.

In 1665, the great plagueplague,
any contagious, malignant, epidemic disease, in particular the bubonic plague and the black plague (or Black Death), both forms of the same infection. These acute febrile diseases are caused by Yersinia pestis (Pasteurella pestis
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 took some 75,000 lives. A great fire in Sept., 1666, lasted five days and virtually destroyed the city. Sir Christopher WrenWren, Sir Christopher,
1632–1723, English architect. A mathematical prodigy, he studied at Oxford. He was professor of astronomy at Gresham College, London, from 1657 to 1661, when he became Savilian professor of astronomy at Oxford.
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 played a large role in rebuilding the city. He designed more than 51 churches, notably the rebuilt St. Paul's CathedralSaint Paul's Cathedral,
London, masterpiece of Sir Christopher Wren and one of the finest church designs of the English baroque. It stands at the head of Ludgate Hill, where, according to tradition, a Roman temple once stood. In the early 7th cent.
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. Other notable churches include the gothic Southwark Cathedral, St. Paul's Church (1633; designed by Inigo JonesJones, Inigo
, 1573–1652, one of England's first great architects. Son of a London clothmaker, he was enabled to travel in Europe before 1603 to study paintings, perhaps at the expense of the earl of Rutland.
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), St. Martin-in-the-Fields (18th cent.), and Westminster Cathedral. Much of the business of London as well as literary and political discussion was transacted in coffeehouses, forerunners of the modern club. Until 1750, when Westminster Bridge was opened, London BridgeLondon Bridge,
granite, five-arched bridge formerly over the Thames, in London, England. It is 928 ft (283 m) long and was designed by John Rennie and built between 1824 and 1831.
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, first built in the 10th cent., was the only bridge to span the Thames. Since the 18th cent., several other bridges have been constructed; the Tower Bridge was completed in 1894.

In the 19th cent., London began a period of extraordinary growth. The area of present-day Greater London had about 1.1 million people in 1801; by 1851, the population had increased to 2.7 million, and by 1901 to 6.6 million. During the Victorian era, London acquired tremendous prestige as the capital of the British EmpireBritish Empire,
overseas territories linked to Great Britain in a variety of constitutional relationships, established over a period of three centuries. The establishment of the empire resulted primarily from commercial and political motives and emigration movements (see
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 and as a cultural and intellectual center. Britain's free political institutions and intellectual atmosphere made London a haven for persons unsafe in their own countries. The Italian Giuseppe MazziniMazzini, Giuseppe
, 1805–72, Italian patriot and revolutionist, an outstanding figure of the Risorgimento. His youth was spent in literary and philosophical studies. He early joined the Carbonari, was imprisoned briefly, and went into exile.
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, the Russian Aleksandr HerzenHerzen, Aleksandr Ivanovich
, 1812–70, Russian revolutionary leader and writer. A member of the aristocracy, he was appalled at the brutality of his class, the lack of freedom at all levels of Russian society, and the terrible poverty of the serfs.
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, and the German Karl MarxMarx, Karl,
1818–83, German social philosopher, the chief theorist of modern socialism and communism. Early Life

Marx's father, a lawyer, converted from Judaism to Lutheranism in 1824.
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 were among many politically controversial figures who lived for long periods in London.

Many buildings of central London were destroyed or damaged in air raids during World War II. These include the Guildhall (scene of the lord mayor's banquets and other public functions); No. 10 Downing StreetDowning Street,
Westminster, London, England. On the street are the British Foreign Office and, at No. 10, the residence of the first lord of the Treasury, who is usually (although not necessarily) the prime minister of Great Britain.
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, the prime minister's residence; the Inns of Court; Westminster Hall and the Houses of Parliament; St. George's Cathedral; and many of the great halls of the ancient livery companies. Today there are numerous blocks of new office buildings and districts of apartment dwellings constructed by government authorities. The growth of London in the 20th cent. was extensively planned. One notable feature has been the concept of a "Green Belt" to save certain areas from intensive urban development. In 1982, a tax-free zone in the Docklands in the East End's Tower Hamlets borough was created to stimulate development. Although the Canary Wharf financial center (with Lloyd's futuristic building, opened in 1986) was initially slow to fill, it now rivals the City.

London has an ethnically and culturally diverse population, with large groups of immigrants from Commonwealth nations. South Asian, West Indian, African, and Middle Eastern peoples account for much of the immigrant population. The city is the site of one of the largest Hindu temple complexes and the largest Sikh temple outside India; there also are many mosques, including one of the largest in Europe. With the reestablishment of the city's central government (2000), London built its egg-shaped City Hall (2002), on the south bank of the Thames opposite the Tower of London. In 2016 Sadiq KhanKhan, Sadiq Aman,
1970–, British political leader. The son of Pakistani immigrants, he studied law at the Univ. of North London (now London Metropolitan Univ.) and the College of Law (now the Univ. of Law).
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, the son of Pakistani immigrants, was elected mayor; he became the first Muslim mayor of a capital city in the European Union. The city was the site of the 1908, 1948, and 2012 summer Olympic games.


See R. Porter, London: A Social History (1998); S. Inwood, A History of London (1999); P. Ackroyd, London: The Biography (2001); B. Weinreb et al., ed., The London Encyclopedia (3d ed., 2008); P. Barber, London: A History in Maps (2012); R. O. Bucholz and J. P. Ward, London: A Social and Cultural History, 1550–1750 (2012); C. L. Corton, London Fog (2015).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2013, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



(Greater London), capital of Great Britain and the nation’s principal economic, political, and cultural center. One of the world’s most densely populated cities, it is situated in the center of the London basin (at an elevation of 5 m above sea level) on a plain rimmed on the north, east, and south by chalk cuesta ridges. The city lies along both banks of the estuary of the Thames River, which empties into the North Sea. The climate is oceanic, with mild winters and cool summers. The mean temperature in the coldest month (January) is 5.3°C, and in the warmest month (July), 18.9°C. Annual precipitation averages about 645 mm. Frequent fogs combine with air pollution to form smog.

Since 1964, London proper together with the surrounding suburbs has constituted a separate administrative area known as Greater London, comprising 32 London boroughs and the City. Greater London, which absorbed parts of adjacent counties, has an area of 1,800 sq km and a population of 7.4 million (1971).

Approximately one-seventh of the population of Great Britain is concentrated within the conurbation of Greater London. The conurbation continues to expand within the suburban zone, referred to as the metropolitan area. Eight new satellite towns were built within the metropolitan area after World War II: Basildon, Bracknell, Crawley, Stevenage, Welwyn Garden City, Harlow, Hatfield, and Hemel Hempstead. They were intended for the resettlement of part of the population and for the relocation of industrial enterprises from overcrowded districts in the conurbation. The population growth rate in these towns has been the highest in the country; the population increased by 53 percent between 1951 and 1971. At the same time, the population of Greater London has been declining since the middle of the 20th century, falling from 8.2 million in 1951 to 7.8 million in 1961. One-tenth of all immigrants to Britain live here. Greater London accounts for one-sixth of the nation’s work force (4.3 million in 1966), one-sixth of all industrial workers, and a considerable number of those employed in transport and communications (more than one-fourth), financial institutions and banks (more than two-fifths), commerce (more than one-fifth), and services (one-fifth).

Administration. The overall administrative body is the Greater London Council, consisting of 100 elected councilors and up to 16 aldermen, co-opted by the Council. Councilors are elected for three years and aldermen for six (every three years half the aldermen are replaced). The Council annually elects a chairman and vice-chairman and forms standing committees, which supervise the work of departments and other subdivisions of the Council’s administrative apparatus.

The London boroughs and the City have their own governing bodies. The councils of the boroughs also consist of elected councilors and aldermen. The focal government of the City consists of three subdivisions—the common hall, the court of aldermen, and the common council. The common hall includes the lord mayor, sheriffs, aldermen, and approximately 70 “guild elders,” registered as freemen (representatives of various companies based in the City). Aldermen and councilors are elected from 25 wards by permanent residents and taxpayers of the City; aldermen are elected for life and councilors for one year. The common council comprises the lord mayor of the City, elected by the court of aldermen, and 159 councilors.

Most administrative functions are carried out by the Greater London Council and by the borough councils. Some functions, for example, fire fighting and ambulance service, are wholly within the jurisdiction of the Greater London Council; the borough councils are responsible for such matters as social welfare, libraries, and health inspection. Special agencies not subject to city authorities have been created for management of the water supply and the port. The metropolitan police are under the direct control of the home secretary.

History. A Celtic settlement apparently existed on the territory of modern London prior to the Roman conquest of Britain (c. A.D. 40-70). Under Roman rule London was first a military camp and later a river port and seaport. In the mid-fourth century it became an important political center of Roman Britain. The city was destroyed during the Anglo-Saxon conquest (fifth and sixth centuries) but was soon restored, becoming an important commercial and political center by the early seventh century. On the eve of the Norman conquest of England, London’s population numbered about 20,000. Trade ties were expanded after the Norman conquest (1066), and craft and merchants’ guilds appeared. By the end of the 11th century London had become the capital of England, and it was granted self-government in the late 12th century.

Medieval London was frequently the scene of disorders and revolts of the townspeople against the rich urban elite and the royal administration, for example, in 1196. Some of the craftsmen and urban poor joined the revolts of Wat Tyler (1381) and Jack Cade (1450). In the mid-15th century London’s population totaled about 50,000; in the mid-16th century it rose to 80,000, and in 1666, to about 500,000. Large trading companies were founded in the 16th century with the development of capitalist relations, and the London exchange opened in 1571. The port of London, which handled two-thirds of England’s trade in the 17th century, began to acquire worldwide importance. The city’s popular masses played a major role in the English Civil War of the 17th century.

The industrial revolution and the conversion of Great Britain into a major industrial, trade, and colonial power helped make London the world’s largest seaport and trade and finance center from the late 18th century. During the industrial revolution the center of British industry shifted to regions rich in coal and iron ore. By the early 19th century London’s population exceeded 1 million, and in 1881 it totaled 4.7 million. At the outset of the era of imperialism New York displaced London as the most important seaport and trade and finance center. During and after World War I new industries developed, including metalworking, machine building, automotive, aviation, and electrical engineering. During World War II, especially in 1940 and the first half of 1941, London suffered numerous air raids in which 30,000 persons were killed and more than 50,000 wounded. This period saw the reorganization of London’s industry; war industries, particularly aviation, were greatly expanded, as were the chemical and other sectors.

London has been an important center of the workers’ movement. The London Corresponding Society was founded in 1792, and the city was one of the chief centers of the Chartist movement. The First and Second Congresses of the League of Communists were held in London in 1847, and the First International was founded here in 1864. On May 4, 1890, the first Sunday of the month, the workers of London held the first demonstration in commemoration of the Day of International Solidarity of Working People. In 1900 the Labour Party was founded in London.

During the 19th and early 20th centuries revolutionary exiles from many countries continued their work in London. K. Marx lived and worked here from 1849 to 1883 (his grave and monu ent are in Highgate Cemetery), and F. Engels lived here from 1870 to 1895. Other revolutionaries who found refuge here included participants in the Paris Commune of 1871, W. Liebknecht, L. Kossuth, and G. Mazzini. Among the Russian revolutionary emigres who came to London in the second half of the 19th century were A. I. Herzen, who together with N. P. Ogarev published Kolokol between 1857 and 1865, P. A. Kropotkin, and S. M. Stepniak-Kravchinskii. In April 1902, V. I. Lenin made his first trip to London, where Iskra was published for a time. Here in 1903 the Second Congress of the RSDLP completed its work under the guidance of Lenin, who also directed the Third (1905) and Fifth, or London (1907) Congresses of the RSDLP.

The movement of solidarity with Soviet Russia under the slogan “Hands Off Russia!” achieved considerable momentum in London. On May 10, 1920, London dock workers refused to load armaments intended for the war against Soviet Russia. The constituent assembly of the Communist Party of Great Britain was held here on July 31 and Aug. 1, 1920. The workers of London were active in the General Strike of 1926. After World War II, London saw numerous strikes (dock workers, city transport workers, railroad workers, machine builders, ship builders, municipal employees), which intensified in the early 1970’s. The workers of London held mass strikes protesting anti-union legislation between 1970 and 1973.

London is also the focus of Great Britain’s peace movement. For many years “peace marches” from the military atomic research center in Aldermaston to London have been held. Since 1949 national peace congresses and conferences have been convened in London. Numerous diplomatic meetings and international conferences have been held here.


Economy. Greater London is a major industrial center, providing one-sixth of the conventional gross product of the nation’s manufacturing industries. The growth of most sectors was stimulated by the need to provide for the capital’s population, by the processing of imported raw materials passing through the London port, by an abundance of manpower with diverse skills, and by research projects in advanced scientific fields.

Approximately four-fifths of London’s industrial workers (1966) are concentrated in five main industrial regions. The central region, bordering on the City to the north and west, accounts for 20 percent of London’s industrial work force. Here are large printing, garment, and furniture industries, jewelry concerns, and enterprises manufacturing scientific equipment, measuring instruments, machine tools, and equipment for the printing and garment industries. The chief industries of the Thames region (near the docks; 11 percent of the industrial work force) are food and chemical enterprises, nonferrous metallurgy, cable production, ship repairs, automotive construction (Ford plant), and petroleum refining and petrochemicals (downstream). The northern region (Lea Valley; 13 percent of the industrial work force) produces clothing, furniture, chemicals, and electrical products, including radio and television equipment and lamps. The northwestern region (along the roads linking Greater London with the Midlands; 23 percent of those employed in industry) has many new industries, mainly electrical engineering, electronics, and the manufacture of motor vehicles, aircraft, and machine tools. The southwestern region (in the Wandle Valley along the routes to Croydon; about 10 percent of the industrial workers) produces electrical goods, machine tools, scientific equipment, and measuring instruments.

Table 1. Structure of industry
 Percentage of total industrial workers (1966)Percentage of conventional gross product (1963)
Machine building............42.044.7
Paper and printing............12.711.6

Greater London is also the country’s transport junction. London Airport, at Heathrow, west of the city and Gatwick Airport to the south are important international airports. The port, one of the world’s largest in terms of freight turnover (66,700,000 tons in 1970), has been extended for 50 km down the Thames. There are five systems of closed docks (the first was built in 1669). Imports, which are five times greater than exports, include oil, foodstuffs, forest products, various raw materials and semifinished products, paper, and a variety of industrial products. Goods produced in the conurbation and other regions are exported through the port. It accounts for one-fourth of Great Britain’s cabotage shipments (the main cargo is coal). London has the world’s oldest subway, constructed between 1860 and 1863.

London is the headquarters of finance and banking institutions, commercial establishments, the boards of many British and international monopolies, and branches of foreign companies. There are stock and commodity exchanges. Important commercial, financial, and other business transactions are conducted here.


Architecture. Unlike other large cities, London did not develop from a single center but was formed through the merger of independent cities and settlements, and this accounts for its extremely diverse architecture. The historical centers of London are Westminster, the focus of London’s political life, and the City, the business section of London, in which are located banks, exchanges, and offices of the major monopolies. Westminster includes Westminster Abbey, Buckingham and St. James’ palaces (from the 16th century), the Banqueting Hall (1619-22; architect, I. Jones), the Palace of Westminster (Parliament), and Westminster Cathedral. Adjoining the City is the Tower Hamlets borough, in which is found the castle of William the Conqueror, known as the Tower, originally the residence of English kings and later a prison for political prisoners; the oldest part of the Tower, the White Tower, dates from about 1078-85.

The boundaries of the City basically coincide with those of the Roman town; the remains of Roman fortifications and the foundations of temples and towers have been preserved. Here are found the Romanesque Church of St. Bartholomew the Great (built from 1123), the Romanesque and Gothic Temple Church (Church of St. Mary, 12th and 13th centuries), and the town hall (Guildhall, c. 1411-40; rebuilt 1788-89 by the architect G. Dance, Jr.). In the western part of the City are the Inns of Court, known as the Temple, with a hall and frame gateway dating from the 16th and 17th centuries. Notable old structures outside central London include the Southwark Cathedral, or St. Saviour’s Church (13th to 15th centuries) and Hampton Court Palace (from 1515; late Gothic hall, 1531-36; east and south wings, 1689-94, architect, C. Wren). The City was built up rapidly and without planning. From the 16th century unsuccessful attempts were made to develop the area according to a plan, for example, the designs proposed by Wren and J. Evelyn after the fire of 1666.

Westminster encompasses the West End, with private residences, hotels, major commercial streets, colleges, museums, and places of entertainment. East of the City lies the East End, an area of docks and workers’ quarters conspicuous for its monotonous buildings and an almost total absence of greenery. Examples of ensemble construction of earlier periods have been preserved mainly in the aristocratic West End. Groups of buildings in the classical style—distinguished by their grandeur and strict unity of design and sometimes integrated with park complexes—were built in Regent’s Park, Regent Street, Oxford Circus, and Park Crescent between 1812 and 1830 by the architect J. Nash. Of the Adelphi, Portland Place, and Fitzroy Square classical ensembles built between 1768 and 1800 by the architects R. and J. Adam, only parts have survived. Other examples of group design are the blocks of model “terrace houses” of the second half of the 19th century.

Individual buildings in the classical style include many churches designed by Wren, for example, St. Mary-le-Bow (1670-80), and the churches by J. Gibbs, notably St. Mary-le-Strand (1714-17) and St. Martin-in-the-Fields (1722-26); St. Paul’s Cathedral (1675-1710; architect, Wren); hospitals in Greenwich (1616-1728; architects, I. Jones, Wren, and J. Vanbrugh) and in Chelsea (1694; architect, Wren); Mansion House, the residence of the lord mayor (1739-53; architect, G. Dance the Elder); and Somerset House (1766-86; architect, W. Chambers). Outstanding examples of late classicism and neoclassicism are the Bank of England (1788-1833; architect, J. Soane; only sections of the original have been preserved), the British Museum (1823-47; architects, R. and S. Smirke), the Royal Exchange (1841-44; architect W. Tite), the London County Hall (1911-22; architect, R. Knott), and Britannic House (1924-27; architect, E. Lutyens). Neo-Gothic structures include the Houses of Parliament in Westminster, All Saints’ Church (1849-59; architect, W. Butterfield) and the church of St. Mary Abbots (1869-79; architect, G. G. Scott), and the Tower Bridge (1886-94; architects, J. Barry and H. Jones). An eclectic style marks King’s Cross Station (1851-52; architect, L. Cubitt) and St. Pancras Station (1868-74; architects G. G. Scott and W. Barlow).

Interesting examples of modern architecture include the Daily Express Building (1932; architects, H. O. Ellis and Clarke), the medical center in Finsbury (Messrs. Tecton, 1939), Royal Festival Hall (1949-51; architects, R. Matthew and L. Martin), the National Council of the Dockers’ Union and the Airways Terminal (both 1956; architect, F. Gibberd), the office building Castrol House (1959; architects, Gollins, M. Ward, and partners), the American embassy (1960; architect, the American E. Saarinen), Vickers House (1962; architect, R. Ward), the Economist Building (1964; architects, A. and P. Smithson), and the Arts Centre (1967; architect, H. Bennett). In the 20th century, housing developments were built in Greater London embodying the modern concept of the satellite city and employing innovative methods of landscape architecture. Among these are the experimental garden cities proposed by E. Howard (Welwyn Garden City, from 1920; architects L. de Soissons and others) and the satellite towns built in accordance with the plan for Greater London prepared by P. Abercrombie in 1944 (Stevenage, from 1946; Harlow, from 1946, architect, F. Gibberd).

The rapid growth of London, the unplanned manner in which the city was built up, transportation difficulties, and extensive damage during World War II necessitated city planning. However, such city planning projects as those of C. Holden and W. Holford for the center of the City (1947) and Holford’s project for the area around St. Paul’s Cathedral (1956) either were not carried out or were realized only partially. The overall development of London has not been affected by the construction of isolated residential projects combining apartment blocks and private houses, for example, the Highpoint blocks in High-gate (1933, Messrs. Tecton), the Hallfield district in Paddington (1949-56; architects, L. Drake and D. Lasdun), Churchill Gardens in Pimlico (1947-55; architects, P. Powell and H. Moya), Golden Lane Estate in the City (1957; principal architect, P. Chamberlin), and Alton Estate in Roehampton (1951-59; architects, H. Bennett and R. Matthew, among others).

Educational, scientific, and cultural institutions. London is the site of the University of London, City University, the City of London Polytechnic, Polytechnic of Central London, Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, Royal Academy of Music, London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art, Royal Ballet School, Royal Academy of Dance, the London Royal Society, the Royal Academy of Arts, the British Academy, which brings together scholars in the humanities, and the Royal Institute of Great Britain, as well as a large number of learned societies and scholarly institutions in all spheres of science, technology, and art.

In addition to the British Museum Library, one of the world’s largest, there are the National Library of Science and Technology and large university libraries. Among the more than 30 museums are the British Museum, the Science Museum, the British Museum of Natural History, the Geological Museum, the Victoria and Albert Museum, the London Museum, the National Gallery, the National Portrait Gallery, the British Theatre Museum, the Tate Gallery, the Imperial War Museum, and the National Maritime Museum.

London has about 80 theaters (1973), which are leased by various companies. The principal companies are the National Theatre (leasing the Old Vic), a branch of the Royal Shakespeare Theatre (Aldwych Theatre), English Stage Company (Royal Court Theatre), and the Mermaid Theatre. Theaters of opera and ballet include Covent Garden and Sadler’s Wells. The Royal Festival Hall and the Royal Albert Hall are the largest concert halls.


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a city in southern Canada in Ontario. Population, 224,000 (1971). London is a transportation junction and the commercial and industrial center of an agricultural region (fruit, vegetables). Food, textile, machinery construction (radio and electrical engineering, agricultural, and transportation machinery), and chemical industries, as well as a university, are located in the city.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


Jack, full name John Griffith London. 1876--1916, US novelist, short-story writer, and adventurer. His works include Call of the Wild (1903), The Sea Wolf (1904), The Iron Heel (1907), and the semiautobiographical John Barleycorn (1913)


1. the capital of the United Kingdom, a port in S England on the River Thames near its estuary on the North Sea: consists of the City (the financial quarter), the West End (the entertainment and major shopping centre), the East End (the industrial and former dock area), and extensive suburbs
2. Greater. the administrative area of London, consisting of the City of London and 32 boroughs (13 Inner London boroughs and 19 Outer London boroughs): formed in 1965 from the City, parts of Surrey, Kent, Essex, and Hertfordshire, and almost all of Middlesex, and abolished for administrative purposes in 1996: a Mayor of London and a new London Assembly took office in 2000. Pop.: 7 387 900 (2003 est.). Area: 1579 sq. km (610 sq. miles)
3. a city in SE Canada, in SE Ontario on the Thames River: University of Western Ontario (1878). Pop.: 337 318 (2001)
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