Piccadilly Circus

Piccadilly Circus

Located in London's West End Piccadilly Circus is the busy junction at the intersection of Regent Street, Piccadilly and Shaftesbury Avenue. Located at the centre of London's 'theatreland', the statue known as 'Eros' serves as a noisy meeting place for tourists.

Piccadilly Circus was originally constructed in 1819 as an elegant circular place (hence the name 'circus') where Piccadilly and Regent Street intersected. In the 1880s its symmetry was destroyed by the creation of Shaftesbury Avenue.

The Circus is surrounded by several buildings of note including the London Pavilion and the Criterion Theatre. The intersection itself is marked by the Shaftsbury memorial fountain with its statue of a winged archer by Alfred Gilbert. The statue was erected in 1893 to commemorate the work of the philanthropist and politician Anthony Ashley Cooper the 7th Earl of Shaftesbury. Sometimes referred to as the Angel of Christian Charity, and commonly known as Eros, it was actually intended to be a statue of Eros's twin, Anteros, the god of selfless love.

In the early 1900's Piccadilly Circus was surrounded by illuminated hoardings on buildings. The first electric advertisements appeared in 1910 using incandescent light bulbs and from 1923 electric billboards were set on the faade of the London Pavilion. These were then replaced with neon signs. Increased rental costs meant that by the end of the century there was only one building with electric billboards on the north-western corner which had LED displays.

Piccadilly Circus has always been a major traffic intersection and in 1906 this was increased with the opening of the Piccadilly tube station. The phrase "it's like Piccadilly Circus" is used to describe somewhere busy. The meeting point for the D-Day invasion fleet was codenamed 'Piccadilly Circus'.


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