City of Westminster

The Borough of Westminster is both a borough and a city. It is situated to the west of the City of London on the north bank of the River Thames. The name was originally used to designate the area immediately around Westminster Abbey, which is where the seat of government of England has been since the 11th Century. Westminster is also the centre of royal power and thus a district of great national significance.

Population change
1966: 262,720 people
1998: 212,300 people

Westminster has 3,802 buildings of historic importance, by far the most of any borough in London and 21% of London's total. Its famous buildings include Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, the Houses of Parliament, Big Ben and the official residence of the Prime Minister, 10 Downing Street. The Houses of Parliament, also known as the Palace of Westminster, is the place where the House of Lords and the House of Commons meet. The main building was designed by Sir Charles Barry and was built between 1840 and 1870, although most of the work was completed by 1860.

Westminster is also London's most important destination for visitors and tourists. Besides its historic buildings it includes the entertainment district around Leicester Square, London's main central shopping streets and London Zoo. Its hotels include the Ritz Hotel, opened in May 1906 by Csar Ritz who wanted to create a luxurious and glamorous resort for the wealthy and fashionable. It was the first hotel in the country to offer private bathrooms.

Westminster's economy throughout the 20th century was dominated by office work and tourism. By the end of the century it had one of the lowest numbers of factories and mills of any London borough. Westminster's residential areas, include two of 20th century London's most celebrated examples of postwar housing: Churchill Gardens in Pimlico - a show-piece, high-rise estate of the 1950s; and Lillington Gardens - a show-piece low-rise estate of the late 1960s.

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