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London: a Life in Google Maps

5. The age of improvement

London did not simply expand between 1750 and 1850. It was transformed.

Private initiatives to create a dignified setting for an imperial capital, like the Adelphi development of the Adam brothers, were emulated by government particularly in the development of Somerset House, Hyde Park Corner, Regent Street, Regent's Park and Trafalgar Square.

A conscious effort was made to emulate Paris and Berlin in creating a magnificent city. In the 1790s, when the population was just under a million, Richard Horwood tried to produce a wall map showing every house in London. By 1851, with a population approaching 2.5 million, such a map had become unrealisable.

Click the pins on the Google Map above or follow the links below to view some of the key maps from this period in our Online Gallery.

View of Somerset House and the Adelphi, 1791
Horwood's map of London 'shewing every house', 1792
Proposed plan for Regent's Street, 1813
Proposed improvements at Charing Cross, James Basire ,1826
Plan & elevation for the New London Bridge, John Rennie, 1830
Tegg's New Plan of London, 1830
A Birds Eye View of the Zoological Gardens, Regents Park, 1854

Next Section:
Victorian London


Discover more:
Virtual Exhibition
From Roman urbs to Stuart city
1. Roman urbs to a Stuart city
Life in the eighteenth century
2. Life in the 18th century
Sweet and salutary air
3. Sweet and salutary air
Out of sight: the East end
4. Out of sight: the East End
5. The age of improvement
Victorian London
6. Victorian London
Vox pop
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