By Anthony Weymouth
If you flew over London you would see the city spread out below you. There would be the Monument, the tall buildings in the City, packed so closely together. Next, you will probably notice the tall newspaper buildings in Fleet Street, and very soon afterwards the clock tower of the Palace of Westminster which contains Big Ben. If your plane turned slightly northward at this point you would fly over St. James’s Park, Hyde Park, and later you will reach Kensington Gardens and the densely populated area of Kensington
I expect you’d think that London has very little pattern, because from the air you see a kind of jig-saw picture in which the streets look tiny compared with the mass of buildings. And you’d be right. London has no pattern because in the past it spread in every direction. One century has built on the fields in the west, another to the south, yet another to the north and to the east.
But how dull it would be if every street were straight, if every open space were a square, and if you knew exactly what you were going to find wherever you went. Fortunately, London is not like that. It is a mixture of fine streets side by side with narrow courts and alleys of really old buildings facing those built, so to say, the day before yesterday.
I’ll tell you another curious fact about this town. Our ancestors were never careful how they named their streets. You’ll find quite a number of Charles Streets and Duke Street: Though recently the authorities have tried to avoid the muddle this caused by renaming them: one Charles Street has become Charles I Street, and the Duke Street has become Duke Street, St. James’s.
Then there are lots of "Squares" which have not got four sides, and "Gardens" which have no garden. But once you have begun to know London, you’ll realize that the Londoner has never bothered much about whether there is one Trafalgar Square or more than one. Well, that’s what London is, a mixture of very old, not so old and new. In London we shall find almost every variety of architecture, ranging from a piece of old Roman wall to the most modern buildings such as the Bank of England extension by St. Paul’s Cathedral and Bucklersbury House. You’ll find, too, a few medieval churches which escaped the Great Fire and a number of buildings dating from the 17th, 18th, and 19th century.
the Monument — монумент в память о пожаре 1666 года в Лондоне
Fleet Street — улица, на которой расположено множество офисов газет и журналов
the Palace of Westminster — Вестминстерский дворец, место заседаний парламента
pattern — здесь: план, планирование
the Great Fire — пожар 1666 года, уничтоживший две трети зданий в городе