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A Little Bit About London


Our world is an interesting place.  Here some information about London in case you are thinking about traveling there.


o       Tea was brought back from China by Dutch merchants in 1658.  Tea time became a national tradition.


o       The Monument commemorating the Great Fire of London in 1666 is the tallest isolated stone column in the world. It rises to 62 m (202 ft) on Fish Hill, 62 m away from where the fire began, in a bakery in Pudding Lane.


o       St Paul’s Cathedral was the tallest building (111 m/365 ft) in London from 1710 to 1962. It is the second largest church in the UK after Liverpool Cathedral. Its dome is the third largest in the world, and one of the highest. The towers of the cathedral contain the second largest ring of bells in the world. St Paul’s also possesses Europe’s largest crypt, where are buried, among others, Sir Chritopher Wren (the architect who rebuilt the City of London after the Great Fire), the painters Joshua Reynolds and J.MW. Turner, Lord Nelson, and the Duke of Wellington.


o       Founded in London in 1670, the Hudson’s Bay Company is the world’s oldest chartered company.


o       Founded in 1694, the Bank of England was the first privately owned national bank in any country.


o       The Bethlehem Royal Hospital is world’s oldest institution to specialize in mental illnesses. It was founded in 1247.


o       The Worshipful Company of Clockmakers, one of the Livery Companies of the City of London, was formed by a Royal Charter in 1631 and remains the world’s oldest horological institution. The company possesses the world’s oldest collection of clocks and watches.


o       The world’s first public street lighting with gas was installed in Pall Mall, London in 1807. In 1812, the London and Westminster Gas Light and Coke Company became the world’s first gas company.


o       The world’s oldest public zoo opened in London in 1828.


o       Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels’s Communist Manifesto was first published (in German) in London’s Liverpool Street by the German printer J.E. Burghard in 1848.


o       The world’s first underground public lavatory opened in 1855 under the pavement next to the Bank of England.


o       Established in 1890, the City and South London Railway (C&SLR) was the first deep-level underground railway in the world. It was also the first major railway to use electric traction. It became the Northern Line of the London Underground.


o       Established in 1902, Ealing Studios in West London are the oldest continuously working film studios in the world.


o       At the the northern end of London Bridge, Adelaide House was the tallest office block in London at 43 m (141 ft) when it was completed in 1925. It was designed in a discreet Art Deco style with some Egyptian influences and was the first building in the City to employ the steel frame technique. It was also the first office building in the UK to have electric and telephone connections on every floor as well as a central ventilation system.


o       The Museum of London retraces the history of London from Prehistoric times to the present day and is the largest urban history museum in the world.


o       The Shard, a 72-storey skyscraper near London Bridge, is the tallest building in the European Union, standing at a height of 309.6 metres (1,016 ft). It was inaugurated on 5 July 2012, three weeks before the London Olympics.


o       The ArcelorMittal Orbit, a 115-metre-high (377 ft) sculpture and observation tower in the Olympic Park in Stratford, East London, is Britain’s largest piece of public art. It is intended to be a permanent lasting legacy of London’s hosting of the 2012 Summer Olympics.


o       London also ranks third worldwide for the number millionaires (after Tokyo and New York), and third for the number of billionaires (after New York and Moscow).



London saw huge immigration from the Caribbean, India and parts of the Middle East at the turn of the 20th Century, continuing right up to the modern day. Such was the scale of the influx that many people managed to retain their language and accents over the generations. Over 350 languages are spoken around London (100 more than in New York) and Black and Asian children outnumber white children in London by 2 to 1. Similarly, there is a huge range of religions. In recent times new immigrants have begun to arrive from Eastern Europe and China.



If you are traveling from America to England, you will find that some words have different meanings.  “Elevator” is “lift”. It’s your “mobile”; not your “cell phone.” You ask the location of “the toilets”, “loos”, “ladies'” or “gents'”, not “the restroom”. The “tube” or the “underground”, not the “subway”. “Subway” is what Londoners call a walkway under the street to get from one side to the other, or a fast food chain.



England’s maritime climate means that rain could fall at any time – and it does – but day upon day of rain and grey skies aren’t common in London. But again, expect the unexpected: the sky could darken and rain could pelt down in buckets for five or ten minutes then the sun may come out.

London’s Underground is a massive system that carries millions of passengers a day. What may be unexpected for some visitors is that it can be hot on Tube trains and in stations at any time of year, not just summer. Those Tube trains will be crowded at morning and evening peak hours.

And in opposition to this is the question of air conditioning. It’s not as ubiquitous as elsewhere in the world, especially in London hotels. But many of those hotels offer fans in guest rooms, and with windows that open a bit of cross ventilation is nice on warm days. The London Overground has air conditioned train carriages; Tube trains are a work in progress.

Are you intrigued?  If you are ready to go, finding hotels in London is pretty easy on the internet these days.