Videos of London, 1927/2014

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Side-by-side views of the Tower from the Thames in 1927 and 2014. (Big Geek Daddy)

Here are two videos side by side of the same scenes in London from 1927 and 2014, courtesy of Big Geek Daddy’s Video of the Day. A week ago I posted “London in 25 hard minutes,” one of Rick Steves’s television shows (the comparison was to a more soft-focus video visit to Paris). I was somewhat startled in viewing the Steves video that its producer did such a marvelous job of managing to exclude so much of the city’s modern architecture while filming London in 2014. Today’s video splices together clips of the same old scenes from the London of 1927 and the London of 2014, and suggests that the vistas shown – places tourists visit – are surprisingly free of the modernist blight. Those more familiar than I am with London are invited to weigh in on whether that’s because the 2014 filmmaker did a good job (except for the view above of the Tower of London) of keeping the crapola outside of the frame, or because London has in fact done an excellent job of preventing modernist buildings, especially highrises, from being built in places where they can be seen by people visiting the city’s most cherished landmarks.

On my first visit to London, in 1979, there were very few if any skyscrapers, but lots of infill modernism, mostly short squat buildings erected on sites demolished during World War II by the Luftwaffe. I wonder whether city planners charting new construction in this century have sought to avoid demolishing historic London buildings and tried, as much as possible, to site skyscrapers instead so as to eliminate that ugly postwar architecture.

If anyone has any thoughts on this question, please let me know.

About David Brussat

For a living, I edit the writing of some of the nation's leading architects, urbanists and design theorists. This blog was begun in 2009 as a feature of the Providence Journal, where I was on the editorial board and wrote a weekly column of architecture criticism for three decades. Architecture Here and There fights the style wars for classical architecture and against modern architecture, no holds barred. My freelance writing and editing on that topic and others addresses issues of design and culture locally and globally. I am a fellow of the Royal Society of the Arts, and a member of the board of the New England chapter of the Institute of Classical Architecture & Art, which bestowed an Arthur Ross Award on me in 2002. I work from Providence, R.I., where I live with my wife Victoria, my son Billy and our cat Gato. If you would like to invest your prose with even more style and clarity, please email me at my consultancy, dbrussat@gmail.com, or call 401.351.0457. Testimonial: "Your work is so wonderful - you now enter my mind and write what I would have written." - Nikos Salingaros, mathematician at the University of Texas, architectural theorist and author of many books.
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4 Responses to Videos of London, 1927/2014

  1. indisco33 says:

    First short visit this June. Wonderful city, much development since 2013 video, especially south of Thames. Need to return for longer stay to learn more.

    Like

  2. Anne Fairfax says:

    Sorry, that’s Gerkin, leave it to auto incorrect.

    Like

  3. Anne Fairfax says:

    David, London is largely as depicted, the traffic can be scandalous though, and even congestion charging doesn’t seem to make a dent. The German and the Walkie Scorchy are also eyesore today, which I didn’t see in the film.
    Anne Fairfax, thanks for posting

    Like

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