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.