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London


  • The Proud City: Patrick Abercrombie's Unfulfilled Plan for Rebuilding London

    by Simon Jenkins

    In 1942, the British government endorsed a plan that turned the Blitz into an opportunity for massive centrally-planned rebuilding of London. This was a break from the previous anarchic pattern of development, and, for better or worse, today's eclectic metropolis owes its form to the failure of the plan. 


  • Defoe’s Journal of the Plague Year and the Year of COVID-19

    by Frank Palmeri

    Defoe's accomplishment as a work of history lies not so much in the accuracy of its numbers or facts as in its power as a work of fiction, in the observing eye and skeptical intelligence of H.F., and in the stories he tells, which convey through common language and the details of common life what it was like to live through the plague. 



  • Sign by sign, history is told on London's walls

    LONDON — Not that it is unusual to see shabby old buildings being gutted by construction workers in a rapidly gentrifying area of east London like Hackney Road, but I felt a pang of regret when I spotted them starting work on one last week. I wasn’t concerned about its architecture, which is much the same as that of any of the other 19th-century terraced houses in the neighborhood, but about the signage.“To all responsible person” is painted in big black letters on the front of the building, and a description of a locksmith and safe maker is engraved on the side wall. “John Tann’s Reliance Locks, Fire & Burglarproof, Safes, Iron Doors,” it begins. Both signs have long outlived their usefulness: like the missing “s” at the end of “person,” Tann’s workshop disappeared decades ago.Will those signs survive the house’s renovation? I doubt it. The only reason they are still there is because the building has been neglected for so long, and was not deemed to be worth repairing or rebuilding until recently. Yet if the signs are removed, the neighborhood will be the poorer, having lost part of its character and some poignant symbols of its history....