Saturday, November 15, 2008

September 30th, 2008 - Some City Sights

"The City" covers just about 1 square mile. This is pretty much the area walled in by the Romans in the 2nd century to protect their port and, with a small deviation here and there, the original wall line still defines the city. Prior to 1666 with its Great Fire, the area fairly bristled with churches - more than 100 of them, 97 of which fell within the walls. The fire destroyed 89 of these and, after much debate, just 51 replacement churches were rebuilt, mostly by Christopher Wren.
Totaling these with new churches built in the 18th and 19th centuries, less losses
due to WWII and normal attrition, today a mere 38 survive.
In the meantime however, the City population increased from 200,000
residents at the time of the fire, to a peak of around 400,000 from which it has steadily declined to less than 8,000 currently - about 160 potential parishioners per church. Essentially, the entire square mile has been absorbed by the financial community and every working day some 300,000 commuters pour in and out of the area. As in European cities, the protection of so many historical buildings runs counter to the needs of modernization and efficiency required to maintain a competitive business environment. In London's case at least, there exists a solution in the razing of the docklands and the development of a whole new "City" known as Canary Wharf. Hopefully, this will not soon lead to mourning for the old City. Check here for some City pics.

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