A Look at the History of Carnaby Street

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When booking hotels in London, many people choose the West End, not only because some of the best and most affordable lodgings can be found there but because of the rich counter-culture that has become a fashionable epicentre from which global trends seem to explode. But why Carnaby Street? What sets this area of the city apart from the East End and Petticoat Lane, for example? You could say it all started with the Beatles’ revolution in the 1960s but really, it began centuries before that. A few highlights from pages in history might offer a better understanding.

The 17th Century

In the late 17th Century it was a bricklayer by the name of Richard Tyler who actually coined the name “Carnaby Street.” Based on the name of the first home to be erected on the street, Karnaby House, it was just years after the Great Plague swept through Europe and when special ‘pesthouses’ were built apart from where the elite lived and mass graves were dug underground. They were built in 1665 and just a decade and a half later, the street got its name. The year was 1682.

The 18th Century

During this time, the area was renovated with the inclusion of a meat and fish market, which later added vegetables to the wares and was originally called Lowndes Market. Today, we call it Carnaby Market for obvious reasons and with the later erection of the Shakespearean Public House, circa 1735, the area saw the beginnings of a culture later to be known as ‘the arts.’
The 19th Century

In the early part of the 19th Century, world famous Regent Street was completed. This separated the area into a region containing Soho and Carnaby Street from a more fashionable Mayfair. What is remarkable about Regents Street is the fact that having been designed by John Nash, it is considered to be the very first street that was purposed for a shopping district.
The 20th Century

Oh, the busy 20th Century! From the

Tatty Bogle drinking club in 1917
to the 1960s where a now world famous vegetarian restaurant, Cranks, was opened, the world saw a movement from the nightlife to the right life. From drinking and pleasurable activities to a healthier and trendier way of life, Carnaby Street evolved into an eclectic collection of trendy shops and clubs still visible today. During the height of Beatles’ fame, Carnaby Street was often featured in movies, sung about in top 10 songs, and visited by none other (quite publically at that) than the Fab Four (John, Paul, George, and Ringo).

Today in the 21st Century

In the year 2012, the Rolling Stones who saw their beginnings in the 1960s during the same Beatlemania era, collaborated with Carnaby London to celebrate a 50 Year Anniversary. The street, and in fact the entire district, has become so famous that there is now a walking tour so that tourists can get a taste of history Carnaby Street style. Music connected buildings are a huge feature of the tour, so whether you are into art, history, music, food, drinks or just plain nostalgia, Carnaby Street is one place you really must visit, if only once in a lifetime.
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