I’m sure almost everyone has heard of the Piccadilly Circus, which until my current research I thought was an actual Circus. It turns out that the Piccadilly Circus is actually a road junction and public space of London’s West End in the City of Westminster.
Piccadilly Circus connects to Piccadilly, a thoroughfare whose name first appeared in 1626 as Piccadilly Hall, named after a house belonging to one Robert Baker, a tailor famous for selling piccadills, or piccadillies, a term used for various kinds of collars.
But Piccadilly also had it’s Portuguese history for a brief period of time when it was known as Portugal Street in 1692 in honour of Catherine of Braganza, the queen consort of King Charles II of England.
Catarina de Bragança, born 25 November 1638 – 31 December 1705) was Queen of England, Scotland and Ireland from 1662 to 1685, as the wife of King Charles II. Catherine was born into the House of Braganza, the most senior noble house of Portugal, which became Portugal’s royal house after Catherine’s father, John, 8th Duke of Braganza, was proclaimed King John IV after deposing the House of Habsburg in 1640.
Portuguese street was later changed back to Piccadilly by 1743.
Piccadilly Circus was created in 1819, at the junction with Regent Street, which was then being built under the planning of John Nash on the site of a house and garden belonging to a Lady Hutton. Around 1858 it was briefly known as Regent’s Circus, The circus lost its circular form in 1886 with the construction of Shaftesbury Avenue.
Piccadilly Circus is surrounded by several major tourist attractions, including the Shaftesbury Memorial, Criterion Theatre, London Pavilion and several major retail stores. Numerous nightclubs, restaurants and bars are located in the area and neighbouring Soho, including the former Chinawhite club.
The phrase it’s like Piccadilly Circus is commonly used in the UK to refer to a place or situation which is extremely busy with people. It has been said that a person who stays long enough at Piccadilly Circus will eventually bump into everyone they know. Probably because of this connection, during World War II, “Piccadilly Circus” was the code name given to the Allies’ D-Day invasion fleet’s assembly location in the English Channel.
Piccadilly Circus has inspired artists and musicians. Piccadilly Circus (1912) is the name and subject of a painting by British artist Charles Ginner, part of the Tate Britain collection. Sculptor Paul McCarthy also has a 320-page two-volume edition of video stills by the name of Piccadilly Circus. Bob Marley mentioned Piccadilly Circus in his song “Kinky Reggae”, on the Catch a Fire album from 1973.
The Advertising is Incredibly Valuable, while exact numbers are not available, the value of advertising on the new electronic billboards in Piccadilly Circus is worth many millions of dollars. 100 million tourists pass through it every year, which leads to billions of pictures being shared with the ads in them.
Coca-Cola has had a sign at Piccadilly Circus since 1954. The current placed sign dates from September 2003, when the previous digital projector board and the site that had been occupied by Nescafé was replaced with a state-of-the-art LED video display that curves round with the building. The screen also displays information about line closures and delays on the London Underground.