Digital Maps – A Look at Londons Underground

So began the railway age, an age in which London would be broken up and remade. The construction of the railways saw whole swathes of the capital knocked down to make way for tracks and stations.

–          Jon E Lewis, London: The Autobiography

William Gladstone with directors and engineers of the Metropolitan railway company on an inspection of the world's first underground line, London, May 1862.

The London Underground, which opened in 1863, was the world’s first underground railway system

London, the city as we know it – or at least the beginning of the city as we know it – began its construction in the mid 19th Century. Buildings, streets, homes and lives had to be rebuilt and with this new city came new ideas; new architectural approaches and a new people. Many cultural factors influenced this new city. As Londoners were now a people more conscious of cleanliness, their houses needed to reflect this. We begin to see the emergence of a desire to have a home that could accommodate for private sanitation.

With these new ideas came new technologies – roads began to transport motor vehicles, the city was lit up with electricity and one of the most notable architectural overhauls was to be of Charles Holden’s Underground. London has many networks – roads, electricity, water – but the most remarkable one, the one which was, and still is, imperative in giving London its identity; its spaces, places and connections, was the Underground.

Beck’s Underground Map of 1933

If there was one invention that changed the layout of the London map more than any other, it was the train and its railway. The growth of these railways had an intense impact on London. It shoved the City’s domestic population out, making way for a major commercial centre.

War-time: London residents are pictured sheltering from air raids at Bound's Green Underground station, in December 1940

War-time: London residents are pictured sheltering from air raids at Bound’s Green Underground station

The journey of the first Tube train took place on 9 January 1863, with the first day of public service being appreciated by 40,000 travellers. By 1884 there were more than 800 trains serving all or part of the Inner Circle every day. An estimated 300,000 people took shelter in Tube stations in 1917 according to police reports of German bomb raids on London. By the end of the war in 1918, the Underground was carrying 70 per cent more people than in 1914. Nowadays, more than nineteen thousand people work on the Tube, connecting almost two billion people a year with their city, their history and each other.

Ciara Greaney 105674247


London: The Autobiography, Lewis Jon E, 2009: Goodreads

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