Edinburgh's St James district has been reimagined multiple times.
Edinburgh's St James district has been reimagined multiple times.

24 photos showing the massive changes to Edinburgh's St James district down the decades

With excitement still to die down following the recent opening of the new £1 billion St James Quarter, we take a look through the archives at the massive changes that have occurred in the area over the last 60 years.

Wednesday, 21st July 2021, 4:45 pm

In the post-war era, the St James Square district was made up of dozens of Georgian townhouses and tenements, typical to this part of Edinburgh.

By the 1960s, however, the elegance of these buildings was fading fast.

Run down, rodent-ridden, and roundly associated with poverty, squalor and crime, St James Square and surrounding streets were earmarked for demolition as part of a comprehensive reimagining of the district, that would centre around a huge new development, incorporating a shopping complex and several large office buildings.

When the St James Centre opened in 1973, the area had been rendered unrecognisable, with only a handful of the original buildings left standing.

But, fast forward more than 40 years, the concrete edifice of the St James – like the handsome 18th century square that preceded it – found itself staring at the wrecking ball.

With the triumphant opening of the new £1 billion St James Quarter last month, the district has once more been born anew.

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