The history of Princes Street - one of the most iconic streets in the world
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Princes Street is one of the most famous streets in the world, photographed millions of times by tourists from all over the world, as well as delighted locals catching it’s buildings in a new light time and time again.
In 1767, James Craig designed Edinburgh’s New Town, divided from the Old Town by the Nor Loch, which was soon to be drained. Princes Street was part of this grand design, so named to honour the sons of King George III.
It was initially built as a residential street, almost impossible to imagine now with shop fronts adorning almost every building. Despite the many changes over the centuries, peeks of the original facade are still visible at 95 Princes Street, with its Georgian front.
It’s move from a residential area, to a haven for shops and hotels, might have something to do with the draining of the Nor Loch. It left a muddy, boggy swamp behind, The Mound (originally called the Earthen Mound) being formed from the moved earth. With buildings only down one side, the street also had little protection from the elements, making it less desirable compared to the spanning New Town that was emerging beyond it.
The Victorian era saw more changes, detailed and beautiful architecture added specifically for department stores and hotels.
The original Jenners was one of these, before it was lost in a fire in 1892. Work began on the iconic building that sits there today less than a year later.
Designs submitted in the 1960s again changed the face of the now almost unrecognisable street, and although it was not fully completed, part of it is still visible in the old British Home Stores building.
While many streets in Edinburgh, from it’s winding old town to its grand and bright New Town, look much as they always did as time goes by, creating a contrast with Princes Street, which never stays still.