Wednesday, 14 July 2010

London 1910 and London 2010

One hundred years apart and still people are fascinated with three dimensional representations of the city they live in.
In 1910 a London guide book was published by Simpkin, Marshall, Hamilton, Kent & CO., Ltd. & Love & Malcomson, Ltd., at Dane Street, Holborn, W.C. illustrating the capital in 20 Birsd-Eye Views of the Principal Streets. It also includes a Large Folding Map and an updated, coloured Tube Map. The Price - one shilling.


The book opens to describe London with the lines: 'In this vast metropolisthere are to be seen individuals, families, tribes of pretty nearly every race on the habitable globe, of almost every tongue and dialect, of every colour and complexion, of every faith, religion, persuasion, and opinion - howsoever eccentric.'(London in 1910, p. B) At the time London had some 7 million inhabitants, putting it ahead of New York with 4.5 million and Paris of 2.8 million. And the book states that London adds about 108 people daily to 'her' population.
It is a guidebook with the different areas portrait in detail including historical aspects such as details of the Trafalgar Battle to introduce the Nelson Column on Trafalgar Square and so on. However, in terms of layout is is rather a text book.

Images taken / A view from Trafalgar Square in London down Charing Cross road towards Whitehall and Westminster.

The publication must have been partly financed also with advertising. There are some really nice examples in this book, of companies selling curtains, or flats for renting and so on. This too gives a pretty good impression of the passage of time compared to todays advertisement. Similar the prices, a hotel prices its rooms at 9s per day. This wold nowadays be more like £110.
The Birds-Eye Views are the main feature of this publication and they are quite impressive. Note sure though how they have been drawn. Whether from the top of some roofs or entirely as sort of imagined hovering over the houses.
In comparison the new maps service is rendered from aerial imagery and gives the option to view the city in 3D. 'The 3D maps were created from actual film footage shot from light aeroplanes using sophisticated aerospace technology, which is then merged with other film taken from ground level' according to the Yell press release. 'Its technology appears to drape multi-directional aerial imagery over 3D point cloud. It offers true 360 degree view of objects on the ground and the map also has a control to adjust the tilt of the camera to the horizon' acording to allThingsSpatial.

Images taken from London 1910 and / A direct comparison of the Tottenham Court Road area in 1910 on the left and 2010 on the right. For a detailed 1910 scan of the illustration go to flickr, for the 2010 version go to

Very interesting how this has changed the perception of many. The city has in a relatively short period of time become the completely visualised space with uncountable attempts to capture it all. This has somehow shifted the perception form it being a space one can explore and discover and has the luxury to be surprised by new features. However this has changed into a we know it all attitude with the dreadful surprise being something one doesn't know.

Thanks for bringing the book over to my neighbour Steve. We'll be trying to generate those 3D flights.

No comments: