West End of London

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The West End of London (more commonly referred to as simply The West End) is an area of Central London, containing many of the city's major tourist attractions, businesses, headquarters and the commercial West End theatres. Use of the term began in the early 19th century to describe fashionable areas to the west of Charing Cross.[1] For strategic planning the area is identified as one of two international centres in the London Plan.[2] The West End is the entertainment centre of the UK with the largest shopping district in Europe, the home of the UK theatre and film industry as well as numerous up-scale bars, restaurants, hotels and nightclubs.

Contents

Location

Located to the west of the historic Roman and Mediaeval City of London, the West End was long favoured by the rich elite as a place of residence because it was usually upwind of the smoke drifting from the crowded City. It was also located close to the royal seat of power at Westminster, and is largely contained within the City of Westminster (one of the 32 London boroughs). Developed in the seventeenth, eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, it was originally built as a series of palaces, expensive town houses, fashionable shops and places of entertainment. The areas closest to the City around Holborn, Seven Dials and Covent Garden historically contained poorer communities that were cleared and redeveloped in the nineteenth century.

The name "West End" is a flexible term with different meanings in different contexts. It may refer to the entertainment district around Leicester Square and Covent Garden; to the shopping district centred on Oxford Street, Regent Street, and Bond Street; or, less commonly, to the whole of that part of Central London (itself an area with no generally agreed boundaries) which lies to the west of the City of London.

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