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Thursday, 14 March 2013

The Eccentric District of Soho

Image: freedigitalphotos
The centre of the capital is always full of energy. It is packed with buildings of historical importance, tourist hot-spots and well maintained parks, making it a fantastic place to both visit and live.

With numerous booming businesses located within the capital, residing in one of the local districts such as Soho, Covent Garden, Fitzrovia or even Bloomsbury can be a real benefit to workers. These districts provide ample commuting methods, from your own two feet to the underground.

Soho is most widely known as the eccentric district, crammed with music venues, bars and sex shops. As a result wannabe actors and media enthusiasts flock to Soho.

Soho was originally farmland and the first building to be erected in Leicester Square, was a mansion, by the Earl of Leicester, shortly after the Great Fire of London. Thereafter it became the most strived for address in London, with royals and playwrights attending the most fashionable parties. The adjacent grounds were used by the rich to hunt, which lead to the name "Soho" being settled upon, after the hunting cry "Soohoo".

At the end of the fifteenth century, Soho became overpopulated, and developers constructed numerous properties, for the residents to live. Potentially the biggest developer, Richard Frith, had a huge impact on the erection of Soho's residences, and as a result Frith Street was named. Similarly, the famous Soho Square was built in the latter end of the fifteenth century for King Charles' II use.

Despite landowners and developers efforts, the rich preferred the neighbouring district of Mayfair. As a result, aspiring artists and writers then moved to Soho, followed by a population of immigrants from the Greek and Italian borders. In addition, the majority of the French Huguenots settled there. Soho became known as the French quarter, as 40% of the population were French speakers. With the new residents, a magnitude of new trades entered into Soho, to include silversmithing and tailoring. New theatres, music venues and pubs opened to entertain the locals and in 1717, the famous West End was officially created. Soho became known, as the entertainment district, stealing its title from Bankside, whose streets were once crammed with brothels.

Unfortunately, Soho's new found popularity had its down-side, and crime amongst the area became a problem. The drunk were particularly vulnerable with criminal opportunists. Certain areas of London's West End were more crime-ridden than they were in Victorian times and the north of West End, namely St Giles was were some of the worst slums of London could be found. With gin being cheaper than beer; it will come as no surprise that the death-rate was high at this time.

Throughout the summer of 1854, Broadway Street suffered a cholera epidemic. Around 100 residents died and many fled in fear of their lives. Dr Snow identified that the outbreak was caused by a water pump on Broad Street, despite popular belief that the illness was airborne. The pub located on Broad Street has been renamed "The John Snow" in reflection of the doctors efforts.

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