The City of London took a pounding in the second world war. It would be many decades before it would fully recover.
The photograph above shows the City centred on St Paul’s in 1955. That’s a whole decade after the end of the war, and 14 years on from the Blitz, which caused most of the damage to the Square Mile. Even so, the area remained heavily scarred from the conflict.
What are the bomb sites
We’ve coloured untouched bomb sites red for clarity. The blue shading is a further bomb site that is finally under development at the time of the photo.
The largest void, at the top of the photo, would remain undeveloped for another decade. This flattened expanse would become the Barbican estate, built between 1965 and 1976.
The flattened patch to the left of St Paul’s is Paternoster Square. This was built up from 1961 with a series of office blocks of notorious drabness. They’ve since been replaced by a more presentable development.
The other big hole, to the right of the picture, spans Queen Victoria Street and Cannon Street. It was redeveloped piecemeal, with a series of stylistically different office blocks, including Bracken House.
What’s the source?
The image is taken from the Illustrated London News, 17 September 1955. A caption comments on the new buildings then under construction: ‘Whether they will add to the City’s beauty or detract from it is a matter still arousing intense controversy’. The same is still said about new additions to the City 63 years later.
Image found in the British Newspaper Archive. © Illustrated London News Group
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