London is the capital city of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and is the most populous region, urban zone and metropolitan area in the United Kingdom. Standing on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its founding by the Romans, who named it Londinium. London's ancient core, the City of London, largely retains its mediaeval boundaries and in 2011 had a resident population of 7,375, making it the smallest city in England. Since at least the 19th century, the term London has also referred to the metropolis developed around this core. The bulk of this conurbation forms the London region and the Greater London administrative area, governed by the Greater London Authority whose two executive branches are the Mayor of London (the Labour Party's Sadiq Khan since 2016) and the London Assembly on which Labour has the largest group.
London contains four World Heritage Sites: the Tower of London; Kew Gardens; the site comprising the Palace of Westminster, Westminster Abbey, and St Margaret's Church; and the historic settlement of Greenwich (in which the Royal Observatory, Greenwich marks the Prime Meridian, 0° longitude). Other landmarks include Buckingham Palace, the London Eye, Piccadilly Circus, St Paul's Cathedral, Tower Bridge, Trafalgar Square, and The Shard. London is the location for numerous museums, galleries, libraries, and cultural institutions, including the British Museum, National Gallery, British Library and dozens of theatres. Major sporting and national events occur in the capital and it is the base for several prestigious universities. The London Underground (colloquially known as the Tube) is the oldest underground railway network in the world.
- London goes beyond any boundary or convention. It contains every wish or word ever spoken, every action or gesture ever made, every harsh or noble statement ever expressed. It is illimitable. It is Infinite London.
- Peter Ackroyd, London: The Biography (2000).
- Ah! my poor dear child, the truth is, that in London it is always a sickly season. Nobody is healthy in London, nobody can be.
- Lo, where huge London, huger day by day,
O'er six fair counties spreads its hideous sway.
- Alfred Austin, The Golden Age: A Satire (London: Chapman and Hall, 1871), p. 66.
- London is a bad habit one hates to lose.
- Anonymous popular saying, as quoted by William Sansom in, Blue Skies, Brown Studies, Hogarth press, (1961).
- As I came down the Highgate Hill
I met the sun's bravado,
And saw below me, fold on fold,
Grey to pearl and pearl to gold,
This London like a land of old,
The land of Eldorado.
- Henry Howarth Bashford (1880-1961), English physician and writer. London, from Romances (1917).
- I've been walking about London for the last thirty years, and I find something fresh in it every day.
- I have often amused myself with thinking how different a place London is to different people. They, whose narrow minds are contracted to the consideration of some one particular pursuit, view it only through that medium. A politician thinks of it merely as the seat of government in its different departments; a grazier, as a vast market for cattle; a mercantile man, as a place where a prodigious deal of business is done upon 'Change; a dramatick [sic] enthusiast as the grand scene of theatrical entertainments; a man of pleasure, as an assemblage of taverns, and the great emporium for ladies of easy virtue. But the intellectual man is struck with it as comprehending the whole of human life in all its variety, the contemplation of which is inexhaustible.
- James Boswell (1740-95), from Life of Samuel Johnson (1795).
- London is a splendid place to live in for those who can get out of it.
- George Bruce, 7th Lord Balfour of Burleigh. The Observer (UK newspaper), Sayings of the Week, 1st October 1944.
- A mighty mass of brick, and smoke, and shipping,
Dirty and dusty, but as wide as eye
Could reach, with here and there a sail just skipping
In sight, then lost amidst the forestry
Of masts; a wilderness of steeples peeping
On tiptoe through their sea-coal canopy;
A huge, dun cupola, like a foolscap crown
On a fool's head—and there is London Town.
- Boston is among an increasing number of municipalities, universities, and private foundations that have announced plans to divest from fossil fuels. In late October, ahead of the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference, better known as COP26, Auckland, New Zealand; Copenhagen, Denmark; Glasgow, Scotland; Paris; Rio de Janeiro; and Seattle announced commitments to divest from fossil fuel companies and increase investments to make cities more sustainable. Also last month, Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott signed a bill that requires the city’s three pension funds to divest from the fossil fuel industry. Those are in addition to divestment commitments made last year by Berlin; Bristol, England; Cape Town, South Africa; Durban, South Africa; London; Los Angeles; Milan; New Orleans; New York City; Oslo; Norway; Pittsburgh; and Vancouver, Canada. "Cities are at the forefront of tackling the climate emergency and there is real momentum to move investments away from fossil fuels and toward climate solutions," London Mayor Sadiq Khan, who is chair-elect of C40 Cities, a network of mayors working to confront climate change, said in a statement. "I will continue to encourage more cities to join the movement, and urge national governments and private finance institutions to mobilize more finance to invest directly in cities to support a green and fair recovery."
- "Boston to Divest From Fossil Fuels, Tobacco, Private Prisons", Chief Investment Officer (December 6, 2021)
- Aline and I have travelled a very long, very hard road together, from our working class homes in rural Quebec to the palaces of London, Paris, Moscow, and Beijing. Politics was the route, public service the reward.
- Jean Chrétien, My Years As Prime Minister (2007) Alfred A. Knopf Canada, 2007, ISBN 978-0-676-97900-8 Chapter Fourteen, Vive le Canada, p. 406
- After a while we were left all alone against the most tremendous military power that has been seen. We were all alone for a whole year. There we stood, alone. Did anyone want to give in? Were we down-hearted? The lights went out and the bombs came down. But every man, woman and child in the country had no thought of quitting the struggle. London can take it. So we came back after long months from the jaws of death, out of the mouth of hell, while all the world wondered.
- I don't know what London's coming to—the higher the buildings the lower the morals.
- Noël Coward "Law and Order", Collected Sketches and Lyrics.
- Cockney feet
Mark the beat of history
Pins a memory down.
Nothing ever can quite replace
The grace of London Town.
- Noël Coward "London Pride" (1941).
- London, that great cesspool into which all the loungers and idlers of the Empire are irresistibly drained.
- Arthur Conan Doyle A Study in Scarlet, Part 1. Ch. 1. (1887).
- As stated by Dr. Watson.
- London, thou art the flour of cities all!
- William Dunbar (1460?-1520?), London.
- London always reminds me of a brain. It is similarly convoluted and circuitous. A lot of cities, especially American ones like New York and Chicago, are laid out in straight lines. Like the circuits on computer chips, there are a lot of right angles in cities like this. But London is a glorious mess. It evolved from a score or so of distinct villages, that merged and meshed as their boundaries enlarged. As a result, London is a labyrinth, full of turnings and twistings just like a brain.
- James Geary, American journalist, author and aphorist. 'On London', All Aphorisms, All The Time. (James Geary website, 2009).
- London was nothing like Tokyo, where the past, all that remained of it, was nurtured with a nervous care…Here it seemed the very fabric of things, as if the city were a single growth of stone and brick, uncounted strata of message and meaning, age upon age, generated over the centuries to the dictates of some now-all-but-unreadable DNA of commerce and empire.
- Shorts, she thinks, drawing abreast of this trio, are somehow always wrong in London.
- Maybe it's because I'm a Londoner,
That I love London so;
Maybe it's because I'm a Londoner,
That I think of her wherever I go.
I get a funny feeling inside of me,
Just walking up and down;
Maybe it's because I'm a Londoner,
That I love London town.
- London doesn't love the latent or the lurking, has neither time, nor taste, nor sense for anything less discernible than the red flag in front of the steam-roller. It wants cash over the counter and letters ten feet high.
- Henry James, The Awkward Age (1899), Book I, Ch. 2.
- London acquired a deserved reputation as the greatest city on earth, a great jiving funkapolitan melting-pot, where, provided you did nothing to damage the interests of others and provided you obeyed the law, you could make of your life pretty much what you wanted. And that’s why we lead in all those creative and cultural sectors and that’s why we have the best universities. Because the best minds from across the world are meeting in some of the best pubs and bars and nightclubs, like subatomic particles colliding in a cyclotron. And they are producing those flashes of innovation that are essential for long term economic success.
- Boris Johnson's speech to the Conservative party conference, 2nd October 2016
- By seeing London, I have seen as much of life as the world can show.
- You find no man, at all intellectual, who is willing to leave London. No, Sir, when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford.
- Sir, if you wish to have a just notion of the magnitude of this city, you must not be satisfied with seeing its great streets and squares, but must survey the innumerable little lanes and courts. It is not in the showy evolutions of buildings, but in the multiplicity of human habitations which are crowded together, that the wonderful immensity of London consists.
- London faces its toughest Christmas since the war and the whole city will need to pull together to see us through this terrible period
- Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London , London's mayor: Government made 'irresponsible promises' about Christmas December 19, 2020
- Home of the Cockney and postwar socialism, London is no longer a city of aspiration for the working and middle classes; it now exists mainly for investors, their student offspring, and highly educated professionals who are taking over the traditional blue-collar areas like Hackney. Today only three of the city's thirty-two boroughs are affordable for people of median income. While many of the world's richest people live in London, four of its boroughs rank among the twenty poorest in England, and 27 percent of the city's population live in poverty. London's polarized economic landscape is typical of "superstar" cities. Other leading cities of Europe—Oslo, Amsterdam, Athens, Budapest, Madrid, Prague, Riga, Stockholm, Tallinn, Vienna, Vilnius—also suffer widening gaps between the top and the bottom of the social hierarchy.
- Joel Kotkin, The Coming of Neo-Feudalism: A Warning to the Global Middle Class (2020), p. 133
- Cities like London, New York, Berlin, Paris, Chicago, Pittsburgh, Detroit, or Glasgow are high spots of slavery in comparison to Albania, Bulgaria, or even Central Africa. The slavery of the watch and clock, the bourgeois, anthropocentric slavery of material prestige and successful competition (to slave in order to keep up standards), the wage slavery of the proletarian, the school slavery of the children, the conscription slavery of the adolescents, the road slavery, the factory slavery, the barrack slavery, the party slavery, the office slavery, the parlor slavery of manners and conventions — all these slaveries make political "freedom" appear a bitter joke.
- Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn, The Menace of the Herd (1943), p. 85
- I do own I have a most affectionate attachment for London—the deep voice of her multitudes "haunts me like a passion." I delight in observing the infinite variety of her crowded streets, the rich merchandise of the shops, the vast buildings, whether raised for pomp, commerce, or charity, down to the barrel-organ, whose music is only common because it is beautiful. The country is no more left as it was originally created, than Belgrave Square remains its pristine swamp. The forest has been felled, the marsh drained, the enclosures planted, and the field ploughed. All these, begging Mr. Cowper’s pardon, are the works of man’s hands; and so is the town—the one is not more artificial than the other.
- Letitia Elizabeth Landon, Fisher's Drawing Room Scrap Book, 1833 (1832) 'Linmouth'
- Finally, I wish to speak directly to those who came to London today to take life. I know that you personally do not fear giving up your own life in order to take others – that is why you are so dangerous. But I know you fear that you may fail in your long-term objective to destroy our free society and I can show you why you will fail. In the days that follow, look at our airports, look at our sea ports and look at our railway stations and, even after your cowardly attack, you will see that people from the rest of Britain, people from around the world will arrive in London to become Londoners and to fulfil their dreams and achieve their potential. They choose to come to London, as so many have come before because they come to be free, they come to live the life they choose, they come to be able to be themselves. They flee you because you tell them how they should live. They don't want that and nothing you do, however many of us you kill, will stop that flight to our city where freedom is strong and where people can live in harmony with one another. Whatever you do, however many you kill, you will fail.
- We're London, and we've got our own way of doing things, and it doesn't involve tossing bombs around where innocent people are going about their lives. And that's because we're better than you. Everyone is better than you. Our city works. We rather like it. And we're going to go about our lives. We're going to take care of the lives you ruined. And then we're going to work. And we're going down the pub. So you can pack up your bombs, put them in your arseholes, and get the fuck out of our city.
- The London News Review, "A Letter To The Terrorists, From London" (7 July 2005).
- Despite making up only 13% of London’s total population, black Londoners account for 45% of London’s knife murder victims, 61% of knife murder perpetrators and 53% of knife crime perpetrators.
- Mayor of London Assembly, Calls for a commission on knife crime in the black community, London.gov.uk 10 February 2022
- I see you, London. Heathrow, immune from change during long spells of absence, oblivious to the distance of lovers, you seem to welcome me back with no less warmth than when I left. I see you, London. How I despised you and loved you. How I hated everything you stood for, and yet when deprived of your familiarity, your openness, how I missed you miserably. At once head of the colonial snake that poisoned my people and snared my lands, yet also bastion of justice, rule of law, and fair play. And even now, as I rush to embrace you again, your boots stamp on my people in Iraq and Afghanistan, while I know that my boots are nowhere safer than resting on your green parks. Why do you confuse me so, beating me with one hand while drying my tears with the other? How I tried for thirteen years to rip you out of my soul, to deny you, to bury you, but how I've longed for you to claim me from the hell that I just returned from. London, I see you.
- Maajid Nawaz, Radical: My Journey out of Islamic Extremism (2013), p. 199
- Spending the night out of doors has nothing attractive about it in London, especially for a poor, ragged, undernourished wretch. Moreover sleeping in the open is only allowed in one thoroughfare in London. If the policeman on his beat finds you asleep, it is his duty to wake you up. That is because it has been found that a sleeping man succumbs to the cold more easily than a man who is awake, and England could not let one of her sons die in the street. So you are at liberty to spend the night in the street, providing it is a sleepless night. But there is one road where the homeless are allowed to sleep. Strangely, it is the Thames Embankment, not far from the Houses of Parliament. We advise all those visitors to England who would like to see the reverse side of our apparent prosperity to go and look at those who habitually sleep on the Embankment, with their filthy tattered clothes, their bodies wasted by disease, a living reprimand to the Parliament in whose shadow they lie.
- George Orwell, "Beggars in London", in Le Progrès Civique (12 January 1929), translated into English by Janet Percival and Ian Willison
- During part of 1941 and 1942, when the Luftwaffe was busy in Russia, the German radio regaled its home audience with stories of devastating air raids on London. Now, we are aware that those raids did not happen. But what use would our knowledge be if the Germans conquered Britain? For the purpose of a future historian, did those raids happen, or didn't they? The answer is: If Hitler survives, they happened, and if he falls they didn't happen. So with innumerable other events of the past ten or twenty years. Is the Protocols of the Elders of Zion a genuine document? Did Trotsky plot with the Nazis? How many German aeroplanes were shot down in the Battle of Britain? Does Europe welcome the New Order? In no case do you get one answer which is universally accepted because it is true: in each case you get a number of totally incompatible answers, one of which is finally adopted as the result of a physical struggle. History is written by the winners.
- I realized that my gloss as chief economist, head of Economics and Regional Planning... was part of a sinister system aimed not at outfoxing an unsuspecting customer, but rather at promoting the most subtle and effective form of imperialism the world has ever known.... The march had begun and it was rapidly encircling the planet. The hoods had discarded their leather jackets, dressed up in business suits, and taken on an air of respectability. Men and women were descending from corporate headquarters in New York, Chicago, San Francisco, London, and Tokyo, streaming across every continent to convince corrupt politicians to allow their countries to be shackled to the corporatocracy, and to induce desperate people to sell their bodies to sweatshops and assembly lines... a world of smoke and mirrors intended to keep us all shackled to a system that is morally repugnant and ultimately self-destructive.
- To the person who has anything to conceal — to the person who wants to lose his identity as one leaf among the leaves of a forest — to the person who asks no more than to pass by and be forgotten, there is one name above others which promises a haven of safety and oblivion. London. Where no one knows his neighbour. Where shops do not know their customers. Where physicians are suddenly called to unknown patients whom they never see again. Where you may lie dead in your house for months together unmissed and unnoticed till the gas inspector comes to look at the meter. Where strangers are friendly and friends are casual. London, whose rather untidy and grubby bosom is the repository of so many odd secrets. Discreet, incurious and all-enfolding London.
- Dorothy L. Sayers, Unnatural Death (1927), Chapter 17
- You are now
In London, that great sea, whose ebb and flow
At once is deaf and loud, and on the shore
Vomits its wrecks, and still howls on for more.
Yet in its depth what treasures!
- Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792–1822), British poet. From a letter to Maria Gisborne, 1820.
- How different was my arrival in London from that to which I had been accustomed for many years past! In the capitals and most of the other towns of the Latin Republics the governors and mayors and the town bands were at the station to accord me a ceremonial welcome, as though I were a queen or a foreign representative of high rank. But chilly London!
- Luisa Tetrazzini, My Life of Song (1921): quoted in The Oxford Companion to Music by Percy A. Scholes (1955).
- I don't want to go to London, I told you I don't care. I don't want to go to London: To live there, I don't want to go to London.
- At one end, then, the London Corresponding Society reached out to the coffee-houses, taverns and Dissenting Churches of Piccadilly, Fleet Street, and the Strand, where the self-educated journeyman might rub shoulders with the printer, the shopkeeper, the engraver or the young attorney. At the other end, to the east, and south of the river, it touched those older working-class communities—the waterside workers of Wapping, the silk-weavers of Spitalfields, the old Dissenting stronghold of Southwark. For 200 years “Radical London” had always been more heterogeneous and fluid in its social and occupational definition than the Midlands or Northern centres grouped around two or three staple industries. Popular movements in London have often lacked the coherence and stamina which results from the involvement of an entire community in common occupational and social tensions. On the other hand, they have generally been more subject to intellectual and “ideal” motivations. A propaganda of ideas has had a larger audience than in the North. London Radicalism early acquired a greater sophistication from the need to knit diverse agitations into a common movement. New theories, new arguments, have generally first effected a junction with the popular movement in London, and travelled outwards from London to the provincial centres.
- E. P. Thompson, The Making of the English Working Class (1963), pp. 20-21
- We looked o'er London, where men wither and choke,
Roofed in, poor souls, renouncing stars and skies,
And lore of woods and wild wind prophecies,
Yea, every voice that to their fathers spoke.
- You've got the temperament of a scholar, and you live on your own and write books. You don't have anything to do with civilization. You've been in London a few days and you can't wait to get back home. But how about the people who can't write books -- people there's no outlet for in this civilization? What about your new men who don't know what to do?
- Colin Wilson in The Glass Cage (1966), p. 200
- I love this great polluted place
Where popstars come to live their dreams
Here ravers come for drum and bass
And politicians plan their schemes
The music of the world is here
The city can play any song
They came to here from everywhere
'Tis they that made the city strong
- Benjamin Zephaniah, The London Breed (1998).
Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations
- Quotes reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 462.
- Veni Gotham, ubi multos,
Si non omnes, vidi stultos.
- I came to Gotham, where I saw many who were fools, if not all.
- Richard Brathwait, Drunken Barnaby's Journal.
- London is the clearing-house of the world.
- Joseph Chamberlain, speech, Guildhall, London (Jan. 19, 1904).
- If the parks be "the lungs of London" we wonder what Greenwich Fair is—a periodical breaking out, we suppose—a sort of spring rash.
- Charles Dickens, Greenwich Fair.
- London is the epitome of our times, and the Rome of to-day.
- Ralph Waldo Emerson, English Traits, Result.
- He was born within the sound of Bow-bell.
- Thomas Fuller, Gnomologia.
- London! the needy villain's general home,
The common sewer of Paris and of Rome!
With eager thirst, by folly or by fate,
Sucks in the dregs of each corrupted state.
- Samuel Johnson, London, line 93.
- Then in town let me live, and in town let me die
For I own I can't relish the country, not I.
If I must have a villa in summer to dwell,
Oh give me the sweet shady side of Pall Mall.
- Captain Morris, The Contrast.
- The way was long and weary,
But gallantly they strode,
A country lad and lassie,
Along the heavy road.
The night was dark and stormy,
But blithe of heart were they,
For shining in the distance
The lights of London lay.
O gleaming lights of London, that gem of the city's crown;
What fortunes be within you, O Lights of London Town!
- George R. Sims, song in Lights of London.
- The lungs of London.
- William Windham, referring to the parks of London in a debate in House of Commons (June 30, 1808), attributes it to Lord Chatham.