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The London skyline

London is the capital city of England and of the United Kingdom. It is the most populous region, urban zone and metropolitan area in the European Union and 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 Mayor of London and the London Assembly.

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, and GMT). Other famous landmarks include Buckingham Palace, the London Eye, Piccadilly Circus, St Paul's Cathedral, Tower Bridge, Trafalgar Square, and The Shard. London is home to numerous museums, galleries, libraries, sporting events and other cultural institutions, including the British Museum, National Gallery, Tate Modern, British Library and 40 West End theatres. The London Underground 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.
  • 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.
  • London is a bad habit one hates to lose.
    • Anonymous popular saying, as quoted by William Sasom 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.
  • I've been walking about London for the last thirty years, and I find something fresh in it every day.
  • London is a splendid place to live in for those who can get out of it.
    • George John Gordon 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.
  • I don't know what London's coming to—the higher the buildings the lower the morals.
    • Noël Coward (1899-1973), English playwright and actor. 'Law and Order', Collected Sketches and Lyrics.
  • London, that great cesspool into which all the loungers and idlers of the Empire are irresistibly drained.
    • Arthur Conan Doyle (1859–1930), British author. As stated by Dr. Watson, in A Study in Scarlet, Part 1. Ch. 1. (1887).
  • London, thou art the flour of cities all!
  • 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).
  • 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.
  • 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".
  • 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.
  • 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!
  • 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?
  • 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[edit]

Quotes reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 462.
  • As I came down the Highgate Hill,
    The Highgate Hill, the Highgate Hill,
    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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • London is the epitome of our times, and the Rome of to-day.
  • He was born within the sound of Bow-bell.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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!
  • 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.

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