Thursday, April 26, 2007

Working in Vibrant Soho.

I am very lucky to be working in one of London's most vibrant and interesting areas with a rich history, superb architecture, and a rich cultural mix so I thought since I work in the area I should find out a bit about it's history.
In the Middle Ages Soho became a Royal Park, the name originated from a hunting cry of the time - "So-Ho".
By the 17th century it had been mostly sold off, and underwent rapid development. It attracted plenty of refugees in the 18th and 19th century, which explains how Greek Street got its name.

The mixture of nationalities lent the area a cosmopolitan reputation, which in turn attracted a host of writers, musicians, artists and great minds. Karl Marx lived on Dean Street for a number of years, Canaletto had a studio further west on Beak Street, and William Blake was born on Marshall Street.

The end of the 19th century saw Soho establish itself as London's nightlife centre - a title it still holds today. The French House on Dean Street got its name after it became a well known hangout of the French Resistance during the Second World War. Later in the 20th century Soho began to develop itself as a media centre, with many film companies setting up shop here.

The 1960s saw the development of the sex trade in Soho run by Italian, Maltese and English gangsters and became known as "The Black Mile". This grew rapidly, and is still an embarrassing element of the area, although since a police crackdown in 1991 the trade is more concerned with videos and mags than with prostitution.

The last major story in Soho's history was the bombing of the Admiral Duncan pub on Friday 30th April 1999. 3 people were killed and over 80 injured by the blast in the well-known gay pub. Coming only days after a similar bombing in Brick Lane, it shook London's gay community and the country at large. British National Party member David Copeland was found guilty, and is serving 6 life sentences for the atrocity. The busy area that Soho is, will always attract a bad element, for example on average one violent crime is committed every 5 minutes, but the good far out ways the bad.

"An optimist is a person who sees a green light everywhere, while a pessimist sees only the red stoplight. . . The truly wise person is colorblind".
Albert Scweitzer

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