|HISTORY OF PRINCES STREET
the defeat of the Jacobite upsing (cumulating in the Battle
of Culloden in 1746). The idea for creating a New Town for
Edinburgh came to light. It was planned under Provest Drummond
to be built on the farmlands to the North of The Castle.
Building commenced in 1767 to plans submitted
by a young architect James Craig who won
the competition nine years previously when was only 22
Craig's winning design consisted of a simple rectilinear
arrangement (see below) Three parallel main streets, with
George Street, being the widest and grandest main thouroughfare,
and Queen Street and Princes Street running to the North
and South respectively. Public gardens were built at either
end of George Street. To the East St. Andrew Square and to
the West, George Square after the Patron Saints of Scotland
and England. Although George Square was later renamed Charlotte
Square after his wife to avoid confusion with the existing
George Square in the South side of the town.
Thistle and Rose Street were named were
after the National Emblems of Scotland and England. The patriotic
street names celebrated the Union of the Crowns of 1707 and
Scotland's place in the United Kingdom. Craig originally
drew up a plan in the shape of the Union Flag which was rejected
in favour of the current design.
George Street was named after the reigning
Hanovarian monarch, George III. Princes Street was originally
to be named 'St. Giles Street' after Edinburgh's patron saint.
but was also renamed after George III's two sons, Prince
George (future George IV) and the Duke of York.
The Nor Loch, which for centuries
had acted as a Northern defence for the Castle
and once a picturesque lake, had over the years
become an open, stinking sewer. The decision to
drain it in 1759 to create Princes
Street Gardens must have been welcomed
by everyone who lived nearby.
The ornamental gardens were originally
included in Craig's plans. Although he included a canal which
was abandoned when the mound was built to join the Old Town
to the New Town in 1790.
Construction of Princes Street began at
the East end and had reached Hanover Street by 1805. Plans
to fill the street with fine residences were overtaken by
commercial interests and although tradesmen's booths were
demolished as they spoiled the view, Princes Street increasingly
became more commercial becoming Edinburgh's main shopping
Expansion of the New Town continued
during the Victorian era allowed the wealthier professional
classes to abandon the cramped living conditions of the
Old Town on mass and enjoy the wide open streets and grand
architecture of the New Town.
The increased divisons between rich and
poor and gave Edinburgh two distictly separate faces. On
the one hand Edinburgh was dubbed 'Athens of The North'
during the period of Enlightenment producing some of the
greatest minds to shape world history but in the Old Town
people where still living in
squalid and grossly insanitairy conditions.
There was a cholera epedemic in the 1830's
and crime was rife including the Burke
and Hare murders of the late 1820's. Families
were living sometimes 10 to a room above and below ground.
Without investment the high-rised buildings (some over ten
stories high) were left to fall into a state of increasing
decay and were collapsing under their own weight.
By 1861 one such building on the High Street,
now named 'The
Heave Awa Hoose' collapsed killing 35 people.
One young boy was rescued from the rubble after crying out "Heave
Awa Lads, I'm No Deid Yet'.
A public outcry led to The Act of Impovement
was passed in 1867, allowing the council to tear down any
building that was considered unsafe whilst implementing major
changes that would transform several parts of the Old Town
and linking the Royal Mile to Princes Street and the New
Princes Street today is a thriving shopping
street and the place to find many large department stores
such as Jenners, Marks & Spencers, British Home Stores,
House of Fraser and Debenhams.
Shoppers can choose to escape the busy streets at anytime and
relax in the beautiful gardens. An enjoy panoramic views of The
Garden and The