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In The Empty City Of London

May 1, 2023
by the gentle author


Sweeps process through the City of London on May Day (photo courtesy Bishopsgate Institute)



St Andrew by the Wardrobe

The dust is gathering in the City of London today. I used to visit at weekends and holidays to seek solitude in the empty streets but now the streets are always empty. I read a report that office occupancy has plateaued at 22%. Three years ago, pavements were widened to permit more space when office workers returned. Yet they are never coming back like they did before. Corporations have learned they can function with smaller offices in this new age of flexible working, and save a lot of money too. No-one knows quite what happens next. If this is the slow death of the City of London, what will become of all the office towers? And of those still being built? Meanwhile I walk the streets of the City and photograph my favourite dusty corners as the tumbleweed blows down Cheapside.

Amen Corner

St Andrew’s Hill

St Andrew by the Wardrobe

Greyfriars Garden


Charterhouse Sq

Cloth Fair

Cloth Fair

St Bartholomew’s

Bartholomew Close

Watling St

College Hill

College Hill

Dowgate Hill

Abchurch Yard

Lawrence Pountney Hill

Lawrence Pountney Hill

Lawrence Pountney Lane

Reflection of St Margaret Pattern

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In City Churchyards

6 Responses leave one →
  1. May 1, 2023

    In these odd times, you have to expect EVERYTHING to change. What better commentary on the images of inner London than that of the Rolling Stones: Living in a Ghost Town.

    Love & Peace

  2. May 1, 2023

    It would be wonderful to think that these beautiful old properties could once again be dwellings occupied by those sympathetic to their conservation and care – fat chance! London property prices can only now be afforded by the uber-rich many of whom, want the property only for the land value that it sits on and won’t sell because they don’t need to or want to. There may be attempts to convert offices to penthouses for even more rich people. At the moment, I cannot see any change in policy. That said, it’s still good to see that the social housing that I lived in IS still just that and has not been sold off to a billionaire. Dad was able to cycle to work and I was often wheeled around St Paul’s Cathedral Gardens bawling my eyes out in a vain attempt to get me to fall asleep. I think I also had prime position at a Lord Mayor’s Show but I wouldn’t remember that.
    These beautiful old buildings need someone to love them. I confess that I don’t really care what happens to the faceless slabs. They could be demolished and turned into gardens. Thanks for the wander around in photographic form. As I’m currently stuck in one room isolating with Covid, planning future escapes is all I can do at the moment. If anyone has not visited the City to have a close look around , I heartily recommend the GA’s tour.

  3. keithb permalink
    May 1, 2023

    In Birmingham a couple of 1960s vintage mid-rise office blocks have been converted into flats. Also one 1930s vintage one (posher flats).

    Could be a way of making reasonably priced rented accommodation available to the ones who bring vitality. (The artists, musicians, science students, theatre people, journalists, and yes even people who work in ‘tech’).

    Otherwise you’ll have a large museum with old rich people living in it moaning that they can’t get the staff.

  4. May 1, 2023

    If any of the landlords of those lovely eighteenth-century buildings would like to lease an apartment to me at an affordable rate to keep their buildings from standing empty, I’m ready to move in. 😉

  5. Rupert Neil Bumfrey permalink
    May 1, 2023

    Best wishes for this new venture #TGA

    On my weekends in the 1970s I would interchange strolls around The City, with furtive walks around the #EastEnd, quite the chalk ‘n cheese! Reached from my Wimbledon home by the quite excellent District Line, which, of course, was really the only link between the areas of fortune and poverty.

    #Brexit has also contributed to the decline in working population, but as this remains an apolitical blog I will collect my coat?

  6. John Cunningham permalink
    May 31, 2023

    I believe that over time the people will come back as employers find that business is all about people interacting, not hiding away in a home office or bedroom.

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