This is a review I wrote in 2010 of Piccadilly Circus. It won me the qyper of the week award.
Piccadilly Circus page on Qype (now Yelp). Scroll for the entry from eurydice13
How can one review a square? Well, a circular square, no, wait… a circus… why does geometry have to get into this anyway?
It’s world famous due to the smog-darkened little golden boy holding a bow and arrow. Or is it the baptismal-font-like fountain beneath it? In reality, Piccadilly is famous for, you’ll never guess, even though you know it already: its advertising! Story goes there was a law that forbade putting signs on top of buildings as it would deface the landscape. So some smart marketing guy thought that the law doesn’t prevent him from putting them on the walls of the buildings, and off he went! The advertising was such a success, that the real estate cost of the buildings around Piccadilly is astronomical, and the billboards featured probably cost the relevant companies most of their annual budget. Seems to be worth it though, for all the pictures of all those adverts that are plastered across the net, with foolish tourists smiling in the foreground, passing along the new McMenu to their friends back home.
As a square – no, circle – I quite like it. The metro station below is an octopus of exits, with staircases leading to a multitude of spots around the circumference of the area. Going down there is rather fun, as I never know on which side I’m going down at and how far around the periphery I shall have to walk (or in which direction) to get to the entry gates. Or, as a child who grew up in the 80s, I like the swirly Dr.Who reference…
If you only had a day in London, I’m not sure I’d say that you have to see Piccadilly. The statue isn’t breathtaking, the adverts are prosaic, the traffic crazy, and nobody really shops at Lillywhites anymore… But somehow, all of those elements combined, perhaps with the odd well-timed routemaster peeking out of the gentle curve of Regent streets Victorian row of buildings, makes this the epitome of London’s picturesque life, and a sight that you cannot experience anywhere else.