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City of London

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

City of London
the Square Mile, the City
Domine Dirige Nos (Latin)
"O Lord Direct us"
(motto of City of London Corporation)
Location within Greater London
Location within Greater London
Coordinates: 51°30′56″N 00°05′35″W / 51.51556°N 0.09306°W / 51.51556; -0.09306
StatusSui generis; city and ceremonial county
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Roman settlementc. 47 AD (Londinium)
Wessex resettlement886 AD (Lundenburg)
 • BodyCity of London Corporation
 • Lord MayorMichael Mainelli
 • Town ClerkIan Thomas
 • Admin HQGuildhall
 • London AssemblyUnmesh Desai (Lab; City and East)
 • UK ParliamentNickie Aiken (Con; Cities of London and Westminster)
 • City1.12 sq mi (2.90 km2)
Highest elevation
69 ft (21 m)
Lowest elevation
0 ft (0 m)
 • City10,847
 • Rank295th (of 296)
 • Density9,700/sq mi (3,700/km2)
Time zoneUTC±00:00 (GMT)
 • Summer (DST)UTC+01:00 (BST)
Area code020
ISO 3166-2GB-LND
PoliceCity of London Police
Patron saintSt. Paul

The City of London, also known as the City, is a city, ceremonial county and local government district[note 1] that contains the ancient centre, and constitutes, along with Canary Wharf, the primary central business district (CBD) of London and one of the leading financial centres of the world.[2] It constituted most of London from its settlement by the Romans in the 1st century AD to the Middle Ages, but the modern area referred to as London has since grown far beyond the City of London boundary.[3][4] The City is now only a small part of the metropolis of Greater London, though it remains a notable part of central London. The City of London is not one of the London boroughs, a status reserved for the other 32 districts (including Greater London's only other city, the City of Westminster). It is also a separate ceremonial county, being an enclave surrounded by Greater London, and is the smallest ceremonial county in England.

The City of London is known colloquially as the Square Mile, as it is 1.12 sq mi (716.80 acres; 2.90 km2)[5] in area. Both the terms the City and the Square Mile are often used as metonyms for the UK's trading and financial services industries, which continue a notable history of being largely based in the City.[6] The name London is now ordinarily used for a far wider area than just the City. London most often denotes the sprawling London metropolis, or the 32 Greater London boroughs, in addition to the City of London itself.

The local authority for the City, namely the City of London Corporation, is unique in the UK and has some unusual responsibilities for a local council, such as being the police authority. It is also unusual in having responsibilities and ownerships beyond its boundaries, e.g. Hampstead Heath.[7] The corporation is headed by the Lord Mayor of the City of London (an office separate from, and much older than, the Mayor of London). The Lord Mayor, as of November 2023, is Michael Mainelli.[8] The City is made up of 25 wards, with administration at the historic Guildhall. Other historic sites include St Paul's Cathedral, Royal Exchange, Mansion House, Old Bailey, and Smithfield Market. Although not within the City, the adjacent Tower of London, built to dominate the City, is part of its old defensive perimeter. The City has responsibility for five bridges across the Thames in its capacity as trustee of the Bridge House Estates: Blackfriars Bridge, Millennium Bridge, Southwark Bridge, London Bridge and Tower Bridge.

The City is a major business and financial centre,[9] with both the Bank of England and the London Stock Exchange based in the City. Throughout the 19th century, the City was the world's primary business centre, and it continues to be a major meeting point for businesses.[10] London came second (after New York) in the Global Financial Centres Index, published in 2022. The insurance industry is located in the eastern side of the city, around Lloyd's building. Since about the 1980s, a secondary financial district has existed outside the city, at Canary Wharf, 2.5 miles (4 km) to the east. The legal profession forms a major component of the northern and western sides of the City, especially in the Temple and Chancery Lane areas where the Inns of Court are located, of which two—Inner Temple and Middle Temple—fall within the City of London boundary.

The City has a resident population of 8,583 based on 2021 census figures,[11][12] but over 500,000 are employed there (as of 2019)[13] and some estimates put the number of workers in the City to be over 1 million. About three-quarters of the jobs in the City of London are in the financial, professional, and associated business services sectors.[14]

YouTube Encyclopedic

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  • The Secret City inside of London Revealed
  • London's Secret Mayor who runs The Secret City
  • What Is The City of London Corporation?
  • What's so special about the City of London historically?
  • The Real Story Behind Britain's Offshore Tax Scandal | Britain's Second Empire | Timeline


# The (Secret) City of London -- Part 1 The Great City of London, known for its historical landmarks, modern skyscrapers, ancient markets and famous bridges. It's arguably the financial capital of the world and home to over eleven *thousand* people. Wait, what? Eleven... thousand? That's right: but the City of London is a different place from London -- though London is also known for its historical landmarks, modern skyscrapers, ancient markets, famous bridges and is home to the government, royal family and seven million people. But, if you look map of London crafted by a careful cartographer that map will have a one-square mile hole near the middle -- it's here where the City of London lives inside of the city named London. Despite these confusingly close names the two Londons have separate city halls and elect separate mayors, who collect separate taxes to fund separate police who enforce separate laws. The Mayor of the City of London has a fancy title 'The Right Honourable the Lord Mayor of London' to match his fancy outfit. He also gets to ride in a golden carriage and work in a Guildhall while the mayor of London has to wear a suit, ride a bike and work in an office building. The City of London also has its own flag and its own crest which is awesome and makes London's lack of either twice as sad. To top it off the City of London gets to act more like one of the countries in the UK than just an oddly located city -- for uniquely the corporation that runs the city of London is older than the United Kingdom by several hundred years. So how did the UK end up with two Londons, one inside of the other? Because: Romans. 2,000 years ago they came to Great Britain, killed a bunch of druids, and founded a trading post on the River Thames and named it Londonimium. Being Romans they got to work doing what Romans do: enforcing laws, increasing trade, building temples, public baths, roads, bridges and a wall to defend their work. And it's this wall which is why the current City of London exists -- for though the Romans came and the Romans went and kingdoms rose and kingdoms fell, the wall endured protecting the city within. And The City, governing itself and trading with the world, grew rich. A thousand years after the Romans (yet still a thousand years ago) when William the Conqueror came to Great Britain to conqueror everything and begin modern british history he found the City of London, with its sturdy walls more challenging to defeat than farmers on open fields. So he agreed to recognize the rights and privileges City of Londoners were used to in return for the them recognizing him as the new King. Though after the negotiation, William quickly built towers around the City of London which were just as much about protecting William from the locals within as defending against the Vikings from without. This started a thousand-year long tradition whereby Monarchs always reconfirmed that 'yes' the City of London is a special, unique place best left to its own business, while simultaneously distrusting it. Many a monarch thought the City of London was too powerful and rich. And one even built a new Capital city nearby, named Westminster, to compete with the City of London and hopefully, suck power and wealth away from it. This was the start of the second London. As the centuries passed, Westminster grew and merged with nearby towns eventually surrounding the walled-in, and still separate City of London. But, people began to call the whole urban collection 'London' and the name became official when Parliament joined towns together under a single municipal government with a mayor. But, the mayor of London still doesn't have power over the tiny City of London which has rules and traditions like nowhere else in the country and possibly the world. For example, the ruling monarch doesn't just enter the City of London on a whim, but instead asks for permission from the Lord Mayor at a ceremony. While it's not required by law, the ceremony is, unusual to say the least. The City of London also has a representative in Parliament, The Remembrancer, whose job it is to protects the City's special rights. Because of this, laws passed by Parliament sometimes don't apply to the City of London: most notably voting reforms, which we'll discuss next time. But if you're curious, unlike anywhere else in the UK elections in the City of London involve Medieval Guilds and modern companies. Finally, the City of London also owns and operates land and buildings far outside its border, making it quite wealthy. Once you start looking for The City's Crest you'll find it in lots of places, but most notably on Tower Bridge which, while being in London is operated by City of London, These crests everywhere when combined with the City of London's age and wealth and quazi-independent status make it an irresistible temptation for conspiracy nuts. Add in the oldest Masonic temple and it's not long before the crazy part of the Internet yelling about secret societies controlling the world via the finance industry from inside the City-state of London. (And don't forget the reptilian alien Queen who's really behind it all.) But conspiracy theories aside, the City of London is not an independent nation like the Vatican is, no matter how much you might read it on the Internet, rather it's a unique place in the United Kingdom with a long and complicated history. The wall that began all this 2,000 years ago is now mostly gone -- so the border between London and its secret inner city isn't so obvious. Though, next time you're in London, if you come across a small dragon on the street, he still guards the entrance to the city in a city in a country in a country.



The Waterloo Helmet, c. 150–50 BC, found in the River Thames
A surviving fragment of the London Wall, built around AD 200, close to Tower Hill

The Roman legions established a settlement known as "Londinium" on the current site of the City of London around AD 43. Its bridge over the River Thames turned the city into a road nexus and major port, serving as a major commercial centre in Roman Britain until its abandonment during the 5th century. Archaeologist Leslie Wallace notes that, because extensive archaeological excavation has not revealed any signs of a significant pre-Roman presence, "arguments for a purely Roman foundation of London are now common and uncontroversial."[15]

At its height, the Roman city had a population of approximately 45,000–60,000 inhabitants. Londinium was an ethnically diverse city, with inhabitants from across the Roman Empire, including natives of Britannia, continental Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa.[16] The Romans built the London Wall some time between AD 190 and 225. The boundaries of the Roman city were similar to those of the City of London today, though the City extends further west than Londinium's Ludgate, and the Thames was undredged and thus wider than it is today, with Londinium's shoreline slightly north of the city's present shoreline. The Romans built a bridge across the river, as early as AD 50, near to today's London Bridge.


By the time the London Wall was constructed, the city's fortunes were in decline, and it faced problems of plague and fire. The Roman Empire entered a long period of instability and decline, including the Carausian Revolt in Britain. In the 3rd and 4th centuries, the city was under attack from Picts, Scots, and Saxon raiders. The decline continued, both for Londinium and the Empire, and in AD 410 the Romans withdrew entirely from Britain. Many of the Roman public buildings in Londinium by this time had fallen into decay and disuse, and gradually after the formal withdrawal the city became almost (if not, at times, entirely) uninhabited. The centre of trade and population moved away from the walled Londinium to Lundenwic ("London market"), a settlement to the west, roughly in the modern-day Strand/Aldwych/Covent Garden area.[citation needed]

Anglo-Saxon restoration

During the Anglo-Saxon Heptarchy, the London area came in turn under the Kingdoms of Essex, Mercia, and later Wessex, though from the mid 8th century it was frequently under threat from raids by different groups including the Vikings.

Plaque near Southwark Bridge noting the activities around the time of King Alfred

Bede records that in AD 604 St Augustine consecrated Mellitus as the first bishop to the Anglo-Saxon kingdom of the East Saxons and their king, Sæberht. Sæberht's uncle and overlord, Æthelberht, king of Kent, built a church dedicated to St Paul in London, as the seat of the new bishop.[17] It is assumed, although unproven, that this first Anglo-Saxon cathedral stood on the same site as the later medieval and the present cathedrals.[citation needed]

Alfred the Great, King of Wessex occupied and began the resettlement of the old Roman walled area, in 886, and appointed his son-in-law Earl Æthelred of Mercia over it as part of their reconquest of the Viking occupied parts of England. The refortified Anglo-Saxon settlement was known as Lundenburh ("London Fort", a borough). The historian Asser said that "Alfred, king of the Anglo-Saxons, restored the city of London splendidly ... and made it habitable once more."[18] Alfred's "restoration" entailed reoccupying and refurbishing the nearly deserted Roman walled city, building quays along the Thames, and laying a new city street plan.[19]

Alfred's taking of London and the rebuilding of the old Roman city was a turning point in history, not only as the permanent establishment of the City of London, but also as part of a unifying moment in early England, with Wessex becoming the dominant English kingdom and the repelling (to some degree) of the Viking occupation and raids. While London, and indeed England, were afterwards subjected to further periods of Viking and Danish raids and occupation, the establishment of the City of London and the Kingdom of England prevailed.[20]

In the 10th century, Athelstan permitted eight mints to be established, compared with six in his capital, Winchester, indicating the wealth of the city. London Bridge, which had fallen into ruin following the Roman evacuation and abandonment of Londinium, was rebuilt by the Saxons, but was periodically destroyed by Viking raids and storms.

As the focus of trade and population was moved back to within the old Roman walls, the older Saxon settlement of Lundenwic was largely abandoned and gained the name of Ealdwic (the "old settlement"). The name survives today as Aldwych (the "old market-place"), a name of a street and an area of the City of Westminster between Westminster and the City of London.

Medieval era

Map of London in about 1300
A pivotal event during the Peasants' Revolt, 1381: their leader Wat Tyler is stabbed by William Walworth, Lord Mayor.

Following the Battle of Hastings, William the Conqueror marched on London, reaching as far as Southwark, but failed to get across London Bridge or defeat the Londoners. He eventually crossed the River Thames at Wallingford, pillaging the land as he went. Rather than continuing the war, Edgar the Ætheling, Edwin of Mercia and Morcar of Northumbria surrendered at Berkhamsted. William granted the citizens of London a charter in 1075; the city was one of a few examples of the English retaining some authority. The city was not covered by the Domesday Book.

William built three castles around the city, to keep Londoners subdued:

Around 1132 the City was given the right to appoint its own sheriffs rather than having sheriffs appointed by the monarch. London's chosen sheriffs also served as the sheriffs for the county of Middlesex. This meant that the City and Middlesex were regarded as one administratively for addressing crime and keeping the peace (not that the county was a dependency of the city). London's sheriffs continued to serve Middlesex until the county was given its own sheriffs again following the Local Government Act 1888.[21][22] By 1141 the whole body of the citizenry was considered to constitute a single community. This 'commune' was the origin of the City of London Corporation and the citizens gained the right to appoint, with the king's consent, a mayor in 1189—and to directly elect the mayor from 1215.

From medieval times, the city has been composed of 25 ancient wards, each headed by an alderman, who chairs Wardmotes, which still take place at least annually. A Folkmoot, for the whole of the City held at the outdoor cross of St Paul's Cathedral, was formerly also held. Many of the medieval offices and traditions continue to the present day, demonstrating the unique nature of the City and its Corporation.

In 1381, the Peasants' Revolt affected London. The rebels took the City and the Tower of London, but the rebellion ended after its leader, Wat Tyler, was killed during a confrontation that included Lord Mayor William Walworth. In 1450, rebel forces again occupied the City during Jack Cade's Rebellion before being ousted by London citizens following a bloody battle on London Bridge. In 1550, the area south of London Bridge in Southwark came under the control of the City with the establishment of the ward of Bridge Without.

The "Woodcut" map of London, dating from the 1560s
Map showing the extent of the Great Fire of London, which destroyed nearly 80% of the City
The 1666 Great Fire as depicted in a 17th-century painting: it depicts Old London Bridge, churches, houses, and the Tower of London as seen from a boat near Tower Wharf.

The city was burnt severely on a number of occasions, the worst being in 1123 and in the Great Fire of London in 1666. Both of these fires were referred to as the Great Fire. After the fire of 1666, a number of plans were drawn up to remodel the city and its street pattern into a renaissance-style city with planned urban blocks, squares and boulevards. These plans were almost entirely not taken up, and the medieval street pattern re-emerged almost intact.

Early modern period

In the 1630s the Crown sought to have the Corporation of the City of London extend its jurisdiction to surrounding areas. In what is sometimes called the "great refusal", the Corporation said no to the King, which in part accounts for its unique government structure to the present.[23]

By the late 16th century, London increasingly became a major centre for banking, international trade and commerce. The Royal Exchange was founded in 1565 by Sir Thomas Gresham as a centre of commerce for London's merchants, and gained Royal patronage in 1571. Although no longer used for its original purpose, its location at the corner of Cornhill and Threadneedle Street continues to be the geographical centre of the city's core of banking and financial services, with the Bank of England moving to its present site in 1734, opposite the Royal Exchange. Immediately to the south of Cornhill, Lombard Street was the location from 1691 of Lloyd's Coffee House, which became the world-leading insurance market. London's insurance sector continues to be based in the area, particularly in Lime Street.

In 1708, Christopher Wren's masterpiece, St Paul's Cathedral, was completed on his birthday. The first service had been held on 2 December 1697, more than 10 years earlier. It replaced the original St Paul's, which had been completely destroyed in the Great Fire of London, and is considered to be one of the finest cathedrals in Britain and a fine example of Baroque architecture.

Growth of London

The 18th century was a period of rapid growth for London, reflecting an increasing national population, the early stirrings of the Industrial Revolution, and London's role at the centre of the evolving British Empire. The urban area expanded beyond the borders of the City of London, most notably during this period towards the West End and Westminster.

Expansion continued and became more rapid by the beginning of the 19th century, with London growing in all directions. To the East the Port of London grew rapidly during the century, with the construction of many docks, needed as the Thames at the City could not cope with the volume of trade. The arrival of the railways and the Tube meant that London could expand over a much greater area. By the mid-19th century, with London still rapidly expanding in population and area, the City had already become only a small part of the wider metropolis.

19th and 20th centuries

An attempt was made in 1894 with the Royal Commission on the Amalgamation of the City and County of London to end the distinction between the city and the surrounding County of London, but a change of government at Westminster meant the option was not taken up. The city as a distinct polity survived despite its position within the London conurbation and numerous local government reforms. Supporting this status, the city was a special parliamentary borough that elected four members to the unreformed House of Commons, who were retained after the Reform Act 1832; reduced to two under the Redistribution of Seats Act 1885; and ceased to be a separate constituency under the Representation of the People Act 1948. Since then the city is a minority (in terms of population and area) of the Cities of London and Westminster.

St Paul's Cathedral (pictured 1896) dominated the skyline of the City for centuries — its current structure by Christopher Wren was completed in 1706, after its medieval predecessor burned with much of the City in the Great Fire of 1666.

The city's population fell rapidly in the 19th century and through most of the 20th century, as people moved outwards in all directions to London's vast suburbs, and many residential buildings were demolished to make way for office blocks. Like many areas of London and other British cities, the City fell victim to large scale and highly destructive aerial bombing during World War II, especially in the Blitz. Whilst St Paul's Cathedral survived the onslaught, large swathes of the area did not and the particularly heavy raids of late December 1940 led to a firestorm called the Second Great Fire of London.

There was a major rebuilding programme in the decades following the war, in some parts (such as at the Barbican) dramatically altering the urban landscape. But the destruction of the older historic fabric allowed the construction of modern and larger-scale developments, whereas in those parts not so badly affected by bomb damage the City retains its older character of smaller buildings. The street pattern, which is still largely medieval, was altered slightly in places, although there is a more recent trend of reversing some of the post-war modernist changes made, such as at Paternoster Square.

The City suffered terrorist attacks including the 1993 Bishopsgate bombing (IRA) and the 7 July 2005 London bombings (Islamist). In response to the 1993 bombing, a system of road barriers, checkpoints and surveillance cameras referred to as the "ring of steel" has been maintained to control entry points to the city.

The 1970s saw the construction of tall office buildings including the 600-foot (183 m), 47-storey NatWest Tower, the first skyscraper in the UK. By the 2010s, office space development had intensified in the City, especially in the central, northern and eastern parts, with skyscrapers including 30 St. Mary Axe ("the Gherkin"'), Leadenhall Building ("the Cheesegrater"), 20 Fenchurch Street ("the Walkie-Talkie"), the Broadgate Tower, the Heron Tower and 22 Bishopsgate.

The main residential section of the City today is the Barbican Estate, constructed between 1965 and 1976. The Museum of London was based there until March 2023 (due to reopen in West Smithfield in 2026),[24] whilst a number of other services provided by the corporation are still maintained on the Barbican Estate.


Guildhall is the ceremonial and administrative centre of the city.
Mansion House is the official residence of the Lord Mayor.
John Stuttard, Lord Mayor of the City of London 2006–2007, during the Lord Mayor's Show of 2006

The city has a unique political status, a legacy of its uninterrupted integrity as a corporate city since the Anglo-Saxon period and its singular relationship with the Crown. Historically its system of government was not unusual, but it was not reformed by the Municipal Corporations Act 1835 and little changed by later reforms, so that it is the only local government in the UK where elections are not run on the basis of one vote for every adult citizen.

It is administered by the City of London Corporation, headed by the Lord Mayor of London (not to be confused with the separate Mayor of London, an office created only in the year 2000), which is responsible for a number of functions and has interests in land beyond the city's boundaries. Unlike other English local authorities, the corporation has two council bodies: the (now largely ceremonial) Court of Aldermen and the Court of Common Council. The Court of Aldermen represents the wards, with each ward (irrespective of size) returning one alderman. The chief executive of the Corporation holds the ancient office of Town Clerk of London.

The city is a ceremonial county which has a Commission of Lieutenancy headed by the Lord Mayor instead of a Lord-Lieutenant and has two Sheriffs instead of a High Sheriff (see list of Sheriffs of London), quasi-judicial offices appointed by the livery companies, an ancient political system based on the representation and protection of trades (guilds). Senior members of the livery companies are known as liverymen and form the Common Hall, which chooses the lord mayor, the sheriffs and certain other officers.


The city is made up of 25 wards. They are survivors of the medieval government system that allowed a very local area to exist as a self-governing unit within the wider city.[25] They can be described as electoral/political divisions; ceremonial, geographic and administrative entities; sub-divisions of the city. Each ward has an Alderman, who until the mid-1960s[26] held office for life but since put themselves up for re-election at least every 6 years, and are the only directly elected Aldermen in the United Kingdom. Wards continue to have a Beadle, an ancient position which is now largely ceremonial whose main remaining function is the running of an annual Wardmote of electors, representatives and officials.[27] At the Wardmote the ward's Alderman appoints at least one Deputy for the year ahead, and Wardmotes are also held during elections. Each ward also has a Ward Club, which is similar to a residents' association.[28]

The wards are ancient and their number has changed three times since time immemorial:

  • in 1394 Farringdon was divided into Farringdon Within and Farringdon Without
  • in 1550 the ward of Bridge Without, south of the river, was created, the ward of Bridge becoming Bridge Within;[29]
  • in 1978 these Bridge wards were merged as Bridge ward.[30]
A map of the wards as they were in the late 19th century
A map of the wards since 2003

Following boundary changes in 1994, and later reform of the business vote in the city, there was a major boundary and electoral representation revision of the wards in 2003, and they were reviewed again in 2010 for change in 2013, though not to such a dramatic extent. The review was conducted by senior officers of the corporation and senior judges of the Old Bailey;[31] the wards are reviewed by this process to avoid malapportionment. The procedure of review is unique in the United Kingdom as it is not conducted by the Electoral Commission or a local government boundary commission every 8 to 12 years, which is the case for all other wards in Great Britain. Particular churches, livery company halls and other historic buildings and structures are associated with a ward, such as St Paul's Cathedral with Castle Baynard, and London Bridge with Bridge; boundary changes in 2003 removed some of these historic connections.

Each ward elects an alderman to the Court of Aldermen, and commoners (the City equivalent of a councillor) to the Court of Common Council of the corporation. Only electors who are Freemen of the City of London are eligible to stand. The number of commoners a ward sends to the Common Council varies from two to ten, depending on the number of electors in each ward. Since the 2003 review it has been agreed that the four more residential wards: Portsoken, Queenhithe, Aldersgate and Cripplegate together elect 20 of the 100 commoners, whereas the business-dominated remainder elect the remaining 80 commoners. 2003 and 2013 boundary changes have increased the residential emphasis of the mentioned four wards.

Census data provides eight nominal rather than 25 real wards, all of varying size and population. Being subject to renaming and definition at any time, these census 'wards' are notable in that four of the eight wards accounted for 67% of the 'square mile' and held 86% of the population, and these were in fact similar to and named after four City of London wards:

Extract of census 'wards' where approximate to underlying legal wards[32]
Census ward % of the City
of London
Residents % of built-upon land
Commercial Residential
Cripplegate (east half of Barbican neighbourhood) 10.0% 2,782 79% 21%
Aldersgate (west half of Barbican neighbourhood) 4.5% 1,465 81% 19%
Farringdon Without (and much of Castle Baynard) 22.1% 1,099 90% 10%
Portsoken (contains Aldgate Underground station) 6.6% 985 86% 14%


The city has a unique electoral system. Most of its voters are representatives of businesses and other bodies that occupy premises in the city. Its ancient wards have very unequal numbers of voters. In elections, both the businesses based in the city and the residents of the City vote.

The City of London Corporation was not reformed by the Municipal Corporations Act 1835, because it had a more extensive electoral franchise than any other borough or city; in fact, it widened this further with its own equivalent legislation allowing one to become a freeman without being a liveryman. In 1801, the city had a population of about 130,000, but increasing development of the city as a central business district led to this falling to below 5,000 after the Second World War.[citation needed] It has risen slightly to around 9,000 since, largely due to the development of the Barbican Estate. In 2009, the business vote was about 24,000, greatly exceeding residential voters.[33] As the City of London Corporation has not been affected by other municipal legislation over the period of time since then, its electoral practice has become increasingly anomalous. Uniquely for city or borough elections, its elections remain independent-dominated.

The business or "non-residential vote" was abolished in other UK local council elections by the Representation of the People Act 1969, but was preserved in the City of London. The principal reason given by successive UK governments for retaining this mechanism for giving businesses representation, is that the city is "primarily a place for doing business".[34] About 330,000 non-residents constitute the day-time population and use most of its services, far outnumbering residents, who number around 7,000 (2011). By contrast, opponents of the retention of the business vote argue that it is a cause of institutional inertia.[35]

The City of London (Ward Elections) Act 2002, a private Act of Parliament,[36] reformed the voting system and greatly increased the business franchise, allowing many more businesses to be represented. Under the new system, the number of non-resident voters has doubled from 16,000 to 32,000. Previously disenfranchised firms (and other organisations) are entitled to nominate voters, in addition to those already represented, and all such bodies are now required to choose their voters in a representative fashion. Bodies employing fewer than 10 people may appoint 1 voter; those employing 10 to 50 people 1 voter for every 5 employees; those employing more than 50 people 10 voters and 1 additional voter for each 50 employees beyond the first 50. The Act also changed other aspects of an earlier act relating to elections in the city, from 1957.

The Temple

Inner Temple and Middle Temple (which neighbour each other) in the western ward of Farringdon Without are within the boundaries and liberties of the City, but can be thought of as independent enclaves. They are two of the few remaining liberties, an old name for a geographic division with special rights. They are extra-parochial areas,[37] historically not governed by the City of London Corporation[38] (and are today regarded as local authorities for most purposes[39]) and equally outside the ecclesiastical jurisdiction of the Bishop of London.

Other functions

Leadenhall Market is a historic market nestled between Gracechurch Street and Lime Street.

Within the city, the Corporation owns and runs both Smithfield Market and Leadenhall Market. It owns land beyond its boundaries, including open spaces (parks, forests and commons) in and around Greater London, including most of Epping Forest and Hampstead Heath. The Corporation owns Old Spitalfields Market and Billingsgate Fish Market, in the neighbouring London Borough of Tower Hamlets. It owns and helps fund the Old Bailey, the Central Criminal Court for England and Wales, as a gift to the nation, having begun as the City and Middlesex Sessions. The Honourable The Irish Society, a body closely linked with the corporation, also owns many public spaces in Northern Ireland.

The city has its own independent police force, the City of London Police—the Common Council (the main body of the corporation) is the police authority.[40] The corporation also run the Hampstead Heath Constabulary, Epping Forest Keepers and the City of London market constabularies (whose members are no longer attested as constables but retain the historic title). The majority of Greater London is policed by the Metropolitan Police Service, based at New Scotland Yard.

The city has one hospital, St Bartholomew's Hospital, also known as 'Barts'. Founded in 1123, it is located at Smithfield, and is undergoing a long-awaited regeneration after doubts as to its continuing use during the 1990s.

The city is the third largest UK patron of the arts. It oversees the Barbican Centre and subsidises several important performing arts companies.

The London Port Health Authority, which is the responsibility of the corporation, is responsible for all port health functions on the tidal part of the Thames, including the Port of London and related seaports, and London City Airport.[41] The Corporation oversees the Bridge House Estates, which maintains Blackfriars Bridge, Millennium Bridge, Southwark Bridge, London Bridge and Tower Bridge. The City's flag flies over Tower Bridge, although neither footing is in the city.[42]

The boundary of the City

City of London boundary marker on approach to London Bridge

The size of the city was constrained by a defensive perimeter wall, known as London Wall, which was built by the Romans in the late 2nd century to protect their strategic port city. However the boundaries of the City of London no longer coincide with the old city wall, as the City expanded its jurisdiction slightly over time. During the medieval era, the city's jurisdiction expanded westwards, crossing the historic western border of the original settlement—the River Fleet—along Fleet Street to Temple Bar. The city also took in the other "City bars" which were situated just beyond the old walled area, such as at Holborn, Aldersgate, West Smithfield, Bishopsgate and Aldgate. These were the important entrances to the city and their control was vital in maintaining the city's special privileges over certain trades.

Dragon statue on the Temple Bar monument, which marks the boundary between the City of London and City of Westminster

Most of the wall has disappeared, but several sections remain visible. A section near the Museum of London was revealed after the devastation of an air raid on 29 December 1940 at the height of the Blitz. Other visible sections are at St Alphage, and there are two sections near the Tower of London. The River Fleet was canalised after the Great Fire of 1666 and then in stages was bricked up and has been since the 18th century one of London's "lost rivers or streams", today underground as a storm drain.

The boundary of the city was unchanged until minor boundary changes on 1 April 1994, when it expanded slightly to the west, north and east, taking small parcels of land from the London Boroughs of Westminster, Camden, Islington, Hackney and Tower Hamlets. The main purpose of these changes was to tidy up the boundary where it had been rendered obsolete by changes in the urban landscape. In this process the city also lost small parcels of land, though there was an overall net gain (the City grew from 1.05 to 1.12 square miles). Most notably, the changes placed the (then recently developed) Broadgate estate entirely in the city.[43]

Southwark, to the south of the city on the other side of the Thames, was within the City between 1550 and 1899 as the Ward of Bridge Without, a situation connected with the Guildable Manor. The city's administrative responsibility there had in practice disappeared by the mid-Victorian period as various aspects of metropolitan government were extended into the neighbouring areas. Today it is part of the London Borough of Southwark. The Tower of London has always been outside the city and comes under the London Borough of Tower Hamlets.

Arms, motto and flag

City of London arms on a saddle blanket, as seen outside the Royal Courts of Justice during the Lord Mayor's Show, 2011

The Corporation of the City of London has a full achievement of armorial bearings consisting of a shield on which the arms are displayed, a crest displayed on a helm above the shield, supporters on either side and a motto displayed on a scroll beneath the arms.[44][45][46]

The coat of arms is "anciently recorded" at the College of Arms. The arms consist of a silver shield bearing a red cross with a red upright sword in the first quarter. They combine the emblems of the patron saints of England and London: the Cross of St George with the symbol of the martyrdom of Saint Paul.[45][46] The sword is often erroneously supposed to commemorate the killing of Peasants' Revolt leader Wat Tyler by Lord Mayor of London William Walworth. However the arms were in use some months before Tyler's death, and the tradition that Walworth's dagger is depicted may date from the late 17th century.[45][47][48][49]

The Latin motto of the city is "Domine dirige nos", which translates as "Lord, direct us". It is thought to have been adopted in the 17th century, as the earliest record of it is in 1633.[46][48]

A banner of the arms (the design on the shield) is flown as a flag.


The City of London is the smallest ceremonial county of England by area and population, and the fourth most densely populated. Of the 326 English districts, it is the second smallest by population, after the Isles of Scilly, and the smallest by area. It is also the smallest English city by population (and in Britain, only two cities in Wales are smaller), and the smallest in the UK by area.

The elevation of the City ranges from sea level at the Thames to 21.6 metres (71 ft) at the junction of High Holborn and Chancery Lane.[50] Two small but notable hills are within the historic core, Ludgate Hill to the west and Cornhill to the east. Between them ran the Walbrook, one of the many "lost" rivers or streams of London (another is the Fleet).


Modern borders of the City of London, showing surrounding London boroughs and the pre-1994 boundary (where changed) in red. The area covered by the Inner and Middle Temple is marked in green.

Beginning in the west, where the City borders Westminster, the boundary crosses the Victoria Embankment from the Thames, passes to the west of Middle Temple, then turns for a short distance along the Strand and near Temple Bar then north up Chancery Lane, where it borders Camden. It turns east along Holborn to Holborn Circus and then goes northeast to Charterhouse Street. As it crosses Farringdon Road it becomes the boundary with Islington. It continues to Aldersgate, goes north, and turns east into some back streets soon after Aldersgate becomes Goswell Road, since 1994 embracing all of the corporation's Golden Lane Estate. Here, at Baltic Street West, is the most northerly extent. The boundary includes all of the Barbican Estate and continues east along Ropemaker Street and its continuation on the other side of Moorgate, becomes South Place. It goes north, reaching the border with Hackney, then east, north, east on back streets, with Worship Street forming a northern boundary, so as to include the Broadgate estate. The boundary then turns south at Norton Folgate and becomes the border with Tower Hamlets. It continues south into Bishopsgate, and takes some backstreets to Middlesex Street (Petticoat Lane) where it continues south-east then south. It then turns south-west, crossing the Minories so as to exclude the Tower of London, and then reaches the Thames.

The boundary then runs up the centre of the low-tide channel of the Thames, with the exception that Blackfriars Bridge (including the river beneath and land at its south end) is entirely part of the City, whilst the span and southern abutment of London Bridge is part of the city for some purposes[51] (and as such is part of Bridge ward).[52]

The boundaries are marked by black bollards bearing the city's emblem, and by dragon boundary marks at major entrances, such as Holborn and the south end of London Bridge. A more substantial monument marks the boundary at Temple Bar on Fleet Street.

In some places, the financial district extends slightly beyond the boundaries, notably to the north and east, into the London boroughs of Tower Hamlets, Hackney and Islington, and informally these locations are regarded as being part of the "Square Mile". Since the 1990s the eastern fringe, extending into Hackney and Tower Hamlets, has increasingly been a focus for large office developments due to the availability of large sites compared to within the city.

Gardens and public art

Finsbury Circus, the largest public open space, seen from Tower 42

The city has no sizeable parks within its boundary, but does have a network of a large number of gardens and small open spaces, many of them maintained by the corporation. These range from formal gardens such as the one in Finsbury Circus, containing a bowling green and bandstand, to churchyards such as St Olave Hart Street, to water features and artwork in courtyards and pedestrianised lanes.[53]

Gardens include:

There are a number of private gardens and open spaces, often within courtyards of the larger commercial developments. Two of the largest are those of the Inner Temple and Middle Temple Inns of Court, in the far southwest.

The Thames and its riverside walks are increasingly being valued as open space and in recent years efforts have been made to increase the ability for pedestrians to access and walk along the river.


The nearest weather station has historically been the London Weather Centre at Kingsway/ Holborn, although observations ceased in 2010. Now St. James Park provides the nearest official readings.

The city has an oceanic climate (Köppen "Cfb") modified by the urban heat island in the centre of London. This generally causes higher night-time minima than outlying areas. For example, the August mean minimum[55] of 14.7 °C (58.5 °F) compares to a figure of 13.3 °C (55.9 °F) for Greenwich[56] and Heathrow[57] whereas is 11.6 °C (52.9 °F) at Wisley[58] in the middle of several square miles of Metropolitan Green Belt. All figures refer to the observation period 1971–2000.

Accordingly, the weather station holds the record for the UK's warmest overnight minimum temperature, 24.0 °C (75.2 °F), recorded on 4 August 1990.[59] The maximum is 37.6 °C (99.7 °F), set on 10 August 2003.[60] The absolute minimum[61] for the weather station is a mere −8.2 °C (17.2 °F), compared to readings around −15.0 °C (5.0 °F) towards the edges of London. Unusually, this temperature was during a windy and snowy cold spell (mid-January 1987), rather than a cold clear night—cold air drainage is arrested due to the vast urban area surrounding the city.

The station holds the record for the highest British mean monthly temperature,[62] 24.5 °C (76.1 °F) (mean maximum 29.2 °C (84.6 °F), mean minimum 19.7 °C (67.5 °F) during July 2006). However, in terms of daytime maximum temperatures, Cambridge NIAB[63] and Botanical Gardens[64] with a mean maximum of 29.1 °C (84.4 °F), and Heathrow[65] with 29.0 °C (84.2 °F) all exceeded this.

Climate data for London Weather Centre 1971–2000, 43 m asl
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Mean daily maximum °C (°F) 8.3
Mean daily minimum °C (°F) 3.7

Public services

City of London coat of arms on the street

Police and security

A City of London Police vehicle on Blackfriars Bridge

The city is a police area and has its own police force, the City of London Police, separate from the Metropolitan Police Service covering the majority of Greater London. The City Police previously had three police stations, at Snow Hill, Wood Street and Bishopsgate. They now only retain Bishopsgate along with an administrative headquarters at Guildhall Yard East.[67] The force comprises 735 police officers including 273 detectives.[68] It is the smallest territorial police force in England and Wales, in both geographic area and the number of police officers.

Where the majority of British police forces have silver-coloured badges, those of the City of London Police are black and gold featuring the City crest. The force has rare red and white chequered cap bands and unique red and white striped duty arm bands on the sleeves of the tunics of constables and sergeants (red and white being the colours of the city), which in most other British police forces are black and white. City police sergeants and constables wear crested custodian helmets whilst on foot patrol. These helmets do not feature either St Edward's Crown or the Brunswick Star, which are used on most other police helmets in England and Wales.

The city's position as the United Kingdom's financial centre and a critical part of the country's economy, contributing about 2.5% of the UK's gross national product,[69] has resulted in it becoming a target for political violence. The Provisional IRA exploded several bombs in the early 1990s, including the 1993 Bishopsgate bombing.

The area is also spoken of as a possible target for al-Qaeda. For instance, when in May 2004 the BBC's Panorama programme examined the preparedness of Britain's emergency services for a terrorist attack on the scale of the 11 September 2001 attacks, they simulated a chemical explosion on Bishopsgate in the east of the city. The "Ring of Steel" was established in the wake of the IRA bombings to guard against terrorist threats.

Fire brigade

The city has fire risks in many historic buildings, including St Paul's Cathedral, Old Bailey, Mansion House, Smithfield Market, the Guildhall, and also in numerous high-rise buildings. There is one London Fire Brigade station in the city, at Dowgate, with one pumping appliance.[70] The City relies upon stations in the surrounding London boroughs to support it at some incidents. The first fire engine is in attendance in roughly five minutes on average, the second when required in a little over five and a half minutes.[70] There were 1,814 incidents attended in the City in 2006/2007—the lowest in Greater London. No-one died in an event arising from a fire in the four years prior to 2007.[70]


There is power station located in Charterhouse Street that also provides heat to some of the surrounding buildings.[71]


Population pyramid of the City of London in 2021
Historical population
1801 130,117—    
1811 122,924−5.5%
1821 127,040+3.3%
1831 125,353−1.3%
1841 127,514+1.7%
1851 132,734+4.1%
1861 108,078−18.6%
1871 83,421−22.8%
1881 58,764−29.6%
1891 43,882−25.3%
1901 32,649−25.6%
1911 24,292−25.6%
1921 19,564−19.5%
1931 15,758−19.5%
1941 10,920−30.7%
1951 7,568−30.7%
1961 5,718−24.4%
1971 4,325−24.4%
1981 4,603+6.4%
1991 3,861−16.1%
2001 7,186+86.1%
2011 7,375+2.6%
2021 8,600+16.6%
Sources: Office for National Statistics[72]

The Office for National Statistics recorded the population in 2011 as 7,375;[73] slightly higher than in the previous census, 2001,[74] and estimates the population as at mid-2016 to be 9,401. At the 2001 census the ethnic composition was 84.6% White, 6.8% South Asian, 2.6% Black, 2.3% Mixed, 2.0% Chinese and 1.7% were listed as "other".[74] To the right is a table showing the change in population since 1801, based on decadal censuses. The first half of the 19th century shows a population of between 120,000 and 140,000, decreasing dramatically from 1851 to 1991, with a small increase between 1991 and 2001. The only notable boundary change since the first census in 1801 occurred in 1994.

The city's full-time working residents have much higher gross weekly pay than in London and Great Britain (England, Wales and Scotland): £773.30 compared to £598.60 and £491.00 respectively.[75] There is a large inequality of income between genders (£1,085.90 in men compared to £653.50 in women), though this can be explained by job type and length of employment respectively.[75] The 2001 Census showed the city as a unique district amongst 376 districts surveyed in England and Wales.[74] The city had the highest proportional population increase, one-person households, people with qualifications at degree level or higher and the highest indications of overcrowding.[74] It recorded the lowest proportion of households with cars or vans, people who travel to work by car, married couple households and the lowest average household size: just 1.58 people.[74] It also ranked highest within the Greater London area for the percentage of people with no religion and people who are employed.[74]


Ethnic Group Year
1981 estimations[76] 1991[77] 2001[78] 2011[79] 2021[80]
Number % Number % Number % Number % Number %
White: Total 3,732 95.5% 3,840 92.7% 6,075 84.6% 5,799 78.5% 5,955 69.4%
White: British 4,909 68.3% 4,243 57.5% 3,649 42.5%
White: Irish 241 % 180 2.4% 185 2.2%
White: Gypsy or Irish Traveller 3 0.0% 0 0.0%
White: Roma 59 0.7%
White: Other 925 12.8% 1,373 18.6% 2,062 24.0%
Asian or Asian British: Total 217 5.2% 638 8.9% 940 12.5% 1,445 16.7%
Asian or Asian British: Indian 69 1.7% 159 2.2 % 216 2.9% 321 3.7%
Asian or Asian British: Pakistani 20 0.5% 23 0.3 % 16 0.2% 33 0.4%
Asian or Asian British: Bangladeshi 9 276 3.8 % 232 3.1% 287 3.3%
Asian or Asian British: Chinese 56 1.3% 147 2 % 263 3.5% 545 6.3%
Asian or Asian British: Other Asian 63 1.5% 33 % 213 2.8% 259 3.0%
Black or Black British: Total 38 0.9% 184 2.6% 193 2.5% 232 2.7%
Black or Black British: African 12 0.3% 117 1.6 % 98 1.3% 153 1.8%
Black or Black British: Caribbean 12 0.3% 51 % 46 0.6% 54 0.6%
Black or Black British: Other Black 14 0.3% 16 % 49 0.6% 25 0.3%
Mixed or British Mixed: Total 163 2.3% 289 3.8% 470 5.5%
Mixed: White and Black Caribbean 33 % 38 0.5% 53 0.6%
Mixed: White and Black African 16 % 37 0.5% 49 0.6%
Mixed: White and Asian 57 % 111 1.5% 179 2.1%
Mixed: Other Mixed 57 % 103 1.3% 189 2.2%
Other: Total 47 1.1% 125 1.7% 154 2% 482 5.6%
Other: Arab 69 0.9% 114 1.3%
Other: Any other ethnic group 47 1.1% 125 1.7 % 85 1.1% 368 4.3%
Ethnic minority: Total 177 4.5% 302 7.3% 1,110 15.4% 1,576 21.5% 2,629 30.6%
Total 3,909 100% 4,142 100% 7,185 100% 7,375 100% 8584 100%


The Bank of England, on Threadneedle Street, is the central bank of the United Kingdom.

The City of London vies with New York City's Downtown Manhattan as the financial capital of the world. The London Stock Exchange (shares and bonds), Lloyd's of London (insurance) and the Bank of England are all based in the city.[81] Over 500 banks have offices in the city. The Alternative Investment Market, a market for trades in equities of smaller firms, is a recent development. In 2009, the City of London accounted for 2.4% of UK GDP.[14]

London's foreign exchange market has been described by Reuters as 'the crown jewel of London's financial sector'.[82] Of the $3.98 trillion daily global turnover, as measured in 2009, trading in London accounted for around $1.85 trillion, or 46.7% of the total.[14] The pound sterling, the currency of the United Kingdom, is globally the fourth-most traded currency[83] and the fourth most held reserve currency.[84]

Canary Wharf, a few miles east of the City in Tower Hamlets, which houses many banks and other institutions formerly located in the Square Mile, has since 1991 become another centre for London's financial services industry. Although growth has continued in both locations,[ambiguous] and there have been relocations in both directions, the Corporation has come to realise that its planning policies may have been causing financial firms to choose Canary Wharf as a location.[citation needed]

In 2022, 12.3% of City of London residents had been granted non-domicile status in order to avoid their paying tax in the UK.[85]


Paternoster Square, since 2004 the home of the London Stock Exchange

Many major global companies have their headquarters in the city, including Aviva,[86] BT Group,[87] Lloyds Banking Group,[88] Quilter, Prudential,[89] Schroders,[90] Standard Chartered,[91] and Unilever.[92]

A number of the world's largest law firms are headquartered in the city, including four of the "Magic Circle" law firms (Allen & Overy, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, Linklaters and Slaughter & May), as well as other firms such as Ashurst LLP, DLA Piper, Eversheds Sutherland, Herbert Smith Freehills and Hogan Lovells.

Other sectors

Barbican Centre

Whilst the financial sector, and related businesses and institutions, continue to dominate, the economy is not limited to that sector. The legal profession has a strong presence, especially in the west and north (i.e., towards the Inns of Court). Retail businesses were once important, but have gradually moved to the West End of London, though it is now Corporation policy to encourage retailing in some locations, for example at Cheapside near St Paul's. The city has a number of visitor attractions, mainly based on its historic heritage as well as the Barbican Centre and adjacent Museum of London, though tourism is not at present a major contributor to the city's economy or character. The city has many pubs, bars and restaurants, and the "night-time" economy does feature in the Bishopsgate area, towards Shoreditch. The meat market at Smithfield, wholly within the city, continues to be one of London's main markets (the only one remaining in central London) and the country's largest meat market. In the east is Leadenhall Market, a fresh food market that is also a visitor attraction.

Retail and residential

The trend for purely office development is beginning to reverse as the Corporation encourages residential use, albeit with development occurring when it arises on windfall sites. The city has a target of 90 additional dwellings per year.[93] Some of the extra accommodation is in small pre-World War II listed buildings, which are not suitable for occupation by the large companies which now provide much of the city's employment. Recent residential developments include "the Heron", a high-rise residential building on the Milton Court site adjacent to the Barbican, and the Heron Plaza development on Bishopsgate is also expected to include residential parts.

Since the 1990s, the City has diversified away from near exclusive office use in other ways. For example, several hotels and the first department store opened in the 2000s. A shopping centre was more recently opened at One New Change, Cheapside (near St Paul's Cathedral) in October 2010, which is open seven days a week. However, large sections remain quiet at weekends, especially in the eastern section, and it is quite common to find shops, pubs and cafes closed on these days.


Historic buildings

Fire, bombing and post-World War II redevelopment have meant that the city, despite its history, has fewer intact historic structures than one might expect. Nonetheless, there remain many dozens of (mostly Victorian and Edwardian) fine buildings, typically in historicist and neoclassical style. They include the Monument to the Great Fire of London ("the Monument"), St Paul's Cathedral, the Guildhall, the Royal Exchange, Dr. Johnson's House, Mansion House and a great many churches, many designed by Sir Christopher Wren, who also designed St Paul's.

Prince Henry's Room and 2 King's Bench Walk are notable historic survivors of heavy bombing of the Temple area, which has largely been rebuilt to its historic form. Another example of a bomb-damaged place having been restored is Staple Inn on Holborn. A few small sections of the Roman London Wall exist, for example near the Tower of London and in the Barbican area. Among the twentieth-century listed buildings are Bracken House, the first post World War II buildings in the country to be given statutory protection, and the whole of the Barbican and Golden Lane Estate.

The Tower of London is not in the city, but is a notable visitor attraction which brings tourists to the southeast of the city. Other landmark buildings with historical significance include the Bank of England, the Old Bailey, the Custom House, Smithfield Market, Leadenhall Market and St Bartholomew's Hospital. Noteworthy contemporary buildings include a number of modern high-rise buildings (see section below) as well as the Lloyd's building.

The Bank of England (left) and the Royal Exchange (centre) are two of the many significant buildings in the City of London.

Skyscrapers and tall buildings

The City skyline in 2021, including 20 Fenchurch Street, the Leadenhall Building, 30 St Mary Axe & 22 Bishopgate, the tallest building in the City of London. London Bridge to the bottom left.

A growing number of tall buildings and skyscrapers are principally used by the financial sector. Almost all are situated in the eastern side around Bishopsgate, Leadenhall Street and Fenchurch Street, in the financial core of the city. In the north there is a smaller cluster comprising the Barbican Estate's three tall residential towers and the commercial CityPoint tower. In 2007, the 100 m (328 ft) tall Drapers' Gardens building was demolished and replaced by a shorter tower.

The city's buildings of at least 100 m (328 ft) in height are:

Rank Name Completed Image Architect Use Height to roof Floors Location
metres feet
1 Twentytwo 2020
PLP Architects Office 278 912 62 22 Bishopsgate
2 Heron Tower 2010
Kohn Pedersen Fox Office 230 754 46 110 Bishopsgate
3 Leadenhall Building 2014
Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners Office 225 737 48 122 Leadenhall Street
4 8 Bishopsgate 2022
WilkinsonEyre Office 204 669 51 8 Bishopsgate
5 The Scalpel 2018
Kohn Pedersen Fox Office 190 630 39 52 Lime Street
6 Tower 42 1980
R Siefert & Partners Office 183 600 47 25 Old Broad Street
7 30 St Mary Axe 2003
Foster and Partners Office 180 590 40 30 St Mary Axe
8 100 Bishopsgate 2019
Allies and Morrison Office 172 563 40 100 Bishopsgate
9 Broadgate Tower 2008
Skidmore, Owings & Merrill Office 164 538 35 201 Bishopsgate
10 20 Fenchurch Street 2014
Rafael Viñoly Office 160 525 37 20 Fenchurch Street
11 40 Leadenhall Street 2022
Make Architects Office 154 505 34 40 Leadenhall Street
12 One Bishopsgate Plaza 2020
MSMR Hotel 135 443 44 150 Bishopsgate
13 CityPoint[A] 1967
F. Milton Cashmore and H. N. W. Grosvenor[94] Office 127 417 36 1 Ropemaker Street
14 Willis Building 2007
Foster and Partners Office 125 410 26 51 Lime Street
=15 Cromwell Tower 1973
Chamberlin, Powell and Bon Residential 123 404 42 Barbican Estate
=15 Lauderdale Tower 1974
Chamberlin, Powell and Bon Residential 123 404 42 Barbican Estate
=15 Shakespeare Tower 1976
Chamberlin, Powell and Bon Residential 123 404 42 Barbican Estate
18 St. Helen's 1969
GMW Architects Office 118 387 28 1 Undershaft
19 The Heron 2013
David Walker Architects Residential 112 367 35 Milton Court
20 St Paul's Cathedral 1710
Sir Christopher Wren Cathedral 111 365 n/a Ludgate Hill
21 99 Bishopsgate 1976
GMW Architects Office 104 340 26 99 Bishopsgate
22 One Angel Court 2017
Fletcher Priest Office 101 331 24 1 Angel Court
23 Stock Exchange Tower 1970
Richard Llewelyn-Davies, Baron Llewelyn-Davies, Weeks, Forestier-Walker and Bar Office 100 328 27 125 Old Broad Street
  1. ^ CityPoint was originally completed in 1967 and named Britannic House standing at 122 m tall, but was refurbished in 2000 and increased to 127 m in height.

The timeline of the tallest building in the city is as follows:

Years as tallest
Height to roof (m)
Height to roof (ft)
Twentytwo 2019–present 278 912 62
Heron Tower 2010–2019 230 754 46
Tower 42 1980–2010 183 600 47
CityPoint 1967–1980 122 400 35
St Paul's Cathedral 1710–1967 111 365 n/a
St Mary-le-Bow 1683–1710 72 236 n/a
Monument to the Great Fire of London 1677–1683 62 202 n/a
Old St Paul's Cathedral 1310–1677 150 493 n/a


London Underground roundel (flanked by City dragons) at Bank station

Rail and Tube

The city is well served by the London Underground ("tube") and National Rail networks.

Seven London Underground lines serve the city:[95]

In addition, Aldgate East (District Line Hammersmith & City Line), Farringdon (Circle line (London Underground) Hammersmith & City Line Metropolitan Line), Temple (Circle line (London Underground) District Line) and Tower Hill (Circle line (London Underground) District Line) tube stations are all situated within metres of the City of London boundary.[95]

DLR trains link the City directly to Canary Wharf.

The Docklands Light Railway (DLR Docklands Light Railway) has two termini in the city: Bank and Tower Gateway. The DLR links the City directly to the East End. Destinations include Canary Wharf and London City Airport.[95][96]

The Elizabeth line (constructed by the Crossrail project) runs east–west underneath the City of London. The line serves two stations in the City – Farringdon and Liverpool Street – which additionally serves the Barbican and Moorgate areas. Elizabeth line services link the City directly to destinations such as Canary Wharf, Heathrow Airport, and the M4 Corridor high-technology hub (serving Slough and Reading).[97]

The city is served by a frequent Thameslink rail service which runs north–south through London. Thameslink services call at Farringdon, City Thameslink, and London Blackfriars. This provides the city with a direct link to key destinations across London, including Elephant & Castle, London Bridge, and St Pancras International (for the Eurostar to mainland Europe). There are also regular, direct trains from these stations to major destinations across East Anglia and the South East, including Bedford, Brighton, Cambridge, Gatwick Airport, Luton Airport, and Peterborough.[98]

The Stansted Express departs from Liverpool Street Station in the city and runs directly to Stansted Airport in Essex.

There are several "London Terminals"[98][99] in the city:

All stations in the city are in London fare zone 1.[95]


Space taken vs numbers in City of London (transport)[101]

The national A1, A10 A3, A4, and A40 road routes begin in the city. The city is in the London congestion charge zone, with the small exception on the eastern boundary of the sections of the A1210/A1211 that are part of the Inner Ring Road. The following bridges, listed west to east (downstream), cross the River Thames: Blackfriars Bridge, Blackfriars Railway Bridge, Millennium Bridge (footbridge), Southwark Bridge, Cannon Street Railway Bridge and London Bridge; Tower Bridge is not in the city. The city, like most of central London, is well served by buses, including night buses. Two bus stations are in the city, at Aldgate on the eastern boundary with Tower Hamlets, and at Liverpool Street by the railway station. However although the London Road Traffic Act 1924 removed from existing local authorities the powers to prevent the development of road passengers transport services within the London Metropolitan Area, the City of London retained most such powers. As a consequence, neither Trolleybus nor Green Line Coach services were permitted to enter the City to pick up or set down passengers. Hence the building of Aldgate (Minories) Trolleybus and Coach station as well as the complex terminal arrangements at Parliament Hill Fields. This restriction was removed by the Transport Act 1985


Cycleway 6 runs between Elephant & Castle and Kentish Town, passing through the City of London between Blackfriars and Farringdon.

Cycling infrastructure in the city is maintained by the City of London Corporation and Transport for London (TfL).[102]

The Sandander Cycles and Beryl bike sharing systems operate in the City of London.[102][103]


One London River Services pier is on the Thames in the city, Blackfriars Millennium Pier, though the Tower Millennium Pier lies adjacent to the boundary near the Tower of London. One of the Port of London's 25 safeguarded wharves, Walbrook Wharf, is adjacent to Cannon Street station, and is used by the corporation to transfer waste via the river. Swan Lane Pier, just upstream of London Bridge, is proposed to be replaced and upgraded for regular passenger services, planned to take place in 2012–2015. Before then, Tower Pier is to be extended.[104]

There is a public riverside walk along the river bank, part of the Thames Path, which opened in stages – the route within the city was completed by the opening of a stretch at Queenhithe in 2023.[105] The walk along Walbrook Wharf is closed to pedestrians when waste is being transferred onto barges.

Travel to work (by residents)

According to a survey conducted in March 2011, the methods by which employed residents 16–74 get to work varied widely: 48.4% go on foot; 19.5% via light rail, (i.e. the Underground, DLR, etc.); 9.2% work mainly from home; 5.8% take the train; 5.6% travel by bus, minibus, or coach; and 5.3% go by bicycle; with just 3.4% commuting by car or van, as driver or passenger.[106]


The Aldgate School (using its former name)

The city is home to a number of higher education institutions including: the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, the Cass Business School, The London Institute of Banking & Finance and parts of three of the universities in London: the Maughan Library of King's College London on Chancery Lane, the business school of London Metropolitan University, and a campus of the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. The College of Law has its London campus in Moorgate. Part of Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry is on the Barts hospital site at West Smithfield.

The city has only one directly maintained primary school, The Aldgate School (formerly Sir John Cass's Foundation Primary School) at Aldgate[107] (ages 4 to 11). It is a Voluntary-Aided (VA) Church of England school, maintained by the Education Service of the City of London.

City residents send their children to schools in neighbouring Local Education Authorities, such as Islington, Tower Hamlets, Westminster and Southwark.

The City controls three independent schools, City of London School (a boys' school) and City of London School for Girls in the city, and the City of London Freemen's School (co-educational day and boarding) in Ashtead, Surrey. The City of London School for Girls and City of London Freemen's School have their own preparatory departments for entrance at age seven. It is the principal sponsor of The City Academy, Hackney, City of London Academy Islington, and City of London Academy, Southwark.[108]

Public libraries

The Maughan Library, King's College London, located on Chancery Lane

Libraries operated by the Corporation include three lending libraries; Barbican Library, Shoe Lane Library and Artizan Street Library and Community Centre. Membership is open to all – with one official proof of address required to join.

Guildhall Library, and City Business Library are also public reference libraries, specialising in the history of London and business reference resources.[109]

Money laundering

The City of London's role in illicit financial activity such as money laundering has earned the financial hub sobriquets like ‘The Laundromat’ and ‘Londongrad.’[110]

London’s role as the world’s dirty money clearing house is well-documented but efforts are being made to clean up through legislation, e.g. authorising unexplained wealth orders. High-value properties are sought after by criminals and money launderers legitimising their gains by investing in the city’s prestigious real estate.[111][112][113]

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Further reading


  1. ^ The City of London is a sui generis unit of local government, referred by the Ordnance Survey as the City and County of the City of London[1] to distinguish it as such on their mapping and in their datasets.

External links

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