Piccadilly Circus belongs to the most famous areas of London and a major road junction in the City of Westminster. It was built in 1819 as a connection between Regent Street and main shopping street of Piccadilly. The term 'circus' comes from the Latin word meaning a circle and was used in the name because of the circular open space at a street junction. It followed the model of the New York’s Times Square and leads directly to Haymarket, Coventry Street, and Shaftesbury Avenue with the theatres, as well as Glasshouse Street. The Circus is adjacent to major shopping areas and entertainment centres in the central part of the West End, which makes it a popular meeting point and a major tourist attraction.
Famous video displays as well as neon advertisements on the corner building make for the characteristic ambiance for which Piccadilly Circus. The statue of Eros and the Shaftesbury memorial fountain are also famous landmarks of the area, attracting attention of the passing pedestrians. Other remarkable buildings that surround the square include the Criterion Theatre and the London Pavilion. Underneath the plaza there is the Piccadilly Circus tube station. It was opened in 1906 and later extensively rebuilt to handle the increased traffic.
Starting from Piccadilly Circus, the Piccadilly Street is the wide and busy thoroughfare, famous for the Ritz Hotel and the Fortnum and Mason department store. The road was named after a house belonging to Robert Baker, famous for selling piccadillies (various kinds of collars). On the north side of Piccadilly, stands The Royal Academy Art Institute, housed in the Burlington House. Farther to the south, you reach the Jermyn Street – a more peaceful area with menswear shops of popular brands. The Trocadero is a complex in the same area that attracts clients and tourists, offering cinema, video games, and hi-tech family entertainment. Among other interesting places to see are Planet Hollywood, Rock Circus with wax statues of famous music artists and Leicester Square – the cross-point of all the Hollywood happenings in London.
At the beginning of the 1960s, Lord Holford worked on a plan for the redevelopment of the Circus to make space for more traffic. His concept included a "double-decker" Piccadilly Circus, featuring a new pedestrian concourse above the ground-level traffic. In fact, this idea was not accepted but inspired the creation of a short documentary film ‘Goodbye, Piccadilly’, which was released in 1967. Since then, Piccadilly Circus has escaped major redevelopment, except the ground-level pedestrianisation in the 1980s.
The Shaftesbury Memorial Fountain is another Piccadilly Circus landmark, which was erected in 1893 in memory of the philanthropic works of Anthony Ashley Cooper, 7th Earl of Shaftesbury. During World War II some modifications were made and the statue on the top the Shaftesbury Memorial Fountain, named the Angel of Christian Charity was replaced by advertising hoardings, but returned in 1948. In the late 1980s, the Circus was reconstructed and the entire fountain was moved from the centre of the junction to the beginning of Shaftesbury Avenue, where it stands until the present day.