Piccadilly Circus is a busy plaza in the West End of London, illuminated by bright, artificial light. It is at the junction of five major streets and, provides access to:
- The shopping areas of Regent Street and Piccadilly to the west.
- Shaftesbury Avenue and Leicester Square theatre district to the east
- Haymarket on the eastern side of Piccadilly Circus. and adjacent to Lillywhites department store, which in turn leads south to Pall Mall and Trafalgar Square.
The area features a number of commercial properties, predominating on the north side. Nevertheless historic locations include:
- Number 1 Piccadilly. Formerly the location of Tower Records. The premises are now operated by The Sting, a Dutch retail chain.
- Shaftesbury Memorial Fountain on the southern pedestrian area.
- London Trocadero. Connects with Piccadilly Circus underground station.
- Swiss Centre. On the north-west corner of Leicester Square
- Anthony Powell used the Café de Paris on Coventry Street, as a model for the Café de Madrid, in his novel The Soldier' Art, the eighth volume of A Dance to the Music of Time.
- The Regent Palace Hotel, on the north side of Piccadilly Circus, was built for T Lyons & Co. Ltd. It had a Beaux Arts Baroque structure with later Art Deco embellishment. Following demolition of the main structure the site has been redeveloped. The triangular site is close to the north side of Piccadilly Circus, and is bordered by Glasshouse Street, Sherwood Street, Brewer Street and Air Street. The Art Deco building on the other side of Brewer Street operated as an extension to the hotel.
Piccadilly Circus Station
The London Underground station is below road level. It is on the Piccadilly Line between Green Park and Leicester Square and on the Bakerloo line between Charing Cross and Oxford Circus. Commuters wishing to travel from the West end to the city can change at Oxford Circus for the Central Line.
The subterranean concourse retains historic features including:
- Travertine marble walls,
- Signage and advertising,
- Wooden shutters,
- World time display.
- 1871 - White Bear Inn, coaching inn in Piccadilly Circus, demolished.
- 30 November 1885 - New London Pavilion Music Hall opens.
- 10 March 1906 - The Piccadilly Circus underground station was opened by the Baker Street and Waterloo Railway (now on the Bakerloo Line).
- 15 December 1906 - The Piccadilly Line stop was opened.
- 1910 - Display advertisements to shift product use bright colours so as to make a message stand out. The earliest signs used incandescent light bulbs.
- 1924 - Café de Paris opened as nightclub.
- 1928 - Removal of original, above ground building.
- 1932 - Neon lamps, (installation of moving signs completed familiar landmark).
- Coca-Cola has had a sign at Piccadilly Circus since 1955.
- From 1959 to 1972 a Swiss cuckoo clock with a swinging pendulum (two back-to-back toucans) displayed "Guinness Time" in Piccadilly Circus.
- 1987 - Red and white Sanyo sign. The neon Sanyo sign, which spanned 340 square feet, was switched off on 7 June 2011 by the advertising space owners. It will be replaced by LED signage in October 2011.
- 1990 - TDK replaced the space formerly occupied by Kodak. In 2001, the colour of the background lamps was changed from green to blue, and the words "Audio & Video Tape" and "Floppy Disks" under the logo were removed.
- November 1994 - Samsung replaced a sign for Panasonic. The sign was upgraded from neon to LED in 2005.
- 23 November 2007 - Paul Atherton's film The Ballet of Change: Piccadilly Circus, depicting the history of Piccadilly Circus and the lights, was allocated five minutes.
- 2009 - Redevelopment of London Trocadero.
- 2010 - Decision made to return junction to two-way traffic and remove railings.