Famous places down the street where I work Hyde Park Corner
And finally, at the foot of Piccadilly, it's central London's biggest roundabout. Traffic swirls round this nightmarish gyratory system where five major streets meet, the road up to seven lanes wide. This spot could equally have been called Green Park Corner, or Mayfair Corner, or Belgravia Corner, or Buckingham Palace Corner, but Hyde Park won the day. In the centre of the roadway lies a large grass triangle liberally scattered with monuments and sculpture, and there's also the only pelican crossing I've ever seen with the pushbutton located eight feet up the pole so that it can be used by mounted horseriders. The outside and inside are joined by well-maintained pedestrian subways, each illustrated by scenes from local history.
Here's a look at the roads around the perimeter, clockwise from the North: N(Park Lane): Once just a small track running down the side of Hyde Park, the idyllic views soon made this one of the most desirable addresses in the capital. It's the second most valuable property on the Monopoly board, which is kind of appropriate because during the 20th century roughly every four houses here were exchanged for a hotel. Now a six-lane superhighway and luxury car showroom. NE(Piccadilly): Come on, you must know all there is to know about this street by now. SE(Constitution Hill): This road (closed Sundays) leads down to the gates of the Buckingham Palace. At the top of the hill stand new memorial gates commemorating the wartime sacrifice of soldiers from across the Commonwealth. S(Grosvenor Place): This is the main road down to Victoria, along which the very last no 73Routemaster will set off just before 1am this Saturday morning. You can see into the Queen's back garden from the top deck. W(Knightsbridge): This isn't the posh end of Knightsbridge, that's further west, but this is still the only London street name written with six consecutive consonants. Hyde Park Corner tube station is here, the original ticket hall now occupied by a pizza restaurant.
Meanwhile, in the centre: The Constitution Arch: Before the Duke of Wellington was even dead, the people of Britain were busy erecting monuments to him outside his house. As well as a nude statue of Achilles in the park, they also placed a giant statue of the Duke across the road on top of the recently-constructed Constitution Arch. Alas the statue looked wildly out of proportion for its location and was eventually relegated to Aldershot, being replaced 30 years later by the magnificent winged statue of Victory pictured here. A suite of rooms at the top of the arch housed London's smallest police station, with a staff of 10 constables, two sergeants and a cat, although this closed in 1968 and the inside of the arch is now open to the public. Another statue of Wellington: This one faces across the traffic towards Apsley House and shows the Duke sitting on his favourite horse, Copenhagen. Australian War Memorial: Finally here's London's newest war memorial, opened last Remembrance Day by the Queen and Prime Minister Howard (that's the Australian PM, whatever were you thinking?). It's a striking curved wall of granite, etched with the names of the 24000 home towns of the Australians who served during the two world wars, across which can be picked out the names of 47 important battle sites. This reflective spot is a world away from the self-importance of Piccadilly Circus, right up at the other end of the street in which I work.