diamond geezer

 Saturday, June 14, 2014

What do you call that area of London between the West End and the City? Sort of north of Covent Garden and south of King's Cross. I bet you don't call it Midtown. But there's still an organisation out there hoping desperately that you will. I don't rate their chances.

Four years ago 560 local companies in the East West End/West City area grouped together and created inmidtown, a Business Improvement District they hoped would bring greater prosperity. Their plan was to make the area better for "investors, residents and visitors", and key to that was creating a finer sense of place. Bloomsbury wasn't good enough for them, Holborn wasn't suitably wide-ranging, and St Giles wasn't sufficiently well-known. So they plumped for an umbrella name, of the kind a particularly uninspired focus group might dream up. They decided on Midtown. And the rest of London shrugged their shoulders, walked away and carried on with the rest of their lives.

Undaunted they set up a website called inmidtown.org, rather than inmidtown.com or inmidtown.co.uk, because they seem to have a delight for offbeat URLs. This is their site for businesses and investors, which crows about worthy things like landfill, sustainability and collective bargaining power, because such are the high tenets of corporate responsibility. They last updated their news page (with details of an air quality monitoring project) way back in March, so they're not exactly a cutting edge concern. They're also just a little bit over-optimistic about the Midtown name. "The creation and roll-out of a distinct and identifiable brand for Bloomsbury, Holborn and St Giles... is vital to the area’s success as an area to work in, shop in and explore", they say, which can only suggest that the area's vitality is doomed.

Two years ago they set up a different website for visitors to the area, called gotomidtown.co.uk. This takes a rather more promotional tack, based on luring in potential punters who might spend dosh on restaurants, a museum visit or spa treatment. It won't surprise you to hear that Midtown is a great place to drink, and to eat, and to shop, and to relax, because anywhere that's ever had a PR-driven website is exactly the same. But good luck trying to locate any of the delights on the website, because gotomidtown.co.uk has one of the worst online directories I've ever seen. They have a map but refuse to list anything on it until you enter something into the search box, so you almost need to know what you're looking for in advance and serendipitous discovery is unlikely.

Wander around core Midtown, say between Bloomsbury Street and Holborn station, and you'll likely see big Midtown banners hung from the lampposts. I think they're designed to create a sense of community cohesion and to promote the key values that those in the business improvement district share. But it's hard to get excited about green rooftops you can't see, and power generation schemes that collectively cut carbon emissions, so I'm not convinced many people engage. Plus these giant banners don't include the inmidtown.org or gotomidtown.com address, oh no. They include a shortcut URL you're supposed to remember and type in instead, for example mid.bz/midtownfuture. The only problem is that they're entirely unmemorable, especially that peculiar bz suffix, and if you only type in mid.bz you don't end up anywhere relevant at all.

To promote this geographical concept in the flesh, inmidtown boast two physical drop-in presences. One is a bright orange kiosk immediately outside Holborn tube station, where a uniformed guide waits patiently to tell fresh-faced visitors emerging from the tube where to go, and maybe dishes out a (useful) area map. The poor lady in the newspaper kiosk alongside is clearly sick of being asked similar questions, and has stuck numerous paper signs on her magazine racks urging lost souls to go and ask somebody who cares.

And then, perhaps more surprisingly, there's a Midtown tourist information centre in a shop on New Oxford Street. I've managed to walk past several times over the past few years without spotting it, lurking smack between a computer shop and an Italian restaurant. The unit appears to be called Hotels Tickets Sightseeing Travel, with gotomidtown.co.uk written in rather smaller letters underneath, but that's because they want people to go inside and book something like a taxi or a ticket for the Heathrow Express. The shop window contains a variety of Midtown merchandise, should you be particularly proud of your local neighbourhood, including mugs, matches, pens and umbrellas. Most of these are emblazoned with Midtown's mascot, that's BuzzBee, which also explains why you can buy honey, honey sweets, honey dippers and even a mini bee hotel if the fancy strikes.

Poor old BuzzBee must have felt like such a good idea when the marketing team thought him up, embodying eco-credentials and sustainability in an efficient collaborative manner, and he even has his own Twitter account. But it seems his creators have finally realised they're on a hiding to nothing and thrown in the towel, because BuzzBee tweeted for the final time last week, pleading with any lingering followers to go and follow @gotomidtown instead. If they're the sort of person who likes corporate retweets for pancake deals and spa open days, who knows, perhaps they did.

If you live or work locally, or have a penchant for history, the best thing about gotomidtown is undoubtedly its series of guided walks. These run several times a week, almost daily in the summer, and cover such diverse subjects as suffragettes, Dr Crippen, rock stars and Sir Edwin Lutyens. They're also free, so long as you don't mind wandering around behind a man in a bright orange shirt for up to two hours. But I doubt that historians of the future will be calling this area Midtown, because existing names like Bloomsbury and Holborn are too strong, and because nobody likes an artificially bland imposition. Still, don't expect that to stop this business consortium from promoting Midtown as WC1's go-to destination of choice. And please, don't even get me started on The Northbank...

<< click for Newer posts

click for Older Posts >>

click to return to the main page

...or read more in my monthly archives
Jan16  Feb16  Mar16  Apr16  May16  Jun16  Jul16  Aug16  Sep16  Oct16
Jan15  Feb15  Mar15  Apr15  May15  Jun15  Jul15  Aug15  Sep15  Oct15  Nov15  Dec15
Jan14  Feb14  Mar14  Apr14  May14  Jun14  Jul14  Aug14  Sep14  Oct14  Nov14  Dec14
Jan13  Feb13  Mar13  Apr13  May13  Jun13  Jul13  Aug13  Sep13  Oct13  Nov13  Dec13
Jan12  Feb12  Mar12  Apr12  May12  Jun12  Jul12  Aug12  Sep12  Oct12  Nov12  Dec12
Jan11  Feb11  Mar11  Apr11  May11  Jun11  Jul11  Aug11  Sep11  Oct11  Nov11  Dec11
Jan10  Feb10  Mar10  Apr10  May10  Jun10  Jul10  Aug10  Sep10  Oct10  Nov10  Dec10 
Jan09  Feb09  Mar09  Apr09  May09  Jun09  Jul09  Aug09  Sep09  Oct09  Nov09  Dec09
Jan08  Feb08  Mar08  Apr08  May08  Jun08  Jul08  Aug08  Sep08  Oct08  Nov08  Dec08
Jan07  Feb07  Mar07  Apr07  May07  Jun07  Jul07  Aug07  Sep07  Oct07  Nov07  Dec07
Jan06  Feb06  Mar06  Apr06  May06  Jun06  Jul06  Aug06  Sep06  Oct06  Nov06  Dec06
Jan05  Feb05  Mar05  Apr05  May05  Jun05  Jul05  Aug05  Sep05  Oct05  Nov05  Dec05
Jan04  Feb04  Mar04  Apr04  May04  Jun04  Jul04  Aug04  Sep04  Oct04  Nov04  Dec04
Jan03  Feb03  Mar03  Apr03  May03  Jun03  Jul03  Aug03  Sep03  Oct03  Nov03  Dec03
 Jan02  Feb02  Mar02  Apr02  May02  Jun02  Jul02 Aug02  Sep02  Oct02  Nov02  Dec02 

eXTReMe Tracker
jack of diamonds
life viewed from london e3

email    twitter    G+

my flickr photostream

What's on this weekend?
Wed 19th - Sun 23rd October
Bloomsbury Festival
It's free to visit the Foundling Museum this weekend.

twenty blogs
ian visits
blue witch
city metric
the great wen
edith's streets
spitalfields life
in the aquarium
round the island
wanstead meteo
london museums
christopher fowler
ruth's coastal walk
london reconnections
dirty modern scoundrel

quick reference features
Things to do in Outer London
The DG Tour of Britain
Comment Value Hierarchy

read the archive
Oct16  Sep16
Aug16  Jul16  Jun16  May16
Apr16  Mar16  Feb16  Jan16
Dec15  Nov15  Oct15  Sep15
Aug15  Jul15  Jun15  May15
Apr15  Mar15  Feb15  Jan15
Dec14  Nov14  Oct14  Sep14
Aug14  Jul14  Jun14  May14
Apr14  Mar14  Feb14  Jan14
Dec13  Nov13  Oct13  Sep13
Aug13  Jul13  Jun13  May13
Apr13  Mar13  Feb13  Jan13
Dec12  Nov12  Oct12  Sep12
Aug12  Jul12  Jun12  May12
Apr12  Mar12  Feb12  Jan12
Dec11  Nov11  Oct11  Sep11
Aug11  Jul11  Jun11  May11
Apr11  Mar11  Feb11  Jan11
Dec10  Nov10  Oct10  Sep10
Aug10  Jul10  Jun10  May10
Apr10  Mar10  Feb10  Jan10
Dec09  Nov09  Oct09  Sep09
Aug09  Jul09  Jun09  May09
Apr09  Mar09  Feb09  Jan09
Dec08  Nov08  Oct08  Sep08
Aug08  Jul08  Jun08  May08
Apr08  Mar08  Feb08  Jan08
Dec07  Nov07  Oct07  Sep07
Aug07  Jul07  Jun07  May07
Apr07  Mar07  Feb07  Jan07
Dec06  Nov06  Oct06  Sep06
Aug06  Jul06  Jun06  May06
Apr06  Mar06  Feb06  Jan06
Dec05  Nov05  Oct05  Sep05
Aug05  Jul05  Jun05  May05
Apr05  Mar05  Feb05  Jan05
Dec04  Nov04  Oct04  Sep04
Aug04  Jul04  Jun04  May04
Apr04  Mar04  Feb04  Jan04
Dec03  Nov03  Oct03  Sep03
Aug03  Jul03  Jun03  May03
Apr03  Mar03  Feb03  Jan03
Dec02  Nov02  Oct02  Sep02
back to main page

diamond geezer 2015 index
diamond geezer 2014 index
diamond geezer 2013 index
diamond geezer 2012 index
diamond geezer 2011 index
diamond geezer 2010 index
diamond geezer 2009 index
diamond geezer 2008 index
diamond geezer 2007 index
diamond geezer 2006 index
diamond geezer 2005 index
diamond geezer 2004 index
diamond geezer 2003 index
diamond geezer 2002 index

my special London features
a-z of london museums
E3 - local history month
greenwich meridian (N)
greenwich meridian (S)
the real eastenders
london's lost rivers
olympic park 2007
great british roads
oranges & lemons
random boroughs
bow road station
high street 2012
river westbourne
trafalgar square
capital numbers
east london line
lea valley walk
olympics 2005
regent's canal
square routes
silver jubilee
unlost rivers
cube routes
capital ring
river fleet

ten of my favourite posts
the seven ages of blog
my new Z470xi mobile
five equations of blog
the dome of doom
chemical attraction
quality & risk
london 2102
single life
april fool

ten sets of lovely photos
my "most interesting" photos
london 2012 olympic zone
harris and the hebrides
betjeman's metro-land
marking the meridian
tracing the river fleet
london's lost rivers
inside the gherkin
seven sisters

just surfed in?
here's where to find...
diamond geezers
flash mob #1  #2  #3  #4
ben schott's miscellany
london underground
watch with mother
cigarette warnings
digital time delay
wheelie suitcases
war of the worlds
transit of venus
top of the pops
old buckenham
ladybird books
acorn antiques
digital watches
outer hebrides
olympics 2012
school dinners
pet shop boys
west wycombe
bletchley park
george orwell
big breakfast
clapton pond
san francisco
children's tv
east enders
trunk roads
little britain
credit cards
jury service
big brother
jubilee line
number 1s
titan arum
doctor who
blue peter
peter pan
feng shui
leap year
bbc three
vision on
ID cards